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Posted on Apr 4, 2004 in Stuff We Like

Duxford Air Museum: A Photo Visit

Armchair General

AMERICAN AIR MUSEUM

This is THE most visually impressive collection of warplanes in the museum, and was definitely the highlight of our tour. The American Air Museum has enough exhibits to be a stand-alone attraction in its own right, and each of the exhibits is displayed in a pristine condition, the whole place positively gleams with shiny metal and glass.

The museum is housed in a specially constructed building and seems to be an extraordinary and exciting place even from the outside. This is a picture taken of the building from outside the vast glass-frontage that faces the runway, although the actual entrance is around the back. Photo by Roach.

Here you can see the side of the AAM building with a nasty-looking modern American carrier plane parked outside. Photo by AJS.

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This part of the museum was established because of the historic links with Duxford and the American Air Force and is a tribute to those men who died during the war years.

Once you enter the chamber, it literally takes your breath away. This is the sight you are first met with. The entire space is dominated by the enormous Boeing B52D Stratofortress that sits in the middle of the main floor. Above you can see a U2 spy plane, suspended from the specially designed ceiling with many other fighters and bombers. Photo by AJS.

From your initial vantage point at the top of the structure near the sloped back of the building, two pathways lead around and down to the floor below on either side. This means that you can see all the suspended exhibits fairly close up, although not as close as the ones on the ground. We have to say here that once the initial thrill had gone through us upon entering this building, it soon became apparent that the closed-in nature of the AAM meant that in many cases it was impossible to get a good look (let alone pictures) of some of the exhibits. For example, the B52 is SO big and SO dark in colour that getting the thing in frame is REALLY difficult. And we couldn’t! As much as it is nice to have the machines inside, in many cases only an outside perspective would allow good pictures.

But enough moaning, here’s what we did get.

Here is a North American F100D “Super-Sabre”. What you can’t see in this picture is the massive slender probe projecting from the front of the nosecone. Photo by AJS.

Here is a brooding Lockheed SR-71 “Blackbird”. We weren’t aware that there were any of these outside the USA. The engines are massive. Photo by Roach.

This is a replica of a Spad-13 as used by American forces during World War I, the original planes were built by the French. Photo by AJS.

This is a General Dynamics F111-E bomber. Next to it you can see a spare pilot module. We are led to believe that in the event of an emergency, the entire module was ejectable, which is pretty neat. Photo by AJS.

Here’s an A10 Tankbuster looming over the proceedings. Photo by AJS.

Here is an interesting looking Grumman Avenger. Why is it interesting? Because this one has been painted up to resemble the one flown by President George Bush (Sr.) during the Second World War. Photos by AJS.

Here is a very fine looking B-17. Photo by Roach.

And a B-24 Liberator. Photo by AJS.

Here’s something a bit more modern, an F4J Phantom. Photo by AJS.

Hopefully you can see the B-29 bomber in the middle of this lot. We’re sorry the picture is really dark, but we couldn’t really leave out the plane that’s of the same type as the one that dropped the Atomic bombs on Japan, and like the later B52, it’s a difficult one to photo because it’s so large. Photo by AJS.

For all you Vietnam fans, the displays aren’t all fixed-wing. Here’s a Huey. Photo by AJS.

And finally, a P-47. Photo by AJS.

***

All in all, we had a fantastic day out, albeit a very tiring one – and we haven’t even covered the Land Warfare Hall yet! As we said, that’s for another time.

If you are in the area, and have about seven or eight hours to spare, we strongly recommend that you visit Duxford, you will not be disappointed.

To view the complete set of images from our visit, go to the ACG image gallery here.

A J Summersgill

andrew@armchairgeneral.com

Roach

roach@blahblahblah.co.uk

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