10 February 2018

Autumn in England: 27 October - 1 November 2017

Following the completion of business in Brussels, Belgium, your MoMI curator travelled via Eurostar train through the Channel Tunnel to the United Kingdom for one week of sightseeing, from Friday, 27 October to Wednesday, 1 November 2017.

After arrival at London's St Pancras International and a quick Tube ride to London Liverpool Street Station, a Greater Anglia train delivered us to Whittlesford Parkway railway station for two nights at the Holiday Inn Express, located adjacent to the station.  The next morning, a brisk 2.8 kilometre (1.7 mile) walk brought us to the Imperial War Museum Duxford for a day of exploring the museum's impressive collection of historic aircraft and military vehicles.  

After returning to London on Sunday, 29 October, the remainder of the trip was devoted to pre-booked visits to Kew Gardens and the London Transport Museum, as well as some general sightseeing and shopping.

Enjoy this photo tour of a busy week in England...      

Saturday, 28 October 2017: Imperial War Museum, Duxford
The entrance to the Imperial War Museum Duxford Visitor Centre, prior to the museum opening at 10:00am.

AirSpace Hangar

A view from the upper gallery in the AirSpace hangar, devoted to British and Commonwealth aviation in the 20th century. Larger aircraft are arranged on the floor, whilst smaller aircraft hang suspended from the roof. The Anglo-French Concorde supersonic airliner, Avro Vulcan bomber, and de Havilland Comet jet airliner can be seen in this shot.

The giant, white Short Sunderland maritime patrol aircraft, with part of the fuselage and port wing of the museum's Avro Lancaster bomber also visible, and a Westland Lysander army cooperation aircraft handing overhead.

A Dan-Air Avro York C1 transport aircraft sits on the floor in the foreground, with the Avro Vulcan bomber in the middle of the frame, and a silver English Electric Canberra bomber-reconnaissance aircraft (WH725) suspended from the ceiling. 

Looking up at the Canberra bomber from below.  The Canberra made its first flight on 13 May 1949 and was introduced into Royal Air Force service on 25 May 1951. Serving over 50 years, the RAF retired its last Canberra in 2006.  The Canberra was operated by the RAF (900 built), the Royal Australian Air Force (49 built), and the US Air Force (403 built).  Originally designed as a high altitude nuclear strike bomber, the Canberra proved adaptable to the tactical bombing, photographic, and electronic reconnaissance  roles, and NASA still operates three aircraft for meteorological work.  On 28 August 1957, a Canberra equipped with an added rocket motor achieved a world altitude record, reaching 70,310 feet. 

An Avro Canada CF-100 'Canuck' all-weather interceptor.  The CF-100 was the only Canadian-designed fighter to enter mass production and a total of 692 were constructed for the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Belgian Air Force.  The aircraft on display at IWM Duxford (registration 18393) is a Mk 4B, powered by two Orenda 11 turbojet engines and delivered to No. 440 Squadron (RCAF) in 1955.  A total of 141 CF-100 Mk 4Bs were manufactured; the aircraft were armed with eight 0.5" Colt-Browning machine guns and 58 unguided air-to-air rockets in wingtip pods.  CF-100 18393 served with No. 3 Fighter Wing (RCAF) at Zweibrucken, Germany from 1957 and was retired from RCAF service in 1962.  It was acquired by IWM Duxford in 1988.

IWM Duxford's de Havilland Comet 4 (registration G-APDB), in British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) livery.  The Comet 4 was a stretched version of the Comet 3, with greater fuel capacity, longer range, higher maximum takeoff weight, greater cruising speed, and seating for 56 to 81 passengers.  The Comet 4 featured a cockpit crew of 4 (two pilots, a flight engineer, and a radio operator/navigator) and was powered by four Rolls-Royce Avon Mk 524 turbojets.  

Concorde 101, registration G-AXDN, was one of two pre-production Concordes built to further develop the design of the aircraft before commencing manufacture of the production aircraft.  This aircraft was built by the British Aircraft Corporation Ltd (later British Aerospace) at Filton, Bristol, UK. 

G-AXDN first flew on 17 December 1971 and was retired to the Imperial War Museum Duxford on 20 August 1977.  This aircraft made 269 flights, including 168 flights at supersonic speed, accumulating over 574 flying hours. 

The left main gear of Concorde G-AXDN.  Manufactured by Dowty-Messier, each four-bogie, hydraulically-operated main gear shortened during retraction, in order to fit inside the wheel wells.  The Concorde was the first aircraft to be fitted with carbon fibre brakes, a feature now common on all commercial aircraft.

Looking forward, into Concorde G-AXDN's cockpit.  As a pre-production aircraft, the fuselage interior was fitted with monitoring stations, ballast, and equipment for measuring flight performance, rather than passenger seating.  

During its test flights, G-AXDN reached a maximum altitude of 63,700 feet (over 12 miles) and a maximum speed of Mach 2.23 (1,450 mph; 2,333 km/h).  On display, the aircraft is in 'nose up' configuration as it would have been during supersonic flight, rather than the 'drooped' configuration the Concorde used for subsonic takeoff and landing phases of flight. 

A Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR3 attack aircraft hangs from the ceiling of the AirSpace exhibition hall at IWM Duxford.  Manufactured by British Aerospace in 1976, this aircraft served with No. 1 (Fighter) Squadron of the Royal Air Force in the Falklands War of 1982.  Flying from the carrier HMS Hermes and from a temporary forward airstrip at Port San Carlos, this GR3 flew at least nine sorties in June 1982, dropping 1,000 lb bombs, cluster bombs, and rockets against Argentine positions.  Various Harrier variants were manufactured between 1967 and 2003.   

A Rolls-Royce Pegasus turbofan engine, used to power the BAe Harrier.  With four rotating thrust nozzles, the Pegasus allows the Harrier to fly vertically and horizontally.  Developed from a 1959 design, the UK Ministry of Defence commissioned the manufacture of an aircraft, the P1127, in which to test the Pegasus.  The P1127 hovered for the first time in September 1960, with Harrier production commencing in 1967.   

The cockpit of a Handley Page HP.81 Hermes airliner.  This aircraft (registration G-ALDG) was one of only 29 Hermes built between 1945 and 1951, and served with BOAC in the early 1950s.  G-ALDG was delivered to BOAC on 9 March 1950 and used on routes to West and South Africa; in 1953, it was sold to Airwork Services and used to fly troops to the Middle and Far East, as well as for some charter operations.  The aircraft was subsequently sold to other charter operators and, in 1962, retired from service.  With its wings and undercarriage removed, the fuselage of G-ALDG was used for fire evacuation training and, in 1981, G-ALDG was donated to IWM Duxford.  After restoration work was completed, G-ALDG was put on display in the museum's AirSpace exhibit.   

A recreated dining service inside the Handley Page Hermes.

A display of brochures, pamphlets, and other promotional publications about the Handley Page Hermes.

Various displays inside G-ALDG tell the story of Handley Page Ltd, the HP.81 Hermes airliner, and BOAC service in the 1940s and 1950s.

An Avro Lancaster Mk X heavy bomber (registration KB889), completed on 18 December 1944 by Victory Aircraft Ltd of Malton, Ontario, Canada and one of 430 Lancaster bombers built by the company.  This aircraft served with No. 428 Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force, part of No. 6 Bomb Group of Bomber Command.  After the war, the aircraft was put in storage, then extensively refitted for the air/sea rescue role in 1951, refitted again for maritime patrol duties in 1959, and finally retired in 1964.  It was later shipped to the UK and sold to the IWM Duxford in 1986.  KB889 has been restored to its 1945 configuration and painted in No. 428 Squadron (RCAF) livery.  In wartime configuration, the Lancaster carried a crew of seven (pilot, flight engineer, navigator, bomb aimer/front turret gunner, wireless operator, mid-upper turret gunner, and rear turret gunner) and a bomb load of 14,000 lbs, with some aircraft specially modified to carry the 22,000 lb Grand Slam bomb.     

English Electric Lightning Mk 1 supersonic fighter, registration XM135.  Powered by two Rolls-Royce Avon 301 afterburning turbojets, this aircraft was the second production Lightning, being manufactured in 1959.  XM135 served with the Air Fighting Development Unit at RAF Coltishall, Norfolk for three years, followed by service with No. 74 Squadron/Fighter Command Aerobatic Team, and stints with RAF Leuchars Target Facilities Flight, and finally No. 60 Maintenance Unit in 1971.  The aircraft was acquired by IWM Duxford in 1974. 

Initially designed as a high-speed interceptor to defend the RAF's nuclear-armed V-bomber bases from attacking Soviet aircraft, the Lightning possessed a superb rate of climb, ceiling, and speed, but at the cost of limited endurance.  Modifications integrated into later variants of the Lightning extended the aircraft's range and speed, as well as provided the capability to undertake aerial reconnaissance and ground attack missions.  Lightnings were exported to the Royal Saudi and Kuwaiti air forces.  The RAF retired the Lightning from service in 1988.  The yellow wheeled cradle in front of the aircraft holds a de Havilland Firestreak passive, heat-seeking, homing air-to-air missile, of which the Lightning carried two. 

Looking down onto the hangar floor from the upper mezzanine.  Aircraft depicted here include a Westland Lysander Mk IIA (hanging from ceiling above left); a Royal Aircraft Factory RE8 (hanging from ceiling with yellow lower fuselage); a Fairey Swordfish Mk III torpedo bomber (biplane on hangar floor); and the Short Sunderland Mk V maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine aircraft (four-engined white aircraft).  

A closer view of the Fairey Swordfish Mk III, a biplane torpedo bomber manufactured by the Fairey Aviation Company between 1934 and 1944.  Already obsolete by the outbreak of the Second World War, the Swordfish nevertheless took part in a number of important operations, including the attack on the Italian battlefleet in Taranto harbour in November 1940 and the hunt for the German battleship Bismarck in May 1941.  As the war progressed, the Swordfish was increasingly relegated from a front line naval strike role to anti-submarine and training roles.  The aircraft on display at IWM Duxford, registration NF370, was built in 1944 and served with No. 119 Squadron RAF, and tasked with patrolling the North Sea for German torpedo boats and midget submarines.  The aircraft was acquired by IWM Duxford in 1986.      

The Panavia Tornado GR1B, designed by a British-Italian-West German consortium as an all-weather, supersonic fighter, reconnaissance, and bomber aircraft.  Entering service in 1979-80, the Tornado features a swing-wing design, allowing the wing to be spread for better lift at slow speeds and swept back for less drag at higher speeds.  RAF Tornadoes were used to conduct low-level attacks on Iraqi runways during the 1991 Gulf War and the 2003 Iraq War.  This aircraft, registration ZA465, was built by British Aerospace and delivered to the RAF in October 1983, serving with No. 16 Squadron.  It flew more bombing missions (44) during the 1991 Gulf War than any other Tornado and was acquired by IWM Duxford in 2001.  Between 1979 and 1998, 992 Tornadoes were manufactured and assorted variants remain in service with the RAF and German and Italian air forces, as well as with the Royal Saudi Air Force.     

The TSR2, built by the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) as a tactical strike/reconnaissance aircraft.  Designed in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the TSR2 was meant to penetrate well-defended forward battle areas at low altitude and high speed to attack high value targets with nuclear or conventional weapons, as well as collect high altitude photographic imagery and signals intelligence.  As development costs soared and debate raged over Britain's future defence requirements, the new Labour government of Harold Wilson announced the cancellation of the TSR2 project on 6 April 1965.  This aircraft, registration XR222, is one of only two surviving examples of the TSR2, although it never flew.         

The TSR2's delta wing is visible in this shot.  A delta wing provided superior supersonic performance, with the TSR2's twin Bristol-Siddeley Olympus Mk 320 turbojets, each capable of 30,610 lbs thrust (with afterburner) and a maximum speed of Mach 2.35 at 40,000 feet.  The TSR2 would have carried a 10,000 lb armament load, both internally and on external pylons, over a combat radius of 750 nautical miles (1,390 km).  The aircraft is painted in anti-flash white, designed to reflect some thermal radiation from nuclear explosions and thereby protect the crews of aircraft that had just dropped such weapons.  

The iconic Avro Vulcan B2 high altitude strategic bomber.  Despite being designed to drop nuclear weapons, the Vulcan's only combat experience came during the Falklands War, when Vulcans carried out 'Black Buck' raids using conventional bombs to knock out airfields and radar installations used by Argentine forces on the islands.  This aircraft, registration XJ824, was completed on 11 May 1961 and served with No. 27 Squadron, RAF and, later, No.  230 Operational Conversion Unit, RAF.  In 1964, Sir John Grandy, Commander of RAF Bomber Command, took XJ824 on a world tour and, in the  1970s, the aircraft spent several years with the Akrotiri bomber wing based in Cyprus.  In the 1980s, XJ824 served with No. 101 Squadron at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire before being acquired by IWM Duxord in 1982. 

A longer shot of the Vulcan B2, showing the distinctive swept delta wing, as well as the green-grey camouflage paint scheme adopted once the Vulcan was converted from high altitude strategic nuclear strike missions to conventional tactical bombing.  The Vulcan was flown by a five-man crew (pilot, co-pilot, navigator-radar, navigator-plotter, air electronics officer) and powered by four Bristol-Siddeley Olympus 301 turbojets at a maximum speed of 1,029 km/h over a combat range of 7,401 km.  The aircraft stands 27 feet 1 inch in height and has a wingspan of 111 feet.  The Vulcan's internal bomb bay could carry one Yellow Sun megaton-range free-fall nuclear bomb, or one WE177B kiloton-range free-fall nuclear bomb, or one Blue Steel stand-off missile with megaton-range warhead, or twenty-one 1,000 lb conventional bombs.     

A Westland Wessex HAS1 helicopter, a licence-built version of the U.S. Sikorsky H-34, and used by the Royal Navy in the anti-submarine and utility roles, as well as for search and rescue work.  Westland manufactured 140 of the HAS1 variant for the Royal Navy beginning in 1961, with 43 of these later being converted to the HAS3 variant in 1967 and featuring improved avionics and a radome on the rear fuselage. 

A Westland Whirlwind HAS7 helicopter, a licence-built version of the U.S. Sikorsky S-55/H-19 Chickasaw.  The Whirlwind served with the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm and in search and rescue roles from its introduction to service in 1954.  Eighty-nine of the HAS7 variant were built for the Royal Navy and used in the anti-submarine role from 1957, while another 12 were used as transport helicopters by the Royal Marines.  The HAS7 variant was the first British helicopter designed for front-line anti-submarine warfare; however, as the HAS7 could carry either a dipping sonar or a torpedo, but not both simultaneously, the helicopters were used in pairs, with one 'Hunter' using its dipping sonar to locate an enemy submarine and the other 'Killer' prosecuting the target with its torpedo.  

