The Imperial War Museum in Duxford, Cambridgeshire, is one of the UK's most well-recognised aerodromes and a mecca for military and aviation history enthusiasts. Located next to Junction 10 of the M11 motorway, and because of its central location, it is easily accessible from both Cambridge and Stansted Airport.
The aerodrome was built during the First World War and was one of the earliest Royal Air Force Stations to be established. During the 1917 period, the Royal Flying Corps - The air arm of the British Army before and during WWI - expanded, and Duxford was one of the many new airfields established to train RFC aircrew.
After the war ended, it was kept open as a training school, and by 1938, the reputation of RAF Duxfords No.19 Squadron was so well known that it became the first RAF squadron to re-equip with the new Supermarine Spitfire, which flew to Duxford that August.
The Battle of Britain:
During the 1930s, the Royal Air Force organised the defence of Britain into different areas, known as groups. Each of the groups defended different areas of the country. During the Battle of Britain, RAF Duxford was a sector for No.12 Group, which covered the UK's Midlands and East Anglia regions. Duxford also controlled a satellite airfield at Fowlmere.
During this period of the Battle of Britain, Duxford and Fowlmere were responsible for protecting the Midlands and helping the fighters of the No.11 Group. The 11 Group were responsible for the South-East of England, including the areas of London, and put up with some of the worst fighting circumstances in the summer of 1940.
Britain was their next target when Holland, Belgium, and France fell to German forces. RAF Duxford was placed in a high state of readiness for what was yet to come. The intense air fighting that followed in the coming days has become known as the Battle of Britain. On 15 September 1940, 'Battle of Britain Day', its squadrons took to the air to defend attacks aimed at London.
In April 1943, RAF Duxford became home to the 78th Fighter Group, who were in charge of escorting the impressive fleets of US Eighth Air Force bombers on their costly daylight raids against Germany. A year later, on D-day, 1994, every available 78th Fighter Group Thunderbolt supported the invasion behind the beachheads of Normandy.
Women's Auxiliary Air Force During BOB:
During the Battle of Britain, many women were stationed at Duxford. They were employed in vital work, such as plotting aircraft positions in the operations room. The WAAF plotters - Women Auxiliary Air Force plotters would update the map in the 'ops room' to show where friendly and enemy aircraft were.
Following the Second World War, RAF Duxford entered its last operational phase. In July 1961, the last operational flight was made. Today, IWM Duxford is established as the European centre of aviation history. The historic site, combined with its outstanding collections of aircraft, vehicles, tanks, and so much more, combined with its world-renowned Air Shows, combines a spectacular experience. And that's not all, as at FlyDays.co.uk, we are proud to offer some incredible Vintage Flying Experiences, including a package where you can fly in formation in a Hurricane Hawker alongside a Spitfire.