London to Duxford

I hired a minicab to take me to the Airport (no way I was using even the Heathrow Express … and the Minicab was only 23 pounds more than that!) and pick up my rental – a VW Golf (which I just noticed a while ago is a Diesel, rather than, theoretically, the petrol vehicle ‘or similar’ I paid for).

GPS is a wonderful thing. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, You may not know exactly where you are, but you’re never actually lost.

It allowed me to navigate more or less painlessly from Heathrow to Duxford, the Imperial War Museum’s Aircraft (and now ground vehicle) collection … and the weather was quite sunny for the whole day.

Duxford has also changed a lot (quelle surprise) and the collection expanded … with several new large hangars for their collection as well as workshops where privately owned historic aircraft are on display/being worked on.

I believe their claim that on some days when they run air shows there are more Spitfires on the ground and in the air there than in the rest of the world combined!

In fact there was one of them, seemed to be a dual seat trainer conversion, that did regular circuits of the airfield in conjunction with a Dragon Rapide that was running joyflights/

One flyable B-17 on the flight line, the Memphis Belle (or done up to look like her) and another in the new American Aircraft display area … as well as a B-24, B-25, B-29 (but no B-36, I think there’s only one or two of the latter left … and I saw one of them/it in Omaha in 2010), a B-52, Warthog, Huey, ground launcher for a Cruise Missile and more.

The British aircraft included a Lysander, many many Spitfires, a Hurricane, Jaguar, Harrier, P1127 and others … including (IIRC) the only complete example of the TSR-2 left in existence (if you’re old enough to remember the controversy when it was cancelled), the Concorde Testbed aircraft and more.

One of the bigger British aircraft – a Lancaster
One of the still flying Spitfires (privately owned, but based at Duxford)

They have a flyable Me-108 done in the colours used to pretend it was an Me-109 in The Battle of Britain movie as well as one of the post-war Spanish airforce 109’s which was re-engined and looks quite different from the ‘real’ thing.

Me-108 pretending to be a Me-109

They also have a He-162 (not flyable) restored from parts of two which the Brits salvaged after the war …

The previous armour collection (I only remember a single T-34 back in the day, but there may have been a couple more, has expanded dramatically – Hetzer, Tiger I, JagdTiger, Stug III, Hanomag Halftack (command, I think), T-34, JS-10, T-55, BMP, 8 Wheeled APC, FV432, assorted WW2 and post-war British (or British variant) Armoured Cars and lots of softskinned stuff. Out the back, mostly hidden under tarps, were several other armoured vehicles waiting restoration, including an easily recognisable ZSU-23-4.

Hetzer on display
StuG-111 (left) and Jagpanther (right)

Off to Cambridge tomorrow.


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