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gary1701

RAF Mildenhall photo thread

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On 5/7/2018 at 9:05 AM, 82Whitey51 said:

More great shots! Thank you Gary.

 

Model geeks take note, check out all the structural mods and repairs from over the years on these things. Pardon my marking up your photo Gary.

 

IMG_8673_-_Copy.jpg

 

Does anyone do a RC-135U mod/conversion set?

 

Andy,  Yes, Maintrack Models (UK) did one back in the late 1980s / early 1990s.  PM me. R/ Dutch

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Amazing photos Gary! I used to live in Thetford in the 80s as a kid and would spend almost every day of the summer holidays sitting in the tree line watching the F1-11s taking off. I also was lucky on a few occasions in the early evening just after dusk, watching the Blackbird take off (can't remember if it was at Mildenhall or Lakenheath) on the back runway. I had friends in Brandon who would ring up the base and complain about the noise, only to be told that nothing like that was stationed there and that noise, "Well that's the sound of freedom!" I still visit my parents who live in thetford and as I drive past Mildenhall, keep a look out, but never see anything interesting on a Saturday morning, so keep those pictures coming!

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Hi and thanks for the kind words. I also was around in the 80's and remember the swingers, although back then I relied on my dad to take me over. Not a lot has changed really, as we still park, watch and photograph from the same locations now, 30 years later. Luckily, at least Lakenheath has a reasonably secure future.

 

The SR-71 should mean Mildenhall, as that was where the 9th SRW detachment was based, although there may have been occasions when it maybe diverted into Lakenheath. I did photograph it from the fence back then, rather than just the same air show pics that everybody shot, but they were old prints and the negatives are long gone. Again, we use the same spots now as what we did then. Saturdays are very hit and miss, as although unlike most military bases, Mildenhall is normally open 7 days a week, very little routine flying takes place at the weekend as it's officially 'quiet' hours. That B-1 on Saturday morning asked for a overhead arrival and break prior to landing. He obviously hadn't read up on the base NOTAMs, as that's a no-no on the weekend. Fortunately nowadays, there's so much advance information available that never used to be there, you can judge whenever to make a visit or not a lot more accurately.

 

Got the rest of the week off work for pics, but planning on something a little further afield, if the weather co-operates...

 

Gary

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Hi Gents,

 

Not new material this time, but going back to my archives and continuing on there. I'd left it with my first post on the usual residents, concentrating on the 100th ARW, so will carry on here, looking mostly at the MC-130s.

 

The ancient MC-130P's were flown by the 67th SOS, now the MC-130J operator. This example is pulling off a approach to runway 11. One of their party pieces whilst doing circuit work is to make an approach to the wrong end, then pull off to the South and make a tight circuit to the other end. Makes for some interesting pics if correctly judged.

 

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Routine profile shot of a MC-130P making a normal approach to 29.

 

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I'm pretty sure this guy saw a couple of us standing in a stubble field late one Friday afternoon during circuit practise as he pulled it off the departure end and immediately rolled it towards us whilst directly opposite. If he did, nice touch.

 

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The  'Son Tay Raider' flying circuits to runway 11. Unfortunately the badge honouring the aircrafts role in Operation Ivory Coast in 1970 is on the other side of the fuselage! 

 

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Not Mildenhall, but a Duxford American Air Day when the aircraft was made available for public inspection, it shows the badge the aircraft wore in it's later days at Mildenhall. I believe when the MC-130P was retired from Mildenhall and the USAF this aircraft was rightly preserved and went on public display.

 

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MC-130H from the 7th SOS coming out for a runway 11 departure.

 

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The badge has now started to appear on the current MC-130J and CV-22s.

 

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A MC-130P coming out at the same spot just prior to dusk. The 352nd is mostly a nocturnal force, and usually only flies basic currency during the daylight. Most of the units UK based training takes place after dusk. Note the C-130H tail to the left with newly applied Afghanistan Air Force markings. One of two making the delivery flight a few days before I took this, and this was a divert in due to a oil leak.  

