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Christmas Gift Guide

Welcome to the Imperial War Museum

Resto

From all eras

Lancaster

Mossie

York to Canberra

101

That's quite a tail

Escape Hatch

Analog

Research

'First' class

Leg room

Comet

R.E.8

Flying Aircraft hangar

Bearcat

What is this awesomeness>

One of these things is not like the other

Air and Sea

Contra-rotating

Hawk and Vixen

Not a brick

Resto

Shackleton

Volksjäger

Battle of Britain

109 down

Bristol

BE2c

Speed walking

Ops

1918 on

Commercial

American Air Museum

Memorial

Launch ramp

Buff

SPAD

Warthog

30mm

100D

B-29

"It's Hawg Wild"

Blackbird

Flying!

So much thrust

Exhaust

107 feet long

Four years

Rock Lobster

P&W

Old man

744

U-2?

Not airplanes

WWII and beyond

Chief

Challenger

A wee one

Aerodrome

Interceptor

So long, Duxford

A few miles north of London, on a still-active airfield, lies the Imperial War Museum. Our tour starts at the huge AirSpace hanger.

Check out the full story at A photo tour of the American Air Museum and the Imperial War Museum Duxford.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Here a Eurofighter Typhoon and a Handly Page Victor await restoration.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

So many cool planes. On the right is a Short Sunderland (which I've toured before). The big one in the middle is an Avro Vulcan (ditto).

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

The epic Avro Lancaster.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

I've taken a bunch of pictures of this plane across multiple articles, but I just love it. The de Havilland Mosquito.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET
Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

This is Concorde 101, the fastest of its type. It was a test platform, never carrying paid passengers, but flying at 1,450 mph.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Because of the delta wing, the Concorde uses elevons instead of traditional elevators and ailerons.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Being a research prototype, this Concorde had escape hatches (middle-left).

All Concordes had radiation detectors, since at 50-60,000 feet there was far less atmosphere to shield the craft. Especially worrisome was proton radiation.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Though still the fastest airliner when it retired over a decade ago, the Concorde 101 is a product of its era: analog dials, and even a flight engineer (modern cockpits use LCDs for most everything, and only have a pilot and co-pilot).

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

In place of regular seating, Concorde 101 had 12 tons of research equipment.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

A far, far cry from modern lie-flat seats and TV screens, the seats on Concorde barely look bigger than coach seating today. Since the fuselage was so narrow, there wasn't much space for anything else (and not a lot of headroom either).

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

OK, there's a bit more space than normal coach. More like "Economy Plus."

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

round window version of the Comet, specifically a Comet 4.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.8 bomber and reconnaissance plane. Your car can drive faster than it flies (probably by a lot).

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

The next hangar on the tour is the Flying Aircraft hangar, which houses...guess.

Privately owned but flyable aircraft fill these two attached hangars. Maintenance crews keep these aging beauties in airworthy condition.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

A flyable and immaculate Grumman F8F Bearcat.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

I love weird planes, and this is definitely a weird plane. It's called a Dragon Rapide, by de Havilland.

It's a short-range (under 600 miles) passenger aircraft built in the '30s. This one was built in 1941, and was restored to flying condition in 2004.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Just a B-17 on the flight line. No biggie.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

The next hanger is called Air and Sea.

Britain rightly loves their Spitfires, and here are several different versions (note the different canopies, among other things).

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Can't say I'd ever seen one of these either. It's a Fairey Gannet, which the British Navy used in a variety of carrier-based roles (mostly anti-submarine) in from the '50s to the '70s.

Yes, that wing folds in two places.

Contra-rotating props are cool.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

On the right, a Hawker Sea Hawk. On the left, a de Havilland Sea Vixen. Notice how the latter, in addition to its cool twin-boom design, has an offset cockpit. This is to make room for the radar operator to the right (and inside the fuselage).

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

The gyrocopter is cool (a Focke-Achgelis Fa 330 according to a reader, I missed it in my notes).

The block, however, is cooler. It's a piece of the waist armor from the Tirpitz, sister ship to the Bismark and the heaviest battleship ever built by a European navy. It was 13 inches at its thickest point.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

The next hangar labeled Conservation in Action, for obvious reasons. Here you can see a F-15 getting some special treatment.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

An Avro Shackleton in pieces.

Contra-rotating props are... wait, did I say that already?

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

One of the Luftwaffe's many bizarre late-war designs, the He 162 Volksjäger was very fast, around 519 mph.

