Belfast Telegraph

Eurofighter Typhoon's D-Day stripes

A Eurofighter Typhoon adorned with commemorative D-Day invasion stripes has been unveiled ahead of the 70th anniversary of the landings.

The state-of-the-art jet has been specially painted with the famous black and white markings in tribute to the role of the crews of the Hawker Typhoon during the D-Day operations.

It took to the skies today at an unveiling ceremony at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire alongside a similarly adorned Spitfire, which flew in the landings.

D-Day veteran John "Paddy" Byrne was invited to today's event. The 92-year-old, originally from Belfast but now living in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, flew the Hawker Typhoon on D-Day.

After the flypast, Mr Byrne, who joined the RAF as a boy apprentice in 1938 aged 16 and served with the force until May 1946, said: "It's been marvellous. The flypast was fascinating to see. It's a much faster aircraft with a jet engine where we had propellers."

Talking about D-Day, he said: "The memory that stands out mainly in my mind is towards the end of a sweep around. I came down a country lane and I saw a horse and cart with a German soldier driving it and I thought 'well I can't kill the horse'."

"The Typhoon was quite a heavy aircraft but it was still a nice aircraft to fly."

The Hawker Typhoon, nicknamed Tiffy, was one of the most effective fighter bombers during the Second World War.

With a top speed of just over 400mph, the aircraft formed part of the 2nd Tactical Air Force that extensively supported ground operations during the D-Day landings on June 6 1944.

The alternating black and white invasion stripes were painted on the fuselages and wings of all RAF and Allied aircraft ahead of the landings to increase recognition by friendly forces.

Today the Hawker Typhoon's modern counterpart, the Eurofighter Typhoon, is powered by two Eurojet EJ200 turbojets and can reach Mach 1.8, flying at up to 55,000ft (16,764m).

At a moment's notice they can launch and intercept unidentified aircraft in three locations: the UK, Lithuania as part of the Nato Baltic Air Policing mission - helping to protect and secure Nato airspace over the Baltic nations of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania - and in the Falkland Islands.

Flight Lieutenant Noel Rees, who flew the Typhoon today, said: "It was an honour to be able to fly in close formation with the Spitfire and to get both aircraft with D-Day markings together.

"I'm proud to be part of the Royal Air Force and really proud to be able to fly and display this aircraft which commemorates D-Day.

"I think it's (D-Day) one of those shocking parts of history. I'm in awe of what people on the ground were doing supported by the RAF in the air."

Flt Lt Rees said the Hawker Typhoon and its modern-day counterpart were not too dissimilar.

He said: "The Hawker Typhoon is actually not too dissimilar to the Typhoon we have now with its role, which is a multi-role aircraft.

"The Hawker Typhoon not only conducted air-to-air missions but also dive-bombing and air-to-ground missions as well. And that's exactly what the Typhoon does these days."

The commemorative Eurofighter Typhoon will fly in air shows across the UK this summer.

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