22 thoughts on “Airshow c1950s

  1. Here is a condensed report on the 1957 Thornaby air show from the Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail.
    One of the greatest attractions was undoubtedly the two V-bombers, Valiant & Vulcan which were making there first appearance on Teesside when they flew low over the run way ( a valiant was also booked to attend the airshow but did not appear). Hunters from nearby Middleton-St-George showed their paces in formation flying and solo acrobatics. Other RAF aircraft taking part in this impressive display were the Meteor, Comet, Canberrra, Jet Provost, Shackleton and Chipmunk.
    For the first time Sea Hawks of the Fleet Air Arm took part and the American Super Sabres, F.84’s and B.45’s gave it an international flavour.
    On the ground spectators were able to inspect at their leisure 16 aircraft ranging from the Hunter MK6 to one of the remaining Spitfires. Dwarfing the others was the massive Beverley military freight plane. The American Air Force was represented in the static display by a four engined fuel tanker.
    Throughout the afternoon helicopters from 275 Search and Rescue Squadron based at Thornaby amazed the crowd by the ease with which they could be handled.
    The reporter also tells us that hundreds of people from the Hartlepools had to make a three quarters of an hour walk from Stockton to the airfield, as their was a shortage of Stockton corporation buses due to an influenza outbreak among the drivers.
    I wonder how many people in the modern era would have made the effort of a three quarters of an hour walk?

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    • 275 Search And Rescue Squadron arrived at Thornaby from Linton-On-Ouse equipped with the Bristol Sycamore in November 1854. At this time it was the only helicopter search & rescue unit in the Royal Air Force and was on 24 hour stand-by duty for emergencies.
      275 Squadron moved to Leconfield in October 1957.

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  2. First picture I am almost certain is Thornaby airshow around 1941 as my brother Colin and I were there and were allowed to share a seat for 50p each when the proper price was 1pound being boys we were over the moon as we never expected to be able to afford to fly.
    Mum and dad did not believe us until some months later when we met some friends who said they had seen us boarding the plane, which was a Dragonfly biplane if my memory is right.

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    • Keith Clark,

      I think we are related Keith as you mention your brother Colin, and you had another brother (Raymond?) and a sister (can’t remember her name, poor memory these days). If I remember correctly our Grandmothers were sisters and yours (Amy) lived with you on Bon Lea Terrace, Mandale Road. My Grandma, Lizzie Doughty, lived in Railway Street Stockton and we often visited your family when I was staying with my Grandma in the summer holidays. I am sorry I did not notice your post at the time so I hope that you see this.

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  3. I seem to remember going to Thornaby for an open day about 1954/5 when one of the exhibits was a B-29 in RAF livery and was called a Washington.

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  4. How I chuckled reading all the above comments. I was at Leeming on 228 OCU in 1957 and came over to Battle of Britain Day at Thornaby 1957 from Leeming by air in Valetta T.4 WJ469/O. Look at the photo and you will see the ‘O’ on the cockpit side – memory says in colour red but stand corrected on this one. My photo (not too sharp) taken to the rear of the Valetta shows Mosquito TT.35 TA664/X behind us and to the left, with the KB-29 to our right but does not show what was in between us and the KB-29. To the right of the KB-29 was a very high wing aircraft (not much of it in the photo as it was to the extreme right) which could only be a Beverley, presumably from down the road at Dishforth.
    The line of aircraft is facing a hangar.

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  5. I have a display program from the 1957 air display at RAF Thornaby, the B29 was actually a KB29 which was on static display. There is another photograph of it taking off from the Thornaby display the same day, the refueling probe can be seen trailing from the back. The aeroplane on the end is a modified Valleta, possibly Valleta T4 WG256 used by the Radio Introduction Unit in the mid 50’s.

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    • Forgot to mention, the Valetta is not listed in the display program for 1957, however, the North East Aviation Research site does give Valetta WJ469/O from 228OCU as attending that day. The display program does say it may be necessary to alter the sequence of events, the previous serial WG256 I took from the back of a photograph.

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  6. Surely the B29 had been withdrawn for a long time by 1957. About the only aircraft left in Britain of this type was the tanker conversion of the B50? The big tail is the giveaway.

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    • I don’t know a great deal about the USAF in Britain so I asked a friend of mine who specialises in the subject and have attached his reply ;

      “It is definitely a KB-29P of the 420th Air Refuelling Squadron based at Sculthorpe. The B-50 had a much taller fin than the aircraft shown in your picture and the tip of the triangular 420thARS unit marking typical of the squadron’s KB-29P period can just be seen above the Valletta’s nose.

      The 420thARS used flying-boom equipped KB-29Ps from 4th October 1955 onwards (that’s when the squadron officially arrived at Sculthorpe). The first hose and drogue KB-50s arrived during the winter of 1956/57 but ten KB-29Ps were retained until the spring of 1959 when the entire fleet was replaced by the jet-augmented KB-50J.”

