Imperial War Museum at Duxford

25th May 2010
The Imperial War Museum at Duxford hosts a variety of military aircraft, war ships and land vehicles, spread across 7 hangers and outside space. There are also civil aircraft on display outside hangers 4 and 5, and a prefab bungalow at the back of the American Air Museum.

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The hangers are as listed:
1. AirSpace
2. Hangar 2 – The Flying Museum
3. Hangar 3 – The Maritime Collection
4. Hangar 4 – The Battle of Britain
5. Hangar 5 – The Working Museum
6. 1940s Operations Room
7. The American Air Museum
8. The Land Warfare Hall

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The airfield at Duxford was built in World War I and was one of the earliest Royal Air Force stations. During September 1918, Duxford opened as a flying school and after the war ended in November 1918 the airfield was used as a base for the disbandment of squadrons. Duxford played a bit part during The Battle of Britain in the summer and autumn of 1940s, every day over sixty Spitfires and Hurricanes were dispersed around Duxford and Fowlmere.

In April 1943 the airfield was fully handed over to the United States 8th Air Force, which had begun to arrive in Britain the previous May. The 8th was the largest of the United States Army Air Forces at this time, in the order of 200,000 men at its peak strength. By 1951 a new concrete runway had been laid and a type T2 hangar erected alongside the four First World War hangars. Although the original T2 hangar has gone, the Museum has since put up another two Second World War T2 hangars on the same site

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In July 1961 the last operational RAF flight was made from Duxford and for some 15 years the future of the airfield remained in the balance. The Ministry of Defence declared its intention to dispose of the airfield in 1969. Plans for a sports centre and a prison were proposed but came to nothing.

The Imperial War Museum had been looking for a suitable site for the storage, restoration and eventual display of exhibits too large for its headquarters in London and obtained permission to use the airfield for this purpose. Cambridgeshire County Council joined with the Imperial War Museum and the Duxford Aviation Society and in 1977 bought the runway to give the abandoned aerodrome a new lease of life. Today Duxford is established as the European centre of aviation history. The historic site, outstanding collections of exhibits and regular world-renowned air shows combine to create a unique museum where history really is in the air.

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Food at Duxford is top rated, all of the food on offer is prepared fresh, and most dietary requirements can be met and it tastes amazing! There are 3 eating places to choice from, all at different parts of the site. You firstly have The Mess Restaurant which is located in the Visitor Centre which opens at 10am and serves hot food from 11:30am. There is also Wing Co Joe’s Cafe which is between Hangars 3 and 4 which is open at 11am, and once again starts serving hot food from 11:30am. Lastly there is Station 357, located in the American Air Museum and serves freshly made sandwiches, homemade cakes, ice creams and refreshments. All of these open at 8am on air show days

The facilities at Duxford are fantastic. Plenty of car parking, and is easily signposted from all roads from the surrounding area. Entry to the museum alone is £16.50, and children under 15 go free. I would advise allowing a day to visit Duxford, as there is plenty to do and see.

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Links
The Imperial War Museum at Duxford

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