Greetings from The Aero Experience Team


The Aero Experience is a celebration of Midwest aviation and aerospace achievement. We invite you to join us as we explore the treasures of Midwest aviation through first-hand experiences. Our contributors take turns flying lead, and we are always looking for new destinations. Check in with The Aero Experience frequently to see where we will land today, and then go out and have your own aero experiences!

Blue skies,

Carmelo Turdo, Mark Nankivil and Fred Harl - The Aero Experience Team

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2014: "The Few" - British Warbirds

Fred Harl and Carmelo Turdo Aero Experience marks another anniversary today as we enter this season of year-round coverage of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2014.  On this day in 1940, Prime Minister Winston Churchill addressed Parliament during the Battle of Britain and uttered these immortal words in gratitude to the Royal Air Force pilots who defended the island nation:  

Several aircraft on display at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2014 were in markings of the British Forces of World War II.  As with many warbirds on the circuit today, these aircraft are late-model aircraft of the type and may not have served directly in combat during the war.  They are still representative of the aircraft that made history in the defense of Britain and appreciated by audiences around the country.  We present two aircraft here: Vickers Supermarine Spitfire Mk. XVIII and Stinson (Vultee) Reliant.

This Vickers Supermarine* Spitfire Mk. XVIII is from the Frasca Air Museum in Urbana, IL.   About 300 Mk. XVIII Spitfires were produced in fighter and reconnaissance versions, both having a Rolls Royce Griffon engine.  The Griffon was a larger 12-cylinder, 2220hp turbo-charged cousin of the famous Merlin engine and it was used to power late-model British warplanes of the era. The Mk. XVIII was introduced in June of 1945, and thus too late for direct action in World War II.  It served in Middle and Far East post-war theaters and may have participated in combat during the early years of the Malayan Emergency.  Surplus aircraft were also reportedly sold to India.      
* The Vickers Armstrong acquired Supermarine Aviation Works Ltd. in 1928, although Supermarine continued to operate under its own name.  The proper name of the company producing Spitfires was Vickers Supermarine until the Vickers Armstrong group was consolidated into British Aircraft Corporation in 1960. 

Another aircraft used by British Forces during the World War II era was the Stinson-Vultee** Reliant series.  They were based on the 1938 production civil SR10 and  produced after 1942 mostly for Lend-Lease to Great Britain as instrument trainers and light cargo aircraft.  They were also manufactured for utility and training roles in the U.S. military as UC-81 and AT-19.  They were sold on the civilian market after the war as the V-77. 

**In 1939, Stinson became part of Vultee Aircraft.  Vultee acquired Consolidated Aircraft Corporation in 1941 to become Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation, with Stinson as a division of the new company Convair.


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