 

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The sign of things to come. Newly delivered MC-130J and CV-22 parked together. I assume this was for some VIP event as that is not their normal parking location, and the two types are actually based on opposite side of the airfield.

 

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In September 2013, 64-14854 was the oldest MC-130P on the base (but still newer than all the KC-135s!) and by then the first J models had appeared and the types days were numbered.

 

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The first of the new breed that arrived, MC-130J Commando II 10-5714, shortly after being delivered.

 

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The 67th uses the 'Strix' callsign during routine training from Mildenhall on the MC-130J, but adopts others during deployments or multi ship flights. Here Kale' flight taxies onto runway 11 for another evening departure.

 

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Causing a traffic jam, not a common occurrence at Mildenhall given how quiet the place normally is.

 

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Taxiing past Folly Rd for a morning departure from runway 29.

 

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...and catching some crosswind during circuits.

 

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Mildenhall visitors and transit ramp on the first day open after thanksgiving...even emptier than normal!

 

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That's it for this update. The archives are now pretty much bare, as although I have loads more of the regulars I think putting up endless shots of the same types from the same angles will become boring, so I will probably update this thread as and when I go over and catch something new, as in the previous few posts.

 

Gary

 

 

 

 

Edited by gary1701

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Thanks for taking the time to re-post all these wonderful pictures in one thread.   You've got some really great shots here.   Hope you find the time to get some new material for all of us in the future.

 

John

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great photos Gary! I'm not an expert on the C-130, just wondering why that C-130P (?) has a vey square nose? Do you know whats unde there? 

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33 minutes ago, SQLModeller said:

great photos Gary! I'm not an expert on the C-130, just wondering why that C-130P (?) has a vey square nose? Do you know whats unde there? 

 

Hi and thanks,

 

If it's the older MC-130P's with the smaller nose as in the  'Son Tay Raider', then I believe - and the real experts, please correct me if I'm wrong - it's a carry over from when the model was fitted with the Fulton recovery system on the nose. If not familiar, details below;

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fulton_surface-to-air_recovery_system

 

It's used by James Bond at the end of the film 'Thunderball', although the aircraft deploying it is a B-17.

 

The large radome on the MC-130H model is for the AN/APQ-170 radar. What the capabilities of that clearly isn't in the public domain, but given the types role is low level night infiltration and recovery in enemy territory, I would guess it's a terrain avoidance/following radar.  

 

Anybody has anything further to add, please, fire away.

 

Gary

Edited by gary1701

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Always a pleasure to catch up with these, thanks for sharing them Gary, some impressive metal there.

Steve.

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Hi again gents.

 

Many thanks for the kind words. I still intend to add to the thread as and when able to do so, but it will mostly be new material when able to shoot it. My trips over are a lot more infrequent than they used to be due to a change in work and more family pressures. As the quoted dates show, the vast majority of the above were shot in the time period of 2006-2014, when my unusual annualized hours made it easy for me to go over quite frequently, not to mention working a lot closer than I do now.

 

What I can do is do another thread for other locations that I frequently visit, Lakenheath is the obvious one as although many of these have been posted up in the past, most will have gone due to the photobucket debacle. The problem with Lakenheath is that unlike Mildenhall, you don't have the variety of types, it's mostly F-15s from various angles. But if I give it a little while so as not to clog up the board with threads, I'll do a best of Lakenheath soon. If you guys don't mind some non-US stuff I could also do some RAF stations like Coningsby, or even the local Army Apaches at Wattisham. 

 

Gary  

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Sounds good.  Can you put a link in here when you create the new one?

 

personally I like small air forces so anything you have works for me.

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With the quality of your pictures and stories, you can post airliners if you want and I will still check out the thread. Thanks for posting.

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Gents,

 

As requested, here's a link to the new thread.

