England WWII Air Force/Aircraft Museums

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Jan 1st, 2018, 09:33 PM
  #1
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England WWII Air Force/Aircraft Museums

My family is interested in travelling to a WWII Air Force/Aircraft Museum while we are in England/the United Kingdom. What are the best options? Unfortunately, we will likely only have time to go to one. Which one should we choose?

So far our research has uncovered the RAF Museum Cosford in Shropshire and IWM (Imperial War Museum) Duxford in Cambridgeshire as having large and high-quality exhibits. Of these two, which one is the most highly recommended?

Or, as an alternative, are there other locations that have even larger and/or more high-quality exhibits? While there are museums in London that have a much more convenient location, we are willing to travel from London to see larger exhibits.

Thank you in advance.
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Jan 1st, 2018, 09:40 PM
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Duxford is great and the easiest to reach if you are starting from London.

(Definitely visit the Imperial War Museum while in London)
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Jan 2nd, 2018, 12:03 AM
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If you have time for only one, then Duxford should be your choice. Duxford was a Battle of Britain airfield, and displays are located outside and in hangars along the flightline. WWII aircraft still in flying condition are sometimes flown even on days when there isn't an air show. Some of the hangars open to the public are used for ongoing restoration projects. The American Air Museum is also located there, and has aircraft on display from WWII and the cold war period.
http://www.iwm.org.uk/visits/iwm-duxford
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Jan 2nd, 2018, 04:09 AM
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Duxford is great - it's a massive site that's equivalent to 4 or 5 museums in one. And you often get to see historic aircraft taking off and landing as Heimdall has mentioned.

Don't overlook the RAF museum in north London (at Hendon), which is mainly indoors but has some terrific large and small historic aircraft on display.
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Jan 2nd, 2018, 04:26 AM
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I'd second Gordon R's recommendation for the Hendon RAF museum.
Easy to reach on the Northern line of the tube, and free.
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Jan 2nd, 2018, 04:43 AM
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Hendon is quite impressive and easy to access from central London by tube.

Anyone know if there is good/easy public access to Duxford?
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Jan 2nd, 2018, 05:53 AM
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The RAF Museum in Hendon is indeed terrific but check before going as some exhibitions are closed or undergoing renovation (eg Battle of Britain and Sunderland Hall) so if you want to see specific aircraft you might be disappointed (eg Junkers 88). Not sure of the date it will reopen.
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Jan 2nd, 2018, 08:07 AM
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>>Anyone know if there is good/easy public access to Duxford?<<

Train to Cambridge or Royston and taxi from either.
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Jan 2nd, 2018, 09:55 AM
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Duxford isn't the easiest place to reach, and would probably be best to combine with a night or two in Cambridge. I'm lucky enough to live nearby, so am able to go by car. It gets very busy on air show days, but otherwise you can wander around to see all the exhibits on the large airfield without any crowds.

Apart from the usual WWII aircraft, the things I enjoyed seeing most from Duxford were the V1 flying bomb complete with its launch ramp, a rare (probably rare because most of them crashed) Messerschmitt ME163 rocket powered fighter, and a test version of the Concorde supersonic passenger plane which you can walk through from end to end.

One memorable summer the flying scenes of the film "Memphis Belle" were staged out of Duxford. I kept my binoculars close at hand, listening for the sound of the engines. I actually saw, from the garden of my home, ME-109 fighters attacking B-17 bombers, filmed by a B-25 camera plane. Not an everyday sight in the late 1980s.
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Jan 2nd, 2018, 07:22 PM
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The nearest station to Duxford is Great Chesterford. However there is no taxi rank there so you'd need to prebook a car with a local firm. I've a feeling that on show days (i.e. 2-3 times a year) there are buses from the station but wouldn't swear to it.

My recs are the old commercial aircraft - little tartan curtains at the windows, and rearward facing seats - very different to today's transport for the masses. Also they used to have an early Mig (50s?) that is/was just gorgeous.
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Jan 2nd, 2018, 07:24 PM
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Sorry Whittlesford Parkway for nearest station.
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Jan 2nd, 2018, 07:36 PM
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There are taxi ranks at BOTH Cambridge and Royston. Not difficult at all.
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Jan 2nd, 2018, 07:45 PM
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But a lot more expensive due to the distance. Whittlesford is barely more than a mile from Duxford - you could almost walk it.
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Jan 3rd, 2018, 01:45 AM
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if you want to know how to reach Duxford have you read the website of the museum?
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Jan 3rd, 2018, 02:15 AM
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A taxi from Cambridge would probably cost about £25 each way. You could think about hiring a car in Cambridge for the day, which would be the most convenient option. Enterprise Rent-a-Car has a branch in Cambridge city centre, and would probably pick you up and drop you off at the train station.
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Jan 3rd, 2018, 04:20 AM
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Another aviation museum suggestion (though not especially related to military / WWII)br />
https://www.brooklandsmuseum.com/

Brooklands has a good selection of historic airliners you can walk through as well as The Concorde Experience (next best thing for those who were not lucky enough to fly on this plane). There's also a large indoor aircraft factory display and a large museum of historic racing cars (Brooklands was the site of a famous old race track). Its 20 minutes walk from Weybridge station which is about half an hour out of London Waterloo on the Woking line.
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Feb 4th, 2018, 02:04 PM
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Thank you for your help!

Thank you so very much for all your most informative replies! We very much appreciate the time and effort it took to pass along your knowledge and information. We are sad to report that we were not able to make it to any of the aircraft museums (travel often comes with more than its share of "surprises" and challenges). We will save your information for our next trip. We hope it will be sooner rather than later. Again, thank you all very much!

Last edited by traveller2974; Feb 4th, 2018 at 02:13 PM. Reason: correct a typo
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Feb 7th, 2018, 09:10 AM
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Helpful tips, thanks!
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Feb 10th, 2018, 02:45 AM
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Yes, thanks very much for this. One of these days I intend to do something like this -

Lancaster taxy rides - Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre

[ see also - [url]https://www.fodors.com/community/europe/non-war-cemetery-allied-war-graves-in-france-and-elsewhere-911846/page2/ ]
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