The day after the Shuttleworth Collection visit, Trevor again kindly offered his services as chauffeur and guide, this time to Imperial War Museum Duxford. I'd only been to IWM London on my first visit to London; since IWM Duxford has a specific aviation focus I was keen to rectify its omission!
Along with a Victor, this Avro Shackleton stood outside for a long time, exposed to the elements. They're both now inside; although they haven't been restored (by the looks of them), at least they won't deteriorate so rapidly. The Shackleton (a Cold War descendant of the Lancaster, via the Lincoln) was designed for maritime patrol and ASW. The cannon seem optimistic: it's hard to imagine they would be much use against Soviet fighters, for example.
Inside the AirSpace hangar, which is devoted to British and Commonwealth (okay, mainly British) aviation. On the left is a BAC TSR-2, which has a oddly-menacing look; on the right an Avro Vulcan. The helicopter is a Westland Wessex and suspended from the ceiling is an English Electric Canberra. Canberras entered RAF service as bombers in 1951 and retired only in 2006, by which time they had long been converted to the photo-reconnaissance role. Australia, India and even the US used Canberras, so it wasn't just the British who liked them.
A de Havilland DH.9 bomber -- restored after eight decades in a maharajah's storeroom! Behind is a much later de Havilland, the Comet in BOAC livery. The world's first jet airliner, as I'm sure everybody knows.
Very pretty for a transporter, the Handley Page Hastings.
I can now tell people I've been on Concorde. I don't have to mention the fact that it was stuck firmly on the ground, do I?
An English Electric Lightning. A big, and fast, bruiser.
This shows how crowded AirSpace is. Apart from the aircraft I've already named above, there's an Avro Lancaster, a Westland Lysander, a Gloster Meteor, a Supermarine Spitfire -- and a few others left as an exercise for the reader.
The ultimate art deco aeroplane: a de Havilland Dragon Rapide. Based at Duxford but privately-owned.
This was probably the one thing I most wanted to see at Duxford. Yes, it just looks like a big wooden wheel, and in fact it is a big wooden wheel. From a big wooden bomber, the German Poll triplane. It was never finished; parts were found in a hangar near Cologne in 1919 by Allied inspectors. It would have had ten engines, a wingspan of 165 feet and an endurance of 80 hours -- enough to reach New York with a payload of bombs (or leaflets, though why would they bother?) If it had managed to fly at all, of course.
Another war relic.
An ex-Hungarian Air Force MiG-21. With over 11,000 built between 1959 and 1985, it must have been about the world's last truly mass-produced combat aircraft.
An Avro Rota. As Samuel Johnson said, "When a man is tired of autogyros, he is tired of life."
Hangar 5 is where preservation and restoration work takes place. Here's an ex-Spanish Air Force He 111 which seems to be missing a few parts.
This Mi-21 Hind gunship has also seen better days. Hinds have been involved in some 23 conflicts since 1977, though I don't think this one was as it came from East Germany.
Duxford was a former RAF airfield, part of 12 Group during the Battle of Britain. It has been relatively well-preserved, aside from the odd First World War hangar blown up for the cameras every now and then. The Sector Operations Room is still standing; it was from here that fighters were directed onto incoming German bomber formations. If I read these plotting markers right, there is a flight from each of 19 and 310 Squadrons climbing from Duxford to intercept two German formations at 15,000 feet, one with 30+ aircraft and the other with 90+. Good luck chaps!
A captured German radar, Giant Würzburg type.
The interesting thing here is not the V-1, which is a replica, but the V-1 launching ramp, which is genuine.
Between 1943 and 1945, Duxford operated as a USAAF fighter base, which is a good enough reason for it to host the American Air Museum. In the centre is a Boeing B-52, diving behind it is a North American Super Sabre, and in the foreground to the right is a General Dynamics F-111.
The Boeing Kaydet (AKA Stearman), a ubiquitous trainer (at least in the West, where Tiger Moths weren't).
The Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird first flew in 1964, but still oozes futurity more than just about any other aeroplane ever made. It also still holds the world speed record for air-breathing aircraft, at 3530 km/h (Mach 3.2).
A rather more sedate Boeing B-17 ...
... one of a matching pair!
There was so much to see at Duxford and I didn't see everything by a long shot before closing time. But on our way back to London, Trevor had a surprise for me -- a visit to North Weald, another RAF station from the days of the Battle of Britain (both of them, in fact). It's now a private airfield, one which is favoured by a number of vintage aircraft operators, including Hangar 11 (above).
We missed seeing it fly, but were in time to see this immaculate Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk being wheeled back into the hangar.
Inside, there was a North American P-51 Mustang.
And a Hawker Hurricane IIB 'Hurribomber'. It's been painted in the colours of a Hurricane last flown by an Australian of 174 Squadron (he was shot down and captured during the Dieppe Raid), and so it was quite appropriate that I got to help shift it to make more room for the Kittyhawk!
After that it was off to The Squadron for a few pints and then back to London. All in all, a pretty good day.
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