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Harvard Mk IV Rick Volker Sukhoi SU-26M, Super Spitfire, Extra 300L

The Planes

Harvard Mk IV

Rick flies a 1952 Harvard Mk IV which won 1989 OshKosh Grand Champion Warbird after a complete ground-up restoration by Bill Muszala in Chino, California. The North American Harvard appeared in 1937, in response to a US Air Corps proposal for an advanced trainer. The first of 50 Harvard Mk. Is ordered by the Canadian Government were delivered to RCAF Sea Island, BC in July 1939. By early 1940, the Mk. II was being assembled in California with an all metal fuselage replacing the original tube and fabric structure. 1200 Mk. IIs were supplied from US sources, until Canadian built Harvards started being produced in 1941.

In August 1938, Noorduyn Aviation of Montreal farsightedly signed an agreement with North American, to build the Harvard under licence. When the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) came into being in December 1939, Noorduyn received its first orders and went on to produce nearly 2,800 Harvard Mk. IIBs for the RCAF and the RAF, between 1940 and 1945. In Canada, Harvard Mk. IIBs were used as advanced trainers with the BCATP at fifteen Service Flying Training Schools across the nation. They helped pilots make to the transition from low powered primary trainers, like the Fleet Finch or the de Havilland Tiger Moth, to high performance front line fighters such as the Spitfire.

At the end of WW II, although the RCAF retained the Harvard as a trainer, a large number were sold to civilian operators. The RCAF soon regretted this, for by 1949 the Cold War with the Soviet Union was in full swing and the RCAF urgently needed trainers again. 100 T-6J Texans were leased temporarily from the USAF and a further 270 Harvards, the Mk. IV version, were ordered from Canadian Car & Foundry, Thunder Bay. The RCAF used the Harvard Mk. IV for a further fifteen years, before finally retiring it in 1966.

Sukhoi SU-26M

Sukhoi SU-26MThe Sukhoi SU-26M was designed and built in Moscow by the Sukhoi Design Bureau: the principal supplier of fighters, bombers and attack aircraft to the Russian military. The SU-26M combines a 360-400 HP nine cylinder radial engine with a composite and titanium airframe to create an aircraft capable of hovering in place, reaching 280 mph and handling more G forces than an F-16. In this aircraft, the pilot becomes the limiting factor of what can be demonstrated. The Sukhoi is the most sought-after competition aircraft in the world. Rick’s Sukhoi SU-26M was featured on the Discovery Channel series “How Machines Work”.

Supermarine Spitfire MK IX

The Supermarine Spitfire first flew in 1936, with it's last operational flight in April, 1954. In 24 variants, it became the most famous fighter aircraft involved in the Battle of Britain. It served in reconnaissance, low-level ground attack and high level air superiority fighter roles. The Spitfire MK IX formerly owned by the Russell Group was produced for Supermarine Aviation Company by Castle Bromwich in 1944. After comprehensive restoration by Historic Flying, Ltd. in Duxford, England, it took to the skies for the first time in 47 years on September 8th, 2000. Rick flew this aircraft in close formation with a CF-18 as a member of the Canadian Forces Heritage Flight Team.

Messerschmitt Bf109E

Designed by Willy Messerschmitt in the early 1930’s, the first truly modern fighter of its era. For the first 5 years after its appearance in 1935, the Bf109 was the best fighter in the world. Designed at a time when many designers were still thinking in terms of biplanes the Bf109 became the forerunner of all the most modern fighter planes of World War II.

The Russell Aviation Group’s Bf109E is the only flying example in the world today with a Daimler Benz DB601 power plant. Originally built as a Bf109E1, but upgra gded to the E-4 standard. It was flown on several occasions by legendary Jagdwaffe ace Hans-Joachim Marseille, “White 14”. Today carries the markings it wore when Marseille flew it on the channel front in 1940, where the ace claimed a Spitfire over Thames Estuary. “White 14” had a forced landing on the beach at Calais-Marck on 2 September 1940. After being recovered and repaired, it saw service on the Eastern front (Russia) where it was abandoned.

It was recovered from a Russian swamp in the 1990’s, transferred to the UK and restored by Craig Charleston for David Price from the Santa Monica Museum of Flight. It was received in Chino California January 14, 1999 and fitted with a DB601 engine, the aircraft only saw about 50 hours flying time before being purchased by Ed Russell of Canada.

Hawker Hurricane MK XII

The Hawker Hurricane was the first monoplane with 8 machine guns to exceed 300 mph to go into production for the RAF. Sydney Camm’s fighter will always be associated with the Battle of Britain in which it shared the main action against the Luftwaffe with the Spitfire. During the Battle of Britain the Hurricane destroyed more enemy aircraft than all other air defense forces combined.

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