A dummy training version of the Lockheed UGM-27 Polaris A3 missile.  The A3 equipped the Royal Navy's nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) from 1968 to 1982, when Polaris was replaced by Lockheed's more advanced Trident missile in 1996.  Under the terms of the 16 April 1963 Polaris Sales Agreement signed between the United States and UK governments, the U.S. agreed to furnish the UK with the missiles, launch tubes, re-entry bodies, and fire control systems in exchange for the British agreeing to assign control over British Polaris missile targeting to NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR).  The A3 variant of the Polaris possessed a range of 2,500 nautical miles (4,600 km), a weapon bay housing three Mk 2 re-entry bodies each equipped with a single W-58 200 kiloton yield warhead.  On 15 February 1968, HMS Resolution became the first British submarine to fire a Polaris missile. 

'Historic Duxford' exhibit and 'Air and Sea' hangar 

Hangar 3 contains the museum's collection of naval aircraft and artefacts, while a low, green building next to Hangar 3 houses the 'Historic Duxford' exhibit.

Visitors to the Historic Duxford exhibit are greeted by recordings of reminiscences by veterans who served at RAF Duxford.  RAF Duxford was constructed in 1918, with many of its buildings being built by German prisoners of war.  It was enlarged between 1928 and 1932.  The exhibit tells not only the story of wartime operations from the airfield, but also the social and recreational aspects of life on the base. 
A display on RAF Duxford between the First and Second World Wars, when the airfield was home to No. 8 Squadron, No. 2 Flying Training School RAF, and No. 19 Squadron.  No. 19 Squadron was the first Royal Air Force squadron to receive the Supermarine Spitfire, in 1938.  

A display on RAF Duxford during the Second World War.  Upon the outbreak of war in September 1939, RAF Duxford was placed on high alert, and a satellite airfield at nearby Fowlmere was established to accommodate additional personnel and aircraft.  Pilots based at Duxford and Fowlmere played a significant role in the Battle of Britain.  Czech pilots that had escaped before the French surrender were formed into No. 310 Squadron, RAF in July 1940 and based at Duxford, flying the Hawker Hurricane fighter.  In late August 1940, the 'Duxford Wing' was formed by the consolidation of No. 19 Squadron, No. 310 Squadron, and No. 242 Squadron at Duxford under the command of the legendary fighter ace Douglas Bader.  Duxford also played host to the Air Fighting Development Unit, which restored crashed German aircraft for evaluation purposes and, in 1943, the airfield was allocated to the Eighth Air Force Fighter Command of the United States Army Air Forces.  Duxford continued to serve as an RAF base after the war, but its southern and inland location was, by the late 1950s deemed to be of insufficient strategic importance and the airfield was closed and abandoned in August 1961.

A reconstruction of RAF Duxford's Watch Office as it appeared in the late 1930s and early 1940s.  Prior to the construction of the airfield control tower, it was from this spot where all flying operations were managed.  Manned by a Duty Pilot and his assistant, the Watch Office was used to log aircraft arrivals and departures.  The Duty Pilot, a position rotated amongst the station's pilots, also maintained contact with other airfields so as to know when aircraft would be arriving.    

A Hawker Nimrod Mk II, a carrier-borne fighter designed in the 1930s to protect the fleet from enemy aircraft.  Entering service with the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm in 1932, the Nimrod was derived from the Hawker Fury fighter with modifications related to service aboard carriers at sea, including the ability to switch from wheeled undercarriage to floats.  Entering service in 1933, the Nimrod Mk II had a maximum speed of 310 km/h, an endurance of two hours, and was armed with two Vickers .303 machine guns and up to four 20 lb bombs.  It remained in front-line service until 1939 and was declared obsolete in 1941.  This aircraft, registration K3661, was built in 1934; it was discovered in a garbage dump in 1972 and restored to flying condition between 1992 and 2006.  K3661 is the only airworthy Nimrod in the world. 

The cockpit of a Bristol Blenheim bomber, the first all-metal, stressed-skin aircraft ordered by the RAF and the fastest bomber aircraft in squadron service in the late 1930s and early 1940s.  The Mk I Blenheim was introduced in 1937, with the Mk IV, featuring a longer nose to better accommodate the navigator, entering service in 1939.  Already outclassed by enemy aircraft upon the outbreak of the Second World War, many Blenheims nevertheless served as bombers during the Battle of France and the Battle of Britain in 1940, with other Blenheims successfully serving as night fighters.   

A Fairey Gannet carrier-borne anti-submarine aircraft, which served in the Royal Navy between 1955 and the 1970s.  The aircraft is powered by a 3,035 horsepower Armstrong-Siddeley Double Mamba turboprop engine, consisting of two side-by-side engines and contra-rotating propellers.  With a top speed of 481 km/h, in the anti-submarine role the Gannet could carry homing torpedoes, depth charges, mines, bombs, and rocket projectiles.  The longest serving version of the Gannet was the Airborne Early Warning variant equipped with a large surveillance radar; 346 Gannets were manufactured, including 70 exported to Australia, West Germany, and Indonesia.  This aircraft, registration XG797, was built in 1957 and served with No. 810 Squadron aboard the carrier HMS Centaur before being converted to an Electronic Counter Measures aircraft in 1963, and then serving in a training role from 1967.  In 1972, IWM Duxford acquired the aircraft for display.   

A Grumman TBM-3 Avenger carrier-borne torpedo bomber.  The Avenger entered service in 1942 and played a major part in operations against Japan, sinking over 60 Japanese ships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, including the super battleships Musashi (October 1944) and Yamato (April 1945).  It was the first single-engined American aircraft to have a power-operated turret and the first to be equipped with the heavy 22-inch torpedo.  Entering Royal Navy service in January 1943, Avengers of the Fleet Air Arm took part in attacks on oil refineries in support of the American assault on Japan in 1945.  This Avenger is painted in the markings of the aircraft flown by Lieutenant (and later President) George H.W. Bush in the Pacific in 1944. 

The restored Royal Navy Coastal Motor Boat (CMB) 4, designed during the First World War for operations in shallow waters, and especially to attack German shipping and naval bases.  The Royal Navy ordered its first 12 40-foot CMBs in 1916, receiving them from the manufacturer only seven months later.  Each four-ton CMB had a crew of three, carried one 18-inch torpedo, and had a top speed of 63.8 km/h (34.43 knots).  The vessels' high speed and manoeuvrability allowed hit-and-run raids, and their lightweight construction allowed the CMBs to be carried on davits aboard cruisers and lowered into the water.  The Royal Navy's CMBs also performed minelaying, reconnaissance, and rescue duties.  CMBs also took part in anti-Communist operations during the Russian Revolution in 1919, including the joint Royal Navy-Royal Air Force attack on the Russian naval base at Kronstadt in August 1919, which resulted in the sinking of two Russian battleships and a depot ship for the loss of three of the seven CMBs employed.  This CMB, captained by Augustus Agar during a successful attack on Kronstadt in June 1919 which sank a Russian cruiser and earned Agar a Victoria Cross, was acquired by IWM Duxford in 1975.  

A 10.5 cm German naval gun, believed to have been fitted to the deck of the German U-boat U-98 during the First World War.  U-98 sank a total of three merchant vessels during four operations in 1918.  The submarine was later surrendered at the end of the war and scrapped in Britain in 1919-20.  The 10.5 cm gun, modified for submarine use from standard naval guns, possessed a high-velocity and rapid rate of fire, and was fitted to German submarines in the 560-900 ton range.   

A German Biber ('Beaver') one-man submarine, designed in 1944 to attack Allied coastal shipping and D-Day invasion vessels.  The smallest class of submarine built by the Germans during the Second World War, Bibers were first used operationally, but unsuccessfully, on 29-30 August 1944 to attack Allied ships in the Bay of the Seine.  A total of 324 Bibers were delivered to the German navy, but numerous technical flaws and poor training of their crews meant that these mini-submarines were never a threat to the Allied navies.   

This vessel, Biber No. 90, was discovered by the Royal Navy sinking 49 miles northeast of Dover on 29 December 1944, its crewman apparently killed by carbon monoxide poisoning from an improperly closed engine exhaust system.

A Focke Achgelis Fa330 Bachstelze single-seat gyro kite.  Designed in 1942, the Fa330 could be quickly brought up from inside a U-boat, assembled, and launched.  With a trained crewman in the seat, the Fa330 would be towed by the U-boat on a 150 metre long cable and used to obtain visual sightings from as high as 394 feet above the sea.  A pull cord would typically be used to start the rotor turning.  Although approximately 200 Fa330s were built, only one confirmed sinking is attributable to its use: in 1943, U-177 used its Fa330 to spot, intercept, and sink the Greek vessel Eithalia Mari.          

The remains of the bow section of British midget submarine HMS X7, which was sunk during an attack on the German battleship Tirpitz in a Norwegian fjord in 1943.  Damaged while attempting to leave the scene and forced to surface, only two of X7's four-man crew managed to escape before the submarine sank.  The X-craft were designed to attack enemy shipping in waters unsuitable for conventional submarines, using two 30-foot long crescent-shaped charges carried on the exterior of the midget submarines' hulls and dropped under the target; a diver could also exit the X-craft and place limpet mines on the underwater hulls of enemy vessels.  The X-craft had an endurance of 23 hours submerged at 2 knots, and a maximum diving depth of 300 feet.  The bow section of HMS X7 was discovered by divers in 1974, raised, and gifted to the Imperial War Museum in 1976.  

A Hawker Sea Hawk FB5 single-seat naval fighter-bomber.  The Sea Hawk served in the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm between 1953 and 1960, including with five squadrons based on the carriers HMS Eagle, Bulwark, and Albion during operations in Suez in 1956.  Although retired from UK service in 1960, Sea Hawks continued to be operated by West Germany, India, and the Netherlands.  Powered by a single Rolls-Royce Nene turbojet, the Sea Hawk had a top speed of 901 km/h, a combat range of 1,609 km, and was armed with 500 lbs of bombs or rocket projectiles and four 20mm cannon.  This aircraft, registration WH969, was delivered to the Royal Navy in 1954 and served with 898, 811, and 806 Squadrons aboard various carriers before being assigned to the School of Aircraft Handling in 1964.  It was acquired by IWM Duxford in 1978.    

A de Havilland Sea Vixen FAW2, the Royal Navy's principal carrier-borne fighter of the 1960s.  The Sea Vixen was the final and largest development of de Havilland's Vampire and Venom aircraft.  The cockpit is offset to the left side of the aircraft to provide working space for a radar operator positioned below and to the right of the pilot.  The Sea Vixen was powered by two Rolls-Royce Avon turbojets giving a top speed of 1,038 km/h and a range of 1,287 km.  The Sea Vixen entered Royal Navy service in 1959 and carried an armament load equal to most land-based aircraft of the era.  A total of 146 Sea Vixens were built, and the aircraft saw service in the Persian Gulf in 1961, in the Malaya-Indonesia conflict of 1963-1966, and in the Rhodesian crisis of 1966.  Sea Vixens were retired from service in 1971.  This aircraft, registration XS576, a FAW2 variant, possessed additional fuel capacity in the tail booms and was capable of carrying four Red Top infra-red homing air-to-air missiles on underwing pylons, as well as 28 rocket projectiles on retractable fuselage pods; it entered service with 899 Squadron aboard HMS Eagle in 1965 and served until 1970, after which is was acquired by IWM Duxford in 1972.   

A Hawker-Siddeley Blackburn Buccaneer S2B low-level strike aircraft.  The Buccaneer served in both the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm and the RAF.  In naval service, the aircraft was designed to operate from aircraft carriers, dropping nuclear bombs from low level to avoid enemy air radar; the RAF adopted the Buccaneer after the UK Government's decision to cancel the TSR2 program and to not purchase the American-designed F-111 bomber.  With the scrapping of the Royal Navy's conventional aircraft carriers in 1978, the naval Buccaneers were transferred to the RAF.  Powered by two Rolls-Royce Spey 101 turbofans, the Buccaneer had a top speed of 1,038 km/h, a combat range of up to 4,800 km, and could carry one nuclear bomb or four 454 kg conventional bombs in a rotary bomb bay.    

RAF Buccaneers served during the 1991 Gulf War, using laser designators to mark targets for Panavia Tornado aircraft carrying laser-guided bombs.  Additionally, two squadrons of Buccaneers continued to serve in the maritime reconnaissance role into the 1990s.  This aircraft, registration XV865, was delivered to the Royal Navy in 1968 and served mainly aboard HMS Ark Royal before being transferred to the RAF in 1978 and, in 1998, acquired by IWM Duxford.

A Westland Sea King HAS6 anti-submarine helicopter.  Designed as a long-range, all-weather search and strike aircraft, the Sea King entered Royal Navy service in 1970.  The Sea King's hull is designed to allow landings on water in an emergency, and the RAF uses the Sea King, painted in bright yellow paint, to conduct search and rescue operations.  In the anti-submarine role, the Sea King carries four torpedoes, depth charges, or bombs.  Its Rolls-Royce Gnome turboshaft engines give the Sea King a maximum speed of 208 km/h and a range of 1,230 km.  This aircraft, registration XV712, served with No. 814 Naval Air Squadron from 1990 to 2000 aboard the carrier HMS Invincible, before being acquired by IWM Duxford in 2010.     

A Westland Wasp HAS1 anti-submarine helicopter.  A navalised version of the British Army's Scout helicopter, the Wasp was small enough to operate from the hangars and flight decks of anti-submarine frigates and other small vessels.  Too small to carry submarine detection equipment in addition to its weapons load of torpedoes (two Mk 44 or one Mk 46) or depth charges or missiles, the Wasp was guided onto submarine targets by its parent ship. 

Wasps serving aboard several Royal Navy ships took part in operations during the 1982 Falklands War, including the successful attack on the Argentine submarine Santa Fe, as well as casualty evacuation missions and gunnery observation. This aircraft, registration XS567, entered Royal Navy service in 1964 and was aboard HMS Apollo during the Falklands War, finally being retired from service in 1986.

'Battle of Britain' exhibit

Hangar 4, housing the Battle of Britain exhibit.  As many as 60 aircraft from five squadrons flew from Duxford and its satellite airfield at nearby Fowlmere in the later weeks of the Battle of Britain; collectively, these aircraft were named the 'Duxford Wing' and formed part of RAF Fighter Command's 12 Group, a sector of which was controlled by Duxford.  During the Battle of Britain, 12 Group aircraft were ordered to defend the airfields of 11 Group, located further south, a supporting role that frustrated 12 Group commander Air Vice Marshal Trafford Leigh-Mallory and led him to develop the 'big wing' concept of employing three or more squadrons of aircraft together.

A Royal Aircraft Factory BE2c two-seat reconnaissance aircraft and light bomber of the First World War.  The BE2c was also used to defend the UK against attacks by German bombers and airships.  Although its slow speed rendered the BE2c vulnerable to enemy fighters and forced its withdrawal from the Western Front in 1916, the aircraft met with more success in a defensive role over the UK, where its stability in flight made it a superb night fighter and permitted it to shoot down several German airships.  This aircraft, registration 2699, was likely built in 1916 and served with No. 50 Home Defence Squadron, two Night Fighting Training Squadrons, and No. 51 Squadron, RAF, before being acquired by the Imperial War Museum in 1919 and transferred to IWM Duxford in 2012.   

