Typhoon blows RAF hero Paddy away with D-Day tribute flypast
An RAF veteran from Northern Ireland who flew a Hawker Typhoon on D-Day watched his plane's modern counterpart make a flypast in a fitting tribute to the crews that helped win the Second World War.
The Eurofighter Typhoon adorned with commemorative D-Day invasion stripes was unveiled ahead of the 70th anniversary of the landings.
Proudly wearing a chest full of medals, 92-year-old John 'Paddy' Byrne, who is originally from Belfast but now living in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, recalled the key wartime operation.
The one-time Hawker Typhoon pilot 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."
Yesterday, a state-of-the-art Eurofighter Typhoon was specially painted with the original D-Day famous black and white markings in tribute to the Hawker Typhoon crews who flew on June 6, 1944.
It took to the skies at an unveiling ceremony at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire alongside a similarly adorned Spitfire, which flew in the landings.
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."
The Eurofighter can launch at a moment's notice 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 yesterday, 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 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.