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The beautiful 1943 Grumman Tigercat
was the first twin-engined fighter in
service with the US Navy, designed for use
on Midway-class carriers. It wasn't a very
successful marque in that respect, and few
were built. This beauty was photographed
at the WW2 Battle of Britain airfield of
Duxford, in Cambridgeshire, a few years
ago, on the fateful day that the P-38
Lightning crashed. The crowd had been
hearing the sweet music of the Merlins and Gryphons as about a dozen Spitfires finished
their display, sending up the hairs on the back of one's neck. Next, a flight of Mitchells
were taxiing towards the runway for take off. But suddenly the runway was ablaze with
flame and aircraft bits. The Lightning - up after the Spitfires - had failed to complete a
loop and had hit the deck at well over 200 mph. The airshow went into slow motion -
nobody seemed to move, and nobody quite knew what had happened at first. But two
pilots were now dead, and the runway was unusable; a wheel had bounced through the
side of a lorry on the nearby M11. There'd been a number of fatalities at airshows
recently, and some were arguing that it wasn't really an acceptable risk any more...
A few weeks later, a Mk IX Spitfire, that most glorious of aircraft, crashed at another
airshow, somewhere in the West Country. And it was because of Ministry of Defence
jitters over the number of recent 'civilian' deaths that I wasn't allowed to fly to RAF
Leuchars in Scotland in a Tornado whilst making a film on the Empire Test Pilot's School
at Boscombe Down. My pleas ("Please! Oh, please!") fell on deaf ears.
The beautiful 1943 Grumman Tigercat was
the first twin-engined fighter in service
with the US Navy, designed for use on
Midway-class carriers. It wasn't a very
successful marque in that respect, and few
were built. This beauty was
photographed at the WW2 Battle of
Britain airfield of Duxford, in
Cambridgeshire, a few years ago, on the
fateful day that the P-38 Lightning
crashed. The crowd had been hearing the
sweet music of the Merlins and Gryphons
as about a dozen Spitfires finished their
display, sending up the hairs on the back
of one's neck. Next, a flight of Mitchells
were taxiing towards the runway for take
off. But suddenly the runway was ablaze
with flame and aircraft bits. The Lightning
- up after the Spitfires - had failed to
complete a loop and had hit the deck at
well over 200 mph. The airshow went into
slow motion - nobody seemed to move,
and nobody quite knew what had
happened at first. But two pilots were
now dead, and the runway was unusable;
a wheel had bounced through the side of a
lorry on the nearby M11. There'd been a
number of fatalities at airshows recently,
and some were arguing that it wasn't
really an acceptable risk any more...
A few weeks later, a Mk IX Spitfire, that
most glorious of aircraft, crashed at
another airshow, somewhere in the West
Country. And it was because of Ministry
of Defence jitters over the number of
recent 'civilian' deaths that I wasn't
allowed to fly to RAF Leuchars in Scotland
in a Tornado whilst making a film on the
Empire Test Pilot's School at Boscombe
Down. My pleas ("Please! Oh, please!") fell
on deaf ears.
The beautiful 1943 Grumman Tigercat
was the first twin-engined fighter in
service with the US Navy, designed for use
on Midway-class carriers. It wasn't a very
successful marque in that respect, and few
were built. This beauty was photographed
at the WW2 Battle of Britain airfield of
Duxford, in Cambridgeshire, a few years
ago, on the fateful day that the P-38
Lightning crashed. The crowd had been
hearing the sweet music of the Merlins and Gryphons as about a dozen Spitfires finished
their display, sending up the hairs on the back of one's neck. Next, a flight of Mitchells
were taxiing towards the runway for take off. But suddenly the runway was ablaze with
flame and aircraft bits. The Lightning - up after the Spitfires - had failed to complete a
loop and had hit the deck at well over 200 mph. The airshow went into slow motion -
nobody seemed to move, and nobody quite knew what had happened at first. But two
pilots were now dead, and the runway was unusable; a wheel had bounced through the
side of a lorry on the nearby M11. There'd been a number of fatalities at airshows
recently, and some were arguing that it wasn't really an acceptable risk any more...
A few weeks later, a Mk IX Spitfire, that most glorious of aircraft, crashed at another
airshow, somewhere in the West Country. And it was because of Ministry of Defence
jitters over the number of recent 'civilian' deaths that I wasn't allowed to fly to RAF
Leuchars in Scotland in a Tornado whilst making a film on the Empire Test Pilot's School
at Boscombe Down. My pleas ("Please! Oh, please!") fell on deaf ears.

Tigercat

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