 

Gary

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Gents,

 

Just to complete the pics from the end of last week this was what I shot at Mildenhall. As soon as I took this it was back across the road to Lakenheath and the F/A-18's. If this hadn't been late, and the Hornets early I wouldn't have missed the first four bugs. Interesting aircraft that I've never seen before, but not worth losing four F models Horrnets for!

 

Italian Navy ATR P-72A MPA. Funny looking thing. It was a fuel stop whilst providing SAR coverage to some Italian EF-2000's departing Keflavik for home. 

 

IMG_1401.jpg

 

IMG_1408.jpg

 

Gary

Edited by gary1701

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Very nice picture! Would love to build one like that - does anyone know if u can get a 1/72 version? 

Even if it was a civil version, I guess you could scratch build the rest...?

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Gents,

 

A few more from this morning, I had to miss the weeks action at Lakenheath with all those jets operating in perfect weather, but I did put a run into Mildenhall this morning. I did have my doubts that anything would be operating as we have very strong winds from the South directly across the runway today. If it hadn't been for the USN flights still supporting the Harry Truman in UK coastal waters then it would have been pretty much dead.

 

First up was C-40 'Convoy 6326' arriving and departing back to Oslo.  I shot these down at Folly Road even though the base was working runway 11 today as the light down the other end was still bad and I wanted to have a look at the new barbed wire that has been added to the top of the fence since my last visit. Still okay for a step ladder but there's rumours that they may put a new secondary fence in on the other side of the new joggers path that runs just inside this fence. Also a lot of building work is going on at this corner of the base - I suppose there has to be as it's still officially down for closure in a few years time!  

 

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Moved up to the other end as it was rumoured one of the C-2s from the flat top would be in around midday - bang on time. Same one I photographed last week at Lakenheath, just in better light!

 

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One of the Ospreys coming back from a quick air test. Advantage with these is they can obviously depart and land directly into wind. '0057 was the one of the first pair to arrive and the very first one I shot back in 2014. Nice to see they've added the same badge behind the cockpit that the MC-130s normally carry.

 

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Then 'Convoy 6302' turned up, this guy really had the right wing down into the crosswind, that was increasing all the time. I couldn't see it from my viewpoint, but after he passed me and landed, he came very close to putting that right wingtip on the runway, according to a couple of guys who saw it. I do like that glossy USN C-130 colour scheme.

 

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Not bad for a couple of hours on a Saturday morning.

 

Gary

 

 

 

Edited by gary1701

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Hi gents,

 

A few more from todays trip over to Mildenhall. I didn't actually plan on going over at all, popped over to Bury St Edmunds, which is just 10 miles from Mildenhall this morning, intending only on visiting this!

 

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The opening of the towns annual Sci-Fi exhibition. Complete with actors on the opening morning.

 

When I came out the weather looked good so figured I might as well carry on and see what was about. Got there late morning and RC-135S 'Cobra Ball' was just about to roll and head home. I'd forgotten he was in and if I'd been a few minutes earlier he would have taxied down past Folly Rd in front of me.

 

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Quite rare HC-130J from California ANG arriving. Pretty new as well, 2015 fiscal on the tail.

 

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This '135 passing through needs a identity.

 

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The same C-40 as last weekend also turned up again.

 

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The TDY RC-135U was out on a planned 17 hour sortie, having left at 3AM local, so I had my doubts I was going to see him but he came back early. I photographed '847 here back in May with a sharks mouth, and I found out today that the other airframe, '849 has also gained one now as well.

 

'Luigi 16' returning after 'only' a 13 hour sortie.

 

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Even better I heard that the Western end of 'Bravo' taxiway is out of service at the moment, meaning he would have to back taxi down the runway and come off and taxi past us!

 

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Followed by 'King 99' departing after a quick turn.

 

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Not bad for a day when I didn't actually intend to go over.

