Celebrating 100 years of the Royal Air Force, the RAF Cosford Airshow 2018 pulled out all the stops both on the ground and in the Air.
With the static display area divided into vintage villages featuring those aircraft from the relevant period in the RAF’s history, alongside many re-enactors and other attractions, visitors could wander through time from one decade to another, tracing the evolution of the world’s oldest independent air force. Brought in by road and air from museums and collections all over the UK, complimented by those from the RAF Museum and the current Royal Air Force, it is hard to imagine a more comprehensive line-up of aircraft from the service’s centenary. Entitled “Policing the Empire”, the first of these vintage villages covered the period from the RAF’s formation in 1918 to 1939 and featured a host of aircraft from the early days of the service like the Bristol M1.c and SE5a. From here, visitors could travel into “The World at War”, spanning World War Two and its aftermath including the Berlin Airlift, showcasing aircraft like the Hurricane, Spitfire and Boulton-Paul Defiant. Highlighting that 2018 is also the 75th anniversary of Operation Chastise, the famous Dambusters raid, a full-size replica bouncing bomb was also displayed alongside the nose of the Avro Heritage Museum’s Lancaster. The decades from the 1950s to the end of the Twentieth Century were the subject of “Age of Uncertainty” and featured iconic aircraft like the McDonnell Douglas Phantom and English Electric Lightning along with a selection of helicopters including the lovingly restored Westland Whirlwind from the South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum. The final vintage village, “New Millennium” brought the visitor up to the present day, featuring the modern RAF including replica Typhoon and F35 Lightning.
Opened by the RAF parachute display team, The Falcons, the six hour flying display also ran, broadly, to the same historical timeline as the static display, beginning with the First World War aircraft of the Bremont Great War Display Team and finishing with the RAF’s current mainstay, the Eurofighter Typhoon. In between, the sell-out crowd were treated to a selection of items on the UK flying scene, representing the full 100 years of the RAF, plus aircraft from air forces that have fought alongside the RAF over the years in various conflicts. The Belgian Air Force sent one of their F-16 Fighting Falcons, The French provided a Dassault Rafale and The Polish Air Force were represented by the Mig-29 Fulcrum, flying initially in formation with a Hawker Hurricane before peeling away to provide a spirited solo display. Inter-war years were represented by the Hawker Fury and Avro Anson. The Aircraft Restoration Company’s Bristol Blenheim and Hangar 11’s Spitfire PR.XI were two of the items representing the RAF in World War 2. Also in this segment was the RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight - the BBMF displaying their Trenchard Formation of Lancaster, Dakota, Spitfire and Hurricane before solo displays by the individual aircraft. Helicopters, both modern and historic, played a significant part in the flying display with seven different types in all, including the only airworthy Bristol Sycamore and the always impressive Chinook. Training aircraft were also well represented with Grob Tutors, Prefect, Shorts Tucano and Bae Hawk T2 providing examples of modern RAF trainers and Tiger Moths, a De Havilland Chipmunk and a Jet Provost showcasing the historic ones. The Red Arrows, always a crowd favourite, provided their usual professional display of precision flying and aerobatics. Heavy aircraft in the form of a Royal New Zealand Air Force Boeing 757 and RAF A400M Atlas ensured that a full range of aircraft types, modern and historic, were represented in the flying display.
With the final roar of the Eurofighter Typhoon ringing in the ears as the crowd headed home, as a celebration of the first 100 years of the Royal Air Force, the RAF Cosford Airshow 2018 can be hailed a success.