As a cutting edge museum as well as national historical site, IWM Duxford speaks for itself.
But for an extra special visit go on a site tour that draws on the 17 years of experience of Ivor Warne.
Ivor is an extremely well informed tour guide at the 1.5 mile long site.
He will show you sites like the Whale. This steel bridge-like structure is a real piece of D-Day history. As part of Mulberry Harbour B, the Whale served as a floating roadway, transporting troops, vehicles and supplies to the Allies on the beaches of Normandy, after the D-Day invasion on 6 June 1944. For many years, said Ivor, it was used by the French as a road bridge, but was repatriated in due course.
Another glory of Duxford – perhaps counter intuitively for an air combat museum – is the land warfare building. There are lots of tanks and the detailed expert knowledge Ivor supplies will enhance the experience. Nowhere was this more fascinating than on the T34 Russian tank, based on simple agricultural machinery – a souped up tractor in essence – and so often driven by Russian women who could better fit in the small ‘cockpit’.
See also the American air museum building and the Battle of Britain hanger where the brilliant Stanley Hooker, almost ‘on the back of an envelope’ came up with the fluid dynamics and design of the supercharger that made the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine (we had just heard on the Spitfire) into a worldbeater.
Ivor will also tell you how the first Messsershcmitt 109s, for example, were flown in secret at a German gliding club in 1935-6, and used Rolls-Royce engines. He’s also an expert on the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, which flew from Duxford to Edinburgh in ten minutes at an easy mach 3 (some 2,900mph).
Ivor offers tours that are bespoke to a high degree (any sizes of groups or special interest) and he arranges a quote which includes admission to the museum itself. Highly recommended.
To book, please call Ivor Warne on 01920 484315 , 07535 990538.