American Air Museum at Duxford

One of the big displays at Duxford is the American Air Museum. Opened in 1997 the museum came about following the acquisition of several American aircraft and a major cross Atlantic fund raising effort.

The dimensions of the building were dictated by the need to accommodate the museum’s B-52 Stratofortress bomber with its 61m wingspan and a tail 16m high

The American Air Museum in Britain is a story of two nations united through war, loss, love and duty.

C-47 Skytrain which flew with the 316th Troop Carrier Group and participated in three major Second World War airborne operations; the June 1944 Normandy landings, Operation Market Garden and Operation Varsity, the airborne crossing of the River Rhine in March 1945.

ZE359 is a former United States Navy F-4J from 1968 until it was converted to a F-4J(UK) for service with the Royal Air Force from 1984.

Flown to Duxford on retirement and restores to original United States Navy markings of VF-74 as 155529.

Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II A-10A 77-0259 was last flown by the 10th Tactical Fighter Wing and it was flown to Duxford on retirement from the United States Air Force in 1992 from its base at nearby RAF Alconbury.

General Dynamics F-111E, a veteran of Operation Desert Storm, it was based at RAF Upper Heyford with the 20th Fighter Wing of the United States Air Force prior to arriving at Duxford for display in 1993.

Lockheed U-2C operated by the United States Air Force from 1956 until retired and presented to the museum in 1992 to represent the type as flown at nearby RAF Alconbury.

Boeing B-29A Superfortress, a former United States Air Force B-29A, it was recovered from the China Lake range in 1979, restored to flying condition as G-BHDK and flown across the Atlantic to Duxford, arriving in March 1980. Painted as 461748 to represent an aircraft of the 501st Bomb Group United States Army Air Force and named It’s Hawg Wild.

Boeing B-52D Stratofortress, on display outside since 1983 and moved inside the American Air Museum in 1997.

Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress, F-BDRS was operated by the French Institut géographique national (National Geographic Institute) before acquisition in 1974 as a spare parts source for the airworthy Sally B. In 1978 it was donated to the Imperial War Museum and displayed as 231983 IY-G of the 401st Bomb Group United States Army Air Force based at RAF Deenethorpe

Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird, is the only example of its type on display outside the United States.

There was also a Dodge WC54 Ambulance on display

As well as a Bell UH-1H Iroquois.

V1 and Launcher Ramp

The V-1 was the first of the so-called “Vengeance weapons” series  deployed for the terror bombing of London. It was developed at Peenemünde Army Research Center in 1939 by the Luftwaffe. Because of its limited range, the thousands of V-1 missiles launched into England were fired from launch facilities along the French (Pas-de-Calais) and Dutch coasts. The Wehrmacht first launched the V-1s against London on 13 June 1944, one week after (and prompted by) the successful Allied landings in France.

This V1 flying bomb and ramp was on display at The Imperial War Museum at Duxford.

V1

The V1 flying bomb was powered by an Argus 109-014 pulse-jet engine, carried a warhead of approximately 850kg, and was guided to its target by an autopilot. The maximum range was typically 149 miles, with a maximum speed of 400mph.

Although some V1s were air-launched, most were catapulted from specially constructed ramps.

V1 Ramp

I’ve always thought that either a Dutch or French Resistance or UK Commando raid on a V1 base to stop them launching would make for an interesting game. Why send in ground troops when a bombing raid would work just as well? Then I was thinking about adding in the complication of a chemical or biological armed V1 that would need to be taken care of on the ground. There were some real raids on V1 bases as part of Operation Crossbow., which was the code name in World War II for Anglo-American operations against the German long range reprisal weapons (V-weapons) programme. In 1965 a film Operation Crossbow, based on these raids, was released.

Battlefront released a 15mm version in their Hit the Beach Boxed set.

For 20mm gamers there is a 1/72nd model kit of the V1 and launch ramp available.

If you are playing Bolt Action, then Charlie Foxtrot Models do a MDF kit of the ramp for 28mm gamers, but you probably need to buy the Tamiya 1/48th scale plastic kit for the V1 itself. That kit does come with a trolley as well.

V1

There was a V1 at the Imperial War Museum in London.

M53/59 Praga

The M53/59 Praga is a Czechoslovak self-propelled anti-aircraft gun developed in the late 1950s. It consists of a heavily modified Praga Praga V3S six-wheel drive truck chassis, armed with a twin 30 mm AA autocannon mounted on the rear for which the vehicle typically carries 900 rounds of ammunition, each gun being gravity fed from distinctive 50 round magazines. The vehicle has an armoured cabin.

