The RAF’s first air show

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    Donald
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    Mick Davis wrote an excellent article, published in Vol 42/4 of the Journal, on the RAF display held on Newcastle Town Moor in February and March 1919. I’ve just come across some Pathe News footage of it here. The cameraman seems to have been particularly interested in the second prototype Armstrong Whitworth Ara, F4972, which must have been wheeled over from the AW factory on the other side of Grandstand Road for static display. We also get to see the Cacquot balloon in which visitors were able to go up, and possibly even Flt Sgt H G Hill whom Mick identifies as the NCO i/c the handling party.

    There’s footage of two Camels and an Avro 504J, which appears to be B3174. I would think these are some of the aircraft belonging to the North Eastern Area Flying Instructors School, Redcar, which were used to give exhibitions of stunt flying. Unless the film has deteriorated very badly, the pilot of the chequer-tailed Camel seems to be taking off into thick fog! There’s no visible serial on that aircraft but I make the other one to be C675?. All ten C675X Camels, part of a batch ordered from the British Caudron Co, went direct to training units. I can’t make out the last digit but it shouldn’t be 2 or 4 since both these aircraft had crashed fatally several months before the display. The marking under the cockpit looks like a monogram in which I think I can make out an A and an S. One of the Redcar pilots named by Mick was a Lt Anderson, so just possibly this is his Camel.

    At a guess the reason for the armband that many of the men are wearing was to distinguish RAF personnel on duty from soldiers and airmen on leave who were visiting the display in uniform. Demobilisation had barely got underway by this point.

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