Royal International Air Tattoo 2015

The Air Tattoo is renowned for its aviation spectacles

The Air Tattoo is renowned for its aviation spectacles - Credit: Archant

When it comes to staging memorable aviation spectacles, few airshows can rival the Royal International Air Tattoo for sheer scale and drama. As organisers gear up to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain on July 17-19, Cotswold Life offers a taste of the excitement visitors can expect at RAF Fairford next month.

High flyers start young

High flyers start young - Credit: Archant

Where better to stage one of the UK’s most thrilling flypasts of historic warbirds in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain than at this summer’s Royal International Air Tattoo?

Since it was first held in 1971, the Air Tattoo has earned a worldwide reputation for commemorating national and international aviation landmarks with breath-taking, and often unique, flying spectacles.

There was the Hunter Meet in 1976, which brought together 27 examples of the type in an impressive and unique line-up to mark 25 years of the Hawker Hunter. Three years later, the same impressive number of C-130 Hercules touched down at RAF Greenham Common to mark the 25th anniversary of Lockheed Martin’s venerable workhorse of the skies.

Often focusing on anniversaries, the Air Tattoo targets those that offer the best opportunity to showcase special aerial and static displays. The 75th anniversary of the RAF in 1993, the Gulf Salute two years later and, in 1995, The Victory Airshow (marking the 50th anniversary of the end of World War Two) were all memorable for their spectacular set pieces.

This summer will see the Air Tattoo further enhance its reputation with an evocative mass flypast of historic warbirds to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. Joining the RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s (BBMF) Spitfires and Hurricanes will be a number of rare civilian-operated warbirds.

As well as looking back, airshow organisers will draw a parallel between the aerial battle that took place in 1940 and current aircraft from around the globe whose primary role is to protect their nations’ skies, be it in support of combat missions, intelligence gathering, providing an airlift capability or delivering humanitarian aid.

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Among them will be the world’s leading Top Guns who will take part in an action-packed eight-hour flying display (four hours on Friday) demonstrating their skills in a range of impressive fighter jets such as the Typhoon, Tornado, Gripen, F-18 and MiG-29.

But that’s not all! Renowned for attracting aviation ‘firsts’, this summer’s Air Tattoo will be no different with the UK display debuts of both the Hellenic Air Force’s F-16 demo team Zeus and the French Air Force’s dynamic Mirage 2000N tactical display team Ramex Delta. There will also be the first ever appearance of a military aircraft from Qatar: a Qatar Emiri Air Force C-130 Hercules.

The Victory Finale at International Air Tattoo 1995, staged as a fitting tribute to the fallen of Wo

The Victory Finale at International Air Tattoo 1995, staged as a fitting tribute to the fallen of World War Two - Credit: Archant

Other exciting aircraft already confirmed include the world’s only airworthy Vulcan bomber – XH558; a Russian-built Mil Mi-24V/Mi-35 helicopter from the Czech Air Force, a Sukhoi Su-22M-4 from the Polish Air Force and, of course, the legendary Red Arrows.

The Flypast

• Bristol Blenheim: only flying example in the world, returned to flight in November after a restoration project lasting 11 years. In 1940 it performed as both a fighter and bomber.

• Hurricanes: five examples including a Hawker Hurricane Mk1 which flew 49 sorties and shot down five enemy aircraft during its time on 605 Sqn.

• Spitfires: an incredible 12 have been brought together including the BBMF’s Spitfire IIa which was with No 266 Squadron; Spitfire Ia P9374, which force-landed on a northern French beach while flying with No 92 Squadron in May 1940; and Spitfire Ia N3200, then of No 19 Squadron, which did likewise just a few days later while covering the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk.

• Seafire XVII: a Spitfire converted to operate from ships of the RN’s Fleet Air Arm.

• Hispano Buchon: essentially a Rolls- Royce Merlin-engined Messerschmitt Bf109 built in Spain after WW2.

As well as enjoying more than 200 aircraft in the air and on the ground, visitors will be able to enjoy a wide range of attractions on the Showground, including the Adrenalin Zone, ideal for thrill-seekers of all ages; the Techno Zone, which brings engineering to life with demonstrations and hands-on activities designed to engage young minds, the new Autodrome and the nostalgic Vintage Village.

Visitors can also take advantage of a wide range of private enclosures, hospitality and membership options to suit all tastes and budgets ranging from a grandstand or garden seat in our Viewing Village (£26) to enjoying the ultimate Air Tattoo experience in our Lightning Pavilion (from £414).

With all this, and much more to be confirmed, next month’s Air Tattoo is set to be one of the most exciting family days out this summer. Don’t miss it!


The Royal International Air Tattoo is staged annually at RAF Fairford in support of the RAF Charitable Trust. Tickets, which must be purchased in advance, are available at or by calling 0800 107 1940. All under-16s go free. Free parking.