Duxford, the aviation museum

If you want to get fit, walking the length of Duxford airfield will give you plenty of exercise. Duxford in Cambridgeshire is home to the Imperial War Museum’s (IWM) aviation museum and is built on a suitably historical site. Duxford airfield was constructed by German prisoners of war in 1918. It has housed RAF squadrons and flying schools, played a key role in the Battle of Britain and was used by USAAF. The ministry of Defence disposed of Duxford in 1969.
The IWM was looking for a site and with the Duxford Aviation Society, bought the runway in 1977. The museum is the largest aviation museum in Europe and makes use of the original buildings and hangars, many are protected with preservation orders.

What would you find on your long walk around Duxford’s numerous buildings?
Aeroplanes. I’m not a plane buff. But it’s hard not to be impressed by a Concord, (the test flight version), which you can go inside, and discover how small it is! Planes are suspended from the ceilings, and there are viewing galleries, circling the perimeters of the hangars, bringing you nose to nose, with noses. Sometimes it’s hard to know which wing goes with which fuselage such is the density of ‘flying’ planes.
In the American Air collection there’s a black sleek Lockheed Blackbird (the only one outside of the USA), elsewhere in other hangars, there are biplanes, like the De Havilland Tiger Moth, and the famed WWII Spitfire, which still flies.
Duxford runs air shows, and was used in films, like the Battle of Britain in 1967.
It’s not just about planes themselves. In the main museum hangar, which is modern and purpose built, there are displays and interactive exhibits explaining how planes fly, what they are made out of, radar, etc. Great for the kids’ education.
Weapons feature in the Land Warfare Hall, including tanks and artillery, tableauxs of post-1945 wars, such as Korea and Bosnia, and this is a reminder that war isn’t to be celebrated. Around the site there are memorials to those lost on bombing campaigns, those times when planes didn’t return to Duxford.

The whole site is one big exhibition and even though it’s a trek from one end to the other, it’s worth the effort, especially when you can watch small aircraft take off and land as you go.
Duxford has managed to capture the best of its objects, there’s nothing more dramatic than having a plane hanging above your head.

15 comments

  1. Another great blog post. That Battle of Britain movie was great. Particuarly when read in conjunction with Nathan Dylan Goodwin’s The Spyglass File. The Australian War Memorial has some pretty impressive displays too. I would love to be able to visit Duxford.

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    1. All the Imperial War Museums, which Duxford is part of, are excellent. Maybe one day you’ll get to visit them all.

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  2. Sounds fascinating. There is a small aircraft museum in the North, which I might visit when it is allowed.

    Discipline #AtoZChallenge

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    1. It will be good when the museums are open again.

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  3. There’s at least one small plane suspended from the ceiling on the fourth floor of the New York State Museum, which has a much smaller number of exhibits than the main section on the first floor. It would be really fun to sit in a plane at a museum.

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    1. I can’t remember if you can sit in any cockpits, but you do see Concord’s cockpit.

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  4. Wendy Janes · · Reply

    Thanks for this post. We used to take our boys to Duxford when they were little. Still have the photo of our eldest – aged around seven – inside Concord.

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    1. I’ve photos of mine as small children looking up at the big planes. It tires them out really well walking around the hangars.

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  5. It does look like quite the trek from one end to the other. Would love to see this one day.

    My “D” Tull song is here:

    A2Z 2021 Jethro Tull Songs Day 4 – Doctor to My Disease from Catfish Rising (1991)

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    1. It’s quite a trek on a hot summer’s day pushing a pram!

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  6. Tarkabarka · · Reply

    This sounds fun! I have flight anxiety, but learning more about planes usually helps it. This museum would be a great day trip 🙂

    The Multicolored Diary

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    1. The nice thing about this museum, is both feet stay firmly on the ground.

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  7. This looks great! We have the National Museum of Flight in Scotland which is similar and has one of the Concorde.

    THE STATE TRILOGY A-Z GUIDE: E

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    1. I didn’t know that, was it one of the retired ones?

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      1. Yes, looked magnificent, even immobile in a hanger!

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