      Again , apologies for the technical nature of the reply !

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  7. The prototype Universal Freighters/Beverleys were, serial WF320 first flight 20 June 1950, and WZ889 first flight 17 June 1953, with XB259 first flight 29 Jan 1955 the first RAF production aircraft. Thus the Beverley above would be a prototype to fit in with RCAF Canadair Sabre serial AP*580, and a date up to mid-summer of 1953. From the dress sense of the above crowd it does not look like cold weather, likely the warm months.

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    • I concede to the superior data from elsewhere. Interesting photo which I have not seen before, any idea about its source?. DT it would be interesting to check or merge my list of aircraft present (as on Picture Stockton) with your list and serials one day, as I have few of the latter.

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  8. I have a problem with the above photo being RAF Thornaby on 14/9/1957. I think the photo dates from c.1953. The Canadair Sabre Mk.4 seen above looks to be coded AP/roundel/580 (AP code = 413 Squadron), thus RCAF serial number 19580, it was first flown on 17 Feb 1953, but on 3 June 1953 the aircraft was transferred to the RAF as serial number XB694, it then went to the USAF on 3 June 1957 as serial number 53-19580 for final issue to the Yugoslav Air Force. The Sabre does not appear on RAF orders for the 14/9/1957 static or flying display, although there were the usual late deletions and additions. These did not appear on the final printed RAF list. The Beverely present at Thornaby on 14/9/1957 was photographed next to a Hunter by a local newspaper. I concede that the remaining aircraft above were typical of those present in the static at late 1950’s Thornaby airshows. FS is right Middleton St George was closed for a runway upgrade and the Hunters went to Thornaby for a while.

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    • Beverley serial number XH118 from Dishforth
      KB-29 0-486249
      Sabre 23580/AP-580
      Valetta WJ469/0 from Leeming
      In mid 1955 the USAF started to prefix aircraft older than 10 years with an ‘O’ for Obsolete as on this aircraft. Apologies if this thread is starting to get a bit too technical for usual Picture Stockton visitors!

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  9. I was under the impression that Middleton St George was non-operational for a couple of years around 1956/57. Wasn’t Thornaby used as tempoary fighter base for Hawker Hunters because of this? The runway at Middleton was extended to 7500 ft to take V-Bombers, becoming operational in the late 1950s, early 1960s. I think that Thornaby also needed a small extension because of its use by Hunters. All the planes in the picture could manage with medium length runways.

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  10. Alan B, the 1957 Thornaby show was I think after 608 was disbanded. Air Britain has a list of single seat Meteors and an entry about one with 608 which crashed in Spanish Morocco in August 1956 killing the F/Lt pilot. If they went to summer camp in 1956 at Gibralter the crash location sort of adds up but not the apparent fact that 608 had a single seat Meteor. Any ideas?

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    • This photograph was taken during the last Battle Of Britain at home day at RAF Thornaby on 14th September 1957. The aircraft left to right are; Blackburn Beverley, Boeing Superfortress, Canadair Sabre and Vickers Valleta

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  11. A detailed account of aircraft at the Battle of Britain RAF Thornaby airshow of 14/9/1957 by me is already on Picture Stockton under the photo titled ‘RAF Thornaby -on-Tees 1946-1958’ of February 20, 2006, photo posted by John Pollock, sub-titled ‘Vampire jets leaving Thornaby’. Present in the static display that day was a Blackburn Beverley transport with a Hawker Hunter fighter close by, a Boeing KB29P Superfortress tanker, and a Vickers Varsity. However I do not have on my list the RCAF Canadair Sabre fighter easily seen above, so just possibly Thornaby 1957 or maybe not.

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  12. This is more probably Goosepool or Middleton St George as it was called by the RAF, they held an air show every year including the air race which we went to watch when I was home.
    We could walk round and among the planes parked at the side of the runway and even clamber in some of them. Goosepool had one of the longest runways in the country at the time and could take most planes flying and yes the Hunter was one of the best planes we had, in use with quite a few middle east countries.

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  13. I would guess its the Battle of Britain dispaly in 1956 or maybe even 1957.The Beverley entered service in 1956. The US Airforce bomber is more likely to be a B50 rather than a B29. The size of the tail is an indication, this being needed because of the increased power of the engines. The Canadair Sabre was the second best aircraft of the show. The Hunter was the best but I don’t think that this was part of the ground display. The aircraft on the right may be a Valetta.

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  14. Some classic planes here :- Blackburn Beverley, Boeing B29 Superfortress and a North American F86 Sabre, don’t the one on the right though. Would Thornaby have the runway to accomodate the B29 or the Beverley?

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