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RIAT at RAF Cottesmore


The Royal International Air Tattoo is a yearly gathering of military aircraft, aircrews, and aviation history rolled into almost a week of blazing afterburners, low passes, aerobatics and esprit de corps.

Military personnel from dozens of air forces (Air Force, Navy, Marines, Police and a few other branches) have their chances to mingle and to learn from each other. Aviation enthusiasts have their own groups… formal and informal. Packages for up to six days of aviation photographic access to the airfield might cost a pretty penny to some, but it is well worth in for enthusiasts from the U.K and around the world to see and record some rare military craft in person.


There are always surprises each year regarding attendees and special colors adorning aircraft, but the venue for each show for decades has been RAF Fairford, in Gloucestershire, England since 1985. Well, almost every show. For two years – 2000 and 2001, the show was held at RAF Cottesmore, in Rutland, England. The base once was a former multi-national Tornado training base and most recently home to the Joint Harrier Force of the the U.K.. The main runway and other airfield surfaces at Fairford were being repaved and repaired during that time, and a tradition had to be put on hold. Luckily Cottesmore was another sprawling base with plenty of room for static aircraft displays, and the runway was plenty long enough for all attending aircraft.


Some awesome aircraft were displayed at RAF Cottesmore, including curtain calls of European stalwarts like the Italian F-104 Starfighters and French Mirage IVPs. Here too were some elegant warbirds, like Spitfires, Hurricanes, Blenheim and many more. Here’s a look at a number of aircraft on display during the two years at Cottesmore, all types here have been retired by their prospective military branches:

This Andover C1PR was the RAF’s Open Skies aircraft into the early 2000’s.

USAF C-22B was converted from an airliner that flew with Pan Am and National Airlines.

C-141B Starlifter, the type was retired in 2006.

RAF Canberra PR.9; the last of the Canberra line was retired on June 23, 2006.

Italian Air Force F-104S ASA Starfighter, the type was retired from service in 2005.

Belgian Army Allouette II (SE.313B) was used as a trainer until retirement in 2009.

Hellenic Air Force F-4E… the type was retired on May 5, 2017 from Greek service.

Royal Air Force Jaguar GR3A; the type was officially retired from RAF service in December, 2007.

USAF MH-53M Pave Low, the type was retired in 2008, some were used during the Vietnam War in the 1970s.

French Air Force Mirage IVP, a former nuclear bomber which stood down in 1996, but became a photo reconnaissance platform during the twilight of its caree

French Air force F.1C Mirage, in demonstration team colors. The last French F.1 was retired on June 13, 2014.

Spanish Air Force Mirage F1M; these were retired from Spanish service in 2013, but many were purchased by Draken Industries in the U.S. for adversary training, and some are already flying.

French Nord 262D transport, the type was slowly retired during the last decade, “AL” was parked in 2013.

RAF Nimrod MR2, the type was retired on June 28, 2011.

U.S. Army OH-58D; the type was retired on 2017 although some training airframes may remain in service.

The Piaggio/Douglas PD.808GE served as an Electronic Warfare aircraft, until being retired in 2003.

Westland Sea King HAR3 Search and Rescue helicopters were all retired by 2016.

Spitfire LF XVIe

Spitfire PR IX

Bolingbroke Mk IVT

Random Warbirds #1

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QF-100 drones after conversions at Mojave, CA… the type has been retired for a long time.



Ed Stead’s T.35 Vampire trainer during preflight at Burlington VT.

Good Day Everyone! Here’s a new feature that we’ll be running regularly in the pages of “Random Warbirds” will feature two dozen assorted warbirds at a time, sort of a box of assorted candy for the eyes!


AD-4NA Skyraider at Titusville, FL.

Anything might show up here… retired airframes, retired types, boneyard photos, airshow photos, you name it, as long as it’s a warbird. Each photo will have a caption too… with at least the type of aircraft you’re looking at and maybe much more.

Mustang at rest, Oshkosh WI.


With more than two dozen contributors worldwide, we have plenty to share. You can plan on every third weekend of each month, we’ll have a new volume. Of course, we add content every week, so be sure to visit us often!


Canadair CT-133 operated by Flight Systems Inc. at Mojave, CA.



Texas Raiders, Boeing B-17G, possibly at Oshkosh WI. 



Corsair in the sun.



Collings Foundation B-24 at a TICO air show sponsored by the Valiant Air Command. 



