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Top Gun replica aeroplane unveiled at Bottisham Airfield Museum



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A model of a P51 Mustang – the same as Tom Cruise’s personal aeroplane which appears in the new Top Gun: Maverick film – has been unveiled at Bottisham Airfield Museum.

A Bottisham re-enactment weekend saw the unveiling of a replica of a plane that flew out of Bottisham airfield during the Second World War. Picture: Keith Heppell
A Bottisham re-enactment weekend saw the unveiling of a replica of a plane that flew out of Bottisham airfield during the Second World War. Picture: Keith Heppell

Revealed for the first time last Saturday (June 18), the life-size replica has been painted in the colours of Col Jack Christian, commanding officer of the 361st Fighter Group at Bottisham, who was killed in action in 1944.

Jason Webb, chairman of trustees at the airfield, said of the aeroplane: “It’s a fibreglass replica that we got from the American Air Museum at Duxford. We’ve restored it, done a lot of work to upgrade it and make it better. We’ve added an undercarriage, improved the canopy and scale look of it, and we’ve changed the colour scheme.

“We’ve changed it to markings of an aircraft that flew from Bottisham and was flown by the group commander at Bottisham, Col Jack Christian, who was killed while flying from Bottisham on August 12, 1944, near Arras in France. There was one used at the end of the Maverick film.”

A Bottisham re-enactment weekend saw the unveiling of a replica of a plane that flew out of Bottisham airfield during the Second World War. Picture: Keith Heppell
A Bottisham re-enactment weekend saw the unveiling of a replica of a plane that flew out of Bottisham airfield during the Second World War. Picture: Keith Heppell
A Bottisham re-enactment weekend saw the unveiling of a replica of a plane that flew out of Bottisham airfield during the Second World War. Picture: Keith Heppell
A Bottisham re-enactment weekend saw the unveiling of a replica of a plane that flew out of Bottisham airfield during the Second World War. Picture: Keith Heppell
A Bottisham re-enactment weekend saw the unveiling of a replica of a plane that flew out of Bottisham airfield during the Second World War. Picture: Keith Heppell
A Bottisham re-enactment weekend saw the unveiling of a replica of a plane that flew out of Bottisham airfield during the Second World War. Picture: Keith Heppell
A Bottisham re-enactment weekend saw the unveiling of a replica of a plane that flew out of Bottisham airfield during the Second World War. Picture: Keith Heppell
A Bottisham re-enactment weekend saw the unveiling of a replica of a plane that flew out of Bottisham airfield during the Second World War. Picture: Keith Heppell
A Bottisham re-enactment weekend saw the unveiling of a replica of a plane that flew out of Bottisham airfield during the Second World War. Picture: Keith Heppell
A Bottisham re-enactment weekend saw the unveiling of a replica of a plane that flew out of Bottisham airfield during the Second World War. Picture: Keith Heppell

The unveiling was part of a 1940s re-enactment weekend, which was held at Bottisham on Saturday and Sunday (June 18-19).

“We had a lot of World War II re-enactors come over – they did a re-enactment battle,” said Jason, adding that a couple of aeroplanes flew over Bottisham from nearby Duxford. We had a lot of vintage stalls and two vintage singers singing songs and entertaining us.”

A Bottisham re-enactment weekend saw the unveiling of a replica of a plane that flew out of Bottisham airfield during the Second World War. Picture: Keith Heppell
A Bottisham re-enactment weekend saw the unveiling of a replica of a plane that flew out of Bottisham airfield during the Second World War. Picture: Keith Heppell
From left, Jason Webb, Graham Buchanan, David Rayner, Howard de Lestre and Group Captain Mark Smith, recreating Lou IV/Athelene choosing the colour scheme of Col Jack Christian, the commanding officer of the 361st Fighter Group at Bottisham. Jack was KIA on August 12, 1944. Picture: Keith Heppell
From left, Jason Webb, Graham Buchanan, David Rayner, Howard de Lestre and Group Captain Mark Smith, recreating Lou IV/Athelene choosing the colour scheme of Col Jack Christian, the commanding officer of the 361st Fighter Group at Bottisham. Jack was KIA on August 12, 1944. Picture: Keith Heppell

Jason thanked Group Captain Mark Smith, from the RAF, for his speech at the unveiling. “We paid tribute to David Rayner, who had funded the restoration of the Mustang – David is one of our trustees and is better known locally for running Scotsdales [prior to his retirement].

Bottisham at war 1940s weekend unveiling of plane that flew out of Bottisham airfield painted in the correct colours, David Rayner . Picture: Keith Heppell. (57408012)
Bottisham at war 1940s weekend unveiling of plane that flew out of Bottisham airfield painted in the correct colours, David Rayner . Picture: Keith Heppell. (57408012)

“We were also very keen to pay tribute to Graham Buchanan as well because he did all the restoration work on the Mustang. He did the paint job and put the undercarriage in and did a fantastic job of making the Mustang incredibly life like – you can’t tell it apart from the real thing.”

For more information, visit bottishamairfieldmuseum.org.uk.

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