FV4201 Chieftain MBT

The FV4201 Chieftain was the main battle tank of the United Kingdom during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. This is the one on display at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford.

A development of the Centurion, the Chieftain introduced the supine (reclining) driver position to British design allowing a heavily sloped hull with reduced height. A new powerpack and improved transmission gave it higher speed than the Centurion despite being heavier due to major upgrades to armour protection and the armament.

A development of the Centurion, the Chieftain introduced the supine (reclining) driver position to British design allowing a heavily sloped hull with reduced height. A new powerpack and improved transmission gave it higher speed than the Centurion despite being heavier due to major upgrades to armour protection and the armament.

I did consider buying some for Team Yankee, but was put off by apparent issues with the smoke dischargers on the side of the turret. Certainly for a 1970s version of Team Yankee you couldn’t use the new Challenger, and would need to use the Chieftain.

There was also one on display at the Bovington Tank Museum.

QF 3.7-inch AA gun

The QF 3.7-inch AA was Britain’s primary heavy anti-aircraft gun during World War II. It was roughly the equivalent of the German 88 mm FlaK and American 90 mm, but with a slightly larger calibre of 3.7 inches, approximately 94 mm. Production began in 1937 and it was used throughout World War II in all theatres except the Eastern Front. It remained in use after the war until AA guns were replaced by guided missiles beginning in 1957.

QF 3.7-inch AA gun

Challenger CR 1 Main Battle Tank

At the back is a Challenger CR 1 Main Battle Tank.

Challenger CR 1 Main Battle Tank

Prototype of British main battle tank developed in the 1980s, crew of 4, powered by Rolls-Royce Meteor CV12 diesel engine. The production Challenger 1 was fitted with Chobham armour and armed with a 120mm gun and two machine guns.

Duxford failed to acquire a main production run vehicle (the Duxford vehicle is not fitted with Chobham armour, nor does it carry a TOG – thermo optic guidance – box) because all such vehicles were sold to Jordan and the MOD refused to save any vehicles for the nation, stating Treasury guidelines to maximise receipts from the sale of end of service items, which is a pity.

In the foreground is a Springer All-Terrain Vehicle. The Springer is an all-terrain vehicle developed for the UK Army by UK-based Enhanced Protection Systems (EPS). Supporting British troops in Afghanistan, the new vehicle fleet of 75 vehicles was delivered to the army in summer 2009 at a cost of $10.3 million.

GKN Saxon APC

Very much a vehicle for the Cold War era.

GKN Sankey Saxon APC

The Saxon was intended to act as a cheap but efficient “battle-taxi” for units that would have to make long journeys from the UK to reinforce the British Army of the Rhine. It was made as a relatively low cost armoured personnel carrier based on a revised Bedford M series 4×4 truck chassis and other commercially available components. As a lightly armoured wheeled vehicle, it is much faster – especially on roads – and easier to maintain than a tracked vehicle. Indeed, it shares many parts with commercial trucks, reducing the operating cost. It is armoured against small-arms fire and shell splinters, but is not intended to stand up to any anti-vehicle weaponry. The vehicle has a single machine gun for local air defence.

FV433 Abbot SPG

FV433, 105mm, Field Artillery, Self-Propelled “Abbot” is the self-propelled artillery, or more specifically self-propelled gun (SPG), variant of the British Army FV430 series of armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs), using much of the chassis of the FV430 but with a fully rotating turret at the rear housing the 105 mm gun and given the vehicle designation of FV433.

Designed as a Sexton replacement, its correct designation was “Gun Equipment 105mm L109 (Abbot)”; L109 was little used, probably to avoid confusion with the 155 mm M109 howitzer that entered UK service at about the same time. The name “Abbot” continued the Second World War style of naming self-propelled artillery after ecclesiastical titles. The FV433 used a different configuration of power pack from other vehicles in the FV430 series.

This Abbot SPG is on display at the Imperial War Museum Duxford.

FV433 Abbot SPG
FV433 Abbot SPG

British self-propelled gun, developed in the 1960s, crew of 4 with 2 additional personnel travelling in the ammunition vehicle, powered by Rolls-Royce K60 6-cylinder multi-fuel engine, armed with 105mm gun and a machine gun.

FV433 Abbot SPG