Grumman F7F Tigercat.



Curtiss P-40 Warhawk.



EAA AirVenture warbirds on the main ramp at Oshkosh WI.



George Baker’s Wirraway at TICO FL.



Rare P-51H Mustang at TICO FL.



DeHavilland Venom FB.54 at Mojave CA.



F-4G Wild Weasel at NAS Pensacola FL.



North American AT-6F over Massachusetts. The aircraft encountered an engine malfunction and crashed in 2010. RIP Reese Dill.



MiG-17 at Burlington, VT.



DeHavilland DH115 Vampire T.35 at Burlington VT.



Republic P-47 during a TICO air show in Titusville, FL.



Consolidated PBY-6A at dusk over central New York State, near Geneseo NY.



Canadian Car and Foundry Hurricane IIB at Geneseo, NY, the aircraft was lost due to a hangar fire in 1993.



AN-2 in Tennessee before an epic flight to Oshkosh WI.



McDonnell Douglas F-4G Wild Weasel at NAS Pensacola.



MiG-21UM (or similar) trainer at Oshkosh WI.

The Andrews 2019 Air Show Aircraft Ramp Lineup:

Editor: This is Part Two of a two-part article about the Joint Base Andrews facility, tenant units, and their latest air show in 2019. Sorry about the confusion, Bill Sarama did write this article… editor’s mistake originally!

Joint Base Andrews, in 2019 last summer, had a lot of airplanes. If you counted everything, both on the public Static Ramp and the Restricted Hot Ramp, where the flying planes were staging out of, there was a total of 99 airplanes on the ground at JBA. Lets just round it off and call it an even 100 airplanes. Since there was no “After Action Report”, what follows may be the only accurate list of EVERY PLANE that took part in the Andrews Air Show in 2019.


OK, let’s just take a walk down the ramp, starting at the north end, where the busses are unloading the public. Don’t forget, there is no public parking at the Andrews Show. The public had to be bussed in from the Washington Redskins FedEx Parking Field, about 6 miles north of JBA. Coming in it’s good. But the return trip after the Blues finish, and you are really tired, and you are sooo thirsty, and you’re waiting an hour in line for a bus to get back to the FedEx Lot at 4 PM and it’s 90 degrees, well, that could be brutal. So, you get off the bus at 0900 and the first thing you see are 16 UH-1N blue VIP Hueys of the 1st Helicopter Squadron on the far north edge of the ramp by the tree line. After you make it through the Bag Check and X-Ray Check at the security gates, the first plane you see close up is a big AMC C-5M Super Galaxy from the 60th AMW, 22nd Airlift Squadron out of Travis AFB, CA; next to it is a C-17A from the 436AW / 512AW-AFRC from Dover AFB, DE.; then a private UH-1 Huey in SEA colors warming up near the busses that’s getting ready to launch with some privileged shooters who will later photograph the Saturday morning ramp crowd from a low slow pass over the crowd line.

Walking further, we have a blue VIP UH-1N from the local 1st HS (Note: these Andrews Hueys will soon be replaced with 15 Boeing / Leonardo / Augusta-Westland MH-139A “Grey Wolf” VIP helos soon to arrive at JBA). Then we have a gloss grey T-38C Talon (soon to be replaced by the new Boeing / Saab T-7A “Red Hawk” advanced T-X Trainer) from the 509th BW / 509th FTS out of Whitman AFB, MO; Next a UH-1N Twin Huey from the 512th Rescue Squadron, 58th Sp Ops Wing, out of Kirtland AFB, NM, in a Vietnam color scheme; then another UH-1N Huey in a gloss grey from the USAF Flying Training Squadron, AETC, 59th Ops Gp, out of Ft. Rucker (yes, it’s an Army base), AL; next a civil 1966 Beech A23-24 “Mouseketeer Super III”, then a second 1967 Beech 23-24; then a 2017 Pipistrel DOO Ajdovscona “Virus” custom kit plane;

Then some real military planes: a white and orange T-45C Marine Goshawk from Navy Training Air Wing Two (TW-2) based aboard NAS Kingsville, TX; next, a F/A-18E Super Hornet from VFA-213 “Black Lions” out of Oceana; then an F/A-18D Hornet from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23 (VX-23) “Salty Dogs”, with “Strike Test” and “Don’t Tread On Me” logos and an “SD” tail code, out of Pax River; then a grey Sikorsky MH-60R from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron One (VX-1) “Pioneers”, also out of Pax; then a Bell-Boeing MV-22B Osprey from Marine Tilt Rotor Squadron VMM-263 “Thunder Chickens” out of MCAS New River, NC; then a Eurocoptor UH-72A Lakota from the US Navy Test Pilot School (actually on loan from the US Army) out of Pax; then a KC -135R tanker from the 459th ARW, the “Congressional Wing” from here at JBA; then a AC-130W Spectre Gunship from the 27th SOW / 16th SOS out of Cannon AFB, NM.

