Visit Imperial War Museum and American Air Museum, Duxford, by Mouse
The Imperial War Museum and American Air Museum
) at Duxford
is 51 miles north of London and 11 miles south of Cambridge
These museums consist of a number of buildings and the Duxford air field. We spent most of a long day there and enjoyed every second.
Displays are devoted to showing and explaining various aspects of military history involving the use of planes, tanks and watercraft.
It's collection is huge, and there are docents on hand to answer questions. A visitor should plan on a long day's visit or even two.
One of the buildings, a very large one, contains the American Air Museum.
The Duxford airfield was a base of operations for aircraft
starting in WWI and continuing during WWII. Before April of 1943, the British ran it. It was one of the major air bases
involved in the Battle of Britain in 1940. The RAF flew Spitfires and Hurricanes out of there, and out of other fields scattered
throughout the British Isles. They succeeded in beating back German bombing attacks. When Hitler realized that he could
not destroy the British Royal Air Force, he called off a planned invasion of the British Isles.
After April, 1943, it was turned
over to the American 8th Air Force who controlled it until 1945 when it was handed back to the British.
The museum web site is
fairly complete about what is there to see and think about. Exhibits dwell on the Battle of Britain, the D-Day invasion and the battle
for Normandy, the war in the Pacific, the role of the Navy, the land war, British aircraft, and American aircraft. There is
an exhibit about Field Marshall Montgomery, including the caravan that he used as a mobile field office and living quarters.
And there is a British Concord that you can board. On the day we were there there was a special exhibit of old Russian tanks,
which had been exchanged for old British tanks. The Russian drivers put the Russian tanks through their paces on a special course
consisting of earthen hills and valleys. The Diesel fumes were thik and pungent over a large area around the tank course.
The American Air Museum is dedicated to the 30,000 American air men who lost their lives flying out of British bases during WWII.
There is a very long glass fence just outside the entrance to the museum. The glass is etched with tiny outlines of the different
aircraft that were lost, each one representing a real lost plane. Inside a beautiful building is the "largest collection of American
warbirds on display outside the United States, including a vintage B-17 Flying Fortress
, B-24 Liberator
, B-25 Mitchell
, P-47 Thunderbolt
and aircraft from the Cold War era such as a B-52 Stratofortress
, SR-71 Blackbird
and F-4 Phantom
, with many suspended from the ceiling
as if in flight." (quote from the description on the Museum web site.