Please pick a link below:

SVVS Society Details
Map and Dates of Meetings
This Year's Meetings   (2020)
Last Year's Meetings  (2019)
Earlier  Meeting  Archives
Types of Society Vehicles 
Index to 40+ Picture Galleries 
HELP PAGE Car Identification
Contact us       Be a Member
Vintage Citroen Register RWD

Surrey Vintage Vehicle Society caters for veteran cars, vintage cars & classic cars, as well as commercials and motorcycles.

:: [ SVVS Visit to The imperial War Museum, Duxford - April, 2003 ] ::

The following text is based on the SVVS Magazine report by Chris Cuss and the photos are by Tony Oakes and Bozi Mohacek. Please click on any thumbnail picture below to see the full size picture. To return to the thumbnails please click the Explorer "Back" arrow (top left of screen). Pictures have been prepared for speed of loading, and the page has been sized to be viewed at 800 x 600. 

Following a successful coach trip to visit the Enigma museum at Bletchley Park, this year's journey took us to the Imperial War Museum's aviation collection at Duxford, a former World War II fighter station, near Cambridge. The coach journey was confortable and I must make comment of the inflight drinks service provided and hope that next year we will be served peanuts in un-tearable bags to complete the airline experience.


Being sited on an airfield the museum covers a large area. The aircraft collection is housed in five hangers in addition to which separate buildings house the American Air Museum and the Military Vehicle collection. Thankfully there was a shuttle vehicle linking all the exhibit areas. 

dx19.jpg (30627 bytes)  dx20.jpg (22393 bytes)  dx21.jpg (31067 bytes)  dx22.jpg (22725 bytes)

The first hanger contained some of the collection's larger aircraft including a Lancaster bomber and a Sunderland flying boat. Pride of place went to the pre-production Concorde. This plane had never been in airline service but was used for flight trials and had flown higher and faster than any of its siblings. Sadly the demise of the Concorde fleet had been announced only days before our visit. 

dx23.jpg (28851 bytes)  dx24.jpg (24103 bytes)  dx25.jpg (21970 bytes)  dx26.jpg (19321 bytes)

dx27.jpg (24578 bytes)  dx28.jpg (17557 bytes)  dx29.jpg (23809 bytes)  dx30.jpg (28878 bytes)

Hanger Two contained a collection of World War II fighters many of which were airworthy and put in appearances at air shows across the country. Hanger Three was a more eclectic mix with a miniature submarine and a lifeboat mingled amongst the aircraft. The fourth hanger was dedicated to the Battle of Britain and Duxford's wartime role was the subject of a short video film. As some of us will know,  it was home to Douglas Bader's controversial `Big Wing'. When America joined the war Duxford became home to Thunderbolts of the 7th Air Force. The final hanger was the restoration workshop where heroic renovation work was being carried out by a team of volunteers.

dx31.jpg (30305 bytes)  dx32.jpg (29395 bytes)  dx33.jpg (24642 bytes)  dx34.jpg (29434 bytes)

dx35.jpg (26556 bytes)  dx36.jpg (28567 bytes)  dx37.jpg (25925 bytes)  dx38.jpg (26093 bytes)

Sadly not all of Duxford's aircraft are able to be stored under cover. There were a number of post-war airliners on the hard standing including the oldest surviving Viscount, a VC 10 and a very sad looking Victor bomber. Set aside from this group was a Hastings transport aircraft that had once been flown by our member Robin Vince. Another former pilot is your worthy editor who was re-united with the Vickers Varsity in which he had more than a few hairy moments whilst flying trainee navigators around the country. Sadly he was unable to gain access to the cockpit. However Julian was able to take to the air in the Dragon Rapide biplane that was giving joyrides over the airfield during the day. Other intrepid passengers included David Smart, Nigel Walder, Julian's better half Thelma and Frank Clemmy and his son. My spies tell me that the latter pair were `bounced' off their booked flight as they upset the aircraft's trim. Happily they were put on a later flight.

dx39.jpg (19748 bytes)  dx40.jpg (18307 bytes)  dx41.jpg (22707 bytes)  dx42.jpg (28184 bytes)

The most impressive building on the airfield has to be the award winning American museum that was opened in 1998 as a memorial to all those airmen from the U.S. who lost their lives during the last war. Outside glass panels were etched with the silhouettes of every aircraft that failed to return commemorate their sacrifice. Inside the domed building, so much better than Greenwich, centre stage is taken by a B52. Once again this giant bomber has been much in the news recently during the bombing of Baghdad. Around the B52 were not only all the major aircraft flown by the Army Air Corps but also those from more recent years including the amazing 5R71 Blackbird reconnaissance plane. Thishas flown faster and higher than anything other than a spacecraft. At the other extreme those of us who enjoyed our wing walking after dinner speaker last February were pleased to see a tiny Stearman biplane suspended from the roof and easily viewed from the elevated walkway.

dx43.jpg (23770 bytes)  dx44.jpg (21396 bytes)  dx45.jpg (27211 bytes)  dx46.jpg (20725 bytes)

dx47.jpg (18618 bytes)  dx48.jpg (16546 bytes)  dx49.jpg (26866 bytes)  dx50.jpg (21008 bytes)

The final building housed the museum's collection of fighting vehicles. Included were armoured fighting vehicles from all sides in World War II as well as more modern types. All were displayed in as realistic settings as possible. Tanks hid behind broken buildings, jeeps were displayed in recreated battle ield scenes and everything was covered with a most realistic covering of mud. Not a shiny sterile exhibit to be seen so some of our Riley owning members felt quite at home. The far end of the hall contained the Normandy Experience, a recreation of the invasion, which we entered by walking through a landing craft and onto the beach. A German sniper positioned on an adjacent house was quickly spotted by Derek Wright who nonetheless refused to crawl on his stomach around the exhibits. Also in this section was the group of vehicles used by Montgomery as his mobile headquarters including one captured from the Germans at Alamein.

dx51.jpg (27923 bytes)  dx52.jpg (30042 bytes)  dx53.jpg (28732 bytes)  dx54.jpg (27663 bytes)

dx55.jpg (32421 bytes)  dx56.jpg (27997 bytes)  dx57.jpg (19648 bytes)  dx58.jpg (26995 bytes)

dx59.jpg (25405 bytes)  dx60.jpg (28234 bytes)  dx61.jpg (23880 bytes)  dx62.jpg (28335 bytes)

By four o'clock all our now footsore but happy members were back on the coach save one for whom the attraction of the shop proved too much. Thankfully he was retrieved by `her indoors' and so a full coach returned to Merstham. As ever our thanks go to the indefatigable Derek and Jacqui for all their hard work in making the day a success.

dx02.jpg (21428 bytes)  dx03.jpg (24248 bytes)  dx04.jpg (29207 bytes)  dx05.jpg (21809 bytes)

dx06.jpg (130494 bytes)  dx07.jpg (25520 bytes)  dx08.jpg (26878 bytes)  dx09.jpg (21319 bytes)

dx10.jpg (28385 bytes)  dx11.jpg (24444 bytes)  dx12.jpg (26974 bytes)  dx13.jpg (24358 bytes)

dx14.jpg (26905 bytes)  dx15.jpg (26339 bytes)  dx16.jpg (25886 bytes)  dx17.jpg (24460 bytes)

Return to Recent Venues Page