A state-of-the-art Typhoon fighter jet based at RAF Coningsby has been given a special paint scheme to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.
The Typhoon has been painted to closely resemble the Hurricane flown by Flight Lieutenant James Brindley Nicolson VC DFC in the Battle of Britain.
Nicolson, whose 249 Squadron identification number is painted on the Typhoon, was the only Fighter Command pilot awarded a Victoria Cross during the battle for single-handedly shooting down a German jet while his own plane was on fire.
Present at the unveiling at RAF Coningsby was his cousin, Jim Nicolson.
He said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to bits with the whole Typhoon – it’s wonderful that the RAF have decided to commemorate the anniversary involving my cousin but I see it as a representation of all the bravery of the RAF pilots who flew and fought in the Battle of Britain.
“During the height of the Battle of Britain, James was flying a Hurricane over Southampton and his plane was set on fire by German fighters.
“Rather than bail out which is what everyone had been told to do because the Hurricane was a death-trap if it caught fire, he saw the German plane which had shot him down fly past.
“He was so angry at being shot down that he sat back in the cockpit, which was a mass of flames, and chased after the German plane and eventually managed to catch up with it and shoot it down before bailing out. In the course of his actions, he suffered very serious burns.
“I’m sure despite this he would’ve been keen not to be singled out as he felt that his bravery was certainly no greater than anyone else’s.”
James, who was born in London, was killed on May 2, 1945 at the age of just 29 when a RAF B-24 Liberator from No. 355 Squadron, in which he was flying as an observer, caught fire and crashed into the Bay of Bengal. His body was never recovered.
Wing Commander James Heald, Officer Commanding 29(R) Squadron, RAF Coningsby, said: “It’s vitally important that we remember the Battle of Britain and the sacrifices people made in what was a key point in our nation’s history – if we had lost the battle, things would be completely different to what they are now.
“I’m extremely proud of the new design and we’ll get the opportunity during the display season to show it off to tens of thousands of people.”
The Typhoon will perform aerial displays at shows across the country this summer alongside a Second World War Spitfire.
It will be flown by Flight Lieutenant Ben Westoby-Brooks from Coningsby’s 29(R) Squadron.
He said: “It is a great privilege to fly this extraordinary aircraft in recognition of the sacrifices made by our predecessors 75 years ago.
“Their task of securing the skies was critical in the summer of 1940 and it is an honour to pay tribute to those few brave airmen who gave their all when the stakes were so high.”