Paul Filmer’s trip down memory lane continues as he looks back at the many vintage aircraft that visited Blackbushe in the 1970s and 1980s.
Whilst Blackbushe was not the closest airfield to where I grew up, it was the most interesting airport in a wide area of the West London suburbs and my father would sometimes stop here if we were driving along the A30 on the way to somewhere else.
My first photos from Blackbushe were from 29 May 1978 with CASA 325L G-BECL, ex Spanish Air Force T.2B-212. This was one of many ex-military surplus aircraft purchased by Doug Arnold of Warbirds of Great Britain (WGB), who had a base at the airfield.
It can be assumed that if a reference isn’t made to an owner when describing other photos, they were owned by WGB.
This airframe was delivered to Blackbushe via Dinard and Gatwick airports on 30 July 1976.
It’s seen here after being painted and flown for a film in Sweden as N9+AA.
The airframe still flies in France, based at La Ferte-Alais as F-AZJU.
Fennec (a French built T-28) serial 42 of the Moroccan Air Force is seen here after being impounded at Blackbushe, before being shipped with three other examples to the Nicaraguan Air Force via aircraft broker David Tallichet. It was later used by the Sandinista forces when Somosa fled during the civil war.
At the end of the civil war it was returned to the USA.
The next set of photos are from April 1979. CASA 325L G-BFHF is still displaying its Spanish Air Force markings as T.2B-275, coded 721-16, before it was commissioned to play any future film roles.
The airframe survives painted as 1Z+IK and is displayed at The Aviodrome, Leystad, Netherlands.
A bunch of C-47Bs were also purchased from the Spanish Air Force. G-BFPW T.3-40, coded 792-2, became N3753N in 1980 and was eventually scrapped in 2000.
C-47A G-BCGCF ex Spanish Air Force T.3-33 with the code painted out.
She went to the USA as N3753C and is now displayed at Barksdale AFB, LA as its original serial 43-16130.
C-47A G-BGCG ex Spanish Air Force T.3-27 went to the USA as N5595T in 1980, but came back to the UK again as G-BGCG in 1984 and reportedly now resides at a private farm in Bedfordshire.
Here she is as N5595T in 1984, still at Blackbushe before going off-airfield to Bedfordshire.
There were still active passenger operations here at this time, such as this Intra Airways C-47A G-AMHJ.
This airframe survives as KG651 and was with the Assault Glider Trust at RAF Shawbury, and is now with Dakotair firstly at North Weald and latterly at Metheringham. She still looks pretty much the same currently as she did when at RAF Shawbury.
B-17G N17TE, 44-85784 is seen here flying and was the aircraft that would later become G-BEDF “Sally B“.
Staravia DH.104 Dove 8 G-ASPA is seen awaiting her next passenger load in its striking livery.
B-25N N9115Z, 151645 has quite a history. After service with the USAF and storage at Davis-Monthan AFB, she was bought by Sonora Flying Service, CA and converted to a fire tanker with a 10,000 gallon tank, and registered as N9115Z.
In 1969 she was bought by Tallmantz Aviation, CA and used in the filming of the movie Catch 22, now re-designated as a TB-25N.
She was then acquired for the movie Hannover Street and flown by David Tallichet from Florida to Luton via the Azores in May 1978 and painted as ‘Marvellous Miriam’. She flew out of both Little Rissington and Blackbushe during the filming and ending up being stored at Blackbushe, as seen in my scan.
WGB took ownership at Blackbushe and the aircraft was used for the filming of another movie, Eye of the Needle. In October 1982 she was loaned to the RAF Museum in Hendon and was moved by truck to its new location.
The Ministry of Defence officially acquired the airframe in 1983 and it is displayed as 34037.
Next stop 1980 and an Air UK EMB110 Bandeirante G-BGYU; the aircraft looks sharp in this old scheme. The airframe ended up in the USA with various operators and was broken up in 1990.
Eastern Airways C-47B G-AMPO was one of a pair on the ramp the day I took this shot, with G-AMYJ being the other. G-AMPO is currently displayed inside RAF Brize Norton as FZ626, and G-AMYJ is at Elvington as KN353.
A couple of years have passed and it’s now 1982. Enstrom F-28A G-BAAU survived until 2004, when it crashed due to fuel starvation.
Dan Air DH.106 Comet 4C G-BDIT was flown in after being bought by WGB to be used as a restaurant, but this never happened and the aircraft was scrapped in 1984. (You can see the Comet being scrapped in the background of the B-17 photo at the bottom of this article).
1983 saw a few more visits. Ex Royal Danish Air Force Hunter T.7 ET-271 was shipped to the USA for spares and its components were used in Hunter T.8 N745WT, which itself eventually crashed. It’s assumed that ET-271 was scrapped after all the usable components were recovered.
TB-25N NL9494Z was another aircraft used in the movies Catch 22 and Hannover Street and it was stored at Blackbushe afterwards. She was stored at Wellesbourne Mountford, Coventry, North Weald and Sandtoft.
In 2006, the airframe was rescued when it was obtained by the Belgian Air Museum and transported to Gembloux in Belgium, where the plan is to restore the airframe to static display condition.
CASA 325L G-BECL is seen again here in the process of being spray painted. See above for more information on this airframe.
Another CASA 325L, G-BFHD N8+AA, is now displayed at the NASM, Udvar-Hazy Center, VA, and painted as 03 Lufthansa colours.
The last photo from 1983 shows an unidentified CASA 325L.
The last shot is from 1984 and shows B-17G F-BEEC (to be G-FORT) after being bought by WGB. The airframe ended up in Texas with the Lone Star Flight Museum, Galveston and flies as N900BW.