A Hawker Hurricane, the RAF's principal fighter during the Battle of Britain.  Equipping 32 squadrons during the German aerial assault on Britain in 1940, the Hurricane Mk I was the first single-seat, eight-gun monoplane fighter to enter RAF service, in 1937.  Although slower than Germany's Bf109 fighter, the Hurricane excelled at attacking bombers, with Hurricanes destroying more enemy aircraft in 1940 than all other defences combined.  Two squadrons of Hurricanes, No. 310 and No. 242, operated from Duxford during the Battle of Britain.  This aircraft, is a 1941-vintage Hurricane Mk IIB recovered from a crash site in Russia, though it has been painted to resemble a Hurricane Mk IIA of No. 111 Squadron in 1940.    

A map showing the distribution of Royal Air Force fighter groups, group and sector boundaries, and airfields during the Battle of Britain.  As part of Royal Air Force Fighter Command's 12 Group covering eastern England and the Midlands, RAF Duxford was responsible for the defence of the 'Duxford Sector'. 

A 3.7 inch heavy anti-aircraft gun, which entered service in 1938.  Typically organised in batteries of four guns with associated equipment to provide data on altitude and expected position of enemy aircraft, 3.7 inch anti-aircraft guns pumped huge quantities of shells at German bombers during the Battle of Britain in 1940-1941; however, it was later calculated that it took 18,500 shells to bring down one enemy aircraft.  Later in the war, with enhancements like radar, it took on average only 150 shells to bring down a German V1 flying bomb.  During the Battle of Britain, RAF Duxford was outfitted with at least one heavy anti-aircraft gun site, equipped with First World War-vintage 3-inch guns.   

A Bofors 40mm Mk I light anti-aircraft gun on a Mk II mobile mounting and a Mk I platform.  The 40mm Bofors gun was the most widely used anti-aircraft gun of the Second World War.  Designed in 1928 for the Swedish armed forces, the 40mm Bofors was adopted by the British Army in 1937, with a licence to produce the weapon in the UK.  Its accuracy and high rate of fire made the gun particularly effective against low-flying or dive-bombing aircraft.  This gun was part of an anti-aircraft battery at Sheerness from August 1940 until the end of the war, defending against enemy aircraft flying up the Thames estuary to attack London and towns along the River Medway.  Operated by six men, the 40mm Mk I could fire a 2 lb high explosive shell to a maximum altitude of 23,600 feet.

A diorama depicting a female Air Raid Precautions (ARP) warden setting the blackout time for a bombed-out neighbourhood.  The ARP warden's air raid shelter (green, in foreground), provided some protection during a raid.  The ARP organisation was established in 1937 in anticipation of aerial bombing and even gas attacks if and when war came, and the ARP wardens were charged with giving advice on air raid precautions, issuing gas masks to local residents, supervising shelter construction, checking blackout compliance, and guiding emergency services to the location of bomb hits.  Most ARP wardens were older male part-time volunteers, although some worked full-time and were paid; women also served in the ARP organisation.   

A replica Anderson shelter, the most common air raid shelter in use during the Blitz.  Designed in 1938 and named after Sir John Anderson, the Minister for Air Raid Precautions, more than 2.3 million Anderson shelters were distributed by September 1940.  The six-person shelter consisted of corrugated steel sheets bolted together in a pit measuring 3-4 feet in depth and covered with earth; they could withstand nearly any bomb blast, except for a direct hit.   

A Cierva C30A autogyro used to check the settings of Britain's chain of coastal radar stations.  The RAF's autogyro Radar Calibration Flight was based at Duxford between July 1940 and April 1942.  Given their tight turning radius, the autogyros were well-suited to check and calibrate the settings of vital radar equipment.  The pilot controlled the autogyro from the rear cockpit, with calibration equipment being located in the forward cockpit.   

A diorama showing a crashed German Bf109E fighter being guarded by a member of the Home Guard.  This aircraft on display, 1190, served with German fighter squadron JG 26 during the Battles of France and Britain.  Although it shot down five Allied aircraft, on 30 September 1940, 1190's engine failed in combat and its pilot, Horst Perez, crash landed in a field near East Dean in Sussex.  Perez was shot, wounded, and captured as he climbed out of the aircraft after the crash.

The engine and tail fin of a German Heinkel He111E medium bomber which made an emergency crash landing on the frozen Storvatnet Lake in Norway on 26 April 1940.  These parts of the wreckage were recovered by divers in 1974 and given to the Imperial War Museum.  The He111 suffered from slow speed and poor defensive armament and, as such, suffered a significant number of losses during the Battle of Britain when faced with modern British fighters like the Hurricane and Spitfire.  HE111s were more useful in the night bomber role during attacks against Britain in 1940-41. 

A diorama depicting an early Second World War Royal Observer Corps (ROC) post, from which ROC personnel spotted and plotted enemy aircraft over Britain, given the lack of inland radar coverage in 1940.  Over 1,000 ROC posts reported to Observer Corps Centres, which passed the information to the RAF to direct fighters to intercept the enemy aircraft.  Even after the establishment of inland radar coverage, the ROC continued its work until the end of the war.  

A Nash ambulance, converted from an American-built Nash Ambassador private car into a factory ambulance.  This Nash ambulance was converted by the Bata Shoe Company in East Tilbury, Essex and served as the factory ambulance until 1976. 

A Standard Beaverette, a light armoured vehicle improvised on a Standard Motor Company 14 hp car chassis.  The Beaverette was named after Lord Beaverbrook, the Minister for Aircraft Production, and featured a machine gun and thin armour plating that offered little actual protection to its 2-3 man crew.  Beaverettes were used to guard aircraft factories and other industrial targets, and were used by the RAF as Home Defence reconnaissance cars to guard airfields, including Duxford from 1942 to 1945.  The Beaverette was a desperate stop-gap measure necessary because of the loss of most of the British Army's heavy equipment following the evacuation from Dunkirk in 1940. 

A Pickett-Hamilton fort made of concrete and designed for airfield runway defence.  Retracted into the ground, the Pickett-Hamilton fort did not obstruct airfield operations; during an attack on the airfield, however, the fort would be raised by a hydraulic system and its three-man crew could fire at attacking aircraft with a light machine gun.  Problems with waterlogging rendered the Pickett-Hamilton forts largely ineffective.  This fort was originally installed at RAF West Malling in Kent; no Pickett-Hamilton forts have been discovered at Duxford.

A German V1 flying bomb on a single section of its long launching ramp.  The steam driven launching ramp would send the primitive cruise missile into the air, after which the V1's Argus pulse jet-motor would activate and propel it at 640 km/h using pre-set controls to deliver it to its intended target, up to 250 kilometres away.  The flying bomb was set to nosedive onto its target, with its 1,870 lb warhead exploding automatically to cause maximum damage.   

A front view of the V1 flying bomb on its elevated launching ramp.  Although over 10,000 V1s were launched against Britain from sites along the French and Dutch coasts, RAF fighters and anti-aircraft guns managed to knock down all but 3,000, which got through to their targets.  Still, over 6,000 Britons were killed in London and other cities by the 3,000 that got through the air defences.  At the peak of V1 operations, more than 100 of the flying bombs were launched against southeast England every day.  Flying bomb attacks against England ceased after Allied forces overran the launching sites within range of British targets in October 1944, though the Germans continued to launch V1s against Antwerp and other targets in Belgium until late March 1945.

Cold War Aviation exhibit

A de Havilland Vampire T11 jet trainer used by the RAF in the 1950s.  Derived from the Vampire fighter, the T11 trainer entered service in 1952 and served as the RAF's standard advanced jet trainer for student pilots.  Fighter squadrons were also issued with T11s to check pilot skills and to run errands between airfields.  The T11 featured a pressurised cockpit, ejection seats, and armament of twin 20mm cannon, rockets, and bombs.  This aircraft, registration WZ590, was delivered to the RAF in 1953 and served with No. 5 Flying Training School (1959) and No. 8 Flying Training School (1962) before being donated to the Imperial War Museum by Hawker Siddeley Aviation Ltd in 1973.

A Hawker Hunter F6A, the RAF's principal fighter-interceptor in the 1950s and main ground attack aircraft in the 1960s.  The Hunter entered RAF service in the fighter-interceptor role in 1954 and served in this capacity until the introduction of the supersonic English Electric Lightning in the early 1960s.  The F6 variant of the Hunter was the most widely produced, with RAF day fighter squadrons in Europe being equipped with the F6 in the late 1950s, including No. 65 Squadron based at RAF Duxford.  The Hunter was ideally suited for aerobatics, serving with the RAF's Black Arrows and Blue Diamonds aerobatics teams.  The ground attack FGA9 variant of the Hawker Hunter remained in front-line RAF service until 1971, being used in Aden, Kuwait, and the Far East.

XE627 was built in 1956 as a Hawker Hunter F6 variant and served in a number of squadrons, including No. 65 Squadron at RAF Duxford.  Later converted to F6A standard in 1975, XE627 was acquired by IWM Duxford in 1986.

A Gloster Javelin FAW9, the RAF's main all-weather fighter between 1956 and 1964.  The Javelin was the world's first twin-engine, delta-wing fighter, and was capable of operating at high altitudes over an extended range and in all types of weather.  Entering service with No. 46 Squadron in February 1956, Javelin FAW7 and FAW9 variants served with No. 64 Squadron at RAF Duxford between 1958 and 1961.  The Javelin was replaced in front-line service by the supersonic English Electric Lightning in the early 1960s and finally withdrawn from service in 1968.  This aircraft, registration XH897, was built as a FAW7 variant and later converted to FAW9 standard.  After service with various squadrons, it became a test aircraft in 1965 and, in 1968, transferred to Boscombe Down, where it was used for several test programs, including that developing the Concorde supersonic airliner.  It was acquired by the Imperial War Museum in 1974.    

A Gloster Meteor, the RAF's first jet fighter and its main fighter from 1950 to 1955.  The Meteor F8 (the variant on display here) entered RAF service in 1950 and became the mainstay of Fighter Command's Home Defence Squadrons, including Nos. 64 and 65 Squadrons based at RAF Duxford.  This aircraft, registration WK991, served with No. 56 Squadron in the late 1950s. 

A Rapier low-level air defence guided missile system, introduced into service with the British Army and RAF in 1971 and still in use today.  The British Aircraft Corporation began developing the Rapier in 1961 as a supersonic anti-aircraft guided missile system, with test firings being conducted in 1965.  Later models of the Rapier with improved electronics, fire units, and optical and radar trackers were developed in the 1980s and 1990s.  With the addition of the Blindfire radar tracker, the Rapier transitioned from a fair weather, daylight weapon system to an all-weather day and night weapon.  Rapier units were deployed during the Falklands War in 1982, as well as the 1991 Gulf War and the 2003 Iraq War.  This Rapier Field Standard B (FSB) unit was acquired by IWM Duxford in 2002.

A Bristol Bloodhound Mk I surface-to-air guided missile used by the RAF for high-level, long-range defence against Soviet bombers.  The Bloodhound began development in 1949, and the Mk I missile entered service with RAF Fighter Command Air Defence Missile Squadrons in 1958, intended to shoot down Soviet bombers before they could reach Thor ballistic missile bases or the airfields housing the RAF's strategic nuclear V-bombers.  When an enemy aircraft was detected by a ground control radar, the Bloodhound would be launched from the ground using four Gosling booster rockets which were ejected once achieving supersonic speed.  Powered for the rest of its flight by two Mach 2 Bristol Siddeley Thor ramjets, the Bloodhound would home in on the enemy aircraft using a nose-mounted scanner to pick up the radar signal reflected off the enemy aircraft.  The Bloodhound missile was never used in action, but was assessed as very accurate in test firings; an improved Mk II variant was introduced in 1962, and ongoing improvements were made to the missile before its withdrawal from service in 1993.  This cutaway version Bloodhound was acquired by IWM Duxford in 1975.

A McDonnell Douglas FGR.2 (F-4M) Phantom fighter/ground attack/reconnaissance aircraft.  In the late 1960s, the UK purchased versions of the American-designed F-4J aircraft then in service with the United States Navy, the main differences being the use of Rolls-Royce Spey 202 engines and UK-designed avionics.  The Phantom eventually equipped approximately 15 RAF squadrons, many based in Germany.  This aircraft, registration XV474, was delivered to the RAF on 25 June 1969 and served with various squadrons until its final assignment to No. 74 Squadron ('Tiger Squadron') on 2 April 1992.  With No. 74 Squadron's disbandment in October 1992, XV474 was retired from service and was acquired by IWM Duxford in 2010.

A Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG 21 (NATO codename 'Fishbed') supersonic fighter.  The single-engine MiG 21 was designed to fly faster than any other production aircraft when it entered service in 1959, achieving Mach 2 in flight.  The small size of the airframe limited available space for radar equipment and fuel.  Approximately 10,000 licensed and non-licensed MiG 21s have been built, and the aircraft has served in the air forces of 33 countries.  This aircraft, 501, served in the Hungarian Air Force and was donated to the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund before coming to IWM Duxford in 1997.   

A Westland Lynx AH7 multi-role helicopter, in service with the British Army Air Corps and Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm since 1977.  With the Army Air Corps, the Lynx transports troops, performs reconnaissance tasks, and attacks ground targets (this latter task has now been assumed by the Apache attack helicopter).  In Fleet Air Arm service, the Lynx operates from destroyers and frigates, transporting Royal Marines and attacking enemy ships and submarines (this latter task has now been assumed by the Merlin helicopter).  The Lynx is very manoeuvrable and holds the world helicopter speed record (400.87 km/h) set in 1986.  This aircraft, registration XZ194, was built as an AH1 variant and entered service in 1979.  After conversion to AH7 standard in 1992, XZ194 served with 9 Regiment of the Army Air Corps, the helicopter unit attached to 16 Air Assault Brigade, and then transferred to the School of Army Aviation, followed by service with 7 Regiment of the Army Air Corps, the main helicopter pilot training unit.  Retired from service in 2012, XZ194 was acquired by IWM Duxford in April 2013.      

A Eurofighter Typhoon, the RAF's current fighter tasked with defending UK airspace.  Designed originally in the 1980s by a UK-German-Italian-Spanish consortium as a supersonic fighter-interceptor to shoot down enemy bombers, the Typhoon has subsequently been developed into a multi-role fighter also capable of ground attack missions.  Making its first flight on 29 March 1994, the Typhoon entered RAF service in 2006 and the aircraft is also now operated by the air forces of Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.  Powered by two Eurojet EJ200 afterburning turbofans providing a top speed of Mach 2, the Typhoon has a range of 2,900 km and is equipped with a 27 mm Mauser BK-27 revolver cannon with 150 rounds and 13 under-wing and under-fuselage hardpoints for up to 19,800 lbs of missiles (air-to-air and air-to-surface), bombs, targeting pods, and/or fuel drop tanks.         

