Cold War Jets on a warm day…

I recently went along to an open day at the Cold War Jets museum in Bruntingthorpe, Leicestershire, UK.  The museum has a collection of non-flying ex-military jets that were in service from the 50’s to the present day, and during the open day they run as many as possible up the runway.  The standing start “fast taxiing” is the most impressive bit.

I wanted to get some close up shots of the action so took my 70-200 f 2.8 Sigma lens and its dedicated APO 2x teleconverter.  On my crop sensor DSLR that gave me a maximum effective focal length of 600mm.  The weather was good, with plenty of light around, meaning I was able to use short shutter speeds to  reduce camera shake, so I left my tripod/monopod in the car.  There were hundreds of other aircraft enthusiasts there, and it was a telephoto lens fest!

“Nimrod MR2” by Derek Gale

I was lucky with where I had chosen to stand for the first part of the taxi runs.  It was directly opposite where the aircraft turned round, so I could shoot them head on.  This Nimrod MR2 (XV226) really showed that form follows function.  It looked really mean with its modified fuselage and all the sensors.  Quite a difference from the elegant Comet airliner it was derived from.  The tonal treatment and vignette added in post-processing enhance the mean look.

The aircraft below couldn’t look mean if it tried!

“Photo reconnaissance Spitfire” by Derek Gale

During the day there was a flypast by PM631, one of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Spitfires.  The BBMF has a number of Spitfires and this is one of my favourites – it was built just to take pictures, and had no guns.  It’s a PRXIX photo reconnaissance Spitfire painted in “cerulean blue”.  That’s a colour that matches the colour of the sky, so it’s good camouflage for high-flying aircraft.  Spitfire purists will notice the five-bladed propeller, which indicates that it has a Griffon engine rather than the classic Merlin engine.  I’ve used a Photoshop action to make the image look like an old photo that’s been in the wars a bit.  It adds to the nostalgic theme.

And then there was the Lightning…

“Lightning F6 in Heat Haze” by Derek Gale

The English Electric Lightning was one of the highlights of the day.  This RAF interceptor aircraft was one of the fastest aircraft ever made, and I recall seeing one at the Farnborough Airshow when I was very young.  It took off, went vertically up into the sky, and there was a loud bang as it went supersonic in the climb!  This Lightning F6 (XS904) was one of the last in RAF service, and has the big belly fuel tank to give it a bit more endurance.  As the title of this post says it was a warm day and there was a lot of heat haze in the distance.  I waited till the Lightning had turned round after its run, and got this image of it coming back through the haze, and making quite a bit of heat haze itself.  It’s the sort of image that you can only get with a long telephoto lens.

The day was noisy, and smelly from burnt jet fuel.  I’m really looking forward to more of the same at the Royal International Air Tattoo at Fairford in July!

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