IWM Duxford

On the third day of our holiday to Cambridge we headed to the Imperial War Museum Duxford. My boyfriend had shown me some pictures of his visit three of four years ago, the images looked amazing but they didn’t prepare me for what I was going to witness. There are nine buildings to explore at IWM Duxford; AirSpace, Flying Aircraft, Historic Duxford, Air and Sea, Battle of Britain, Ops Block, Conservation in Action, American Air Museum and Land Warfare.

Over the last 100 years, world changing events have continued to happen at Duxford including a range of peoples experiences. The airfield at Duxford was first built in 1917 for the purpose of a training base for the RAF (Royal Airforce), but Duxford also played an incredible part during the Battle of Britain in the Second World War. The legacy of Duxford has continued to be passed on over the years as it’s history holds over a century of military aviation.

When we arrived we headed right to the last building which was Land Warfare, which houses an exhibition of artillery vehicles, tanks and trucks from the First World War to present day. In this building there was also a feature of the birthday cards which were sent to Captain Tom to celebrate his 100th birthday during Lockdown and his amazing fundraising achievement. There was also an exhibition in focus which highlighted the caravans which Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery used during his campaign in north-west Europe in World War Two.

The second building we headed to was the American Air Museum, which displays the collaboration between Britain and the USA in war. There was a focus on how powerful American airplanes were and how it played a key part during conflicts from the 20th and 21st century, from World War Two to the Cold War and to present day. America has only recently been a leading air power but with the history that is held at Duxford from American soldiers, this Air Museum plays a major part in commemorating their fallen heroes.

The next building we looked around was the Conservation in Action hangar, where you can see a dedicated team working to restore a range of amazing aircraft, vehicles and other exhibits. We saw a Handley Page Victor being restored, the team were stripping the original paint from the aircraft and other parts of the plane were being removed ready for repainting. The Victor played a major part in the cold war and was another plane of futuristic design during the 1950’s and 1960’s.

After Conservation in Action we headed to Historic Duxford and then went onto the Battle of Britain hangar. Here you can experience a range of aircraft from Spitfires to an exhibit on a Messerschmitt which crashed in Sussex during 1940. The exhibit in the hangar shows how the British air defences evolved from the First World War through to the jet-age, the Battle of Britain was the most momentous aerial campaign of 1940. It was also said that during wartime in Britain it was cheaper and quicker to produce a new aeroplane than it was to train a new pilot, at one point Fighter Command said they were 200 flyers short of what was actually needed.

We then headed to the Air and Sea hangar, with Britain being an island it has a traditional base of defences which had control of the sea surrounding the UK. With the air power during the First World War and it’s developments, Britain’s air and sea forces have worked ever closer since and have countered many threats. There are many items to explore during this hangar which show Britain’s offensive capabilities including the Fairey Gannet and Hawker Siddeley Buccaneer.

The final building we headed to was AirSpace, which is the home of aviation history and technology you can get up close with aircraft and their engines that have embodied the way that aviation has evolved over the years. With exhibits including the Avro Lancaster MK X, the bomb bay of the Avro Vulcan, the Harrier Jump Jet and climb aboard Concorde 101. Today, the aircraft we remember has forged a rich history and now remains an integral part of military and civilian life.

During our visit to Duxford also included seeing an Apache Helicopter landing and taking off from the airfield and then the best bit of the day was seeing a Spitfire taking off and circling the skies above. Built in 1939, the Supermarine Spitfire Mark 1a was issued to RAF Duxford in April 1940, so it was amazing to see it taking off from the airfield where it was used to defend Britain. It was also really special to me because my gran lived through the war and remembers the ‘Spitty’s’ flying over the skies of Liverpool during the Battle of Britain.

I hope you enjoyed reading my review and experience day at IWM Duxford, let me know what you think in the comments.

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