Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird

A Day at IWM Duxford

Just 2 weeks ago my family and I had a day at IWM Duxford. I’ve been to Duxford a few times in the past – see http://www.myfinepix.co.uk/blog/728788/577560 for photos from my last visit – and was looking forward to going again. Although perhaps not ideal for photographic opportunities (everything is very cramped to try and keep as much as possible indoors so as to prevent too much weathering damage) there is lots to see and do, even for the kids. I thought I would share some of the history. Information courtesy of the IWM website – see below. The first largest hanger housed the Airspace – a collection of aircraft telling the story of aviation in Britain and the Commonwealth. There are a number of classic aircraft of all ages from the English Electric Lightning: English Electric Lightning Or the Hawker Siddley Harrier GR.3: Hawker Siddley Harrier GR.3 Or the de Havilland Mosquito TT35: de Havilland Mosquito TT35 On this visit we bypassed hangars 2 and 3 (Flying Aircraft, and Air and Sea respectively) as we had done these hangars on the previous visit. We had done Airspace on the previous visit as well but with so many iconic aircraft didn’t want to miss it this time. We also bypassed the historic Duxford display but here is some of the general info at least for you. Duxford was one of the earliest RAF airfields and was originally built during the First World War. One of the squadrons (No 19) became the first squadron to be equipped with the Spitfire in 1938, meaning that during WWII it became a major centre for defence during the Battle of Britain. In April 1943 the airfield was handed over to the United States 8th Air Force, which had begun to arrive in Britain the previous May. RAF Duxford was officially handed back to the Royal Air Force on 1 December 1945. Duxford continued as an RAF base until it was decided that the necessary improvement costs for the airfield were too high to justify so in July 1961 the final operational flight left RAF Duxford. The future of the airfield remained uncertain until 1977 when IWM teamed with Cambridgeshire County Council and Duxford Aviation Society to buy the airfield with  view to store, restore, and display exhibits too big for its London headquarters. We also went past the hangars for the Battle of Britain display (Duxford was an important fighter base during the Battle of Britain and was home to the first squadron to be kitted with the Spitfire) and the Conservation in Action hangar – Battle of Britain we intended to see on the way back later didn’t have time, and the conservation hangar we had done on the previous visit. Though we didn’t stop in the hangars along the taxiway are a number of civil airliners and also the centre for pleasure flights. There was also a visiting Sea King helicopter out on the main airfield which took off to leave as we were going past: Sea King The next stop was the American Air Museum. This was built to commemorate the 30,000 American airmen who lost their lives in WWII whilst flying from UK bases and opened in 1997 housing the largest collection of historic US military aircraft in Europe. Aircraft range from early days bi-planes up until modern day aircraft such as the F-15 and also one of my all time favourites – the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird: Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird We continued walking to the Land Warfare exhibit. Here there was a large collection of ground based vehicles and weaponry from WWI until modern day conflicts. Land Warfare After this exhibit we had actually run out of time so we didn’t get to go back to the other hangars or go to the 1940 Operations Room. There is a huge amount to see and to be honest it is too much to do in one day, making the visit great value and leaving you wanting to go back for more. IWM Duxford is associated with English Heritage and so we get 2 for 1 entry in this case, so I can see us going back a number of times – particularly as my 5 year-old Beth seems to like it so much as well. IWM Duxford: http://www.iwm.org.uk/visits/iwm-duxford/about

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