Thursday 31 March 2016

Part 2- Warbirds Over Wanaka, 2016

Warbirds Over Wanaka, 2016 continued on from Part 1...

Air War in the Pacific; Avenger, Corsiar and the P40 Kittyhawks-

Grumman Avenger- one of the largest single engine fighters of its time. Used by the RNZAF in the Pacific campaigns of WWII.

Corsair FG-1D- The Corsair is my most favourite plane (ahead of the Harvards), I fell in love with it at the Tauranga Air Show a few years ago. 

I love the wing shape, how it dips down near the plane body. And although rather quiet, I also like the deep throaty grumble of the 2000hp Pratt & Whitney radial engine (I looked that up!) 

The Corsair was nicknamed "Whistling Death" by the Japanese because of it's stealthy approach.

I failed to get photos this time, of the wings folding on the Corsiar & the Avenger (I was just too far away) but here are photos I took of them during the 2014 Warbirds.

The Curtiss P-40N and P-40E Kittyhawks

The RNZAF operated 297 Kittyhawk fighters in the Pacific during WWII. 

Eventually replaced by the Corsiar, the Kittyhawks returned to NZ to be used as advanced fighter trainers.

Another iconic aircraft; the Douglas Dakota C-47 - DC3. The Dakota C-47 was a modified version of the civilian DC-3. This particular C-47 was delivered to the US Army Airforce in 1944. After being decommissioned in 1959 it was commercially used in the Phillipines, New Guinea and Australia before being retired and becoming a static display. The New Zealand Warbird Group then brought it to NZ and performed an extensive rebuild. It was repainted to represent the aircraft NZ3546 from No.42 Squadron of the RNZAF.

This DC3 has a 100%  New Zealand pedigree. Currently owned & flown by Air Chathams, it left the USA and flew to Hamilton, NZ in April, 1945. In May 1945, it became known as RNZAF Dakota NZ3543. Once decommissioned it was flown by our very own NAC (National Airways Corporation).

The Catalina Flying Boat and the DC3s put on a great flying display and took many visitors for the ride of their lives.

Often used as a bomber escort, the American built P51 Mustang was armed with six .50 calibre Browning machine guns.

It was fitted with long range fuel tanks and modified to perform at high altitudes.

The Mustang was a formidable game-changer in the latter stages of WWII.

The Mustang was known as the "Cadillac of the Skies" I think it looks like one of those model aircraft you make up; the air intake underneath looks like a clip that holds the wings in place! Add to that the little model man in the cockpit and it could have come straight out of a box.

Next up are the "Air Bandits", Jurgis Kairys & Rob Fry, and their aerobatic planes performing some death-defying maneuvers. These are two very brave men.

Jurgis Kairys, is a Lithuania national is one of the most experienced aerobatic pilots in the world. Jurgis is an aeronautical engineer and he helped develop the Sukhoi aerobatic aircraft (the blue plane flown by Rob). This Warbirds Jurgis has brought his very own aircraft; the Juka to perform in. The Juka weighs less than the lightest Sukhoi and is powered by a 400hp Russian M14PF engine.

That's an impressive eleven turn cork screw Jurgis is performing on the right.

Later in the programme Jurgis sneeked in on the DC3, tucking in under the belly as they flew passed the crowd and then barrell rolling around the large plane on their way back down the runway.

Two Strikemaster Jets put on a fast and furious display...

...highlighting the incredible skill level of their pilots.

They were then joined by two De Havilland Vampires for some precision flying.

The Vampire was considered highly experimental in its developmental stages and came on line too late to see any action in WWII.  

The Vampire was used as a training aircraft and remained in service in NZ until 1972. And they still look futuristic to me!

The grand finale saw the airfield under attack by enemy aircraft (poor lonely Messerschmidt) and the Fighters scramble to do battle.

Followed by a mass flypast and a massive explosion, that caught many on the hop.

And again on Sunday.... and that was Warbirds Over Wanaka for another two years. 

Here are a couple of other aircraft that took part in the Classic Flypast...

This one made me looks like he's peering over the top of the screen... 

And in a paddock at the end of the runway; a plane park- for those that arrived by wing.

Part 1- Warbirds Over Wanaka, 2016

Drum roll please........

In no particular order and a brief description where possible, I present to you a collection of photos from Warbirds Over Wanaka, 2016. I'm by no means an expert but this being my fourth New Zealand airshow and I'm beginning to recognise many of the planes.

Many of you will know that the Yak52 is the plane that Jim Hickey, TV1's former long time weatherman, owned for many years. Jim was one of the commentators for the show and his old plane performed in the acrobatic display.

Yak 52
 With precision timing and trails of smoke, the Yaks put on an impressive flying display.

Yak 52
The Royal New Zealand Airforce displayed a number of their aircraft along with thrilling displays from the French, Australian & the United States Airforces.

