Duxford - Hangars 2 and 5
Flying Aircraft and Conservation and Restoration - Page 1

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On 17 April 1934, the prototype aircraft first flew at Hatfield and 205 production aircraft were built for airlines and other owners all around the world before the outbreak of World War II.

Originally designated the "Dragon Six" it was first marketed as "Dragon Rapide", although later it was popularly referred to as the "Rapide". From 1936, with the fitting of improved trailing edge flaps, they were redesignated DH.89As.

In the summer of 1934, the type entered service with UK-based airlines, with Hillman Airways Ltd being first to take delivery in July. From August 1934, Railway Air Services (RAS) operated a fleet of Dragon Rapides on routes linking London, the north of England and on to Northern Ireland and Scotland.

At the start of World War II many Dragon Rapides were taken over by the British armed forces and served under the name de Havilland Dominie. They were used for passenger and communications duties. Over 500 further examples were built specifically for military purposes, powered by improved Gipsy Queen engines, to bring total production to 731.

The Dominies were mainly used by the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy for radio and navigation training.

Postwar they were used as communications aircraft by Royal Naval air station flights. Other civilian Dragon Rapides continued to fly for UK airlines as part of the Associated Airways Joint Committee (AAJC). In 1958, 81 examples were still flying on the British register.

The DH.89 proved an economical and very durable aircraft, despite its relatively primitive plywood construction, and many were still flying in the early 2000s.

Several Dragon Rapides are still operational in the UK, and several suppliers still offer pleasure flights in them. Classic Wings have been operating at Duxford since 1990, providing flights and corporate entertainment using their fleet of two restored 1930s De Havilland Dragon Rapides.


Many of the non-flying examples on these pages were moved from the IWM in London for storage and renovation, such as the German V2 Rocket (left) and the rear gun turret (below).


The Avro Lancaster, a British four-engined Second World War heavy bomber, was designed and built by Avro for the Royal Air Force (RAF). It first saw active service with RAF Bomber Command in 1942 and, as the strategic bombing offensive over Europe gathered momentum, it became the main heavy bomber used by the RAF, the RCAF, and squadrons from other Commonwealth and European countries serving within the RAF. It overshadowed its close contemporaries the Handley Page Halifax and Short Stirling.

The 'Lanc', as it was affectionately known, became the most famous and most successful of the Second World War night bombers, 'delivering 608,612 long tons of bombs in 156,000 sorties'.

The Lancaster, an evolution of the troublesome twin engined Avro Manchester, was designed by Roy Chadwick and was powered by four Rolls-Royce Merlins, or, in one version, Bristol Hercules engines.

In addition to the many area bombing missions conducted by the RAF, Lancaster's were used for various special missions, including the 'Dam Busters' raid in 1943, the bombing of the battleship Tirpitz, and the delivery of the 20,000 pounder 'Grand Slam' bombs. After the war the airframe was again redesigned and the plane, renamed the 'Shackleton', served into the 1960's.

The Lancaster B III DV732 'Old Fred' (above) served with No. 467 Sqn RAAF as 'PO-F'. Only the forward fuselage is preserved.



The North American Aviation P-51 Mustang was an American long-range, single-seat fighter and fighter-bomber used during World War II, the Korean War and other conflicts.

The Mustang was conceived, designed and built by North American Aviation (NAA) in response to a specification issued directly to NAA by the British Purchasing Commission. The prototype NA-73X airframe was rolled out on 9 September 1940, and first flew on 26 October.

The first Mustang Mk Is entered service in 1941 the first unit being 2 Squadron RAF. Due to poor high-altitude performance, the Mustangs were used by Army Co-operation Command, rather than Fighter Command, and were used for tactical reconnaissance and ground-attack duties.

On 27 July 1942, sixteen RAF Mustangs undertook their first long-range reconnaissance mission over Germany. During the Dieppe Raid (19 August 1942) four British and Canadian Mustang squadrons, including 26 Squadron saw action.

By 1943/1944, British Mustangs were used extensively to seek out V-1 flying bomb sites. The addition of the Rolls-Royce Merlin to the P-51B/C model transformed the Mustang's performance at altitudes above 15,000 ft, giving it a performance that matched or bettered the majority of the Luftwaffe's fighters at altitude.

The RAF was the first air force to operate the Mustang. As the first Mustangs were built to British requirements, these aircraft used factory numbers and were not P-51s; the order comprised 320 NA-73s, followed by 300 NA-83s, all of which were designated North American Mustang Mark I by the RAF. The final RAF Mustang Mk I (and Mustang Mk II) aircraft were struck off charge in 1945.

"Ferocious Frankie" is a 1944 Mustang with a 1760 horsepower Merlin engine and a maximum speed of 505mph and is used at flying displays.


The edited information below is reproduced with acknowledgement to The Blenheim Society and Blenheim Duxford Limited.

The Blenheim is a truly unique British aircraft. As a type, the aircraft's history is long and formative and an important milestone in the history of British aviation. Although this particular aircraft's background is fraught it has survived, and is being repaired to carry into the future a lasting flight heritage and living memorial for the nation. Blenheim Duxford Limited is committed to ensuring this important machine will survive.

Built in 1934 as a small airliner and a private venture by the Bristol Aircraft Company the aircraft was funded by Lord Rothermere.

Named 'Spirit of Britain' it was presented to the nation and after modification as a bomber became the first stressed skin aircraft accepted by the RAF.

It was the fastest light bomber of the day, faster than the fighter aircraft then on order and it became the backbone of the light bomber force. At the start of WWII the RAF had more Blenheims in service (1089) than any other aircraft. It bore the brunt of the early war bombing effort and its crews paid a heavy price defending the nation.

Pressed into roles it was not designed for such as a long range fighter and night fighter, it became the first multi role aircraft. The crews liked the Blenheims and Winston Churchill paid homage to their bravery comparing them to the 'Charge of the Light Brigade'.

The first Blenheim project, recovered in a derelict state in Canada, was restored to fly after a twelve year engineering project by a small but skilled volunteer staff led by a full time licensed engineer. It made its debut flight in May 1987 but was tragically wrecked only four weeks after its return to the air.

The restoration team determined after all that effort that a Blenheim would fly again and the decision was made to resurrect a new Blenheim. After a five year long restoration, largely undertaken by the same volunteer workforce, this aircraft, in June 1983, became once again internationally known as the only flying example of an early war RAF light bomber.

One of only two British WWII bombers flying, the RAF Lancaster being the other, it featured in many air shows, films, television broadcasts and magazine articles. The aircraft flew with great success for ten years before once again, in August 2003, suffering significant damage during a landing accident at Duxford.

A decision was made to repair the aircraft, but this time to ensure that its longevity is guaranteed a trust is being formed so that the aircraft's future in the air and on the ground is ensured.

Progress on the repairs has been good, with both wings and centre section complete although there is some fitting out to finish. It is intended to return the aircraft to the air as a Mk I Blenheim and work is now concentrated on the nose section (shown here).

The Restoration of the Blenheim is supported by The Blenheim Society, For more information, please visit their website - www.blenheimsociety.org.uk.

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