Next a Fairchild-Republic A-10C “Warthog” from the 177th WG / 104th FS, MD-ANG, “MD” tail code, out of Warfield ANGB, Martin State Airport, Middle River, MD, near Baltimore; then an F-15C Viper from the 104th FW, MA-ANG, out of Barnes ANGB, MA; next, a Northrop-Grumman E-8C “Joint STARS” from the 461st Air Control Wing (461ACW) and the 116ACW, GA-ANG, a joint unit, out of out of Robins AFB, GA; next a KC-10A Extender tanker from the 60th Air Mobility Wing (60AMW) and the AFRC 349th AMW, an associate unit of the 60AMW, out of Travis AFB, CA (Note: the 60AMW is the largest Air Mobility organization in the USAF with KC-10A’s, C-17A’s and C-5M’s).

The US Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) was here with a 1966 Lockheed P-3B Orion Airborne Early Warning (AEW) aircraft, a unit of their Air and Marine Operations (AMO) and is a Long Range Tracker (LRT) used for tracking air and sea smuggling, drug and immigration violators. The P-3’s work out of Jacksonville and Corpus Christi; next a CBP 2012 American Airbus Eurocopter AS350-B3 “A-Star” Light Enforcement Helicopter from Manassas, VA; then a USCBP all-weather 41 foot high speed Interceptor Class “”Safe Boat”; next a small squadron of USAF Civil Air Patrol SAR planes — a CAP C-172S “Skyhawk”; a CAP 2005 Cessna C-206H “Stationaire”; a CAP 1986 Cessna 182R “Skylane”; a CAP 8-passenger Australian Gippsland GA-8; a CAP 2001 Maile MT-7-235 “Super Rocket” that looks just like a C-172, but isn’t; a large CAP Cessna 182T “Skylane”; and finally for the “CAP Air Force” here today, a CAP large toy Thunderbird replica F-16 Viper that the kids could sit in and peddle around.

Nearby was a UH-72A Lakota helo and a militarized Eurocopter EC-145, both from Alpha Company, 1st of the 224th, DC-Army-NG, out of Ft. Belvoir, VA, that are used for training, MedEvac and surveillance; then a UH-60 Lima (L) Black Hawk from Golf Company (G), 3rd of the 126th, DC- Army-NG, also out of Ft. Belvoir, VA, Davison Army Airfield, used for General Support Aviation (GSA) in the DC area (Interesting Fact — Ft. Belvor is a gigantic local Army base with 58,000 personnel and civilian workers making it nearly twice the size of the Pentagon in staff population); next a DC-ANG C-40C (Boeing 737-700C BBJ) from the 201st Airlift Squadron / 113th Wing, out of JBA; next a Fast Mover from the DC-ANG, 113th FW, 121st FS, “Capital Guardians”, an F-16C Viper fighter jet; next a total contrast – a 1944 Douglas DC-3 done up as a C-47 Skytrain with “That’s All Brother” and “3X” nose art from the Commemorative Air Force (CAF), Central Texas Wing, based at the American Airpower Heritage Museum in San Marcos (Dallas) Texas.

Then a 1956 North American T-28C Trojan, also out of Texas, all done up as a Navy trainer in white and day-glo orange of VT-5 with “USS Lexington” logo;

Then another real Warbird, a 1945 Grumman TBM-3E Avenger owned by the American Airpower Heritage Museum, the CAF “Ghost Squadron”, based at Culpepper, VA, done up in BT-13 colors;

Next the 1941 Boeing B-17F Bomber “The Movie Memphis Belle” from the National Warplane Museum in Geneseo, NY;

Also out of Culpepper, VA, an olive drab CAF 1943 Stinson L-5 Sentinel liaison aircraft “Gayle Ann”.

