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World War Two planes on display for the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain

While admiring the lines of Spitfires and Hurricanes, visitors to the Memorial at Goodwood are being bombarded. Not by the Luftwaffe, but a steady drizzle.

It is the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, and 40 World War Two aircraft from all over the world have converged on Goodwood racetrack to commemorate this major historical milestone.

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One pilot prepares to taxi

Looking at the rows of Spitfires, Seafires and Hurricanes, which were piloted by men barely out of their teens, brings back the scale of what was achieved during the Battle of Britain.

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Over the summer and autumn of 1940 pilots of the RAF fought a desperate battle across the skies of the country against the overwhelming force of the Nazi air force, better known as the Luftwaffe.

 

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Rows of planes ready to go

In preparation for an invasion of Britain, Hitler aimed to gain air superiority by embarking on a campaign of bombing raids to target industrial and military targets across the country.

Heavily outnumbered and outgunned by German opposition the pilots fought courageously, and by the end of October they had destroyed twice as many planes as they had lost.

What made their achievement more striking was the fact that many of the pilots were young men fresh from school, moving almost seamlessly from boarding house to barracks.

 

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Taxiing to take-off

While the fighters of 1940 were ready to take to the skies at the drop of a hat, the planned departure time was delayed due to something more disruptive than bombers, the British weather.

Despite the delay, or perhaps because of it, there is a noticeable wave of excitement as the first propellers start to turn and the planes begin to taxi into position.

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Seafire

The display also included a Seafire, a special variant of the Spitfire designed to be flown from early aircraft carriers.

Sadly the field was cluttered with marquees which left whole sections of the audience unable to see the planes take off, however once in the air they were stunning to watch.

Swooping low in formation over the surrounding fields, the sound of their engines filling the air, it becomes easy to see how so many pilots look back fondly at their wartime memories.

 

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Fighters on the wing

The planes then began their different journeys, heading across the country in route which fly over the airfield that were used during the war, though hopefully with less interference than their first flights.

All images courtesy of Suzanne McLean

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