 

Gary

 

 

Edited by gary1701

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Hi gents,

 

First trip to Mildenhall today since the visit in October last year. I booked a day off work at short notice when I saw a clear and bright, although sub-zero day forecast. I don't normally do that unless something was planned which was the case today. Mildenhall has been hosting two USN P-8s from VP-26 since early last week. Both aircraft have flown every week day since, which says quite a lot for their serviceability, and were supposedly expected to leave end of the week, or that's what the grapevine said. I have never seen, let alone photographed a P-8 before so I figured I would go for it today, a day which promised much and ended up very frustrating... I'm going to go with 1200 pixel wide images now rather than the old 1024 size.

 

Arrival saw multiple engines running around the field at dawn, with a small sprinkling of over night snow. Getting the radio up and running soon highlighted the problem that would bite me later on - Mildenhall unbelievably isn't really equipped for de-icing! Everybody is talking to ops and their clearances keep getting put back whilst all waiting in turn for what little de-icing capability Mildenhall can provide. Both P-8s are still sitting in the middle of the field, which is a departure from their routine so far for this deployment, as they're normally up by now, before dawn. Could be ominous.

 

Resident MC-130J is the first down on the Southside. Not sure if that can be considered a good de-icing or not, as my experience of watching aeroplanes in the snow is non-existent. That 100th tanker behind will feature later on.

 

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First tanker of the day soon followed. I can't say the residents weren't busy, but I wasn't after them. Note it's a MPRS bird.

 

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The first one back from a early sortie was sent to the stand next door.

 

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By now several of the other locals had turned up, and I found out that the P-8s were due out, and leaving Mildenhall about 12:30 to Sigonella, which suited me fine, as they would taxi past Folly like everybody else on the Southside. Our poor overworked de-icer turned up to start on the '135 that was already parked here when I arrived. He didn't appear to be in a hurry though... 

 

IMG-9993.jpg

 

A couple of arrivals, a French TBM-700 in for a couple of hours for some reason, followed by a C-17 divert who was inbound Spangdahlem but had to come into Mildenhall as he was short of fuel. The C-17 gurus amongst the spectators said that this one was with the West Virginia ANG, but at least up until a month ago was still carrying McChord markings, despite being with it's new operator for at least six months.

 

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There's been some swapping around of the CV-22s, so this was a new one to Mildenhall who was flying one of their numerous air tests.

 

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Another MC-130J went opposite direction which was nice.

 

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At around 12:30 both P-8 callsigns (Trident 2/44) came up on the box wondering where their de-icer was - I know where it is, although Mildenhall ops doesn't, it's been down this end of the field for at least an hour already and he still hasn't finished that KC-135! Something tells me they're gonna be late, and ominously clouds are appearing on the horizon and I do not like photographing aircraft in poor light unless trying something arty. Here we go again...

 

Another resident down the Southside taxiway, which as one of the regulars took great delight in telling me, needs the 100th to put the correct serial on it, as the last paint shop got it wrong, both nose and tail. Aircraft 60-0113 was a T-37 (yes, I've checked), this is actually 58-0113. RAF Coningsby had somebody around 2008/9 who kept doing something similar to Typhoons!

 

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..and down the runway, this one now carries 'All American Gal' on the nose, along with most of the other 100th birds that have now received individual nose art.

 

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Yet another 67th SOS MC-130J heading out.

 

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By now it was an hour past the P-8s departure time and the de-icer had moved on, with the clouds getting ever closer.  60-0355 was back from her early morning departure, showing the other side and the name 'The Jester'.

 

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Army C-12 turned up for a few circuits before disappearing - and then the clouds rolled in, just as the 'Trident' callsigns finally taxied at about 14:00. Very frustrating as if they had of gone on time they would have looked fantastic.

 

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The first P-8 (Trident 2) has already been intercepted by Su-27s during this TDY, and has actually been working in co-ordination with the TDY RC-135 on it's earlier sorties.