Walking a little further down the ramp, we had a 1955 Fuji LM-2 out of Culpepper, VA, a liaison aircraft built in Japan under license to Beechcraft for the “Japanese Home Ground Defense Force” that was similar in design to the Beech T-34 but with four seats.

Next the Douglas C-54 / R5D Skymaster “Spirit of Freedom” owned by the Berlin Airlift Historic Association” out of Toms River, NJ; finally some classic Heavy Metal, a 1960 B-52H “BUFF”, tail code “LA”, from the 96th Bomb Squadron out of Barksdale AFB, AL; then a General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper UCAV from the 432nd Wing, 732nd Ops Gp, 17th Attack Squadron (17ATKS), from Creech AFB, NV; next, a 1945 Chance-Vought F4U-4 Corsair with a “416” nose from Jim Torbul’s Airshows, named “Korean War Hero”, that actually served VF-884 on board the USS Boxer (CV-21) with nose “416” and later as nose “308” with VF-664 aboard the USS Valley Forge, and is now home with Joe and Jim Torbul since 1981 in Pittsburgh.

The Hot Ramp also had Warbirds: the 1944 B-25J Mitchell bomber “Panchito” down from the Delaware Aviation Museum (An interesting fact for you New Yorker’s: In August 1954, this same aircraft was transferred to the New York Air National Guard and was stationed at the “Westchester County Air Force Base” near White Plains. Here she was used by the 2nd Radar Calibration Flight to test and train airborne radar systems for the local Air Defense Command fighters. In April of 1955 she left HPN to go to Birmingham, Alabama, to be converted to a TB-25N and then sent to the 115th FS, CA-ANG, for proficiency ratings training. There were also three Mustangs on the Hot Ramp: the first was the 1945 North American P-51D Mustang “Quick Silver” flown by Scott Yoke, a highly polished gloss metal bird with a black nose and invasion stripes; the second was the 1944 P-51D Mustang “Bald Eagle”, flown by and owned by Mr. Jim Brasley, a successful Philadelphia Lawyer, and was silver with a yellow nose and also with invasion stripes (Brasley is part of the USAF Heritage Flight Demo Team and will team up later with the A-10 “Warthog Demo Team” out of Davis-Monthan); the third Mustang was a P-51C Mustang with a bright red tail and a red nose from the CAF “Red Tail Squadron” out of Red Wing, Minn., an airplane dedicated to telling the inspirational story of the Tuskegee Airmen in WW2; and finally a blue and yellow Stearman biplane from the 1940’s that was on the hot ramp but did not go up.

Two of the Hot Ramp planes joined up later to become part of the 2-ship “Class of 45 Demo Team” with Scott Yoak and his P-51D Mustang “Quick Silver” and Jim Tobul and his F4U-4 Corsair “Korean War Hero”, and later did some wild bombing and strafing simulations with the help of some neat pyro being blown up by the “Tora Bomb Squad”. And finally on the Hot Ramp were our old friends from Republic Airport on Long Island, who seem to show up at every air show in the northeast lately, the six SNJ-2 WW2 Texan trainers that that make up the “GEICO Skytypers”, that great outfit that does not only their neat signature computerized dot matrix high altitude skywriting but also do a wild CAS / ACM low flying demo, a real crowd pleaser!

And Then There Was THE FLYING SHOW!!!

Everybody on the Hot Ramp, except for that visiting yellow and blue Stearman, got into the air for the Flying Show. At about 1000 hours, the four Hueys did their slow “Apocalypse Now” pass with the music of Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” playing to start the show. The flying included demonstrations by: The Golden Knights; the A-10 Demo Team; Patty Wagstaff; Michael Goulian; Kent Pietsch and his Jelly Belly three acts; Team Oracle with Sean D. Tucker and his new addition, Miss Jessy Panzer; the three Mustangs; the “Class of 45” two ship demo; the Thunderbirds at mid-day; the KC-135R fly over; the F-16 Viper Demo; the “Tora Bomb Squad” blowing up the place; B-25 “Panchito” with some beautiful bombing and strafing with the Class of 45 crew; the “GEICO Skytypers”; the “Shockwave Jet Truck” with flames, white smoke and lots of noise; and finally the Blue Angels starting at 1500 with a low flat show because of a low cloud deck but had to abort early when the rain came in heavy. But even with the rain at the end of the day, it was a good show at Andrews in 2019 with 100 planes on the ground!

