Established at the end of the First World War to train the newly formed RAF’s pilots, Imperial War Museum Duxford is Europe’s premier aviation museum, with many original period buildings such as the Control Tower and hangars still in use, alongside state-of-the-art, award-winning exhibition buildings including AirSpace and the American Air Museum. Two hundred aircraft are on display, whilst over 50 historic flying aircraft, based at the airfield, regularly take to the sky. Duxford also has one of the finest collections of tanks, military vehicles and artillery in the UK.
AirSpace is the story of British and Commonwealth aviation. Since the pioneering days of flight, Britain and the Commonwealth have played a major role in the field of aircraft development. The Aircraft Hall contains over 30 historic British and Commonwealth aircraft, including military and civil types.
The Exhibitions Gallery is a fun and interactive family exhibition, with displays for all ages and all levels of interest. It provides an introduction both to the aircraft in AirSpace and to some of the themes you can explore elsewhere at Duxford.
The American Air Museum
The outstanding example of contemporary British architecture by Foster and Partners houses 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.
Battle of Britain
For the first time, civilians found themselves in the front line alongside the military. This threat reached its peak in the Second World War, when the RAF defeated Germany’s attempt to win control of the skies over the UK. This would become known as the Battle of Britain. The displays in Hangar 4 examine this pivotal moment in Britain’s history, as well as looking at the air defence of the UK during the First World War and Cold War.
Air and Sea
Control of the sea is vital to an island nation. During the twentieth century, the method of asserting that control has shifted from the giant battleships of the First World War to the submarines and aircraft carriers of today. The aircraft, boats and vehicles in Hangar 3 demonstrate how this change has taken place.
Over the course of the twentieth century, the mechanisation of warfare has altered forever the way battles are fought, won and lost. From the awesome artillery barrages of the First World War, through the giant tank battles of the Second World War, to the high-speed mechanised conflict of today, the Land Warfare Hall charts the nature of this change.
Flying at Duxford
Imperial War Museum Duxford remains a working airfield to this day. During operating hours, a small team of professional air traffic controllers working from the Second World War control tower provides a Flight Information Service to Duxford-based aircraft, pleasure flights and aircraft bringing visitors to Duxford's active airfield.
Duxford’s exhibitions are complemented by an active airfield, operated jointly by the Imperial War Museum and Cambridgeshire County Council. Hangar 2 is the main home of the ‘Flying Museum’, where our partner operators and private collectors maintain their airworthy aircraft.
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