Imperial War Museum, Duxford
IWM Duxford is Europe’s largest military aviation museum with over 300 aircraft and objects on display. It is a branch of the Imperial War Museum. It’s a great day out, with something for everyone. Families can get up close to Spitfires and Hurricanes; see a portion of the original Wright Brother plane; walk through Concorde, feel dwarfed by the size of a B-52 and stand in awe of Europe’s only SR-71 Blackbird – the fastest jet ever built.
The site accommodates several British Army regimental museums, including those of the Parachute Regiment (named Airborne Assault) and the Royal Anglian Regiment.
Learn about the role the site played during the First and Second World Wars and hear the stories of those who took part in key battles such as Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain. See live conservation in action and watch restored aircraft take to the skies from the historic airfield.
Duxford Aerodrome was originally operated by the Royal Air Force (RAF) during the First World War. During the Second World War Duxford played a prominent role during the Battle of Britain and was later used by United States Army Air Forces fighter units in support of the daylight bombing of Germany. Duxford remained an active RAF airfield until 1961. After the Ministry of Defence declared the site surplus to requirements in 1969 the Imperial War Museum received permission to use part of the site for storage. The entirety of the site was transferred to the museum in February 1976.
In keeping with the site’s history many of Duxford’s original buildings, such as hangars used during the Battle of Britain, are still in use. Many of these buildings are of particular architectural or historic significance and over thirty have listed building status, Duxford “retain[ing] the best-preserved technical fabric remaining from [a historic airfield] up to November 1918” and being “remarkably well-preserved”.
The site also features several purpose-built exhibition buildings, such as the Stirling Prize-winning American Air Museum, designed by Sir Norman Foster. The site remains an active airfield and is used by civilian flying companies and hosts regular air shows. It is operated in partnership with Cambridgeshire County Council and the Duxford Aviation Society, a charity formed in 1975 to preserve civil aircraft and promote appreciation of British civil aviation history.