DUXFORD AIR MUSEUM - IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM
Flying Shows and Aircraft Displays in Cambridgeshire
The air museum at Duxford is England’s largest display of aircraft, one of the five branches of the British Imperial War Museum and most popular for its air shows which take place on several weekends - the spring air show in May, Flying Legends in July, the Duxford Air Show, the largest over the first weekend of September and the Autumn Air Show, the last in the flying season in October, and single day events, Spitfire Day and American Day in August.
The airfield at Duxford south of Cambridge, began as a World War I flight training center. In the years leading to WWII, Duxford expanded into a fighter squadron base and flight school. Legendary British war ace Douglas Bader, who had lost his legs in an earlier crash, was based at Duxford, leading his 12 Group “Big Wing” in the Battle of Britain before being transferred to Tangmere in Sussex (see Tangmere Air Museum Battle of Britain). Bader was later shot down over Germany and housed at several prisoner of war camps. The German’s had such respect for Bader flying prowess, they allowed the RAF to airdrop him an artificial leg after one of his was destroyed when he was captured. They later took his leg prosthetics away again so he couldn’t escape.
The RAF field at Duxford was used in the filming of the 1960’s film version of “The Battle of Britain”. The movie production blew up hangers and some aircraft for the making of the film, bits of history the Duxford Air Museum wishes where still around. Later in the war, the airfield was handed over to American 8th Air Force, and the 78th Fighter Group flying P47 Thunderbolts and P-51 Mustangs in air support of daylight bombing over Germany. In the 50’s Duxford was determined to be too far inland to be an effective defense base in the supersonic jet era and the operational RAF flight departed Duxford’s runway in 1961.
The Imperial War Air Museum at Duxford consists of a wide array of aircraft mostly in static display, with most of the permanent exhibits indoors, located in seven separate hangers, a few of them in the historic war era section of the field and some larger ones specially built for the museum. The AirSpace Hanger is a giant space housing a general collection following the history of aviation from the earliest days to the future, British and Commonwealth commercial and war aircraft, great flying monsters like the mighty Vulcan delta wing atomic age British bomber featured in the James Bond "Thunderball" film, and the supersonic passenger Concorde you can walk through. Hanger 4 houses the “Battle of Britain” exhibit with the base’s history as a Royal Air Force Defense station. Along with the British Spitfires and Hurricanes, here you’ll find the actual BF109 Messerschmitt German Fighter which crash landed in a Sussex farm field intact except for his bent propellers, famously photographed and later toured around Britain as war bond display.
At the far end of the field, the American Air Museum, newly built to house the collection of aircraft flown in WWII and later, including an SR 71 Blackbird spy plane as well as a still flight worthy restored B24 Liberator. There is also a land warfare hall with tanks, artillery and land fighting vehicles, including the Normandy Experience invasion display and the Royal Anglian and Cambridgeshire Regimental Museums. Other hangers display aircraft being restored and prepared for flying.
Visiting IWM Duxford Air Museum
During regular open days on weekends when special events are not being held, period aircraft will fly over the field throughout the day, though they curious always seem to fly while you’re in the middle of an exhibit. Tank warfare demonstrations are occasional given by the land warfare exhibit. Free guided tours are given on the weekends. The museum displays are open daily – 10-6 in summer hours, March to October and 10-4 during winter hours November to March. Admission is £16 for adults - £12.80 for Seniors and Students, children under 15 are free. A bargain if you have kids, a bit pricey if you don’t, but parking is free.
is an operating airport with private aviation aircraft able to land
Flights in historic aircraft are offered
from Duxford by Classic Wings on the weekends and during the week in
summer months. The Imperial War Museum at Duxford in located just next
to the M11 motorway on the A505 about 15 minutes from Stansted Airport.
There are three cafés on the airfield, and a shuttle tram to save
the long walk from one end of the field to the other. The souvenir
shop in the entrance building offers a wide selection of aviation models
and mementos. © Bargain
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