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Posted on Apr 10, 2004 in Stuff We Like

Duxford Land Warfare Hall

Armchair General

Following on from our previous report of Duxford Air Museum, we decided to do a separate piece about the substantial collection of Tanks, artillery pieces and AFVs as there was so much to see on our latest day out.

For those of you who have not read the earlier piece about Duxford, the museum is located in Cambridgeshire on the site of an old RAF base that was used in both world wars. Between 1943 and 1945, Duxford was a US 8th Army Air Force fighter base and maintains links with the US armed forces.

The Duxford site is a part of the Imperial War Museum, which has its main location in Lambeth, London . For obvious reasons, it is impossible to store many large exhibits in the centre of the capital, and so Duxford is home to a great many planes, AFVs and even some maritime exhibits.

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The following photos were taken using a Sony DSC-P12 Cyber-Shot digital camera (AJS) and a kodak DC280 digital camera (Roach).

You will find the following links of interest:

Imperial War Museum – http://www.iwm.org.uk/

Duxford site ? http://www.iwm.org.uk/duxford/index.htm

GENERAL LAYOUT

The Land Warfare Hall is an impressive, modern building with its main entrance at the top of two levels. Upon entering the hall, there is a large gangway that runs for about half the length of the building. You can walk along this gangway to obtain an aerial view of the exhibits, which are displayed on either side in the lower level. However it’s much more fun of course to descend the metal steps and take a closer look!

The exhibits in the main section of the hall are arranged chronologically. Therefore, on descending the stairs on the left-hand side and entering the exhibition you are taken on a journey that starts with World War I and finishes with the first Gulf War.

Towards the back of the hall you will find the D-Day and "Monty" exhibitions, the titles of which are fairly self-explanatory.

SO WHAT DID WE SEE?

The presentation of all of the exhibits is quite simply superb. Artillery pieces are actually dug-in as they would have been during their service life. Yes, they’ve actually dug out the floor of the building to accommodate these items! Rubble and dirt is strewn about and vehicles are parked as if they are ready to go again at a moment’s notice.

Also, the little paths which lead you on your twisty route through the hall are ringed by barbed wire which runs all over the place (plastic, so you don’t hurt yourself!), there are posed figures in period uniforms manning the equipment and there are fake buildings with shell holes and bullet holes in them to add atmosphere. Posed enemy snipers inhabit these buildings as if ready to strike at any moment and there is even a tiny stream complete with running water running across the fake "battlefield" next to an artillery spotter with a radio who was sat in a 6 foot hole in the ground.

The only downside was that the atmospheric lighting was a little dark for our cameras ? and actually makes some of our photos look like we’ve just gone out and taken pictures of some models! Essentially, this is not ideal territory for the ?snapshot tourist’ ? a tripod and a timed exposure would inevitably produce better results but would be a little impractical on a busy day.

Here are a few pictures showing the display areas from above. Photos by AJS.

This is a very plush-looking truck from The Great War. Photo by AJS.

And here are some soldiers to go with it. A Frenchman on the right, and a British soldier on the left, oh, and some poppies. Photo by Roach.

Here’s Andrew looking around furtively to see if he can get away with stealing this massive piece of German artillery. There are several pieces of German artillery cleverly displayed as ?captured’ ordnance, which sets the scene, tone and general theme of the following exhibits. Photo by Roach.

This is a nippy-looking British Vickers Mk IV Light Tank. Photo by AJS.

This is another British Tank; this time it’s a Valentine. This is one of those exhibits that, no matter how you photograph it, it just looks like a model under the dim lighting. Photo by AJS.

Here is a German Pak37 Anti-Tank Gun. Photo by Roach.

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