IWM Duxford's Eurofighter Typhoon, registration ZH590, is the fourth of seven development aircraft built to undertake tests during the Eurofighter development program.  It was the first British-built two-seat Typhoon and also the first British-built Typhoon fitted with EJ200 engines.  ZH590 first flew in 1997 and was transferred to IWM Duxford by the Ministry of Defence in 2009.

Examples of Historic Buildings at IWM Duxford

Building 61, the former Station Offices of RAF Duxford, built in 1933 to a 1930 design by the Air Ministry’s Directorate of Works and Buildings.  The building is a good example of the headquarters buildings designed during the post-1923 expansion of the RAF spearheaded by Marshal of the Royal Air Force Lord Hugh Trenchard.  Building 61 is Grade II listed.

Building 63, the former Main Stores building of RAF Duxford, built in 1917 by the War Office’s Directorate of Fortifications and Works.  Building 63 is Grade II listed.

Buildings 55, 57, and 58, built by the War Office’s Directorate of Fortifications and Works  in 1917-18 for photographic reconnaissance training, gunnery and navigation training, and as workshops.  They are all Grade II listed.

RAF Duxford Operations Block

The door to the Operations Room in Building 59, the Operations Block.  The Operations Block was built in 1928 in a style resembling a hipped roof bungalow surrounded by earth blast walls.  The stark, utilitarian design is typical of those buildings constructed by the Air Ministry's Directorate of Works and Buildings as part of the post-1923 expansion of the RAF under Chief of the Air Staff Lord Trenchard.  Duxford's Operations Block is considered the best-surviving example of a pre-Second World War Operations Block, and is Grade II listed.  Duxford's Operations Room was the Sector G Operations Room of No. 12 Group of RAF Fighter Command.

Looking down into the pit of Duxford's Operations Room, reconstructed to appear as it did during the Battle of Britain in 1940.  Such rooms were just one of the components of the operational infrastructure to permit effective and efficient deployment of fighter defences which were put in place by Sir Hugh Dowding, Air Officer Commanding Fighter Command, beginning in 1936.  Duxford's Operations Room controlled fighters assigned to its sector of 12 Group's area of responsibility, while an underground Operations Room at 12 Group Headquarters maintained control over all sectors within its area of responsibility, and the Filter Room at Fighter Command Headquarters at Bentley Priory, Stanmore oversaw the country's fighter defence system.  Access to the Operations Room in 1940 was restricted to Operations staff or permit holders only, with an armed army sentry posted outside the door and a RAF sentry with a revolver posted inside the door to ensure that unauthorised persons were kept out.

In the Operations Room, staff monitored air raids and coordinated the tactical deployment of fighters to intercept enemy aircraft.  Using a radio-telephone, the Controller's role was to talk Duxford's fighters into the best possible position to intercept enemy raids.  The airman called 'Ops A' took action messages from 12 Group Headquarters, while another airman, 'Ops B' was responsible for communications with Duxford airfield and with the satellite airfield at nearby Fowlmere, passing on orders to the squadrons, updating squadron information, and liaising with other RAF units.  An RAF Non-Commissioned Officer was in charge of the Operations Room, while an Army officer provided a liaison between the RAF and anti-aircraft gun and searchlight batteries.  Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) personnel manned the large plotting table in the centre of the Operations Room and maintained an updated picture of enemy air raids based on reports received via headset from Observer Corps and radar stations; the plotting table therefore provided the Controller an up-to-date picture of what was occurring in the air, including where raids were occurring and where friendly aircraft were.     

The raid reporting and fighter control system developed by Fighter Command beginning in 1936 was crucial to success in the Battle of Britain.  Although this system was still in its early stages when the Battle of Britain began in 1940, it nevertheless allowed the Air Officer Commanding Fighter Command, Sir Hugh Dowding, to make best use of his scant fighter resources to intercept incoming German air raids.

Alongside Duxford Airfield

Duxford's Control Tower/Watch Office, designed in 1934 in response to the development of radio communications and more complex airfield management practices that necessitated airfield control from a single centre.  One of 160 such control towers built by the Air Ministry’s Directorate of Works and Buildings, of which 82 survive.  The Control Tower is Grade II listed.

A Consolidated PBY Catalina flying boat painted in the livery of the United States Army Air Force's 5th Emergency Rescue Squadron, 8th Air Force, based in Halesworth, Suffolk in early 1945 and used for air-sea rescue work in the North Sea.  The aircraft itself was built by Canadian Vickers in Cartierville, Quebec for the Royal Canadian Air Force and entered service in October 1943, based in British Columbia for anti-submarine patrol duty.  The aircraft was finally retired from military service in 1961 and sold to a commercial operator and converted into a fire-fighting water bomber.  Later, the aircraft was operated as a water bomber by the Province of Saskatchewan.  The Catalina Society acquired the aircraft in 2004.      

One of a pair of de Havilland DH.89 Dragon Rapide aircraft operated by Classic Wings, which take paying visitors on short sightseeing flights around the airfield.  The DH.89 was designed by de Havilland as a short-haul biplane airliner, making its first flight on 17 April 1934.  Built out of plywood, the DH.89 could carry 6-8 passengers, and enjoyed significant export sales to commercial operators in the 1930s.  When the Second World War broke out, a large number of civilian Dragon Rapides were requisitioned by the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy, redesignated as the de Havilland Dominie and used for radio and navigation training, passenger transport, and communications missions.  Hundreds of additional Dominies were built during the war, bringing the total number of Dragon Rapides and Dominies constructed to 727 by the time production ended in July 1946.  

The DH.89 Dragon Rapide taxies past a Supermarine Spitfire TR 9 trainer, also owned and operated by Classic Wings and used for tourist flights.  

A closer look at Classic Wings' Supermarine Spitfire TR 9, a post-war two-seat trainer aircraft.   A yellow, 1942-vintage de Havilland DH.82A Tiger Moth operated by Classic Wings can be seen in the background. 

Commercial Airliner Collection

A lineup of classic British airliner tails in famous liveries: from front to rear, a British Airways BAC One-Eleven; A British European Airways Hawker Siddeley Trident 2E; a British Overseas Airways Corporation BAC Super VC10; and a Monarch Airlines Bristol Britannia 312.

An Airspeed Ambassador, a piston-engined airliner used on European routes in the 1950s and the last surviving example of this type of aircraft.  The Ambassador entered service with British European Airways (BEA) in March 1952 and proved popular with passengers due to its luxurious seating and pressurised cabin, and the airline reintroduced the 'Silver Wing' to Paris previously provided by Imperial Airways before the war, with passengers boarding the aircraft from a red carpet lined by saluting ground crew.  Between March 1952 and July 1958, BEA's Ambassadors carried 2.5 million passengers on European routes.

The Ambassador was powered by two Bristol Centaurus 661 18-cylinder radial engines, giving the aircraft a top speed of 502 km/h or a cruising speed of 408 km/h.  The aircraft's maximum weight was 52,500 lbs, and it carried a crew of three and 47 passengers.    

This aircraft, registraion G-ALZO, was delivered to British European Airways in 1952.  As all of the airline's Ambassadors were named after eminent Elizabethans, G-ALZO was named 'Christopher Marlowe', the playwright and poet (1564-1593).  G-ALZO was sold to the Royal Jordanian Air Force in 1960 and, in 1963, to British airline Dan-Air.  In 1986, Dan-Air donated the aircraft to the Duxford Aviation Society.

A Vickers Viscount 701, in British European Airways (BEA) livery.  A popular airliner due to its pressurised cabin, air-conditioning, comparatively short landing run, and quiet turboprop engines, the Viscount prototype first flew in 1948 and the production model achieved significant sales, including in North America, a market dominated by American-designed aircraft.  The 700 series Viscount entered BEA service in April 1953, seating up to 63 passengers, with a crew of three.  Its four 1,550 horsepower Rolls-Royce Dart 506 turboprops permitted the aircraft to reach a maximum speed of 517 km/h and a maximum altitude of 28,500 feet.  Eventually, 444 Vickers Viscounts were manufactured, the last one being delivered in 1964, and the type was flown by over 60 airlines in 40 countries.

Duxford's Viscount, registration G-ALWF, was delivered to British European Airways in 1953 and subsequently served with Channel Airways after 1964 and with Cambrian Airways until 1971.  G-ALWF was preserved by the Viscount Preservation Trust in Liverpool until 1978, after which it was acquired by the Duxford Aviation Society and brought to IWM Duxford.  It is the oldest surviving Viscount in the world and has featured in several episodes of the Netflix series, 'The Crown'.

A Britten-Norman Trislander, an 18-seat short-haul airliner powered by three piston engines.  A total of 72 Trislanders were built between 1970 and 1980.  Possessing exceptional low speed handling, the Trislander could take off on short and unprepared airstrips.  This aircraft, registration G-BEVT, was built in 1977, and delivered to Aurigny Air Services, based on Guernsey, flying routes between the Channel Islands and to France.  Aurigny Air Services operated six Trislanders, this aircraft being retired from service in 2016.  It was donated to the Duxford Aviation Society and arrived at IWM Duxford on 21 June 2017. 

The Bristol Britannia 312 long-range airliner, nicknamed the 'Whispering Giant' because of its quiet exterior noise and smooth flying.  Developed in the late 1940s for Britain's 'Empire routes' to Africa and the Far East, the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) acquired 15 of the early 90-seat Britannias in 1957 and 18 of the Britannia Series 312 beginning in 1959.       

The Britannia carried 139 passengers and four to five crew, at a maximum speed of 647 km/h and a typical cruising speed of 571 km/h.  In the 1950s and 1960s, the Britannia was popular with passengers due to its comfortable cabin and with airlines due to its economic operating costs.    

A closeup view of two of the Britannia's four Bristol Siddeley Proteus 765 turboprop engines, each generating 4,460 horsepower.  Engine inlet icing problems delayed development of the Britannia and, by the time the aircraft began entering service in 1957, jet-powered commercial aircraft were beginning to dominate the market.  As such, only 85 Bristol Britannias were ever constructed, with production ending in 1960.  The Royal Air Force's Transport Command also operated 23 of the Britannia C1 (military) variant between 1959 and 1976.

The Bristol Britannia 312 measured 124 feet 3 inches long, with a wingspan of 146 feet 3 inches.  It long endurance allowed BOAC to fly the Britannia Series 312 on non-stop transatlantic routes, principally between London and New York.  This aircraft, registration G-AOVT, was delivered to BOAC in early 1959 and flew on the London-New York route for four years, before being sold to British Eagle Airways for charter service between 1963 and 1969.  Sold to Monarch Airways, the aircraft operated holiday package flights until February 1975.  Monarch donated the aircraft to the Duxford Aviation Society and the aircraft flew into IWM Duxford on 29 June 1975.   

The Handley Page Herald 200, powered by two Rolls-Royce Dart 527 turboprops and seating up to 56 passengers and two crew.  An earlier, 44-seat version, the Herald 100, entered service in 1961, with the main production version, the Herald 200, being introduced the next year.  Despite its exceptional short field performance and superb flight handling, Handley Page's original decision to equip the Herald with four proven but inefficient piston-powered engines instead of the novel, but untried turboprops put the Herald at a serious disadvantage when airlines began opting for turboprop-powered aircraft.  Although the Herald was redesigned with two turboprops in place of four piston engines, the delay put the Herald at a major disadvantage and only 50 Heralds of all types were built before production ceased in 1968.     

This Herald 200, registration G-APWJ, made 44,000 flights over its 22-year service life, carrying two million passengers between Britain and the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, and France.  Over its 22 years in service, G-APWJ operated with British United (Channel Island) Airways, British United Island Airways, British Island Airways, and AirUK before being donated by AirUK to the Duxford Aviation Society in July 1985.

The British Aircraft Corporation Super VC10 narrow-body, long-range airliner, with a range of 7,450 km (4,630 miles) at a cruising speed of 914 km/h.  Although the cabin was quiet and vibration-free, higher operating costs in relation to competitor aircraft meant that the VC10 was never a commercial success for its manufacturer and failed to secure large orders from any airline other than the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC).  Only 54 VC10s of all types were ever built.  The Super VC10, carrying up to 174 passengers and three to five crew, entered service in 1965.  Although VC10s were used on all of BOAC's long-distance routes by the time VC10 production ceased in 1969, by the early 1970s BOAC had adopted the 747 on these routes and the VC10s were relegated to less busy routes until their retirement in the late 1970s.        

The Super VC10's four rear-mounted Rolls-Royce Conway 550 turbofans generated 22,500 lbs thrust each and gave the aircraft good aerodynamic performance.  This permitted shorter takeoff runs and operation in 'hot and high' (high temperature and altitude) locations, such as those prevailing at many African airports.  In addition to service with the British Overseas Airways Corporation, VC10s were operated by airlines in Ghana, Nigeria, Malawi, Lebanon, Bahrain, and Ceylon.  Royal Air Force Support Command also operated 14 VC10s from 1966 for long-distance troop and freight transport and, in 1984, acquired 14 more ex-airline VC10s for conversion to aerial tankers, the last of which was retired from service on 20 September 2013.

Duxford's Super VC10, registration G-ASGC, entered BOAC service on 30 April 1965 and served until 1979, logging 54,622 flight hours during 16,415 flights.  The aircraft was donated to the Duxford Aviation Society by BOAC successor British Airways and flown to IWM Duxford for display in April 1980.

The Hawker Siddeley Trident 2E.  The Trident was originally designed in response to British European Airways' (BEA) 1956 requirement for a short-haul 'second generation jet airliner' for use on internal UK and European routes as a complement to BEA's fleet of turboprop airliners.  The first production variant, the 88-seat Trident 1C, made its maiden flight on 9 January 1962 and entered service on 1 April 1964.  The 115-seat Trident 2E, with uprated engines, a higher gross weight, greater fuel capacity, larger wing, and longer range made its maiden flight on 27 July 1967 and entered service with BEA in April 1968.  The 2E variant was the most produced model of the Trident, with 50 being manufactured.

British European Airways operated 15 of the Trident 2E variant, while Cyprus Airways purchased two and CAAC Airlines of China purchased 33.  A total of 117 Tridents of all variants were constructed.  With the introduction of new noise restrictions for commercial airliners in the 1980s, British Airways (successor to BEA) opted to retire its Trident fleet by the middle of the decade, as modifications to comply with the noise restrictions were considered uneconomical; however, CAAC Airlines continued to operate its Tridents, finally retiring its Trident fleet in the early 1990s.       

The Trident 2E measured 114 feet 9 inches in length, with a wingspan of 98 feet.  Perhaps the most novel aspect of the Trident was its automatic blind landing system, developed by Hawker Siddeley and Smiths Aircraft Instruments.  The 'autoland' system used the ground-based Instrument Landing System (ILS) to reduce the height at which a decision to land had to be made and the distance of runway that had to be visible.  The Trident performed the first automatic landing of a commercial airliner in revenue service on 10 June 1965 and the first genuinely blind landing in scheduled passenger service on 4 November 1966.  The autoland system allowed Tridents to operate at ILS-equipped airports even in foggy weather that forced the cancellation or diversion of flights by other types of aircraft. 

