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THE BLUE DIAMONDS AEROBATIC TEAM
The Blue Diamonds aerobatic team evolved at a time when multiple RAF squadron display teams were commonplace in the Royal Air Force. Following on from the pioneering days of British pre-war close formation air show demonstrations in the 1920’s where it is officially recognised that current world military close formation flying was born.
It was not uncommon that the RAF could have around 3-5 display teams from various squadrons active in one year. At this stage all the teams were “un-official” and therefore pilots had to undertake their normal defence duties while flying as part of the team. Individual teams rarely operated for more than two years in a row when other squadron teams took over.
This was the reason The Blue Diamonds had a very short display life of just two years from 1961-2, as they were actively part of 92 Squadron.
[It was only with the creation of the set official RAF aerobatic team- The Red Arrows- in 1965 that a set team became a permanent fixture year after year; Separate from the military operations of a normal squadron. Previous to this ‘official’ teams operated on a yearly basis before changing.]
Because of the irregularity in which official
teams came and went during the 1950s and 60s The Blue Diamonds only
displayed for 2 seasons. They were formed of pilots from 92 Squadron and were
based at RAF Leconfield in
The Black Arrows also flew the Hawker Hunter – possibly the most successful British fighter ever built - and hold the current record for looping a formation of 22 aircraft, at the Farnborough International air show in September 1958. A feat never equalled or beaten since!
The Blue Diamonds claim to fame was a combined mixed formation of 25 aircraft; all their Hunters plus 8 Lightnings.
Where the Black Arrows Hunters were painted in an all over black finish, the Blue Diamonds stood out with a vivid blue scheme with white wingtips and fuselage flash and must have been one of the first RAF teams to adopt a colour scheme radically different from their fellow squadron aircraft. This may be a factor as to why the team is so well remembered considering its short display life. Second only to the Black Arrows as the most famous Hunter display team.
Initially, the new 92 squadron team was named The Falcons but became the Blue Diamonds in May of 1961. The team started with a flight of 12 Hunters but by the time the team was disbanded late in 1962 they were flying a formation of 18 Hunters. The RAF ‘official team’ baton was then passed to 74 Squadron flying the English Electric Lightning F.1 as The Tigers aerobatic team. The Lightning having been flown with The Blue Diamonds the previous year. Interestingly, the Lightning was the most powerful aircraft ever used by an RAF team, the Mach 2+ fighter interceptor was later dropped from team displays in favour of the smaller, slower RAF trainer types.
signalled the end of big fighter display teams in the
But the Blue Diamonds and The Black Arrows
will always be remembered as 2 of the best jet
fighter display teams and the best teams to
ever fly that wonderful ‘pilots aeroplane’; the
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