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UK Tourist & Leisure Attractions - Duxford IWM

Belinda and Mike - follow our tourist travels in the UK

Duxford Imperial War Museum - Aug 2011

Join us on a fascinating tour of Duxford, in Cambridgeshire, part of the Imperial War Museum.  Just off junction 10 on the M11, Duxford's huge historic military aviation museum comprises some eight areas containing wonderfully preserved wartime fighter and bomber aircraft from Britain's aviation heritage plus some captivating civil aeroplanes, including a Concorde which we walked on!  Mike found the 1940 Operations Room and vintage wireless sets enthralling while Belinda liked the military men in combat gear in the Battle of Britain and Land Warfare sections!

The Imperial War Museum at Duxford
After passing through the visitor center at IWM Duxford we were greeted by this giant info board illustrating the museum layout; we headed left to the main exhibition area called AirSpace.

Timeline in AirSpace at IWM Duxford portraying flight development history
This timeline in AirSpace's upper area depicted flight development over the years, here there were plenty of 'hands on' interactive exhibits with lots of buttons to push demonstrating how all things aviation work.

Lancaster bomber at Duxford
Can you spot three iconic military aircraft here at Duxford Imperial War Museum?  In the foreground is the famous Lancaster WWII bomber, behind it the huge Vulcan bomber of the 60s and to the right the Sunderland flying boat.

Spotting the various aircraft in Duxford's AirSpace
There are some 30 aircraft in Duxford's AirSpace, this info board pinpointed all the historic aircraft to spot.  And it's not only military aircraft, there are some classic civil planes too, like that Concorde behind that seemingly only just managed...

Concorde at Duxford Imperial War Museum
...to squeeze its very aesthetically pleasing form into the huge AirSpace hanger.  A few years back we toured a Concorde at Fleet Air Arm Museum, we did the same here at Duxford with...

Inside Concorde at Duxford
...a walk through the fuselage.  This Concorde was a development model originally loaded with test gear, the seats were added later to reflect its commercial use.  Back to the military aircraft then and...

Supermarine Spitfire F24 on display at IWM Duxford
...the legendary WWII fighter, the Spitfire.  Duxford's No. 19 squadron was the first to get them but this particular one's a late version Supermarine Spitfire F24.  Throughout the museum there were plenty of these informative info boards to browse.

Imperial War Museum Duxford: the huge delta-wing of the Vulcan bomber
And now a closer look at the Vulcan with its massive delta-wings.  The Vulcan was the aircraft that carried the UK's strategic nuclear weapons during the Cold War, later carrying conventional weapons and last used for combat in the Falklands War.

Hastings C1A aircraft at Duxford IWM
As you can imagine we took loads of pics at Duxford Imperial War Museum.  This is the Hastings C1A, an RAF long range transport aircraft and Hastings were extensively used for the Berlin Airlift.

Lightning F1 fighter in Duxford's AirSpace section
The Lightning F1 was a supersonic interceptor fighter that saw RAF service from the 60s to the 80s. The Lightning was distinctive for its imposing large jet engine air intake up front.

Ongoing restoration projects in Duxford's Flying Aircraft hanger
Next up was the Flying Aircraft hanger at Duxford IWM containing some privately owned planes under restoration.  Looks like there's a bit more than an evening's work to do on this one so on to...

US Navy Wildcat FM-2 aircraft in the Air and Sea section at Duxford IWM
...Duxford's Air and Sea exhibition area; those planes with the folding wings are the Wildcat FM-2 and were the mainstay fighter aircraft of the US Navy during the middle part of the Second World War.

The Hawker Hurricane in Duxford's Battle of Britain section
On entering the Battle of Britain section we were greeted by this jolly chappie sitting up there in this Hawker Hurricane, the RAF's main British fighter of WWII.  Regarded as the forgotten star of the Battle of Britain, there were far more Hurricane squadrons (including two at Duxford) than the Spitfire.

