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Barnstormers Logo ISSUE 453 - November 2016
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IWM - Imperial War Museum, Duxford, UK - Part I
By Kevin Moore, Contributing Editor & Photographer
Watford, Ontario, Canada
RAF Duxford, No 19 Squadron, was the first RAF Squadron outfitted
with the new Supermarine Spitfire in August of 1938.
It's one of the most popular aviation locations in the UK, if not one of the most historic, and boasts the Imperial War Museum, Battle of Britain and Air & Space as well as the IWM American Air Museum. Duxford and the IWM also host a number of airshows every year and their shows are, well, brilliant.
The old hangars still stand and are used by the IWM and other IWM assets.
Duxford was one of the first Royal Air Force stations, a World War I Royal Flying Corps base that was used to train RFC aircrew at the end of the First World War and was established as a flying school in September of 1918. In 1924 it became a "Home Defence" fighter station for the next 37 years. It was home to No 19 Squadron which was the first RAF Squadron, in August of 1938, to be re-equipped with the RAF's newest fighter, the Supermarine Spitfire.
The US 8th Air Force flew from Duxford from early 1943 to the end of the war and operated several aircraft, including the P-51 Mustang, left, which often flew escort to the massive daylight bombers such as the B-17 Flying Fortress, right.
RAF Duxford played a key role in the defence of England during the Battle of Britain. However, the base was handed over to the US 8th Air Force in April of 1943 and became Base 357, headquarters of the 78th Fighter Group. It remained in the hands of the American forces until it was handed back to the RAF on December 1st, 1945 after VE-Day and VJ-Day.
There are many aircraft located at Duxford with many more that fly in for events and you can see anything from vintage sailplanes such as the Kirby Kite, left, to another Battle of Britain saviour, the Hawker Hurricane, right.
The last operational RAF flight departed the base in July of 1961, leaving the future of the airfield unknown. Fortunately, the IWM, along with the Cambridgeshire County Council, joined forces with the Duxford Aviation Society in 1977 and purchased the runway, effectively saving the aerodrome and offering the IWM a superb place at which to store, restore and display aircraft.
Hanging from the "rafters" is this de Havilland Dove, left, above the BOAC de Havilland Comet. One of the larger propeller driven aircraft in the museum is the Avro York, right.
There are any number of historic aircraft located at the IWM Duxford and at least a full day, if not two or three, are needed in order to fully view and appreciate all the museums have to offer. There are aircraft on the museum floor, hung from the supports of the museum roof, and many other interactive and other displays around the museum. There's enough to keep everyone, at any age, busy from the minute you walk in to the second you leave.
The de Havilland Comet was the first commercial jet airliner in the world,
shown here in the markings of BOAC Airlines.
One of the most iconic jet airliners in the world is the BOAC de Havilland Comet, the first commercial jet airliner to grace the skies, just 13 days before the Canadian built Avro Jetliner and 9 years before the venerable Boeing 707. Unfortunately, just a year after entering service, the de Havilland Comet began experiencing issues and three of the type broke up in flight. It was later discovered to be airframe catastrophic metal fatigue which began at the square windows which included issues with window installation. Though lessons were learned, sales of the Comet never really recovered though later models did serve for more than 30 years, including those converted or built for military purposes including the Hawker Siddeley Nimrod which served with the RAF until June 2011.
The English Electric/BAC Lightning was a powerful,
super-sonic aircraft designed and built in the UK.
Not to be outdone when speaking of iconic aircraft, the English Electric/BAC Lightning is certainly a top-notch and most loved jet fighter aircraft that has been designed and built in the UK. It was developed to intercept bombers such as the Russian Tupolev Tu-16, Tu-22 and Tu-95 and has an exceptionally good rate of climb. The Lightning, powered by 2 Rolls Royce Avon engines, flew at speeds of Mach 2, could fly at heights in excess of 54,000' and could hit 70,000' when performing a 'zoom' climb. In fact, some pilots described flying the Lightning as "being strapped to a skyrocket." Later models of the aircraft had greater speed and range and were also developed to be ground-attack and reconnaissance capable. It first flew in 1954, began operational service in 1958 and was finally retired in 1988, though many feel the Lightning could still serve operationally today. Currently, there are no flying examples though there is a group in the UK who have recently restored a Lightning to engine running capable.
The Canadian designed & built Avro Canada CF-100 Canuck
was the first straight-winged jet aircraft to achieve Mach 1.
Representing Canadian designed & built aircraft was the Avro Canada CF-100 Canuck, nicknamed the "Clunk" for the sound the nose gear makes as it retracts into the fuselage. The CF-100 was an all-weather interceptor designed and built by Avro Canada in the late 1940s with the first flight, completed by Gloster Aircraft Company Chief Test Pilot, Squadron Leader Bill Waterton on loan, in January of 1950. It first flew with the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1952 and served with the RCAF and CF until 1981 when the last Canuck was retired. The first two CF-100s were powered by two Rolls-Royce Avon RA 3 Turbojet engines mounted left and right of the fuselage but subsequent Canucks were outfitted with the Avro Orenda turbojet. After climatic testing was completed inside a specialized hangar at Elgin Air Force Base in the USA, the RCAF ordered 124 Mk 3 CF-100s which entered service in October of 1953. However, 54 of the initial order were changed to the Mk 4 in 1954 and the order was increased to 510 with the Mk 4B being built with the more powerful Ordenda 11 engines. There were also a Mk 5 and Mk 6 versions built. Avro Canada's chief development test pilot, Jan Zurakowski, took a CF-100 Mk 4 prototype to a speed of Mach 1 in a dive which began from 30,000' making it the first straight-winged jet aircraft to achieve controlled supersonic flight.There were a total of 692 CF-100s built. Though no flying examples exist today there are still as many as 27 that exist at museums and on display in Canada, the US and the UK.
