Imperial War Museum Duxford is a branch of the Imperial War Museum near Duxford in Cambridgeshire. Britain's largest aviation museum, Duxford houses the museum's large exhibits, including nearly 200 aircraft, military vehicles, artillery and minor naval vessels in seven main exhibition buildings. The site also provides storage space for the museum's other collections of material such as film, photographs, documents, books and artifacts. The site accommodates several British Army regimental museums, including those of the Parachute Regiment (named Airborne Assault) and the Royal Anglian Regiment. Duxford has been associated with British military aviation since 1917, when a site near the village of Duxford, in southern Cambridgeshire, was selected for a new Royal Flying Corps training aerodrome. From 1925 Duxford became a fighter airfield, a role it was to retain until the end of its operational life, and in August 1938 the Duxford-based No.19 Squadron RAF became the first to operate the Supermarine Spitfire.
With the outbreak of war in September 1939 Duxford was home to three RAF squadrons engaged on coastal patrol duties. From July 1940, Duxford saw considerable action during the Battle of Britain as a sector station of RAF Fighter Command's No. 12 Group. In the middle years of the war Duxford was home to specialist units, such as the tacticians and engineers of the Air Fighting Development Unit. In April 1942 the first Typhoon Wing was formed at Duxford. Notable among the pilots of the Wing was Group Captain John Grandy who would later rise to be Chief of the Air Staff and also served as Chairman of the Trustees of the Imperial War Museum from 1978 to 1989. In March 1943 the United States Army Air Forces' 78th Fighter Group started to arrive at Duxford with their Republic P-47 Thunderbolts. The Group reequipped with North American P-51 Mustangs in December 1944 and until the end of the war in Europe the Group remained at Duxford carrying out bomber escort and fighter sweeps, ground strafing and ground attack missions.
The south side visitor entrance, which now houses a shop and visitor facilities, was previously the airfield's armoury. The various buildings are arranged roughly parallel to the A505; AirSpace is furthest east, with Hangars 2, 3, 4 and 5 running westwards, followed by the American Air Museum and the Land Warfare Hall. The museum site is approximately 1800 metres from one end to the other, and a visitor bus operates during opening hours. Some aircraft and other exhibits are displayed externally, such as a Comet tank and replica Hawker Hurricane as gate guardians at the main entrance. Several commercial airliners belonging to the Duxford Aviation Society stand on the runway apron opposite the hangars. A Bloodhound surface-to-air missile stands on the site of the demolished hangar. A United States Air Force F-15 Eagle stands near the American Air Museum. A Royal Engineers' Centurion AVRE stands outside the Land Warfare Hall and the Gibraltar Gun, a 9.2-inch artillery piece previously emplaced on the Rock of Gibraltar is nearby.
AirSpace (the expanded Hangar 1) officially opened to the public on 12 July 2008. Over 30 aircraft are on display, dating back to the First World War; early aircraft include rare examples of an Airco DH.9 and a Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.8. The former is one of only six surviving DH9s and the only example on display in the UK, and the latter is the only complete and original R.E.8 in existence. More recent notable aircraft include a Hawker Siddeley Harrier which served during the Falklands War with No. 1 Squadron RAF, and a Panavia Tornado, which flew the highest number of bomber sorties of any Tornado in the 1991 Gulf War. Also on display is a British Aircraft Corporation TSR-2 strike aircraft, one of only two survivors from the cancellation of the project in 1965. Recent additions include Eurofighter Typhoon DA4, one of seven Typhoon development aircraft, which was donated to the museum by the Ministry of Defence in 2008 and went on display in June 2009. Civil aircraft include the Duxford Aviation Society's Concorde and Comet. AirSpace also houses Airborne Assault, the museum of the British Army's Parachute Regiment and airborne forces. The opening ceremony was led by Prince Charles, the Parachute Regiment's Colonel-in-Chief. The museum chronicles the history of British airborne forces from the Second World War to current operations in Afghanistan.
Hangar 2 is a double Type T2 hangar, erected in the 1970s. It occupies the site of a T2 hangar erected in the 1950s. It accommodates the flyable aircraft of Duxford's private aviation companies, such as The Fighter Collection, and allows visitors to see aircraft undergoing maintenance or restoration. Hangar 3, an original Belfast truss hangar, houses Duxford's maritime exhibition. The collection includes notable vessels and naval aircraft. Boats on display include Coastal Motor Boat 4, built by Thornycroft in 1916. She saw action during the Baltic campaign of 1918–19, and her commander Lieutenant Augustus Agar won the Victoria Cross for sinking the Russian cruiser Oleg on 17 June 1919. Other vessels include the Vosper motor torpedo boat MTB-71, acquired from the British Military Powerboat Trust in 2005, an example of an X-Craft midget submarine, and a wartime Royal National Lifeboat Institution boat, the Jesse Lumb which was stationed at Bembridge on the Isle of Wight. A variety of naval aircraft are on display, including a de Havilland Sea Vixen, Sea Venom, and Sea Vampire, and a Westland Wasp helicopter which was embarked on the frigate HMS Apollo during the Falklands War.
Hangar 4 is one of Duxford's historic hangars, and now houses an exhibition exploring Duxford's history as an operational RAF airfield from the First World War to the Cold War. The early period is represented by a Bristol Fighter, a type operated by Duxford's No.2 Flying Training School from 1920. The latter period is represented by a Hawker Hunter which flew at Duxford with No. 65 Squadron RAF, a Gloster Javelin, the type which made the last operational flight at Duxford in 1961, and by a Hungarian Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21, a common Warsaw Pact jet fighter. Britain's air defence during the Second World War is particularly emphasised, with exhibits representing the Battle of Britain, the Blitz and the V-1 flying bomb offensive from 1944. Notable aircraft include a Messerschmitt Bf-109E which was flown during the Battle of Britain until forced down in Sussex due to engine failure. It is displayed as part of a tableau showing the crashed aircraft under guard. One unusual aircraft on display is the Cierva C.30A autogyro, which was used by 74 (Signals) Wing, based at Duxford, to test the calibration of coastal radar units.
