A wizard day is in store for visitors tothe Yorkshire Air Museum on Saturday 5th June when a huge RAF Merlin helicopter will fly in to Elvington for the 78 Squadron ‘Halifax Shadow’ reunion event. Squadron personnel, some of whom have been on recent service in Afghanistan, have kindly offered to show people around this impressive aircraft – a rare opportunity to see inside a current service helicopter!
The Merlin is due to arrive at 10am, departing witha flourish at around 2pm, providing a great spectacle for visitors.
The Merlin is a new generation of tactical support aircraft, capable of operating in all weather, day and night conditions. It is currently operated by Nos. 28 (AC) and 78 Squadron, based at RAF Benson, Oxfordshire. It is the second largest helicopter in service with the RAF, next to the Chinook, powered by three Rolls Royce Turbomeca engines.
The event will allow current Squadron members to meet up with veterans from the Squadron’s WWII days, creating a unique Squadron history and Force Development day, that the public can share.
78 Squadron has a very close connection to Yorkshire. During WWII it was part of No.4 Group, Bomber Command, whose headquarters were at Heslington Hall, York. At the outbreak of war, the Squadron was based at RAF Dishforth, but subsequent moves saw them at RAF Croft, Middleton St. George, Linton on Ouse and finally at Breighton, very close to York. From these airfields the Squadron initially flew Whitley aircraft,then moving on to the larger, four engined Halifax, a unique example of which can be seen at the Museum. By VE Day, 78 Squadron had lost a total of 979 aircrew, killed or missing in action. The day will provide a poignant reminder of their sacrifice.