The 'airshow scene' in the U.K. is one of the most active in the world. I have been both 'gamekeeper' and 'poacher' in it for more than 40 years. I suppose that you could say that it has its roots in the earliest public displays/contests - Blackpool Aviation Week (Oct. 1909); Doncaster (Oct. 1909); Bournemouth (July 1910); Lanark, Scotland (Aug. 1910) and Burton-on-Trent (Sept. 1910). The magnificent Royal Air Force displays at Hendon, London from 1920 (as the RAF 'Pageant') to 1926 (as the Royal Air Force Display) became a part of the London social season; these spread to all RAF Stations - as the Empire Air Day - by 1938. This 'air mindedness' was reinforced by the activities of Sir Alan Cobham's 'Flying Circus', when this world famous aviator descended on dozens of towns and cities across Britain, from 1932 onward, with a fleet of around 15 aircraft - everything from three-engined airliners to an autogyro - to stage his 'National Aviation Days'. Post WW2, the RAF 'Battle of Britain' Air Displays (of which I became a tiny part) catered for crowds of over 100,000 at a time.
The need for more and more vintage aircraft to feed the growing air display season, meant that rare aircraft types were restored to flight status, and sometimes complete replicas constructed. Thus were the major 'clusters' of flying historic aircraft at Duxford, Old Warden, Biggin Hill and other places begun. Naturally, the owners of Spitfires and other warbirds were eager to have a Messerchmitt to duel against at airshows, but there were no actual flying 109s to be had at that stage, and the Spanish Air Force had not disposed of their CASA-built 'Buchon' stocks, either! What to do? Well, at that time a certain Lincolnshire farmer named Lindsey Walton owned a Bf108, and despite the fact that it was a four-seat cabin monoplane, it looked VERY like its wartime 'brother', and the type had seen service during WW2, which made being chased around an airfield circuit (slowly) quite enjoyable. This proved to be such fun that Lindsey later acquired an F4U-7 Corsair!
So you can see that Herr Professor Wily Messerschmidt didn't jump straight into the Me 109. No, the basic shape was inspired by his Bf 108. Actually, ALL 109s should have a design suffix of Bf - for Bayerische Flugzeugbau, the company whose product it was
I’m all for increasing the number of exotic ‘warbirds’ in flying condition, but sometimes things get a little out of hand. I don't mind someone painting a CASA-built, Merlin-powered 'Buchon' as a Luftwaffe 'Me109' - indeed the film 'Battle of Britain' would not have taken place without them. I would prefer, of course, if the owner found an incredibly rare Daimler-Benz DB601 (or DB605) and 'de-converted' it to a REAL 109, as has happened, but I recognise that WW2 engines to fit that airframe are hard to come by.
However, I DO have a problem with this specific aircraft. I don’t mean that I DISLIKE Nord Pinguoine IIs or that they haven’t a right to be loved by other people, it’s just that I get a little uneasy when they are painted to represent an Me108 Taifun in a North African campaign colour scheme (with the word ‘Taifun’ under the cockpit), AND the data boards in front of the aircraft state that this is a Taifun. Sadly, this is neither a real Me108 (German prewar or WW2 poduction, or postwar French production using scavenged Argus engines) or even a post war Pinguoine I, which had the inline Renault 6Q-11 engine, or the original Pinguoine II, which had a 6Q-10 (I know, confusing, isn’t it), both of which maintained the orginal nose contours of the design. Instead, this example is fitted with a Lycoming O540 E4, a powerful ‘flat-six’ of 260 hp, usually found in an SIAI-Marchetti SF.260 or Cherokee Six! The result is, aesthetically, to my mind, a bit of a mixed bag. Its rather like a Buchon owner telling me he owns an Me109 - sadly, he doesn't; he's WELCOME to paint it as one, just don't tell me a goat is a sheep!
At least this aircraft is ‘feeling better’, now; it had a unfortunate accident in 2000 at White Waltham which involved the loss of the left undercarriage leg on landing!
Who knew about this stuff called karma?