Wilson ‘Connie’ Edwards, a stunt pilot from the film Battle of Britain, kept a mind-blowing wartime collection in his barn in Texas for 40 years.
Among those aircraft were six Hispano Aviación HA-1112 ‘Buchons’, a Spanish-built version of the Luftwaffe’s feared Messerschmitt Bf 109, and a rare Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IX, all of which were used in the filming of the 1969 Battle of Britain movie. It seemed appropriate, therefore, as we commemorate the 75th anniversary of the epic climax of the Battle of Britain, to take a look at that unique collection in more detail, writes Urban Ghosts.
On that fateful Sunday in 1940, some 630 young pilots of RAF Fighter Command defeated a massive German aerial offensive comprised of 1,120 aircraft.
Thanks to the courage and determination of that small group now forever known as The Few, Hitler’s plan to crush the Royal Air Force as a prelude to invasion was thwarted, and the Third Reich’s Operation Sea Lion was postponed indefinitely. Thereafter, September 15 was commemorated as the Battle of Britain Day.
In July 2014, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association visited Connie Edwards at his ranch to find out more (full video below). It may come as a surprise to many that such an historic collection of airframes has never been displayed publically. But as Edwards pointed out: “I’m not a collector. It’s not a museum. I’ve ended up buying it up with this big bunch of Messerschmitts from the Battle of Britain movie.”
The intrepid former movie pilot, now 81, made his fortune in oil and used the profits to fund his life-long passion for aviation, particularly World War Two-era warbirds that over the years have included a dozen P-51 Mustangs, a rare P-38 Lightning and an F-4U Corsair. Edwards donated the latter two to the Experimental Aviation Association in the 1980s, several decades after he helped found the Confederate Air Force (now known as the Commemorative Air Force). According to AOPA, Edwards never paid more than $15,000 for a Mustang, which can sell for around $1.5 million today.via
“This is one I flew during Battle of Britain and got shot down 72 times in this plane for actual takes”, said Edwards. “I got shot down 128 times in a Messerschmitt. Only the Brits would keep count; I didn’t have the foggiest idea.” He added that, in his experience, and in the hands of a talented pilot, the 109 was superior to both the Spitfire and the P-51.
Edwards concluded: “I’ve enjoyed my flying life. I’ve busted a few of them and I got my RAF wings for belly-landing a burning Spitfire out near Bedford, England during the Battle of Britain movie. All I can say is that I’ve probably lived more lives than anybody I know”
All images courtesy of Mike Fizer/AOPA;
Story Courtesy of: Urban Ghosts