Report by Jason Baxter, all photos by author
To celebrate the 65th Anniversaries of both Royal Air Force Coltishall and the
Battle of Britain, RAF Coltishall opened up its doors to a limited number of
enthusiasts on the Friday 16th September for a great photocall opportunity.
Unlike so many airbases, it was virtually 'access all areas' with no barricades
and guided tours into and around the hangers and facilities at this great WW2
base which, sadly, will close next year.
On the Friday, we were treated to static displays of many of Cotishall's Jags
belong to the remaining RAF Jaguar squadrons, namely 6th and 41 squadrons and also from
41's superb display Jag. Also the '65th anniversary' edition Jaguar GR.3 XX282
did a gracious entry, featuring a Jag, Lightning and Hurricane silhouetted on the tail,
representing three of Coltishall's most significant aircraft. Around a dozen of them
were ferried in and out of the hangers in a mixed bag of weather conditions, finally
making way for an increasing number of visiting aircraft all wanting parking space.
Highlights of the day include a rapid clearing of spectators for a USAF F-15's arrival
from nearby RAF Lakenheath and subsequent jetwash at 10 metres! It was joined later by
a F-15E. Both did some superb sharp banks whilst waiting for tower clearance/spectators
to get off the apron!
During the day, a black spot on the horizon, followed by a ground thumping noise spelt
the arrival of an RAF Chinook which sent the freshly mown grass tornadoing into the air.
A pair of Danish F-16s arrived early afternoon, joined by a pair of Foland Gnats, a
type previously used by the Red Arrows. A Hawk from Valley also dropped in, together
with a privately owned Hurricaine, a type stationed here during WW2.
For the eagle-eyed spectator, a 6 squadron GR.3 minus its canopy was being towed across
the apron; appropriately marked as the 'Flying Can Openers' on its special tail art!
The French sent over a Mirage 2000D which was joined by Harrier GR.7 from RAF Wittering,
F.3 Tornados from 56(R) squadron and GR.4s heavily laden with the RAF's new Brimstone
anti-tank missiles, the aircraft only just clearing the ground.
Saturday and Sunday were family days, and quite rightly so. It was a day mixed with awe
and sadness, as this was almost certainly the very last show here at the UKs most
spectator friendly airbase, and a last chance to see these 30 year old aircraft at their
When one considers the 60-year-old Canberras at nearby RAF Marham have had more facelifts
than many a hollywood film star, the Jaguar's departure leaves a big whole in the RAF
arsenal both in terms of ground attack and reconnaisance capabilities.