The Trident was one of the fastest subsonic commercial airliners, regularly cruising at 965 km/h.  The Trident 2E was powered by three Rolls-Royce Spey 512 5W turbofans,  each producing 11,960 lbs thrust.  The aircraft's maximum speed was 981 km/h, with an economical cruising speed of 853 km/h.  Range with maximum load was 3,910 km (2,430 miles).

Visitors to IWM Duxford may climb aboard the Trident 2E to view the cabin interior, learn about the design, technology, and history of the Hawker Siddeley Trident and British European Airways, and talk to museum volunteers.

A view of Tourist Class seating in the Trident 2E.  The foreground row shows a typical Tourist Class tray setting.  

Passenger capacity on the Trident 2E was typically 103 in six-abreast configuration; however, as many as 149 passengers could be accommodated in high-density, seven-abreast layouts.

A display of British European Airways route maps and other promotional material from the 1960s and 1970s.  BEA launched its 'unequivocally privileged' Sovereign Service (First Class service) aboard the Trident fleet in 1966.  Advertising claimed that the Trident's modern air-conditioning left the cabin 'spring-air fresh', that the quiet cabin 'must be unheard to be believed', and that the aircraft's first class seats were 'the most versatile, comfortable chair that man has ever designed'.    

A view of the cockpit of the Trident 2E.  All First Officers aboard Tridents were licensed in both the co-pilot and flight engineer positions.  Unless there was a specific training or other requirement for one pilot to be in a particular seat, the two qualified First Officers would toss a coin to determine who sat where for the first sector of the flight, alternating seats for each sector thereafter.  The large square in the centre of the instrument panel is a moving map display, on which the momentary position of the aircraft relative to the ground was shown, with a stylus recording the aircraft's track on the motor-driven paper map.   

Note the Trident's unconventional, offset nose landing gear, which was positioned 24 inches left of the centreline of the fuselage and which retracted sidways in order to provide sufficient space for the sophisticated avionics and autoland system installed in an equipment bay below the cockpit.  This Trident 2E, registration G-AVFB, entered service with British European Airways in June 1968 and was leased to Cyprus Airways in June 1972.  Superficially damaged at Nicosia Airport during a Turkish uprising in Northern Cyprus in 1974, the aircraft was returned to BEA's successor, British Airways, in 1977 under the terms of the lease and repaired, subsequently being flown on Heathrow 'shuttle' services to major UK cities.  G-AVFB made its last commercial flight on 27 March 1982 and was then donated by British Airways to the Duxford Aviation Society, flying to IWM Duxford on 13 June 1982.  In 1990, G-AVFB was repainted in early-style red block BEA livery.    

The British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) One-Eleven 510, the first British-designed short-haul jet airliner.  Designed as the successor to the Vickers Viscount turboprop airliner, the prototype One-Eleven first flew in 1963.  The One-Eleven Series 200 entered service with British European Airways (BEA) and British United Airways on UK domestic and European routes in 1965, and the larger Series 300 entered service with American Airlines the same year.  In 1968, the even larger Series 500 variant entered service with BEA.  Ideally suited for short-haul flights due to its integral boarding stairs (requiring no ground equipment to load and unload), the One-Eleven often completed 10 flights per day in service on domestic US routes.           

Two rear fuselage-mounted Rolls-Royce Spey 511-14D turbofans produced 12,000 lbs of thrust each and propelled the One-Eleven to a maximum speed of 871 km/h over a range of 3,484 km (2,165 miles) and at an altitude of 35,000 feet.  The One-Eleven 512 carried 97-109 passengers and two crew.

A total of 245 BAC One-Elevens were manufactured before production ceased in 1982.  This One-Eleven 512, registration G-AVMU, was delivered to British European Airways in 1969 and used on domestic UK and German routes until October 1992, completing 45,540 flights in its 23 year service life.  It was donated to the Duxford Aviation Society and was flown to IWM Duxford in March 1993.     

Duxford Grounds

A 9.2 inch coastal defence gun, one of many installed throughout the British Empire in the early 20th century and used to defend strategically important coastal sites from the heavy guns of battleships.  The 9.2 inch gun could fire two to three shells a minute out to a range of 25.6 km (16 miles).  This particular gun was originally installed at the Spur Battery on Gibraltar in 1902, located 1,130 feet above sea level and 250 feet below the summit of the Rock of Gibraltar.  Its only major engagement was the shelling of German submarines sighted off the coast on 15 December 1915.  The original gun barrel was replaced in 1929 and additional armour and a new control system was installed in 1935.  The gun was last fired by the Gibraltar Regiment in 1973, lobbing 29 shells at a towed target offshore; Exocet missile systems replaced the gun on Gibraltar, and the gun was dismantled by the Royal Engineers and relocated to IWM Duxford in 1982.          

A replica German V1 flying bomb mounted on a section of actual launching ramp.  

A view down the V1 launching ramp.  The full ramp was nearly 140 feet long, and was angled up six degrees.  This ramp is a composite, pieced together from sections of various V1 launching ramps brought to the UK after the Second World War and used for experiments and assessments before being abandoned.  A number of ramp sections were brought to IWM Duxford in the 1980s, restored, and assembled for this display.   

The exterior of the American Air Museum at IWM Duxford.  Given RAF Duxford's use by the U.S. Army Air Forces during the Second World War, IWM Duxford began collecting iconic American military aircraft in the late 1970s and, in 1989, a fundraising campaign began to raise money for the construction of a hall to house the growing collection.  Money was raised from 50,000 donors in the United States; through various fundraising events in Houston, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles; from a grant by the UK Heritage Lottery Fund; and from Saudi Arabia.  Ground was broken on the Sir Norman Foster-designed American Air Museum on 8 September 1995 and the 70,000 square foot building was opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 1 August 1997.  (Time constraints during the visit to Duxford and focus on UK aviation history precluded a visit inside during this trip.)   

Land Warfare Hall

Looking down one side of the Land Warfare Hall from the upper mezzanine level.  Upon entering the hall, visitors proceed down stairs to the left into the First and Second World War galleries, proceeding along a chronological series of displays that finish up with the Cold War vehicles display (seen in this photo).

A British six-inch heavy howitzer, the standard--but already obsolete--heavy howitzer used by British forces during the First World War.  This particular gun fired over 1,500 rounds between June 1915 and February 1916.

A British 18 pounder quick firing gun, the standard field gun of the British Army throughout the First World War and used in all the main theatres of action.

Displayed in the 'Desert War' section of the Second World War exhibit is a British AEC Matador Medium Artillery Tractor.  The Matador was designed to tow medium artillery weapons and house the gun crews, and was used throughout the Second World War.

Towed by the AEC Matador gun tractor is a 4.5 inch medium gun.  Although used throughout the Second World War, the 4.5 inch gun ammunition contained an insufficient quantity of explosive and the 4.5 inch gun was declared obsolete in 1945 and gradually replaced by the newer 5.5 inch gun.

A Valentine Mk III infantry tank in desert paint scheme, as used in the North African Campaign (1940-1943).  Designed in 1938, more than 8,000 Valentine tanks were produced in the UK and under licence in Canada between 1940 and 1944, comprising 11 different variants, as well as specialised versions such as a mine flail, armoured bridge layer, flame thrower, etc.  The main armament of the original Valentines was a quick firing 2-pounder gun, although later models carried a quick firing 6-pounder gun, quick firing 75mm gun, and quick firing 76mm gun.  Armour ranged in thickness from eight to 65mm. 

A German 10.5cm leichte Feldhaubitze (light field howitzer), the standard field howitzer of the German Army in the Second World War.  Designed by Rheinmetall in the late 1920s and entering Germany Army service in 1935, the 10.5cm howitzer could fire a 32.7 lb high explosive shell up to 10,675 metres, at a rate of fire of 6-8 rounds per minute.  Between 1935 and 1945, 11,795 10.5cm light field howitzers were manufactured, and the type was also used by Sweden, Bulgaria, Finland, Hungary, Norway, Portugal, the Republic of China, the Slovak Republic, and Francoist Spain. 

A Morris Quad field artillery tractor, specifically designed to tow the 25 pounder gun into action.  The tractor carried 96 artillery shells for its towed gun, as well as an additional 36 shells in a trailer.

The American-designed M3A3 Grant tank used by Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery during the Battle of El Alamein, 1-27 July 1942.  To make room for the additional communications equipment required for Monty to command the battle, the tank's 37mm gun barrel (in the upper turret) was removed and replaced by a wooden dummy so as not to give away to the enemy the fact that this tank was being used as a mobile command post.  This vehicle was previously displayed at the Imperial War Museum in London, but moved to Duxford during the redesign of the London branch of the IWM.

A Soviet T34/85 medium tank is displayed in a tableau depicting a Soviet offensive through a badly damaged German village, with the Soviet tank commander pointing a target out to an infantryman riding on the tank's outer hull.  The T34 possessed an admirable combination of speed, manouevrability, armour protection, and firepower.  Production of the T34/85 commenced in February 1944 and the tank was armed with an 85mm gun and protected by armour ranging in thickness from 15mm to 60mm.  By the time production of the T34/85 ended in 1945, a total of 22,559 had been built.

With the Soviet T34/85 tank in the background, this tableau depicts a German infantryman concealed behind the wall of a destroyed house, with an abandoned German 8.8cm FlaK 37 anti-aircraft gun sitting nearby.  Although designed as an anti-aircraft weapon, the 8.8cm gun proved superbly-suited in the anti-tank role as well.  The 8.8cm gun was designed by German armaments manufacturer Krupp in 1928 and served in the German forces from 1936 to 1945, as well as in the forces of several other countries, including Finland, Greece, Spain, the Republic of China, and Greece.  Over 21,000 8.8cm guns were manufactured before the end of production in 1945.  The 8.8cm gun could fire 15-20 rounds per minute with a muzzle velocity of 2,690 feet per second and an effective range against ground targets of 16,860 metres (16,250 yards).     

A Soviet Josef Stalin IS-2 heavy tank, a late war (1944) model possessing improved single casting hull of 120mm angled at 60 degrees.  Armed with a 122mm gun with 28 rounds of ammunition and weighing 46 tonnes, the IS-2 was powered by a 600 horsepower diesel engine which gave the tank a top speed of 37km/h.  It was operated by a crew of four.  The IS-2 played a leading role in the Soviet offensives in 1944-45 which smashed open the path to Berlin.   

A Tatra OT-810 armoured personnel carrier, a post-war Czechoslovakian version of the German Sonderkraftfahrzeug (Sd.Kfz.) 251.  These half-track vehicles were designed to carry mechanised infantry (panzer grenadiers) into battle, with a capacity for 10 soldiers and two vehicle operators protected behind armour ranging in thickness from 6mm to 14.5mm.  The vehicle had a top speed of 52.5 km/h.  The differences between the Czechoslovakian model and the original German Sd.Kfz. 251 included the use of an air-cooled diesel engine and the inclusion of an armoured roof over the troop compartment.    

A Jagdpanther ('hunting panther') tank destroyer, introduced into service in 1944 and a participant in the battles on the Eastern and Western Fronts. The most successful German tank destroyer of the Second World War, the version at IWM Duxford is an early production variant, evident from the Zimmerit anti-magnetic mine coating applied to the exterior.  The Jagdpanther combined the chassis of the Panther tank with the 8.8cm KwK 43 cannon of the Tiger II tank, mounted in a turretless, fixed casemate.  Production of the Jagdpanther commenced in January 1944, with 415 being completed before the end of the war.  Crewed by five men, the Jagdpanther was protected by armour ranging in thickness from 40mm (rear) to 100mm (mantlet), and powered by a 690 horsepower Maybach petrol engine giving a top speed of 46 km/h.  Although British forces first encountered very small numbers of the Jagdpanther (operated by the German Army's 654th Heavy Antitank Battalion) in the Battle of Normandy, it wasn't until the December 1944 Ardennes offensive that Allied forces encountered larger concentrations of the vehicle.

A German 5cm Pak 38L/60 anti-tank gun and a German Sturmgeschütz III assault gun.  The 5cm Pak 38L served in all theatres of the Second World War from 1940 onwards, and it was the only German anti-tank gun capable of penetrating the thick armour of the Soviet T-34 tank in 1941-42.  The Sturmgeschütz III was designed to provide mobile artillery support to attacking infantry, but also replaced tanks lost in battle in German panzer divisions and served in the anti-tank role.  Over 10,000 Sturmgeschütz III were built for service in the German Army between 1940 and 1945; however, Sturmgeschütz IIIs were also employed by Syrian forces as late as the 1967 Six Day War against Israel.  The Sturmgeschütz III weighed 23.9 tonnes, and was operated by a crew of four.  With armour ranging in thickness from 16mm to 80mm, the Sturmgeschütz III was armed with a 7.5cm KwK 40 gun with 54 rounds, and powered by a 296 horsepower Maybach petrol engine giving a top speed of 40 km/h.     

A tableau depicting a Burmese village, where a British soldier is taking a break beside an abandoned Japanese 75mm mountain gun while two Indian soldiers of the The Border Regiment (17 Indian Division) pass by with an ammunition-laden mule en route for the front line.  Beginning in November 1944, the British 14th Army pushed Japanese forces out of the jungles and mountains of northwest Burma, pursuing them into the central part of the country; however, the last remnants of Japanese forces in Burma did not surrender until 28 August 1945.

An A34 Comet tank, a late Second World War model sporting a new 77mm high velocity gun and capable of penetrating the armour of German Panther and Tiger tanks.  The Comet was protected by armour ranging in thickness from 32mm to 102mm, and was powered by a 600 horsepower Rolls-Royce Meteor V12 petrol engine giving the tank a top speed of 51 km/h and an operational range of 198 km on roads.  Delivery of production model Comets did not commence until September 1944, thus the tank did not see widespread combat service before the war ended.

A top down view of the A34 Comet on display in the Land Warfare Hall, nicknamed Gynaeolater.  The Comet was one of the best British tanks of the Second World War and remained in British service until 1958, serving in the Korean War; however, some Comets exported abroad remained in service into the 1980s.  

An Honest John nuclear rocket mounted atop an International Harvester M386 TEL (Tractor, Erector, Launcher) vehicle, based on the M54 five-ton truck.  Thirty-six M386 TEL vehicles served in the British Army between 1961 and 1982.  United States and British forces operated the Honest John unguided nuclear rocket between 1953 and 1974, with the rocket designed to be fired from its TEL vehicle into areas behind the enemy front lines, up to a range of 37 km (23 miles).

