A Piston Engine Symphony: Meet The Fighters 2016 Engine Startups – B-17, Corsair And More

A celebration of historic warplane technology awaits you in this compilation of warplane engine startups. War History Online had the privilege of witnessing this year’s Duxford Meet the Fighters airshow and we were captivated by the power, sound, and anticipation of the engine startups of these mighty combat planes.

Opening the medley, two of the last piston fighters fire-up into action. A Grumman F8F-2P Bearcat roars into life, so tactile and tangible. It’s Pratt & Whitney R2800 30W radial piston-powered engine was one of the last and greatest of its kind.

Bearcats were introduced as WWII was closing but continued to be operated into the mid-20th century. This unnamed plane was registered c.1945 and served with the United States Navy until 1955. It was acquired by The Fighter Collection initially in 1981 and, after a short stint in Geneva, was re-acquired in 1998.

The much-anticipated appearance of a Hawker Fury FB11 follows the Bearcat, with its glorious, full-bodied guttural chugging engine startup. The Hawker Sea Fury was the last propeller-driven plane to be operated by the Royal Navy. The plane in this video was built in 1953 and delivered to the Iraqi Air Force, where it was recovered in 1979.

It was restored to airworthy in 1989, sold in 1991 and flown as Dutch Navy RAN 361. This travel-weary plane completed an engine overhaul and airframe refurbishment and was flight-tested in Australia in April 2016 and recently features the paint of the Sea Fury prototype. Its first flight in the UK was to Duxford for this show!

A 1945 Goodyear FG-1D Corsair start-up continues this overwhelming display of aircraft sonic, sleek and smooth sounding compared to the Bearcat and the Fury. Watch as its pre-flight checks run through its wing mechanisms.

This Corsair was first dispatched to the United States Navy in Guam and clocked 1652 flight miles until disposed of in 1956. This plane is remarkable, as it has never been restored! It remains in flying condition and still retains its fabric wings!

Next, we are treated to the start-up of the last airworthy Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress in Europe, the stunning flagship of the American Air Museum in Britain ‘Sally B’. As she starts up, all four engines build up power in the misty rain, and this mighty tribute to the WWII service bombers heaves into action.

‘Sally B’ was built in 1945 and was used for training with the United State Army Air Force until 1954. This iconic plane is quite the movie star, featuring in several wartime films including We’ll Meet Again and Memphis Belle.

Finally, this captivating medley crescendos into the menacing scream of a ferocious trio comprising of a Mikoyan Gurevich MiG 15 UTI and a DeHallivand Vampire FB52 and a T55 starting up their engines. Immerse yourself in this video compilation of some iconic fighter aircraft engine starts.


Audrey Gerrard

Audrey Gerrard is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE