Located at North Weald, the Hangar 11 Collection is home to some of the UK’s finest warbirds. Owned by Peter Teichman, the collection currently comprises of four aircraft, with one restoration waiting in the wings. Harry Measures reports from a night shoot arranged with two of the magnificent examples.
Of the four aircraft in the collection, two are currently undergoing winter maintenance. Teichman’s Curtiss P-40M Warhawk 43-5802, which wears the scheme of “Lulu Belle”, a P-40N-1 of the US Air Force’s 89th Fighter Squadron, 80th Fighter Group is midway through having a freshly overhauled engine installed and, at the same time, the Hangar 11 engineers have taken the opportunity to return the engine bay to its original condition. Also tucked up in the hangar is Supermarine Spitfire PR MkXI PL965, one of the few surviving MkXI’s, and indeed the only MkXI still flying (on her original engine, no less). PL965 carried out over 40 sorties between October 1944 and VE day and is a true veteran of the war.
This left the collections Hurricane and Mustang for the night shoot. Organised by Timeline Events, it is the first to happen at Hangar 11. Promising two engine runs (one per aircraft) and whole host of props and re-enactors, the event sounded excellent on paper, but would it deliver?
On arrival everyone was greeted by the sight of Hurricane MkIIB BE505 “Pegs” sat on the hard standing outside the hangar, being fussed over by a small group of engineers mounting a 250lb bomb. BE505 originally started life as a Mk1 Hurricane built in the Canadian Car & Foundry factory in 1942. Serving with the RCAF from February 1942 to November 1944, it was returned to the factory in 1943 and upgraded to MkXII standard. Restored by Hawker Restorations Ltd as a MkIIB, it made its first post restoration flight in January 2009. The scheme it wears today is that of a 174 “Mauritius” Squadron machine in Spring 1942.
The Mustang was sat on the grass further down the taxiway, and although it had not rained for 10 days, the ground was still far too soft to support the fighter so the decision was made to pull the main wheels off the grass and onto the taxiway. Once the Mustang “Jumpin’ Jacques” had been rescued, Neil Cave of Timeline Events gathered everyone for a quick briefing. Outlining the initial plan for the night, he handed the stage over to Peter Teichman to say a few words and his welcoming speech touched on the history of both aircraft outside and revealed that the reason the Hurricane only had one 250lb bomb attached – the other was with the CAA being examined, with the intention of being cleared so as to allow flight displays with them attached – something that would make for a unique sight in UK skies.
Pete also took this opportunity to announce that he had been preserving the hours on “Jumpin’ Jacques” and therefore it had not turned a blade in over six weeks. Because of this, he saw fit to treat us to a daylight run of the Mustang to clear out the cobwebs before the night time run. Also clear from Pete’s speech is his absolute love and passion for his aircraft, and it was great to see his support for the event. With the welcoming concluded, the shoot officially began with various scenes being set up with the re-enactors which alternated between the aircraft.
One re-enactment touched rather poignantly on the history of Teichman’s Mustang. “Jumpin’ Jacques” as it is currently known, saw service towards the end of the war with the 332nd Fighter Group also known as “The Tuskegee Airmen” or “Red Tails”. This Mustang is perhaps one of the most original surviving aircraft having never been fully restored and still sporting repairs to the skin of the aircraft. The current scheme depicts the mount of Lt Jacque E Young of the 3rd Fighter Group, 3rd Air Commando Group operating out of the Philippines. Peter has hinted that he wishes to return his Mustang to an authentic 332nd group scheme – perhaps this winter.
Once the initial run of scenes had been completed, Peter jumped into the cockpit of the P-51. As he had suggested, it took a little persuasion to start, catching on the 3rd try. Although not on the schedule, this run was a welcome chance to get some photos of the Mustang running in the warm late afternoon light, perhaps it would not go amiss to add an evening run to the program on future events? With the Mustang shut down, the cameo shooting resumed. Somehow Neil Cave managed to persuade Peter to take part in the re-enactment, which made for some unique photos with him posing in front of his own aircraft which he seemed to enjoy!
As the evening drew out and the sun got lower in the sky, those trying to take sunset silhouettes of the Mustang quickly realised the car park had been placed in precisely the wrong place! This would be the only criticism of the night, and something that could very easily be remedied if another shoot was to be organised with Hangar 11. However, once the sun finally dipped below the horizon, and the light a little less harsh, it was possible to get some excellent photos shooting into the warm colours of the sky without the cars in the background being highlighted.
With the light ebbing away quickly it was time to get into position for the night runs. The Hurricane was first and although the early fishtail ejector exhaust stubs stifled any lick of flame during the run, the Hurricane was a lovely subject for a night shoot. The photographers were organised in a crescent during the engine runs and everyone was very courteous as regards moving around and giving others a chance for different angles, as much as the temptation is to stay welded to one spot. With the Hurricane’s run completed, it was put back into the hangar and the Mustang bought over to the hard standing for its run. Once warmed up Peter gave it a bit of throttle to get some lovely blue wisps out of the stacks, much to everyone’s delight.
In conclusion, Timeline Events ran the event excellently with well-considered scenes being created alternately between the aircraft which allowed photographers to choose what they would like to shoot – whether to get photos with the re-enactors or focus on the other aircraft.
Special mention must of course go to Peter Teichman for allowing his aircraft to be used in the shoot, and his engineers who gave up their time to make the event run smoothly. The re-enactors also made an excellent contribution, working with individual photographers, not just the organised scenes.