A British Centurion Mk III tank on its transporter vehicle.  The Centurion was the UK's first post-war main battle tank and was exported to a number of foreign countries.  Widely regarded as one of the best post-war tank designs, the Centurion remained in production from 1946 to 1962, with 4,423 manufactured in total.  Armed with a 105mm L7 rifled gun, 17-pounder gun or 20-pounder gun and protected by armour ranging in thickness from 51mm to 152mm, the Centurion was powered by a 650 horsepower Rolls-Royce Meteor petrol engine giving a top speed of 35km/h and operational range of 80 km.  Centurions saw service with various nations in numerous conflicts of the second half of the 20th century, including the Korean War (1950-53), Suez Crisis (1956), Indo-Pakistani War (1965), Six Day War (1967), Vietnam War (1968-69), Yom Kippur War (1973), South African Border War (1966-1990), and the Gulf War (1991).        

A British FV4201 Chieftain tank, the main battle tank of the British Army from the 1960s to the 1980s.  Introduced into service in 1966, the Chieftain was a development of the earlier Centurion tank, but with heavier armour and armament, a new engine, and improved transmission.  The Chieftain was crewed by four men, armed with the L11A5 120mm rifled gun, protected by 38mm to 195mm of armour, and powered by a 750 horsepower Leyland L60 engine giving a top speed of 48km/h on roads and 30km/h offroad.  Chieftains were exported to Iran, Jordan, Oman, Kuwait, and Iraq, and the tank served in the British Army between 1966 and 1995, after which it was replaced by the Challenger 1 tank.  

The entrance to 'The Normandy Experience' and 'Monty, 1944-45' exhibits in the Land Warfare Hall.  Visitors enter the exhibits via a mocked up landing craft.

One of the Pipeline Under The Ocean (PLUTO) pumps placed at relay stations along the pipeline's length in order to ensure constant pressure and fuel flow to Allied forces reliant on the supply of fuel to maintain their offensive after the Normandy landings on 6 June 1944.

A Cromwell IV command tank (left) and Daimler armoured car (right).  The Cromwell entered service during the Battle of Normandy in June 1944, equipping the armoured reconnaissance regiments of the Royal Armoured Corps, and especially the 7th Armoured Division.  Over 4,000 Cromwell tanks were manufactured and the type remained in active service from 1944 to 1955, being served by a crew of five men and armed with a quick firing 75mm gun with 64 rounds carried aboard.  The Cromwell's powerful 600 horsepower Rolls-Royce V12 Meteor petrol engine gave the tank a top speed of 64 km/h.  The Daimler armoured car was designed for armed reconnaissance and liaison duties, with its 95 horsepower Daimler 6-cylinder petrol engine giving a top speed of 80 km/h.  Introduced in mid-1941, 2,694 Daimler armoured cars were manufactured and they saw extensive service in North Africa and North West Europe, with a few cars even reaching the South East Asian theatre of operations.  The Daimler armoured car continued in post-war service, serving with the territorial units of the British Army until the 1960s; a few Daimler armoured cars even remained in service with the Qatari Army as of 2012.

An American M5 gun tractor based on the M5 tank, which entered British service in 1943 and was known as the Stuart VI.  Many M5/Stuart VI tanks were later stripped of their turrets and converted into reconnaissance and gun towing vehicles, like this one.

General Montgomery's Bedroom Caravan, originally used by German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel and given to Italian Field Marshal Giovanni Messe when Rommel returned to Germany for medical treatment.  The British Eighth Army took the surrender of Axis forces in Tunisia under Messe in May 1943, and Messe wanted to gift the vehicle to New Zealand general Bernard Freyberg, to whom he had surrendered; however, Montgomery intercepted the vehicle and took it for his own use.  Remounted on a Mack truck chassis, it, along with two other caravans, served Montgomery throughout the North African and North West Europe campaigns. This vehicle was the second caravan to be added to Montgomery's headquarters and contained a bed, wash basin, bathroom and wardrobes.  The only guests Montgomery ever allowed to use it were King George VI and Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

Field Marshal Montgomery's first caravan, which served as his living quarters from El Alamein to Tunisia.  It had been captured in February 1941 from General Annibale Bergonzoli, commander of the Italian 23rd Corps, near Benghazi, Libya and used by Major General Neil Ritchie and General Claude Auchinleck before being inherited by Montgomery upon his assumption of command of Eighth Army in August 1942.  When a more spacious and well-appointed bedroom caravan was captured from the Italians in Tunisia in 1943 (see photo above), this vehicle was converted into a mobile office and continued to serve Montgomery through the Sicilian, Italian, and North West Europe campaigns.  Montgomery adorned the walls of his office caravan with photos of the German generals facing him, telling an IWM interviewer in 1968 that he would 'look at the photograph of the general I was up against at that moment and try and decide what sort of person he was and how he was likely to react to any moves I might make against him.' 

This tableau depicts an officer of General Montgomery's Tactical Headquarters poring over a map on the hood of a jeep camouflaged under netting.  Field Marshal Montgomery insisted on controlling battle from as near as possible to the front line, travelling with his mobile Tactical Headquarters which was separate from, and in advance of, the Main Headquarters of 21st Army Group in North West Europe.  It was from the Tactical Headquarters that Montgomery's liaison officers and specialist signals monitoring units fanned out to the corps and divisions at the front, thus keeping Montgomery well informed of battle developments and allowing him to control the campaign at all times.  Montgomery's 21st Army Group Tactical Headquarters grew from 20 officers and 200 men accommodated in a few tents and vehicles in June 1944 to a staff of almost 650 and over 200 vehicles by the end of the war.        

The German Jagdpanzer 38, also known as the Hetzer, a light tank destroyer introduced into service in May 1944 and based on the Czechoslovakian Panzer 38(t) tank chassis.  The Hetzer was highly manoeuvrable and possessed well-sloped armour, a low silhouette, and a relatively powerful gun.  Over 2,800 Hetzers were manufactured between March 1944 and May 1945, and they were powered by a 158 horsepower Praga six-cylinder petrol engine giving the Hetzer a top speed of 42km/h.  The vehicle's armour ranged in thickness from 8mm to 60mm, and the Hetzer was equipped with a 75mm Pak 39/L48 anti-tank gun.    

Airborne Assault: The museum of the British Army Parachute Regiment and airborne forces

An exhibit of items that were all parachuted or delivered by gliders during combat operations in the Second World War.  The items include a 75mm pack howitzer used by the 1st Air Landing Light Regiment Royal Artillery at the Battle of Arnhem in September 1944; a lightweight airborne trailer; a 'Flying Flea' 125cc motorcycle; a jeep; a 6-pounder anti-tank gun; and a light equipment container.

A glass display cabinet is filled with examples of the small arms used by Parachute Regiment and airborne forces over the years, including pistols, rifles, machine guns, and man-portable anti-tank guided missiles.

Recruitment and information posters advertising the Parachute Regiment.  The bottom poster outlines the steps to be followed for a successful parachute landing. 

The cockpit of a Second World War-era Horsa glider, introduced into service in 1941 as the RAF's first operational troop-carrying glider and used extensively during Operation Overlord (June 1944) and Operation Market Garden (September 1944).  The Horsa was constructed from wood, with a number of furniture makers manufacturing the aircraft during the war.  The Mk II Horsa could carry two pilots and 29 troops, or a mix of equipment, or an anti-tank gun and its towing vehicle (jeep).  The Glider Pilot Regiment was formed as part of the Army Air Corps on 24 February 1942, and glider pilot volunteers were selected based on intelligence, initiative, and discipline, with those accepted being fully trained as infantrymen so that they could join in combat once the glider had landed and debarked its load of troops or equipment.     

The airborne forces museum at IWM Duxford is filled with artefacts, photos, and information about the role played by the Parachute Regiment and Airborne Forces from the Second World War to the present day.  The Airborne Forces were forged out of Winston Churchill's 22 June 1940 directive to the British Chiefs of Staff to form a Corps of at least 5,000 parachute troops.  With the establishment of the Central Landing School, RAF at Ringway Airport in Manchester, men of No. 2 Commando began training for parachute drops, undertaking their first jumps on 21 July 1940.  With a name change to No. 11 Special Air Service Battalion, the unit had 500 trained officers and men qualified as parachutists by the end of 1940.  Another name change to the 1st Parachute Battalion on 15 September 1941 reflected the ongoing creation of the 1st Parachute Brigade.  With the creation of the 1st Airborne Division, all parachute battalions were grouped together.  On 1 August 1942, the Parachute Regiment was formed as part of the new Army Air Corps.    

A mannequin dressed in the uniform and gear typical of Parachute Battalion paratrooper serving in Kosovo in 1999, including a windproof smock, personal load-carrying equipment, and tropical issue trousers that were lighter and harder wearing than the normal version trousers.  A Soviet AK assault rifle and a Yugoslav uniform round out the artefacts in this display.

A display of uniforms belonging to Lieutenant General Sir Frederick Browning, GCVO, KBE, CB, DSO.  On the left is a service dress jacket designed by Browning and modelled on a First World War Royal Flying Corps tunic.  In the centre is Browning's service dress jacket, with a Sam Browne belt and side cap with General Officer's insignia.  General Browning is considered the father of the airborne forces, being appointed to command 1st Airborne Division in October 1941, a position he was to occupy throughout the North African Campaign.  In 1943, Browning was promoted to Commander of Airborne Troops and, in 1944, to Commander of 1st Airborne Corps.  In September 1944, Browning landed with his tactical headquarters near Nijmegen as part of Operation Market Garden.

A British A34 Comet cruiser tank, on display as a 'gate guard' at the entrance to IWM Duxford.  Entering service in the winter of 1944, the Comet was originally intended to be a modified version of the earlier Cromwell tank but ended up being a 60% new design.  Fast and reliable, the Comet was armed with a compact 17 pounder gun capable of taking on late war German tanks.  The first unit to receive the A34 Comet, in December 1944, was the 11th Armoured Division of the British Army.  Although entering the war too late to take part in any major battles, the Comet was involved in the crossing of the Rhine River and participated in the Berlin Victory Parade in July 1945.   

The A34 Comet was powered by a Rolls-Royce V-12 cylinder petrol engine giving a top speed of 47 km/h and carried a crew of five.  In addition to its 17 pounder gun, the Comet was armed with two machine guns, and was protected by armour four inches thick.  This A34 Comet tank was donated by the Army School of Artillery in Larkhill to the Imperial War Museum in 1970. 

A Stroll Through Westminster

Westminster Palace, as seen from the south bank of the Thames on 31 October 2017. The Elizabeth Tower housing 'Big Ben' is covered in scaffolding for a major £61 million renovation which commenced in August 2017 and is scheduled to last four years. During the renovation, Big Ben will not toll except in recognition of important events such as New Year's Eve and Remembrance Sunday, with the bell resuming regular usage in 2021. The renovation will include essential maintenance, such as repainting and re-gilding of the clock faces and replacement of broken glass panes, as well as upgrades, such as the addition of an elevator to the tower.

A view up the Thames, with the London Eye ferris wheel on the south bank (left) and the Palace of Westminster on the north bank (right) in the distance. The Westminster Bridge can be seen spanning the river.

The ex-steamer Tattershall Castle, now a pub and restaurant moored on the Thames at the Embankment.  Built in 1934, the ship was operated by the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) as a passenger ferry across the Humber estuary in northern England, servicing the cities of Kingston upon Hull in Yorkshire and New Holland, Lincolnshire. During the Second World War, Tattershall Castle was used as a tether for anti-aircraft barrage balloons and as a ferry for troops and supplies along the Humber River. Post-war, Tattershall Castle joined the nationalised British Rail's Sealink service in 1948 and served until she was retired in 1973 and towed to London in 1976.  Tattershall Castle was used as an art gallery on the Thames before being converted to a restaurant in 1982. The flagpole-adorned green copper roofs of the Ministry of Defence can be seen rising above the trees in the background.

A statue of Field Marshal the Viscount Alanbrooke, KG, GCB, OM, GCVO, DSO (23 July 1883 - 17 June 1963), Chief of the Imperial General Staff, the professional head of the British Army, between December 1941 and June 1946. As Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, Alanbrooke was the principal military adviser to Prime Minister Winston Churchill during the Second World War. Following his retirement from the Army in 1946, Viscount Alanbrooke served as Lord High Constable of England in 1953 during the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. This statue, by the late sculptor Ivor Roberts-Jones, was unveiled in 1993 in Raleigh Green outside the Ministry of Defence Main Building.

A statue of Field Marshal the Viscount Slim, KG, GCB, GCMG, GCVO, GBE, DSO, MC (6 August 1891 - 14 December 1970), Commander of the 14th Army in the Burma Campaign of the Second World War and later Chief of the Imperial General Staff from November 1948 to November 1952. After retiring from the Army, Slim served as the 13th Governor General of Australia from 1953 to 1959. This statue of Slim was sculpted by the late Ivor Roberts-Jones and unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II in 1993.

An equestrian statue of Field Marshal Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig, KT, GCB, OM, GCVO, KCIE (19 June 1861 - 29 January 1928), Commander-in-Chief of the British Armies in France from 1915 to 1918. Haig commanded the British Expeditionary Forces on the Western Front from late 1915 until the Armistice in 1918, overseeing the Battle of the Somme, the Third Battle of Ypres, and the Hundred Days Offensive between August and November 1918.  

Dover House, located on Whitehall and home to the London headquarters of the Office of the Secretary of State for Scotland (the Scotland Office), as well as the Office of the Advocate General for Scotland and the Independent Commission for Aid Impact. The neoclassical building was originally designed as a mansion for Member of Parliament Sir Matthew Fetherstonhaugh in the 1750s, and was later occupied by George Montagu, 1 Duke of Montagu; HRH The Prince Frederick, Duke of York; the Melbourne family; and finally George James Welbore Agar-Ellis, Baron Dover. In 1885, Dover House became the home of the Scotland Office.

The Whitehall frontage of Horse Guards, built between 1750 and 1759 as a barracks and stables for the Household Cavalry. Because Horse Guards originally formed the entrance to the Palace of Whitehall and later St. James's Palace, it is still ceremonially guarded by the Queen's Life Guard. The building was also used as a military headquarters, housing administrative departments responsible to the War Office, as well as the offices of the Commander-in-Chief Forces, until the War Office moved to Cumberland House in Pall Mall in 1858. Today, Horse Guards contains stables for 17 horses and the Household Cavalry Museum, open to the public.

Looking south down Whitehall from outside Horse Guards.  The 323-foot tall Victoria Tower of the Palace of Westminster is visible in the distance, topped by a Union flag on a 73-foot wrought iron pole. 

An equestrian statue of Field Marshal His Royal Highness George, Duke of Cambridge (26 March 1819 - 17 March 1904), Commander-in-Chief of the Forces (i.e. head of the British Army) for 39 years, from 1856 to 1895. Appointed Duke of Cambridge in 1850 and promoted to Field Marshal in 1862, Prince George was grandson of King George III, cousin of Queen Victoria, and uncle of Queen Mary. During his tenure as Commander-in-Chief of the Forces, Prince George demonstrated genuine concern for the welfare of soldiers, but also stymied every attempt to reform and modernise the Army, leading the British Army to stagnate compared to its French and German counterparts.  

