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RAF Display, 1934

Roger Hudson describes advances in British military aviation technology in the years before the Second World War.

Hawker Demons fly low over spectators in the enclosure reserved for those who have come by car at the annual RAF Display held at Hendon Aerodrome in 1934. The Demon is a fighter-bomber with an all-metal body and fabric-covered wings. It entered service in 1933 and, powered by a supercharged Rolls-Royce Kestrel engine, it has a top speed of 184 mph, making it faster than most contemporary fighters. It has two forward-firing machine guns and a third facing backwards, operated by the observer/bomb aimer. Its bomb load is modest: eight 20-pounders. As well as the Demons, spectators will have seen the Prince of Wales arriving, piloting his own aircraft, Bristol Bulldog fighters attacking bombers, a Cierva Autogyro taking off, some parachute drops and the destruction of a mocked-up building, together with the shooting down in flames of an observation balloon as a finale. But it will turn out that the most significant sight is of a lone Vickers-Supermarine Type 224, a clumsy open-cockpit monoplane with cranked or gull wings and a fixed undercarriage enclosed in trouser fairings or ‘spats’.

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