Crashed Messerschmitt Bf 109E display at Duxford IWM
The German's famous fighter of the Second World War was the Messerschmitt Bf 109E and the scene depicted here in the Battle of Britain hall shows an actual Messerschmitt that crashed being guarded.  An Anderson Bomb Shelter and a V1 Flying Bomb were among the many exhibits in Battle of Britain.

1940 Operations Room recreation at IWM Duxford
One highlight of our visit to Duxford IWM was the recreation of the 1940 Operations Room, brought vividly to life by the excellent soundtrack playing of all the frantic activity that took place as aircraft were directed and tracked during battle.

B-17G Flying Fortress in bits in Duxford's Conservation in Action area
Here in Conservation in Action we saw restoration work being carried out on many aircraft; this one's a B-17G Flying Fortress in bits, its wing hanging to the left, and a Frazer-Nash FN-120 four-gun tail turret.  OK, we'll soon have that back together then!

Lots of vintage wireless sets at Duxford Radio Society
Just look at all those vintage wireless sets in the Duxford Radio Society's area!  Mike recognised much of the kit from the surplus market of the 70s during his innings as a young enthusiastic radio ham (callsign G4BFJ).  Next door had a mock up of...

T1154 & R1155 in Lancaster radio operator area at Duxford Radio Society
...the Lancaster's wireless operator area with a T1154 transmitter up top and R1155 receiver below.  Mike had his first go with a Morse key in over 25 years and found it all flowed back when he managed to tap out Belinda's name in Morse Code.  Dar-de-de-dit...

Duxford IWM: Boeing B-52 Stratofortress bomber in American Air Museum
The American Air Museum was dominated by the simply enormous Boeing B-52 Stratofortress bomber, and many aircraft here were suspended from the roof as if in combat.

B-24M Dugan, American Air Museum, Duxford
This is the B-24M Dugan, which proved a tricky shot into the light.  Among other aircraft in the American Air Museum at Duxford were a Phantom, Thunderbolt, Avenger and the stealthy SR-71 Blackbird.

Large propeller at Duxford's American Air Museum
You'll need more than your finger
to start up that one up Mike!

T-6 Harvard landing at Duxford airfield
Duxford's airfield was in constant use all day with aircraft landing and taking off.  This is a T-6 Harvard coming in to land after taking (some very rich!) people on a pleasure flight.  Duxford also hosts various airshows during the summer season.

For more Duxford information please visit our UK tourist resources.

Land Warfare section at Imperial War Museum Duxford
Land Warfare was our last port of call at Duxford Imperial War Museum with many displays including 'The Normandy Experience' and 'The Eastern Front', all with tons of tanks and other ground military hardware.  Get outta there Belinda, it's a war zone!

The B-17 Flying Fortress Sally B landed at Duxford
As we headed back to Duxford's visitor centre, Sally B, the last airworthy B-17 Flying Fortress in Europe, had just come in to land.  Sally B is based at IWM Duxford and regularly flies at airshows so presumably it had just returned from one.

Historic civil commercial airliners on the tarmac at Duxford
Lined up here are some historic civil commercial aeroplanes sitting on the tarmac at Duxford, including a Dart Herald, Trident, VC-10, Britannia and BAC 1-11, all sporting airline livery of old such as BEA, BOAC and Monarch Airlines.


Duxford adult entry at the time of our visit was 14.95.
But beware the misleading entrance fee trick!
On the Duxford website it has 16.50 in the prominent cost table, but this includes a voluntary donation only denoted by an asterisk.  Only in smaller text further down does it say the actual cost is 14.95.  And they try it on at the visitor centre too, asking for the higher cost but on querying it they quickly relent.  To cap it all there's a donations box which could cause unsuspecting visitors to pay a further voluntary donation!  All a bit underhand Imperial War Museum!

Otherwise, we can thoroughly recommend IWM Duxford; it sure is a captivating day out for all and an important part of Britain's military and civil aviation heritage.


We've enjoyed many other aviation and military related visits: Imperial War Museum, RAF Museum, Fleet Air Arm,
Shuttleworth Collection and Royal Signals Museum.