Suspended from the ceiling is the Hawker Harrier GR3, left.
Displayed near the Harrier is the RAF Panavia Tornado GR1, right.
Another iconic British aircraft is the fabulous Hawker Harrier GR3, developed from the Hawker Siddeley Kestrel prototype aircraft in the 1960s with the first example flying on December 28, 1967. It was the first V/STOL, vertical/short takeoff and landing, capable aircraft of many that were designed during that era that flew as close-support & reconnaissance fighter aircraft. In the 1970s the Harrier was exported to the US as the AV-8A and was utilised by the US Marine Corps. Not far from where the Harrier is suspended from the ceiling is the swing-wing Panavia Tornado GR1. The Tornado first flew in August of 1974 and served with the RAF, Italian, German and Royal Saudi Air Forces and was a joint development between the UK, Italy and West Germany. Tornados were built as strike/fighter-bomber, electronic combat/recon and interceptor variants. Close to 1000 Tornados were built with many still flying with their respective countries today, including having served in an air strike role with the RAF in Syria and Iraq.
The English Electric Canberra B2, left, had a range of almost 3,400 miles.
The English Electric Canberra B2 was considered a first-generation, British built jet-powered medium bomber that was developed in the late 1940s and first flew in May of 1949. The British Air Ministry required a successor to the World War II de Havilland Mosquito for a fast bomber capable of very high altitude bombing at high speeds. The Canberra was the first operational jet-powered bomber aircraft of the RAF and through much of the 1950s it flew higher than any other bomber in the world. The Canberra was also the first jet aircraft to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, non-stop. It was capable of flying at speeds of Mach 0.88 (580mph) and could reach 70,000' with a range of almost 3,400 miles. The last of the RAF Canberras were retired 57 years after the aircraft entered service.
The de Havilland Mosquito was certainly one of the most
versatile aircraft developed during World War II.
The de Havilland Mosquito was originally designed as an unarmed, high speed bomber however, the "Mossie" served in many different roles during World War II including photo-recon, bomber, fighter, night fighter, fighter-bomber, trainers and torpedo bomber. Depending on the variant, such as the photo-recon version, the Mossie could fly at speeds in excess of 430mph. Mosquitos were even modified to carry the Highball "bouncing bombs" similar to those carried by the Dambusters. Depending on the bomber version, they were capable of carrying up to a 4,000 lb bomb load. Though most were designed as land based aircraft, 50 were specifically built as the Sea Mosquito, capable of flying from carriers. Mosquitos also served post-war as target tugs such as the museum's example. There were more than 7,700 Mosquitos built in the UK, Canada and Australia.
The Fairey Swordfish, despite its slow speed,
was used as a torpedo bomber very successfully during World War II.
The Fairey Swordfish was first flown in April of 1934 as a biplane torpedo bomber, designed by the Fairey Aviation Company. Though it was already considered obsolete by the beginning of World War II, Swordfish served on frontline service throughout the war and were flown with the Fleet Air Arm, Royal Navy, Royal Air Force, Royal Canadian Air Force and Royal Netherlands Navy. Despite their obsolescence, they achieved some impressive successes sinking a German battleship, damaging two others and, probably most famously, crippling the Bismarck which lead to her demise. By war's end, Swordfish aircraft had sunk a greater tonnage of Axis ships verses any other Allied aircraft.
The Short Sunderland was a flying boat patrol bomber utilised in
defending against German U-boats during the Battle of the Atlantic.
The Short Sunderland was developed from the Empire, C-class flying boats which were the flagships of Imperial Airways. Unlike its predecessor, the Sunderland was outfitted with a two-gun turret in the nose and a had a four-gun turret in the tail. It was considered a "pure flying boat" meaning it was capable of operations from water only though they did carry specialized beaching wheels. The Sunderland first flew in October of 1937, powered by four Bristol Pegasus XXII air-cooled radial engines, each offering 1010hp and could carry 2552 imperial gallons of fuel in ten self-sealing fuel tanks concealed within the wings. The Mk II Sunderland was outfitted with the more powerful Pegasus XVIII engines with constant speed propellers and ASV Mk II radar. The Mk IV was developed for operations in the Pacific and renamed the Seaford though only six were built. They saw operational service with the RAF, RCAF, Norwegian Air Force, French Navy, Portuguese Navy, South African Air Force, RAAF and RNZAF with the last being retired from service with the RNZAF in 1967. The Sunderland had a maximum speed of 210mph, a cruise speed of 178mph with a range of 1,780miles. In total, there were 777 built with about a half dozen still in existence today.
A look down at the nose and cockpit of the Short Sunderland flying boat, left. The de Havilland Mosquito TT.35, right, painted in the highly visible target towing colours.
This week we had a look at several of the aircraft located at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford location. Next week we'll return to Duxford to have a look at more of the museum's aircraft including the Avro Lancaster, Westland Lysander and the fastest jet airliner to ever fly, the Concorde!
Another look at the Fairey Swordfish.


Next week we'll have a look at the Concorde, left.
Sitting outside and having seen better days is the Handley Page Victor B.1, right.
Looking out over the museum at some of the many
aircraft the museum has in its inventory.


By Kevin Moore, Contributing Editor & Photographer
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