Top left- Armee De L'Aire with their CASA CN-235-300 did an aerial display.
Top Right- RNZAF's  T-6C Texan II aircraft are used to train pilots and are purpose built for military training with all the latest technology.
Bottom left & right- The NH90 helicopter replaced the very familiar and much loved Iroquois.

It was about here that I decided to vacate the show proper and move to the fenceline in the carpark at the end of the runway. There was no way on earth, without being rude and trampling over and pushing through people twenty deep, that I was going to get to the front along side the runway. And the sun was all wrong for taking good photos too.

The RNZAF's C-130 Hercules flew in from Whenuapai, Auckland to do a magnificent display and then finished with a brilliant blast of flares.

Next up is one of my favourites; the North American Harvards with their loud and throaty roar.

The Roaring Forties Team but on an awesome display in their fully aerobatic Harvards.

The Harvard was used as the primary trainer for most Commonwealth aircrew during WWII.

First flown in 1937, the RNZAF Harvards were used as pilot trainers for over 30 years.

And just because I love Harvards, here are a couple more. I love seeing the pilots in the cockpit.

The US Airforce's C-17 Globemaster made a spectacular and impressive sight as it approached the airfield, doing a low pass followed by a few maneuvers for the crowd. Obviously it wasn't able to touchdown due to the size of the runway and flew off, back to Christchurch once it had finished it's display.

This Globemaster is based in Hawaii and attends numerous airshows around the world as an ambassador for the US Airforce.

C-17 Globemaster III facts (from the programme) and because I find them fascinating- 
  • Primary function- Cargo & Troop transport
  • Prime Contractor- Boeing Company
  • Power Plant- Four Pratt & Whitney F117-PW-100 turbofan engines
  • Thrust- 40,440 pounds, each engine
  • Wingspan- 51.75 metres to winglet tips (the commentator mentioned that the winglets are 2 metres high)
  • Length- 53 metres
  • Height- 16.79 metres
  • Speed- 450 knots at 28,000 feet (8,534 meters) (Mach .74)
  • Service Ceiling- 45,000 feet a cruising speed (13,716 metres)
  • Range- Glocal with in-flight refueling
  • Crew- Three (two pilots & one loadmaster)
  • Load- 102 troops/paratroops; 36 litter & 54 ambulatory patients & attendants; 77,519 kilograms of cargo (18 pallet positions)
  • First Deployed- June 1993



The Royal Australian Airforce put on a fast and furious display in their Hawk 127 fighter-trainer jets.

One of the start attractions at Warbirds this year is the Messerschmitt Buchon ME-109, the last time one flew in New Zealand was 20 years ago in 1996 at Warbirds, when the airshow founder Sir Tim Wallis brought one out.

The German ME-109 has the distinction of being the most produced fighter aircraft of all time with over 33,000 built and was the main rival of the Allies Spitfire during WWII.

This particular model, the Buchon,  was developed by the Spanish Airforce following WWII with the original German airframe paired with a Rolls Royce Merlin 500-45 engine. This particular aircraft is also a movie star, appearing with 27 others in the 1968 film "Battle of Britain". 

The beautiful & graceful bomber Avro Anson MKI (can a bomber be graceful?) with it's prominent gun turret bubble, is always a popular sight at the airshow as it seems to 'lumber' along with it's smaller fighting buddies, the Corsair & the Kittyhawks.

This aircraft is the only remaining wartime Avro Anson MKI in the world that is airworthy.

The RNZAF used 23 of these aircraft as navigation trainers during WWII. 

The iconic Spitfire...

And it's highly recognizable wing shape; something I manage to capture too many times. Talk about fast on the fly past!

The Yak 3; a nimble "Russian Spitfire"

I caught this fly-past with just a little too fast a shutter speed, although there is a hint of a blur; a purist aircraft photographer likes to catch some blur from the props to give the plane a sense of movement otherwise it can look like the plane is suspended in mid air or it looks like a toy! Especially when you can see the pilot. 

Yak 3
And here is the famous (or is that infamous) Martin Jetpack. This is what David was wanting to see at it's Wanaka debut. It was a little disappointing in that it was unable to have a pilot, as it needed, for safety, a low-altitude parachute fitted or it could only fly over water- neither were at the show. It did lift off with one heck of a noise that could be heard all over the airfield, from up on the terrace and back in our paddock where we stayed. I wasn't nearby to catch it's flight when it lifted off. And it had malfunction problems on Sunday so didn't lift off either, which disappointed many.

Another visitor to the show was the iconic Catalina Flying Boat. The 70 year old Catalina last appeared at the show in 2010 and has since under gone an extensive $250,000 renovation.

With its amphibious qualities and a flying range of over 3000 miles the Catalina was the most widely used seaplane of WWII

The RNZAF had 56 Catalina aircraft  between 1943 and 1953 and used them extensively in the Pacific for rescue, reconnaissance and anti-submarine missions.

This particular Catalina started it's flying career with the Canadian Airforce in 1944 for anyti-submarine duties. I like how you can see the passengers in the bubble.

Warbirds Over Wanaka, 2016- Part 2 is here.