Monday, 30 October 2017: Kew Gardens

A map board at the entrance to Kew Gardens.  The botanical gardens, which are Grade I listed on the UK Register of Historic Parks and Gardens, cover 300 acres and include over 30,000 different species of plants and trees.  Kew Gardens is also designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Victoria Plaza, the entrance to Kew Gardens from the main Victoria Gate. Victoria Plaza features ticketing kiosks, restrooms, a café, the Kew Gardens gift shop, and a store selling plants, seeds, and garden accessories. Victoria Plaza is also stop #1 for the Kew Gardens Explorer, a tram that takes paying visitors around the property, allowing people to hop-on and hop-off at stops throughout the gardens. The distinctive Italianate tower rising from the Victoria Plaza structure is actually a concealed smokestack designed to vent gases from the coal-fired furnaces originally used to maintain the warm, humid temperatures required by tropical plants in Kew's Palm House, located about 600 feet away.

Looking out over the parterre (geometric garden beds) towards the Palm House pond and, in the distance, Museum No. 1, built in 1857.

A sculpture in the centre of the Palm House pond is of Hercules wrestling the river god Achelous, and was crafted for King George IV in 1826.  Originally placed on the East Terrace of Windsor Castle, the sculpture was moved to Kew Gardens in 1963.  Museum No. 1, on the shore behind the sculpture, houses the Plants+People exhibition depicting the many products derived from plants on which humans depend. 

Kew's famous Palm House, built in 1844 to a design by famous British architect Decimus Burton.  The Palm House's design was revolutionary for its time, using strong iron frames and a design based on an upturned ship's hull to eliminate the need for interior support columns.  The Palm House became home to hundreds of species of tropical plants brought back to Britain by Victoria-era explorers.  The Palm House is the world's most important surviving example of Victorian glass and iron structures.

Arranged in front of the Palm House are ten heraldic figures sculpted in Portland stone, depicting the ‘Queen’s Beasts’.  Replicas of sculptures that once stood at the entrance to Westminster Abbey during Queen Elizabeth II's coronation in 1953, these sculptures are based on the heraldry of the Queen’s ancestors.  This sculpture, the golden, crowned Lion of England, has been depicted on the Royal Coat of Arms since the accession of James I in 1603.  The shield shows the Royal Arms as they have been depicted since the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837.   

The unicorn of Scotland, adopted as the supporters of the Scottish Royal Arms from the late 1500s.  When James VI of Scotland inherited the crown of England in 1603, becoming James I of England, he used one of the two unicorns from his Scottish Royal Arms and the crowned lion of the English Royal Arms on his new Royal Arms.  

A sculpture of the Griffin of Edward III.  An ancient mythical beast, the griffin symbolised courage and strength, combining guardianship, vigilance, swiftness, and keen vision.  Edward III included the griffin on his private seal.  The shield contains the image of Windsor Castle's Round Tower with the Royal Standard flying from the turret, enclosed by two branches of oak and surmounted by the royal crown. 

Walking into the Palm House, visitors are immediately struck by the warmth (28-30C) and humidity maintained at all times for the sake of the tropical plant species growing inside.  Many of the plants growing in the Palm House have major economic importance as sources of food, timber, spices, and medicines.  As part of its conservation mandate, Kew Gardens researchers undertake studies on sustainable farming.  To the right is the Australasian plants collection, and to the left are species from Africa.  Notable plants of economic importance found in the Palm House include the rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis), African oil palm (Elaeis guineensis), Coffee (Coffea), Pepper (Piper nigrum), sugar cane (Saccharum officinarum) and a cocoa tree (Theobroma cacao). 

The central section of the Palm House is occupied by plants originating from the Americas, as well as the tallest palms in the collection, given the extra height in the centre section of the structure.  The perpetual humidity inside the Palm House can be seen in the wet concrete pathways, and the upper ironwork walkway allows visitors to get a treetop view of the various plants growing inside. 

Looking down one of the paths inside the Palm House.  Beams of sunlight filter through the glass walls and roof and through the warm, misty air inside, replicating a tropical rainforest.

The signboard at the start of the Australasian plants collection in the Palm House.  Species from Australia, New Zealand, Asia, and the coral atolls and volcanic islands of the South Pacific have been assembled here, reflecting the incredible biodiversity of the Australasian region, which includes globally important hardwoods, palms, medicinal plants, and crops like banana, nutmeg, and sugar cane.  The rainforests of Southeast Asia are the oldest on the planet, dating back 70 million years, and contain many more species than the rainforests of Africa or the Amazon; however, illegal logging and clearance for palm oil plantations is leading to a rapid loss of these valuable rainforests.   

The Australasian plant collection.

Zingiber spectabile, a species of true ginger native to maritime regions of Southeast Asia, and known in the West as 'beehive ginger' or 'Malaysian ginger'.  Under ideal conditions, Zingiber spectabile can reach a height of 15 feet or more.  Although grown as an ornamental plant in the West, the species has been used in Indonesia as a medicinal herb to treat inflammation of the eyes, burns, headaches, and back pain, as well as being used as a food preservative.  Research has also discovered that Zingiber spectabile has antimicrobial properties.    

The Americas section of the Palm House.

A thick canopy of green towers over visitors inside the Palm House.

A fine spray of mist falls from ceiling-mounted sprayers in the Palm House.    

A Coffea arabica (coffee) plant.  The bitter-tasting caffeine in the leaves and beans of the coffee plant is a defence mechanism against plant-eating insects like aphids.  Studies have shown that caffeine enhances the memory of bees, which are more likely to remember the scent of a Coffea flower and return to the plant, thereby increasing the plant's chance of pollination.

A collection of potted palms and cycads at one end of the Palm House.  Cycads are known as 'living fossils', having remain unchanged for millions of years.  Closely related to pine trees, cycads outnumbered every other plant species on the planet during the Jurassic period (206-144 million years ago), and grow mainly in tropical and subtropical regions.  Cycads can live for 2,500 years and exist as separate male and female plants, being pollinated by insects.  Blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) in the roots of cycads fix nitrogen in the soil, allowing cycads to grow even in poor quality soil.  Half of the cycads growing in the Palm House are threatened in the wild, and all 250 species of cycad are today protected by law. 

The world's oldest potted plant grows in the Palm House at Kew Gardens: the Encephalartos altensteinii seen here was collected by Kew's first plant hunter, Francis Masson, being harvested from Eastern Cape in South Africa in 1773 and arriving at Kew Gardens in 1775 after a long sea voyage. It was one of the first palms to be moved into the Palm House in 1848 and has lived through the entire history of Kew Gardens.
Kew's Encephalartos altensteinii is so big that its trunk requires the support of metal poles to remain upright.  Threatened by habitat destruction in its native South Africa, by harvesting for traditional medicines, and by removal by collectors, the Encephalartos altensteinii favours coastal sites, including open scrub, steep, rocky slopes, and river banks, and evergreen forests in valleys, but can also be found further inland at higher altitudes, in isolated sections of the Amatola Mountains.

The African plants section of the Palm House.

The exotic fronds of a fan palm in the Americas section of the Palm House.

Banana plants tower above visitors.  Bananas are actually giant herbs, originating in the Indo-Malaysian region of Asia but now grown throughout the tropics.  Bananas came to Europe in the 10th century.  Cultivated edible bananas have no seeds and are propagated from suckers, rendering the plants susceptible to diseases.  Research into the natural defence mechanisms of wild relatives of the banana could help discover more sustainable farming techniques and reduced reliance on pesticides.

Looking down another of the pathways inside the Palm House.  As the sun rose higher in the sky towards mid-morning, light levels inside the Palm House increased.

An Areca catechu (Betel Nut Palm) soars toward to the roof of the Palm House.  One of the world's most economically important palms, the betel nut palm is grown throughout Asia for its edible seeds, which are chewed as a narcotic by an estimated 200-400 million people worldwide.  Chewing betel nut wears down and blackens the teeth and stains the mouth and lips red, and excessive chewing can cause oral cancer.      

Piper nigrum, a climbing plant whose flowers produce the fruit made into black pepper.  The Piper nigrum is native to India but is now cultivated throughout the tropics.  Flower spikes on the plant each contain up to 150 flowers, and each flower produces a single seed contained in a berry-like fruit from which pepper is made.

A variety of palms growing in the Palm House, from compact varieties with fine leaves to soaring species with iron hard bark.  Kew's collection includes 300 different species of palm, out of 2,400 species found worldwide in the tropics and subtropics.

One of two ironwork spiral staircases which allow visitors to climb nine metres to an elevated walkway circumnavigating the high central section of the Palm House.

The view from the elevated walkway in the Palm House.  Visitors can examine up close the treetops of the tall palms growing below.

A visitor to the Palm House is dwarfed by the towering palms.

Lush vegetation rising towards the roof of the Palm House.

The spiral staircase leads back down to ground level.

Gigantochloa verticillata (giant bamboo), as seen from the elevated walkway in the Palm House.  Part of the grass family, bamboo is used for building, paper-making, utensils and tools, musical instruments, and even as food.  Giant bamboo is native to Southeast Asia and can grow to 25 metres in height in the wild.  Although much of its native habitat has been lost for agricultural planting, stands of giant bamboo are still planted to provide a source of building material.   

Saccharum officinarum (sugar cane), which produces 70% of world sugar supply.  The canes can be chewed raw or processed to extract the sugar.  First grown in New Guinea, sugar cane has been cultivated throughout Asia for centuries.  Today, India is the biggest cultivator of sugar cane.

Dioon spinulosum, also known as the gum palm.  A species of cycad native to the tropical rainforests of Mexico, the gum palm can grow up to 40 feet tall and produces the largest cone of any known plant, living or extinct, weighing up to 13 kilograms and holding up to 300 seeds.  The male and female gum palms at Kew both produced cones in July 2003 and seeds were ready 15 months after pollination, the first time that the Kew's gum palms had been successfully propagated.  Seeds produced from this pollination are now stored at the Millennium Seed Bank. 

The African section of the Palm House.  A notable specimen on the right is the bottle palm (Hyophorbe lagenicaulis), native to only Round Island, Mauritius.  Reduced to only 7-8 plants in the 1970s due to overgrazing by goats and rabbits introduced to Round Island, the efforts by conservation groups, including Kew Gardens, have grown the wild population of bottle palms on Round Island to over 250 trees today.  Round Island is now a managed nature preserve, and the bottle palm is being reintroduced to other Mauritian islands where it once grew.  
A view of the Palm House from one end of the Broad Walk which leads to the Elizabeth Gate entrance to Kew Gardens.

The Waterlily House, built in 1852 for the specific purpose of exhibiting the giant waterlily (Victoria amazonica).  In addition to the giant waterlily, the building is also now home to other water lilies and tropical plants, such as ferns, papyrus, and hanging gourds. 

A 10-metre diameter pond is the centrepiece of the Waterlily House. Algae growth is stopped by dying the water black with a harmless food colouring and by placing live fish in the water.

The pond in the Waterlily House is also home to the Nelumbo nucifera (sacred lotus), a symbol of purity in many religions.  When emerging from muddy water, the leaves and flower of the sacred lotus repel water droplets containing dirt, thereby remaining clean.  The underground stem of the Nelumbo nucifera is edible when fried, pickled, or roasted, and nutlets in a pepperpot-shaped structure on the end of the flower stem can be boiled or roasted.  

A Nymphaea carpentariae, a waterlily native to Australia. 

The colourful flowers of a Nymphaea hybrid.

Looking down the Broad Walk, which stretches from the Orangery to the Palm House pond.  The borders on each side of the Broad Walk measure 320 metres long.  The borders are planted with a variety of species, some sections being devoted to a single plant family and other sections focusing on pollination or seed dispersal.  The topiary pyramids are yew, planted to provide a formal evergreen structure and a sense of perspective.  The 30,000 plants in the borders are designed to peak in the summer. 

A giant oak tree in full autumn colours.

The Princess of Wales Conservatory, opened in 1987 and named in honour of Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha (1719-1772), who founded Kew Gardens and then enlarged and extended it after the death of her husband, Frederick, Prince of Wales in 1751.  When the building was under construction in 1985, famed naturalist Sir David Attenborough buried a time capsule containing seeds of basic food crops and endangered species in the Princess of Wales Conservatory, to be opened in 2085.

The Princess of Wales Conservatory contains ten different climate zones, connected via glass doors.  Walking paths take visitors through the ten zones, ranging from wet and dry tropics to carnivorous plants, orchids, and ferns, each with customised temperatures, humidity, light levels, and soil conditions.

A large jade plant (Crassula portulacea), a succulent native to Mozambique and the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces of South Africa.

The dry tropics climate zone in the Princess of Wales Conservatory.  The glass roof allows in bright light and serves to raise the temperature in this section of the building, housing a variety of succulents and cacti.

Various cacti grow in clumps, including a large number of echinocacti, a genus of spiny cacti, such as the golden barrel cactus (foreground).

A blue agave (Agave tequilana), from which the Mexican spirit tequila is made. 

A collection of distinctive vertical cacti.

After the dry heat of the desert tropical zone, visitors enter the tropical rainforest zone, with both heat and high humidity. 

A splash of colour in autumn comes courtesy of beds of vibrant red Anthuriums.

Anthurium, also known as the flamingo flower, is a genus of approximately 1,000 species of flowering plants native to the Americas.

A display of epiphytes, organisms that grow on the surface of other plants and derive their moisture and nutrients from the air, rain, or from debris accumulating around them.  These epiphytes are growing on a tree trunk.

A display of tropical carnivorous plants, which obtain nutrients from trapping small insects in their leaves.  Most of the carnivorous plants here are from the Nepenthes genus, which use nectar scent and colour to lure insects to the slippery lip of their pitfall traps.  Insects that slide into the pitcher of the plant are prevented from escaping by the ridged edge of the leaf, and drowned and digested by the plant's liquid secretions.  Nepenthes produce the biggest traps of all carnivorous plants, large enough to trap ants, spiders, scorpions, and centipedes; Nepenthes rajah's traps are big enough to even trap rats.

Colourful bromeliads growing along a pathway in the tropical rainforest zone of the Princess of Wales Conservatory.  There are more than 3,000 species of bromeliads in the world, growing in every environment in the tropical Americas, including beaches, cliff faces, tree bark, rainforests, and even on telephone wires. 

Following the path through the Wet Tropics zone.

A display featuring several different species of bromeliad, showcasing the great diversity in shape, size, and colour of these adaptable plants from the tropical Americas.

Located under a raised section of the tropical rainforest zone are freshwater aquariums containing species native to the tropics.

A tank containing a red-bellied piranha of the Amazon River.  With their razor-sharp teeth, the piranha can tear pieces off plants, insects, worms, and fish, and they rarely attack larger mammals and birds.

