Race day at Old Warden
DH88 Comet Grosvenor House is displayed with boards showing copies of the 1934 newspaper front pages featuring the race.
Perfect autumnal weather on Sunday 5 October allowed the Shuttleworth Collection to stage a very special show at Old Warden for its show season finale. Entitled Race Day, the event commemorated the 80th anniversary of the October 1934 Mac.Roberton Trophy Air Race from London to Melbourne, won by Shuttleworth’s current star performer, DH88 Comet G-ACSS Grosvenor House.
The flavour of the day was supported by a number of vintage racing cars from the Brooklands Museum, including the 1935 Napier Railton, the Napier Lion aero-engined car that ruled the Brooklands track in the 1930s and holds the Outer Circuit record of 143.44mph in perpetuity.
For aviation enthusiasts, however, clear blue skies and light winds allowed a unique gathering of vintage racing aeroplanes to assemble in order to re-enact — at least on a very local basis — the famous 1934 air race, supported by other types used for air racing from the 1930s until recent times.
Opening the show was the sole jet contribution in the form of Hunter T.7, WV372 (G-BXFI) from North Weald. Also from North Weald, Peter Teichman brought his P-51D Mustang 44-72035 (G-SIJJ) Jumpin’ Jacques, representing the many air racing Mustangs at the Reno Air Races in Nevada.
The Shuttleworth Collection flew its Desoutter G-AAPZ, SE-5a, Sea Hurricane (representing G-AMAU in the 1950s King’s Cup Air Races), Bristol M.1C, Miles Magister, Comper Swift G-ACTF, Dragon Rapide G-AGSH and of course the DH88 Comet G-ACSS.
Support came from Gladiator G-AMRA and Lysander G-AZWT, which flew a formation with the Sea Hurricane, followed by Hawker Cygnet replica G-CAMM. The English Electric Wren (almost) flew.
A unique racing flight line-up included Alex Henshaw’s Percival Mew Gull G-AEXF, the Mew Gull replica G-HEKL, both surviving Chilton DW.1s — Roy Nerou’s G-AESZ and new-build G-CDXU — Shuttleworth’s DH60X Hermes Moth G-EBWD, Comper Swift G-ACTF, Pete Kynsey’s Cosmic Wind G-ARUL, Taylor Titch G-AYZH, Peter Holloway’s Miles Falcon G-AEEG, Miles Hawk Speed Six G-ADGP, both UK-based Spartan Executives, DH80A Puss Moth G-ABLS, Miles Whitney Straight G-AERV and the rarely seen beautiful red and silver Miles Hawk Trainer, G-ADWT.
Two Dragon Rapides were on the airfield, with Mark Miller bringing in G-AGJG from Duxford to park alongside G-AGSH.
Present-day air racing was represented by Vans RV-7 G-IIXF, wearing racing number 74.
Several air racing formations were flown during the day with all the types present, the highlight being the re-enactment of the 1934 England–Australia race that started at Mildenhall. A timed, handicapped takeoff was given for the participating aircraft, with several circuits of the airfield being flown to simulate the race — won (of course!) by the superbly restored DH88 Comet.
This was one of Shuttleworth’s best, and last show of the season, which could not have been successfully staged had it not been for the fine weather. The next Shuttleworth show will be next year on 3 May.
- Report and photographs by Adrian M. Balch.
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