Spitfire war planes will fly over Portsmouth tomorrow afternoon to commemorate the Battle of Britain.
The spectacular aerial show has been organised to mark the time at which fighting was at its fiercest in the air campaign that changed the course of the Second World War.
In what is believed to be the biggest memorial flight of its kind, 18 Spitfires and six Hurricanes will scramble from Biggin Hill Airport in Kent at 1pm, before splitting into three formations of eight aircraft.
The first – named Grice flight – will head south over Westerham in Kent before following a route across parts of Surrey and West Sussex en route to the Solent, the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth. Organisers say the planes should be in the skies above Portsmouth at around 1.25pm
The other two flights will soar over Kent.
The 24 fighter planes are scheduled to return to Biggin Hill at around 2pm.
I’d encourage as many people as possible to witness this unique flypast and to wave as the formations fly byEvent organiser Colin Hitchins
Event organiser Colin Hitchins said: ‘I’d encourage as many people as possible to witness this unique flypast and to wave as the formations fly by.’
Robin Brooks, of the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar, which is organising the spectacle in conjunction with the airport, said: “This is proving to be the largest tribute ever to all those service personnel who fought and died during those dramatic four months of the Battle of Britain.’
He said that the precise direction from which the seven Spitfires and solitary Hurricane in the Grice flight would approach Portsmouth would depend on weather conditions and air traffic control instructions.
‘The best advice is to listen for them first - there will be eight Merlin engines in the sky so they will be easily heard’ he said.
Some of the planes being used in the tribute are privately owned, while others belong to the Imperial War Museum at Duxford and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.
Second World War fighter pilots will also be heading to Biggin Hill to witness the flypast.
Mr Brooks said: ‘It’s important that veterans from the Battle of Britain – which was fought from July to October 1940 – witness the very best we can offer.
‘We can never repay the sacrifice of those who died. Likewise we can never repay the devotion to duty of those who are still living.’