Let’s all come back in 2021 and do it all again at Joint Base Andrews !!! -The Digital Aviation Magazine, wishes to thank Sgt. Abby Richardson and the PAO staff of the 11th Wing at JBA for their invitation and the outstanding cooperation they gave us for the 2019 Air Show at Joint Base Andrews.


Bundeswehr Museum of Military History Berlin – Gatow

Enhc F-104 ZELL 2112-2


The Bundeswehr Museum of Military History Berlin – Gatow in western Berlin Germany is a large impressive complex with more than 200 aircraft, helicopters and missiles. The physical structures consist of nine hangars and a control tower. Currently the permanent indoor exhibition is housed in Hangar 3.

Future plans call for the museum to utilize the additional hangars and infrastructure found on site. For example Hangar 4 is destined to cover the ‘Cold War’ with the development of the East German NVA and the West German Bundesluftwaffe, as well as the Bundeswehr, which relates to the Post Cold War era.

Hangar 7 has been completely renovated and will soon be open via guided tours. Realistically it will probably be another decade before all the design and refurbishment of the remaining hangars are completed.

The museum site is located at the former National Socialist School for Aerial Warfare in Gatow, originally constructed in 1934-1935. Airborne flying training during World War II ended at the base in October 1944 due to fuel shortages. After World War II the British Royal Air Force took over the airfield. During the Cold War, Gatow accounted for one third of all British flights for the Berlin Airlift.

When the Allies withdrew their forces in the 1990’s the Bundeswehr took over the premises.



Focke – Wulf 190

Aircraft on display in Hangar 3

Early days of German aviation are seen at the museum with an original Halberstadt CL.IV. from the final weeks of World War One. This aircraft is currently on loan from the German Museum of Technology in Berlin.



Messerschmitt 163

From the World War Two period, one can see a Heinkel HE 111, Focke- Wulf Fw190 and a Messerschmitt 163. From the Cold War Era one can view a MIG-15 and MIG- 29 from the East German Airforce. RAF Gatow is represented by a DHC-1 Chipmunk which was used for air surveillance over Berlin until 1994.



Halberstadt CL. IV

Hangar 3 was extremely well done and stocked with very interesting aircraft and exhibits, but in truth I spent the bulk of my time enjoying and photographing the aircraft on display outdoors at Gatow.



Ilyushin IL-28

Outdoor aircraft display

Sadly many of the aircraft sitting outside exposed to the elements are in desperate need of restoration and paint, but nevertheless an amazing collection it is and ample time should be allocated to appreciate these aircraft and the important role in history they played.



MiG-23 BN

Former opponents from the East German NVA and the West German Bundesluftwaffe stand next to one another on display. There are multiple versions of MIG-23’s, along with a MIG-21 and SU-22’s.



Sukhoi Su-22M4

The Blue/Yellow/Red SU-22 M4 Fitter prominently on display was in service at Naval Pilot Squadron MFG-28 in Laage. The aircraft received a special last flight paint scheme with colors of the province Mecklenburg-Vorpommern blue/yellow/red.



Some of my favorite aircraft from the outdoor display were the German Armed Forces Canberra B-2, it was used for target towing as well as a flying testbed.



Nord 2501 Nortlas

In addition, a French developed Nord Noratlas, which began arriving in the West German Air Force in 1956. An Ex West German RF-4E which began service in the Luftwaffe in 1971 and served until 2003. It is the only surviving Luftwaffe RF-4E.



RF-4E Phantom

An Ex East German Air Force Ilyushin IL-28B. A rare East German Air Force MIL Mi-4, of which only four remain in Germany. The most important of all transport aircraft for the East German Air Force, An Antonov An-26 SM. Also calling attention to RAF Gatow and its role in the Berlin Airlift of 1948-1949, an Ex RAAF C-47B is on display.

One more fascinating display is a Lockheed F-104G from the West German Air Force. Fitted with a Rocketdyne motor, this configuration named ZELL (Zero Length Launch System) provided a means for dispersing Luftwaffe F-104’s into the countryside to be mounted on pre-positioned ramps, allowing the aircraft to be launched under the power of the huge rocket motor.




In Summary

When in Berlin I recommend that you take a short 20 minute cab or car ride to Gatow to view the current collection. Keep in mind that the hangars and base infrastructure along with the aircraft inventory continue to be developed, therefore one never knows what new treasures are to be found for visitors. Admission is free and the museum is open Tuesday – Sunday 10:00am – 6pm.