Hangar 5, the westernmost original hangar, houses Duxford's aircraft conservation workshops. Open to the public, the hangar allows visitors to see museum staff and volunteers at work on a variety of conservation tasks. Notable projects include a Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter acquired from an American owner in 'jungle recovery' condition, and a Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.8 now on display in AirSpace. Duxford is a partner with the British Aviation Preservation Council in the National Aviation Heritage Skills Initiative, which has been funded since 2005 by the Heritage Lottery Fund and aims to provide training to volunteers supporting aviation heritage projects.
The American Air Museum was opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 1 August 1997. The museum was re-dedicated on 27 September 2002, in a ceremony attended by former President George H. W. Bush and by Prince Charles. Since being opened, the museum has had its glass front removed, and then reinstalled, to allow the bringing-in of an SR-71 Blackbird and Consolidated B-24 Liberator. The SR-71, serial number 61-7962, is the only example of its type on display outside the United States, and set a flight altitude record of 85,069 feet in July 1976. Besides the Blackbird, nineteen other American aircraft are on display. Notable examples include a C-47 Skytrain which flew with the 316th Troop Carrier Group and participated in three major Second World War airborne operations; the June 1944 Normandy landings, Operation Market Garden and Operation Varsity, the airborne crossing of the River Rhine in March 1945. The museum's B-29 flew during the Korean War as part of the 7th Bomb Wing; it is the only example in Europe and one of only two preserved in museums outside the United States. The B-52 flew 200 sorties during the Vietnam War as part of the 28th Bomb Wing. The General Dynamics F-111 on display flew 19 missions during the 1991 Gulf War as part of the 77th Fighter Squadron.
The Land Warfare Hall provides accommodation for the Imperial War Museum's collection of armoured vehicles, artillery and military vehicles. Also included are vehicles belonging to the Duxford Aviation Society Military Vehicle Section. The hall comprises a viewing balcony that runs for most of the length of the hall, providing views over a range of tableaux of vehicles, tanks and artillery that run chronologically from the First World War to the present day. Notable among the First World War exhibits is a battle-damaged artillery limber used by L Battery Royal Horse Artillery during an action at Néry in September 1914 where three Victoria Crosses were won. The Second World War in particular is illustrated with tableaux of the North African Campaign, the Eastern Front and the invasion of Normandy. Outside the building is a Whale floating roadway bridge span from Mulberry B harbour at Arromanches. Significant vehicles in the collection include three command vehicles used by Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, commander of 21st Army Group during the north-west Europe campaign. Also on display are extracts from Montgomery's personal papers, which are held by the Imperial War Museum's Department of Documents. Other tableaux depict scenes from post-1945 conflicts such as the Korean War, the Northern Ireland Troubles, the Falklands War, British peacekeeping contributions in Bosnia and the Gulf War. As many of the vehicles in the Land Warfare Hall are maintained in running condition, the site features garages and a running area behind the building.
The Land Warfare Hall also houses the Forgotten War exhibition, a joint project between the Imperial War Museum and the Burma Star Association. The Association represents veterans of the Burma campaign who often consider themselves to have fought in a "Forgotten Army" compared to those who fought in Europe. The exhibition explores aspects of the Second World War in the Far East and features artefacts, archival film and photographs, and tableaux depicting scenes such as troops moving through jungle and a Burmese village. The Land Warfare Hall also accommodates the Royal Anglian Regiment Museum. The Royal Anglian Regiment was formed in 1964 by the amalgamation of the three regiments of the East Anglian Brigade and the Royal Leicestershire Regiment. The museum was opened in June 1996 by noted war correspondent Martin Bell, who had previously served as a sergeant in the Suffolk Regiment while a national serviceman. The museum covers the history of the Regiment and its predecessors, which date back to the seventeenth century, up to recent operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Sierra Leone. Alongside the museum is the Cambridgeshire Regiment Exhibition, which displays items from the Cambridgeshire Regiment collection. Exhibits include the Singapore Drums, lost at the fall of Singapore in 1942 and recovered after the war.
Accessibility information in Braille with tactile maps and large print information with black and white maps. Free on-site mobility assistance vehicle available throughout the day for visitors who require assistance around the site. A wheelchair can be accommodated to the rear of the vehicle and folded wheelchairs can be placed at the front of the vehicle. Wheelchairs available for loan. 19 designated parking bays for blue badge holders, with further bays available during the air shows. Toilets, including wheelchair-accessible facilities, available throughout the site, with additional facilities provided at air shows and some events. Guide and assistance dogs are welcome. Audio guides to AirSpace and the Historic Duxford exhibition specifically designed for blind and partially sighted visitors, available free of charge. To reserve the audio guide telephone 01223 499 314. Audio description on the Historic Duxford trail. British Sign Language (BSL) interpretation on films in AirSpace and the Historic Duxford exhibition. Subtitles on most audio-visual presentations. Induction loops and transcript booklets for most exhibits with audio, including all those in AirSpace and the Historic Duxford exhibition. Carers are free.
Location : IWM Duxford, Cambridgeshire CB22 4QR
Transport: Royston OR Cambridge (National Rail) then taxi. Bus Routes : Myalls 132 bus service from Cambridge to IWM Duxford on Sundays only.
Opening Times : Daily 10:00 to 18:00
Tickets : Adults £16.35; Concessions £13.05; Children (5 - 15) £8.15
Tel: 01223 835000