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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
Pocketmags Digital Magazines

RNAS Yeovilton International Air Day 2017

Ray Ball inspired to further modelling subjects


Seventy years ago one of the stars of the first Yeovilton Air Day was the Fairy Firefly, one of which, WB271, seen here, used to regularly display at the Air Day as part of the Historic Flight. Sadly this aircraft was involved in a fatal crash at Duxford in July 2003

This year marks the seventieth anniversary of the annual Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton Air Day, the first of which was held on 6th September 1947. In those days HMS Heron (RNAS Yeovilton) was home to Seafires and Fireflies, both of which were prominent in the flying display. Also displaying that year were the Westland Wyvern, Sea Fury, Sea Hornet, Firebrand, Sea Vampire and Meteor. Oh to have been there and with my digital camera!

Fairey Firefly AS5 WB271 of the Royal Navy Historic Flight was an air show favourite of mine, painted in the Korean War colours of 812 Squadron embarked on HMS Glory at that time. This aircraft sadly crashed at Duxford in 2003 killing both crew members. May they rest in peace.

The Air Day was different this year as the traditional large role demonstration finale could not take place as many of the Merlins of the Commando Helicopter Force are undergoing a Merlin Life Sustainment Programme, to equip them for their new amphibious assault role. This will see twenty five HC3/3A airframes fitted with new cockpit instrumentation and having structural changes made including a folding tail, folding rotor blades, strengthened landing gear and deck lashing mounts. This fully navalised and improved capability Commando helicopter will be designated the Merlin HC4.

Meanwhile the Merlin HM2 gave a role demonstration in the flying display, particularly its search and rescue capabilities. The Merlin HM2 is described as a maritime force protector with advanced radar and sonar systems to detect surface and submarine threats. It has an advanced avionics, ‘glass’ cockpit and the latest touchscreen technology for the radar and sonar display operators. Merlin ZH857 in the display is from 824 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) based at RNAS Culdrose. It looked interesting from a model making perspective with its add-on equipment, such as the FLIR ball on the starboard side and the weathered and touched-up areas of its paintwork, breaking up its overall Medium Sea Grey colour. The Merlin HM2 was the first aircraft to operate from the new aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, joining the ship during her sea trials.

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About Scale Aircraft Modelling

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