Fantastic stuff David, making me quite homesick I have to say! I can add a little to the pictorial, but I’m going to keep it short because I will wax overly lyrical if I am not careful!
For those who may not be from those parts, Biggin Hill was an RAF fighter station in Kent, south of London. It put up planes almost every day during the Battle of Britain, and had previously been involved in The Battle of France and Dunkirk. Reduced periodically to rubble and craters, it stayed open throughout those most important chapters of the conflict for Britain. Its nickname ‘The Strongest Link’ was added to the station crest, and it was a nickname hard won. Spitfires, Hurricanes and Defiants flew from Biggin during the Battle.
The place holds vivid memories for me since it represented a link to the second war for many people from the south of England, who would travel to there to the post-war airshows that always paid tribute to ‘The Few’. Biggin Hill was the station that defended London, the place my parents were born and lived, during the Battle and The Blitz. My mother, aged 12 at that time, was evacuated, with her brother, to Wales once ‘The Blitz’ began. They hated it being away from my Grandmother, and tried to run away regularly. My Father a few years older stayed put and had tales to tell. I think it is why they took me to those airshows – in tribute and to reminisce a little. Many shows finished with a lone Spitfire looping across the early evening sky in reverent silence.
And speaking of myth and legend, the locals say that Biggin Hill and the areas around it are some of the most haunted parts of Britain. There are tales of the ghosts of airmen appearing by the side of the road and near sites that used to accommodate pilots during the conflict. Some saying you can hear them partying in the early hours and even playing darts! There is also tell that a ‘phantom Spitfire’ appears towards the end of January, performs a low pass and victory roll and disappears into the night!
Here, to give a flavour of the memories of the more palpable inhabitants of the station, those veterans who were based there, is a brief film about ‘Biggin on The Bump’, if you have 20 minutes or so to spare. It needs no additional comment from me.
Later in life, I took my wife and kids back to Biggin Hill, to the airshows there. The first time I saw the Red Arrows was as they flew back into Britain from a show in France as my family was having a day on the beach at Brighton – I guess I was under 10 but can’t be more specific. I had never heard such terrifying noise! I provided ear defenders for my 2 boys when we went back, but they took them off for a short while for ‘The Reds’, just to experience the sound!
By that stage my interest in photography had begun in earnest. I went back through my hard drive today and dug these out. Funnily enough I can only ever remember there being one really sunny day there in all my visits, so the backgrounds are very flat (I added the background to the Harrier). Some of these shots have been on iModeler before, and some I digitally processed earlier today – even though they were all taken between 2010 and 2014! I hope they are of help technically, or are in some way add a little inspiration for builds, or even convince people to visit Biggin Hill – I believe there is a 2-day show there in August this year! I have only included RAF aircraft, please enjoy identifying them – especially the Spitfire and Hurricane variants!