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Imperial War Museum Duxford

 

Imperial War Museum Duxford is a branch of the Imperial War Museum near Duxford in Cambridgeshire, England. Britain's largest aviation museum, Duxford houses the museum's large exhibits, including nearly 200 aircraft, military vehicles, artillery and minor naval vessels in seven main exhibition buildings. The site also provides storage space for the museum's other collections of material such as film, photographs, documents, books and artefacts. The site accommodates several British Army regimental museums, including those of the Parachute Regiment (named Airborne Assault) and the Royal Anglian Regiment.

The Imperial War Museum originated during the First World War in 1917 as the National War Museum committee, formed by the British government to record the war effort and sacrifice of Britain and her Empire. The museum opened in 1920, by which point it had been renamed the Imperial War Museum. With the outbreak of the Second World War, the museum's terms of reference were enlarged to include the conflict. The museum's terms of reference was broadened again in 1953 to include all modern conflicts in which British or Commonwealth forces were engaged. The effect of these expansions of remit was to cause the museum's collections to expand enormously, to the point that many parts of the collection, especially those of aircraft, vehicles and artillery, could not be effectively stored or exhibited. Although the museum's south London home (a nineteenth-century building in Southwark which was previously the Bethlem Royal Hospital) had been extended in 1966, by the end of the decade the museum was seeking additional space.

Duxford has been associated with British military aviation since 1917, when a site near the village of Duxford, in southern Cambridgeshire, was selected for a new Royal Flying Corps training aerodrome. From 1925 Duxford became a fighter airfield, a role it was to retain until the end of its operational life, and in August 1938 the Duxford-based No.19 Squadron RAF became the first to operate the Supermarine Spitfire.

Duxford Aviation Society preserves and maintains the Civil Aviation Collection. Especially notable aircraft in the collection include a de Havilland Comet which made the first eastbound jet-powered trans-Atlantic passenger flight on 4 October 1958, and Concorde G-AXDN 101, a pre-production aircraft which achieved the highest speed of any Concorde, making a westwards trans-Atlantic flight in two hours, 56 minutes.

As an active civil airfield, operations at Duxford are regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). In 2002 a privately operated Aero L-39 Albatros suffered a braking failure on landing, overran the runway and came to rest on the M11 motorway, a student pilot being killed after ejecting at ground level. An Air Accidents Investigation Branch inquiry recommended a review of arrangements for aircraft taking off or landing towards the M11. As a result, the CAA and Duxford agreed to a reduction in the runway's 1500 m declared length, from 1350 m to 1200 m, in order to provide a greater margin of error.

Hangar 2 is a double Type T2 hangar, erected in the 1970s. It occupies the site of a T2 hangar erected in the 1950s. It accommodates the flyable aircraft of Duxford's private aviation companies, such as The Fighter Collection, and allows visitors to see aircraft undergoing maintenance or restoration.

The Land Warfare Hall also houses the Forgotten War exhibition, which opened on 25 March 1999 and was a joint project between the Imperial War Museum and the Burma Star Association. The Association represents veterans of the Burma campaign who often consider themselves to have fought in a "Forgotten Army" compared to those who fought in Europe. The exhibition explores aspects of the Second World War in the Far East and features artefacts, archival film and photographs, and tableaux depicting scenes such as troops moving through jungle and a Burmese village. The exhibition was supported financially by the Burma Star Association and by 126,000 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund.

Missouri Civil War Museum