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Mortal Enemies Meet Again

Some time ago we were able to announced that one of the greatest examples of the legendary P-51 Mustang was finally booked to appear.

She's called Miss Helen and she comes courtesy of the equally legendary Aircraft Restoration Company, based at Duxford.

P-51's along with Spitfires had one particular adversary above all they gave maximum respect to; Messerschmitt's fearsome BF109.

Capable of nearly 400mph and able to climb to 39,000' the 109 was ever bit as capable as the Mustang and Spitfire. Nowhere near as beautiful as its Allied foe, it nonetheless held a true arsenal; easily a match for the American and British counterparts.

Last year we paired up a 109 with a Spitfire. The Spitfire won, of course. This year we're trying again to create a very appropriate spectacle above a former USAAF base - a 'fight' between the 109 and the all - American P-51.

Except there's a bit of a twist. The all-American P51 has an engine which was created here in England. The 109 has the same engine, albeit without the superchargers which gave the Mustang 1800 odd horsepower. This particular spectacle will sound as epic as it looks as the engine in question is quite simply the finest ever made; Rolls Royce's Merlin.

Our allies in America were more than entitled to the Merlin and it was produced by Packard in large numbers. The story as to why the Germans had the Merlin? They didn't. Towards the end of the war the Third Reich was collapsing and their supply chain went with them. They shipped several 109 airframes to Spain, but never got to send the engines. The RAF and USAAF did a bit of a number on the engine factory. So after the war someone decided to fit the unused airframes with the greatest engine available at the time (you've guessed it) and the Buchon you'll see flying was born. So it sounds as good as a Spitfire, even if it doesn't look it.

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