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Historic pair set to grace skies above Fairford

Published: 27 Apr 2017

Two historic World War Two fighter aircraft will share the skies above RAF Fairford this summer for a stirring flypast to mark the 70th anniversary of the US Air Force.

The North American P-51 Mustang and the Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk flew with US Army Air Corps during WW2 and their combat capabilities earned them a reputation that today ranks alongside that shared by the legendary Supermarine Spitfire and Hawker Hurricane.

'Tall In The Saddle' is a P-51D-20-NA model, that joined the US Army Air Corps in December 1944. Originally earmarked for service with the Eighth Air Force in England, this was quickly changed to the Mediterranean Theatre of Operations.

Assigned to the 332nd fighter group, 99th Fighter Squadron, the 332nd became very famous as the first all Afro American manned Group known as "The Tuskegee Airmen" although references to them at the time refer to them as "The Red Tails." 

She entered combat with the 15th Air force in early 1945 based at Ramatelli Airfield in Italy, serving on escort and ground attack sweeps over Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia. She still carries the battle scars to this day, with bullet repairs in several places on the fuselage.

Produced in large numbers, the Kittyhawk (or Warhawk as she was also known) was a ruggedly effective and potent fighter. 

Supplied to air forces in America, Britain, Australia and New Zealand, as well as Russia, the P-40 fought with distinction in every theatre of operation. In Europe and the Western Desert against the Germans and the Italians as operated by aces such as Billy Drake and Neville Duke of RAF 112 squadron.

Kittyhawk serial number 43-5802 (UK civil registration G-KITT) is indeed a rare sight anywhere in the world but especially in the UK. Only a handful of these wonderful planes are still in airworthy condition and she has become a real crowd favourite at airshows.

Both aircraft are operated by Peter Teichman's Hangar 11 Collection at North Weald in Essex.

“It was an epic spectacle, as magical as anything you've ever seen in the West End, and as loud as anything you've ever heard at Knebworth.”

Jeremy Clarkson, Television Presenter

“All the thrills, excitement and noise of a Grand Prix, but in the air!”

Jenson Button, Former Formula 1 Racing Driver

“Probably the most complete air show I’ve ever been to!”

Al Worden, Apollo 15 Astronaut

“This is THE best airshow!”

Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 Astronaut

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