Cosby Victory Show

Saturday 2nd September - Sunday 3rd September 2023

The Victory Show at Foxlands Farm in Cosby still feels like somewhat of a hidden gem in amongst the louder and busier airshows traditionally held on the first weekend of September such as Bournemouth Air Festival and Shuttleworth Collection's monthly airshow. The Victory Show however is so much more than an airshow and it truly provides one of the most comprehensive Second World War commemorative events in the world.

Jakub Zurek spent his weekend at Cosby for UK Airshow Review. Photography by the author.

Ah, the Victory Show... What is there left to say that has not been said in previous reviews? It really is a show like no other. As your ticket gets scanned and you wander through the site, you are simply transported back in time. One is met with a multitude of Second World War trucks, jeeps and tanks surrounded by appropriately attired reenactors who bring history back to life right in front of your eyes. This show has an atmosphere like no other and it is so much more than an airshow. It caters for every type of enthusiast and has reenactors portraying almost every part of the Second World War, from the Pacific theatre with the Imperial Japanese Army, to the Winter War with portrayal of the Finnish Army, to the classic Western European agenda of German, British and American infantrymen. And if that is not enough, the static RAF warbirds provide a perfect real life diorama full of Allied airmen and women. There is so much to see, yet one never feels rushed or overwhelmed. The atmosphere is so relaxed, there is no mad rush to get a fenceline spot by the airfield, and food and drink are surprisingly well priced for an airshow in modern times. At £25 a ticket when purchased in advance, it is one of the best value airshows in the country.

Apart from the multiple forest skirmishes throughout the day and the main big battle at 2pm, the highlight for many visitors was of course the air display. Beginning at 2:30pm each day, Saturday and Sunday both had a slightly different running order and it is fair to say that with Sunday’s perfect blue skies, it provided a slightly better backdrop photographically than Saturday’s conditions. Sunday’s display also suffered from fewer gaps than Saturday’s, with the Rolls-Royce Heritage P-51D Mustang and Spitfire Spitfire PR XIX dropping by for some solo passes before heading home to East Midlands Airport from Bournemouth. Likewise the Lancaster, performing three perfectly photogenic topsides in some beautiful late afternoon light on its way back to RAF Coningsby was impressive as always and made Sunday’s flying display just that little bit better.

This year’s aviation highlight of the Victory Show however was no doubt the Goodyear FG-1D Corsair from The Fighter Collection. Operating out of Foxlands Farm for the weekend, it is an aircraft seldom seen operating out of anywhere else than its home base at Duxford, so it was a real privilege to see this big brutish warbird display over the weekend. At £5 to get up close and personal with the Corsair and all of the other participating aircraft during the flightline walk, it was probably the best £5 anyone will spend this year and continues to remain a highlight of this show year upon year. Sunday’s impromptu photo opportunity with reenactors posing with strips of .50 in bullets next to the P-47, with bombs and an authentic WWII aircraft tug also made for a fantastic sight.

Though communication regarding the Bristol Blenheim’s cancellation this year was dubious, the Corsair, returning to the Victory Show for the first time since 2012, provided the perfect replacement. The rest of this year’s airshow was pretty much all aircraft we have seen at the show before - but the curved display line and the proximity of the take offs and landings is such that one could come back to Cosby every weekend to witness this spectacle. The temporary grass airstrip provides a fantastic chance to see these familiar warbirds take off in close proximity and is a real personal affair. This year, the pair of Mustangs performing with the Thunderbolt were particularly impressive with formation flypasts, tailchases and solo displays. On the other hand, the Buchon, Hurricane and Spitfire trio lacked a punch. Perhaps due to the cancellation of Spitfire Mk. IX TE517 which could have provided a nice contrast to the more sedate Mk. V. The parachute drop from Aero Legends' Dakota with authentic round chutes deserves a special mention as a very poignant tribute, this year being undertaken from the DC-3 in RAF markings.

The nightshoot on Saturday evening, as ever, also proved popular. Thanks must go to the crew of the Catalina for being involved for the first time, leaving the covers off the aircraft for the gathered photographers. It was also a first to see the Corsair and Thunderbolt stay for the night and take part in the nightshoot, though sadly this year not getting dark enough for the floodlights to come out. It must be said the nightshoot over recent years has really helped to make this event even more appealing for enthusiasts wanting to make the show into a full weekend extravaganza, and continues to set it apart from other similar airshows.

For as long as the Victory Show continues, for anyone with any sort of interest in the Second World War, it should be the first event you put in your calendars for the upcoming year. The only disappointment of this year’s show? The fact that we have to wait another 12 months for another!