This A-2 carried two 20mm cannons.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

The Battle of Britain hall actually highlights aircraft and equipment from multiple conflicts throughout the 20th century.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

An actual "survivor" of the Battle of Britain, this Bf 109E's engine failed and it crashed in Sussex. The pilot was captured.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

This Bristol F2B was part of the Home Defense Squadron in Essex in 1918, protecting Britain from German bombers.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

This Royal Aircraft Factory BE2c was built in 1916 and based in Dover. By 1919 it was already in a museum.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Apperently I'm a very fast walker.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

This is what the Duxford Aerodrome's Operations Room would have looked like circa 1940.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Duxford functioned as an airbase from 1918 until 1961. During WWII it was an American airbase, and after it closed it was used for, among other things, a filming location for "The Battle of Britain" and "Memphis Belle."

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Duxford has a bunch of commercial airliners from different decades, some of which you can tour. When I was there they were closed, however. Bummer.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

This gorgeous hangar is the American Air Museum.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

This sobering memorial is dedicated to the airmen lost flying from UK bases in WWII. Each type of plane lost is represented. It continues all the way up and around to the entrance.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

V-1 and its launch ramp.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

The smiling face of a B-52 greets you as you enter. Check out the incredible use of space. There are some big planes in here.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

A French airplane! The US Army Air Service flew the SPAD S-13 in WWI.

This, however, is a replica (painted to look like Major Rickenbacker's plane circa 1918).

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Though nicknamed the "Warthog," the official designation is the A-10 Thunderbolt II. What's that sitting underneath? Those cheeky Brits...

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

The GAU-8 Avenger cannon can fire depleted uranium shells, weighing nearly a pound each, at up to 3,900 rounds per minute.

Though it looks like it's mounted off-center (OK, technically it is), the firing barrel is dead center.

They used to use it to hunt buffalo with... up close.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

The F-100 Super Sabre, because apparently "Guppy" and "Catfish" were taken.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

This is the first time I've seen a B-29 up close. While certainly bigger than the nearby B-17, it wasn't quite as big as I expected. Possibly because it was sitting next to a B-52.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

This B-29 is one of only two on display outside the US.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Now this one is definitely big. Not sure there's any guy within 10 years of me that didn't have a poster of this plane at some point.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Didn't notice this when I was there, but the wheels aren't touching the ground. Makes sense, just didn't notice it.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

I expected these marvels to be... bigger.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

The business end of the SR-71. Capable of over 2,200 mph.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Still a sleek and modern-looking plane, despite being 50 years old.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

How's this for mind blowing: The B-29 was retired in 1960. The SR-71 first flew in 1964. Four years apart.

OK, yes, from first flight to flight it's 22 years, but doesn't even that seem crazy short?

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Another plane I'd never seen up close. The B-52 isn't flashy, but very impressive.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

This D-variant had eight Pratt & Whitney J57-P-19W turbojets. Interestingly, this is the same engine in the F-100D we saw earlier (and a bunch of other aircraft).

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

The Air Force is expecting to keep using the B-52 well into the 2040s. Which means some of the airframes will be 90 years old. That's incredible.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Of the 744 B-52s built between 1952 and 1962, 85 are still flying.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Turns out, the Air Force still has U-2s in service. I had no idea.

They're phasing them out in favor of UAVs, though.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Just past the American Air Museum is the Land Warfare building, housing tanks and land vehicles from multiple wars. This side of the building is mostly WWI vehicles.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

This side has WWII-era and newer tanks and vehicles.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

British Chieftain Mark 6/4c main battle tank.

It was replaced by the tank in the next slide.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Not sure if this is a Challenger 1 or 2. Anyone have a guess?

Given that it's in a museum, probably 1.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

This is a British Conqueror heavy tank. The notes say it was "withdrawn after only seven years because the tank was too large, too heavy, and too difficult to maintain."

A tank that's too big. Awesome.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

A view back down towards the flight line from the Land Warfare building. A gorgeous view. The AirSpace hangar is visible in the distance.

Yeah, it's a bit of a walk...

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

OK, not a plane or a tank, but definitely an immaculate Jensen Interceptor, one of my favorite cars. I have to assume this belonged to one of the restoration guys, since it certainly would require constant looking after.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

I spent most of a day at IWM Duxford, including the walk to and from the train station.

Admission wasn't cheap (£17.50), and it's a bit of a hike to get out there if you don't have a car, but well worth seeing for aviation buffs.

Check out the full story at A photo tour of the American Air Museum and the Imperial War Museum Duxford.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET
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