 

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...and there you go. Busy but of all the aircraft moving today the only two I 'lost' too weather were the two I really wanted.

 

Gary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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WOW, great shots Gary. It's a shame about the weather and the P-8's but, I know and feel your pain. I photographed for close to 25 years and " missed out " on a few because of weather or just bad timing. It's really a shame you don't shoot slides, we could have done some great trading.

 

Steve

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Wonderful pics Gary, thanks for taking the time to post them.  With regard to that KC-135 with the wrong serial, was this just a screwup by the paint shop or do you think the AF is trying to be "tricky"?

 

 

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Hi Bee,

 

I reckon it's just a screw up, I can't see any reason why a regular unit like the 100th would play identity games with a standard KC-135R, wouldn't make any sense. I know that sort of thing has happened to certain types in the past, including USN/CIA P-3 operations and some of the sensitive C-32/757s have also swapped their serials around. One of those two C-32Bs from McGuire came into Mildenhall the day before I was there, shame he didn't come in a day later as it was the one I haven't shot!

 

Gary  

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23 hours ago, gary1701 said:

 

Hi Bee,

 

I reckon it's just a screw up, I can't see any reason why a regular unit like the 100th would play identity games with a standard KC-135R, wouldn't make any sense. I know that sort of thing has happened to certain types in the past, including USN/CIA P-3 operations and some of the sensitive C-32/757s have also swapped their serials around. One of those two C-32Bs from McGuire came into Mildenhall the day before I was there, shame he didn't come in a day later as it was the one I haven't shot!

 

Gary  

 

LOL...  seems like a pretty basic procedure.  1) Look up serial number of aircraft.  2) Write it down.  3) Paint number on jet.   4) Compare to what you wrote down.   5)  If the two match, job complete.  If not, go back to step one.

 

 Those C-32's are interesting aircraft.   A few years back, I was working at Otis ANGB  (a very sleepy guard base) on Cape Cod, MA when one showed up and spent an hour doing touch and goes.  My phone was dead, otherwise, I would have had some great shots. 

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Hi again Bee,

 

Found out a little more. That KC-135 came from Altus and operated with the 100th at Mildenhall for a while, late last year in those markings before being remarked for the 100th. It was correctly marked as 58-0113 whilst in Altus markings, so it's Mildenhall that has screwed up. It's been noticed and discussed on one of our UK enthusiast forums; this image has been posted showing it still in Altus marks in October.

 

https://flic.kr/p/2bEJCmM

 

What I hadn't noticed, until it was pointed out was that which sequence of numbers is shown varies on the type of aircraft, especially on the nose. An example given was that C-5 and B-52 numbers on the nose don't show last four as most other types because some of the numbers are identical, just different fiscal years, so they use the last three, and second number from FY on the nose. On the tail they still use the last five, like the KC-135s above. I gather there's other exceptions as well. If it gets complicated, then there's a higher chance that even your own people don't understand it.

 

The KC-135 is pretty understandable, but have a look at this. First pic below is a RAF Typhoon from 3(F) Sqn at RAF Coningsby during the first couple of years of Typhoon operations. Note 3 Sqn's form of coding 'QO' and then the dash and airframe specific code. This is a standard marked jet from those early days.

 

3717399160_9ec0d0d886_o.jpg

 

So how did this happen?

 

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Also, and I can't find a pic at the moment, but I know I did shoot it, there was another at the same time with the dash in the wrong place.

 

Notice what's wrong with this pair?

 

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The near jet has the wrong sided decal for the 3 Sqn shield on the fin. It's facing the wrong way, took them over a year to change it! Before somebody tells me, I realise that both the USAF and RAF have better things to do than worry about the markings on their planes, but it's still amusing when it goes wrong!

 

Gary

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by gary1701

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Just catching up with your last set of photos Gary, again fantastic pictures! Loved the ones with the insignias around the wrong way, glad to see I'm not the only one who gets this wrong. Although mine are only on the models!

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