The wet tropics zone of the Princess of Wales Conservatory contains a pond in which grow Santa Cruz waterlilies (Victoria cruziana).  These plants are characterised by lily pads measuring up to two metres wide, with prickly undersides and wide, upturned rims.  The large, fragrant flowers last only for 48 hours, starting as white and gradually darkening to pink and purple before sinking beneath the water.  

The pond in the wet tropics zones also is home to lotus flowers, which were first brought to Europe in 1787 as a glasshouse plant for Sir Joseph Banks, Kew Gardens' first Director.  Although now rare in Africa, the lotus flower is cultivated in southern Asia and Australia.

The Dioneae muscipula (Venus fly trap), in the temperate carnivorous plants zone.  The Venus fly trap is native to the subtropical wetlands of the east coast of the United States, in North and South Carolina.  The Venus fly trap catches insects and spiders that crawl across its leaves, stimulating tiny trigger hairs to close the leaves around the insect.   
In the zone dedicated to themed displays, Kew Gardens was displaying plants from Australia and New Zealand in October 2017.  These plants, just a few of those removed from the Temperate House, then under renovation, include the Eucalyptus gunnii (cider gum) tree, native to Tasmania. 

Kew Gardens' Rock Garden, which is divided into six geographic regions: Europe, Mediterranean and Africa, Australia and New Zealand, Asia, North America, and South America.  The Rock Garden is constructed of Sussex sandstone.

A pair of birds play in a waterfall in the Rock Garden, amongst species of plants collected from around the world.

The Kitchen Gardens at Kew, in which up to 140 varieties of 55 food crops are grown.

A bed of red poppies in the Kitchen Gardens.
A pine towers over a waterfall in the Rock Garden, with the sloped glass roof of the Princess of Wales Conservatory in the background.

The Davies Alpine House, opened in March 2006 and specially designed to accommodate plants native to alpine environments.  It is the third such alpine house built at Kew since 1887.  The 52 foot long building features an arched roof 33 feet high at its apex to allow natural air flow to simulate alpine conditions, as well as maximum light transmission.  A set of automatically-operated blinds deploy to prevent overheating and a network of ducts blows a constant stream of cool air over the plants to guarantee a maximum temperature of no more than 20C.

Inside the Davies Alpine House, which accommodates a rotating selection of alpine plants from Kew's collection of hundreds.  About 200 plants can be displayed in the Davies Alpine House at any one time.  All are planted in pots to enable easy rotation and individual watering and soil control.    

Some of the alpine plants on display in the Davies Alpine House on 30 October 2017.  Growing above the tree line in their native habitats, alpine plants have had to adapt to harsh conditions.  The result is that most alpine plants are compact, grow very slowly, and hug the ground in the form of cushions or mats in order to reduce the surface area exposed to drying winds.  Alpine plants often have silvery leaves to reflect intense ultraviolet light and prevent overheating; thick coverings of hairs on leaves to trap warm air as protection on cold nights; large, colourful flowers to attract pollinating insects during the short alpine summers; and bulbs, corns, or tubers into which the plant can retreat during cold winters or dry summers, re-emerging when the snow melts or rain returns.     

A Turner's oak (Quercus x turneri), planted at Kew Gardens in 1798.  The Turner's oak is a cross between the holm oak (Quercus ilex) and the English oak (Quercus robur) and, unlike other oaks, the Turner's oak holds onto its leaves until new ones sprout in the spring.  Lifted out of the ground and dropped back on a slight angle during the Great Storm of 1987 (15-16 October), Kew Gardens afterward installed metal poles to support the weight of this massive tree.  By lifting the tree out of the ground, more air, water, and nutrients were allowed to reach the roots of the tree, thereby boosting its growth.  Kew learned that the lifespans of mature trees can be extended by blasting air into the soil around their roots.  

A monkey puzzle, also known as the Chile pine, is the national tree of Chile and was discovered in Arauco around 1780 by a Spanish explorer.  The species was first brought to England in 1795 by an English traveller who had saved and germinated strange 'nuts' he had been served at an official dinner.  One of the first monkey puzzle trees in the UK grew at Kew until 1892.  This monkey puzzle was planted in 1978; in its native temperate rainforest, the monkey puzzle can live over 1,000 years.  

The Orangery, built in 1757.  The coat of arms above the window on the facade of the building is that of Princess Augusta, widow of Frederick, Prince of Wales, who died in 1751 and whose dying wish was for his wife to expand and improve Kew Gardens.  Despite being designed to house orange and other citrus trees, insufficient light levels through the windows and a weak underfloor heating system meant that the Orangery never excelled at housing these species.  Today, the Orangery is a café for park visitors.

An Oriental plane tree (Platanus orientalis), native to the eastern Mediterranean, Turkey, and Iran.  This tree was planted at Kew in 1762, making it one of Kew's five oldest trees, and was one of three Oriental plane trees planted next to a royal palace called the White House, presumably to shelter the trees from the British climate; the other two Oriental plane trees have since died, though this one remains strong. 

The Dutch House, the largest surviving component of the complex of buildings that once comprised Kew Palace, and the oldest building in Kew Gardens.  The Dutch House was constructed in 1631 for Flemish merchant Samuel Fortrey and, in 1728, it was leased by Queen Caroline and subsequently purchased by King George III as a summer home for the couple and their 15 children.  The palace also served as a refuge during George III's bouts of 'madness', which was believed at the time to be the blood disease porphyria, but which modern research suggests could have been bipolar disorder.  Upon Queen Charlotte's death in 1818, Kew Palace was closed up; however, in 1898 Queen Victoria transferred the palace to Kew Gardens to mark her Diamond Jubilee and it was opened to the public.  The sundial in this photo is a replica of one made by 17th century clockmaker Thomas Tompion, and was given to Kew Gardens in 1959 to commemorate a royal visit.

Today managed by the Historic Royal Palaces trust, the remnants of Kew Palace include the Dutch House, part of the 18th century service wing, a former housekeeper's cottage, a brewhouse, and the kitchen block, which is preserved as it was when closed up in 1818.  Note the use of Flemish bond construction, involving laying bricks with long and short sides alternating, and the gabled facade, giving a Dutch appearance.

The Queen's Garden, located to the rear of the Dutch House, holds a collection of plants with medicinal qualities.  The only species planted here are those that would have been  grown in England by the late 17th century.  These plants would have been used to disguise the flavour of tainted meat, made into herbal remedies, placed in homes to sweeten the air in an era of poor cleanliness and hygiene, and used in nosegays and carried in public streets to mask odours and ward off the plague.

A British Airways Boeing 747-400 flies over Kew Gardens en route to Heathrow Airport, located to the west of Kew.

Syon Vista, one of three vistas in Kew Gardens, is a tree-lined walkway providing a view of Syon House, the London residence of the Duke of Northumberland, which lies across the Thames beyond Kew's boundary.  Designed in 1845, the vista radiates from the Palm House and runs for 1,200 metres in a straight line, with holm oaks planted along its length.

This tree, a Lucombe oak (Quercus x hispanica 'Lucombeana'), is a cross between a turkey oak (Quercus cerris) and a cork oak (Quercus suber) and was planted in Kew in 1773.  It once stood in the middle of the pathway plotted for the Syon Vista and, as such, was dug up in 1846 and moved 20 metres by a team of horses to its present location next to the vista.

The Treetop Walkway lets visitors to Kew Gardens walk 18 metres (59 feet) above the forest floor to see the tree canopy up close and take in stunning views of the Gardens and beyond.

Constructed out of more than 400 tonnes of weathered steel designed to blend into the natural environment, the Treetop Walkway forms a 200 metre (656 feet) long loop through the branches of sweet chestnut, beech, horse chestnut, and various species of oak. Visitors can climb the 118 steps to the walkway or take an accessible lift.

The Temperate House, as seen from the Treetop Walkway. The world's largest surviving Victorian-era glasshouse, and at 4,880 square metres twice the size of the Palm House, the Temperate House was built between 1860 and 1863, though its final form took 40 years to complete. The Temperate House is home to a diverse collection of 1,500 temperate plants from the Mediterranean, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, South and Central America, Asia and the Pacific Islands. In 2013, the Temperate House was closed to the public for an extensive five-year renovation program that will see repairs to the entire framework and ventilation system; the replacement of thousands of glass panes; the restoration of iron work, urns, and statuary; and other work to make the building more accessible and inviting.  The Temperate House will re-open to the public on 5 May 2018.

A view of the Treetop Walkway's looping pathway through the forest canopy. 

Given Kew's location along the approach path to Heathrow's runways 27L and 27R, airliners are a regular sight overhead, including this Emirates Airbus A380.

Walking along a pathway flanked by Japanese larch (Larix kaempferi) trees in the southern extremity of Kew Gardens.  The Japanese larch is native to the mountains of the Chūbu and Kantō regions in central Honshū, and can grow up to 40 metres tall with a trunk up to 1 metre in diameter.  The Japanese larch is grown throughout central and northern Japan, as well as in northern Europe, particularly Britain and Ireland, and the tree's wood is tough and durable, making it useful for general construction work.  Japanese larches are also grown for ornamental purposes in parks and gardens.

A bench in a quiet part of Kew's arboretum, which covers 240 acres of the property.

Queen Charlotte's Cottage, built in the mid-18th century and given to Queen Charlotte by her husband, King George III as part of their marriage settlement.  Serving as a private refuge for Queen Charlotte, the thatched cottage was a place for the royal family to refresh themselves and relax during walks through the gardens.  A picnic room was added above the main floor in the 1770s, accessible by a curving staircase.  The cottage's bluebell woods are extensive and some parts are over 300 years old.  The royal family ceased using the cottage following Queen Charlotte's death in 1818, and it was ceded to Kew Gardens by Queen Victoria in 1898, with the condition that the surrounding 37 acres of woodland be kept in its natural state.  the cottage is managed by the Historic Royal Palaces trust and is open to the public on weekends and holidays during the summer.

A quiet mid-afternoon stop by the lake in Kew Gardens. The five-acre lake was created in 1856 in a part of the gardens being dug up to supply gravel for terracing of the Temperate House.  The lake is connected to the River Thames by underground channels and was filled with water for the first time in 1861.  Its four islands feature plants designed to provide vibrant autumn colours, including deep red Chinese tupelo trees and red, orange, and yellow-coloured black tupelo trees. 

The lake at Kew Gardens is home to a variety of wildlife, including red-crested pochards, tufted ducks, widgeons, mandarin ducks, herons, and mute swans.

Sackler Crossing, which traverses the midpoint of the lake, was completed in 2006 and gives access to some of Kew’s less visited areas.  The crossing is built of a black granite walkway following a curving path that echoes the lake’s rounded banks.  The walls of the crossing are a series of vertical, flat bronze posts that appear to be a solid wall but are almost invisible when viewed sideways.

A giant redwood (Sequoiadendron giganteum), native to the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California.  The giant redwood is the world's largest single tree and largest living thing by volume, growing to an average height of 50–85 metres (164–279 feet) and 6–8 metres (20–26 feet) in diameter.  Based on ring count, the oldest known giant redwood is 3,500 years old.

King William's Temple, situated in Kew's Mediterranean Garden.  The temple was originally commissioned by King William IV as the Temple of Military Fame to complement another temple, the Temple of Victory (since destroyed), and designed by his architect, Sir Jeffry Wyatville; however by the time the temple was completed, in 1837, William IV had died and Queen Victoria was monarch.  A potted olive tree can be seen in this photo.

King William's Temple features two porticoes and Doric columns and, inside, cast iron plaques commemorating British military victories from Minden (1759) to Waterloo (1815), mounted on the walls.  Two statues, of the gods Apollo and Zephyr, used to stand next to the entrance to King William's Temple, but are now on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The Mediterranean Garden highlights the diversity of plant species found around the Mediterranean Basin and the conservation efforts needed to ensure their survival.  The garden was planted in 2007 to mimic a natural Mediterranean habitat, and features a variety of species, including Stone pines (Pinus pinea), Tuscan olive trees (Olea europaea), Italian cypress (Cupress sempervivens), Cistus, and lavender (Lavandula lanata).

A cork oak (Quercus suber), whose bark is used to make corks for wine bottles and even floor tiles and bricks because of its fire-resistant properties.  The spongy bark of a cork oak can regenerate, allowing it to be stripped every ten years until the tree is around 200 years old, without any harm to the tree.  With the advent of screw-top and plastic stoppers on bottles, many cork oak forests have been abandoned or cleared for agricultural use, negatively affecting water tables and local economies.

Stone pines (Pinus pinea), native to southern Europe and especially the Iberian Peninsula, where they can grow up to 25 metres tall.  Stone pines are the source of pine nuts, which come from the tree's cones and have been harvested since prehistoric times.  Each cone on a stone pine takes seven years to mature and releases its seeds (up to 100) on hot summer days or after a fire.  Stone pines are economically important, with their resin containing turpentine, their needles providing a green dye, and their wood being useful in the manufacture of furniture.      

Giant conifers hundreds of years old tower over Kew Gardens and its visitors.

The Temple of Bellona, dedicated to the Roman goddess of war, was constructed in 1760 and originally sited where the Princess of Wales Conservatory now sits.  Designed by architect Sir William Chambers at the height of the Seven Years War (1756-1763), the temple was part of the massive expansion and improvement of Kew Gardens directed by Princess Augusta.  In the mid-1700s, every fashionable garden contained a temple dedicated to Bellona, and Sir William Chambers believed that adding classical architecture to the natural beauty of Kew Gardens would appeal to the 'mind and imagination' of the viewer.  

The Temple of Bellona was moved to its current site, about 300 feet from the Victoria Gate entrance to Kew Gardens, in 1803.  During a recent restoration of the temple, it was discovered that the building is constructed out of wood, rather than stone, and has survived remarkably well over the last 250+ years. 

Monday, 1 November 2017: London Transport Museum

A view of part of the interior of the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden, which was once a Victoria-era flower market.  By 1670, Covent Garden had become London's principal fruit, vegetable, and flower market and, in the 1830s, permanent buildings had replaced the traders' stalls in the central piazza.  With the construction of specialised buildings for each type of commodity, this building was designed as a flower market in 1871 and served as the heart of London's wholesale flower trade until 1974, trading every day of the year, except Christmas.  The London Transport Museum took over the building in 1980.  

A sedan chair dating from circa 1780.  Introduced in the 1630s, such enclosed sedan chairs carried by two chairmen could be hired for short journeys in central London, and were often more easily navigable than horse-drawn carriages in the city's narrow streets.  Catering only to wealthy passengers, sedan chairs fell out of favour in the early 1800s.
A Shillibeer horse bus, inspired by omnibus services in Paris, and introduced to London's streets on 4 July 1829.  George Shillibeer began services between Paddington and the Bank with such buses, pulled by three horses and carrying up to 22 people.  The London Transport Museum's Shillibeer bus is a replica, constructed in 1929 to mark the centenary of London's bus services, and was put on display in the museum in 1980. 

A display of early London public transport.  In the foreground, a Thomas Tilling 'Knifeboard' type horse bus ('knifeboard' referred to the long, back-to-back bench seating on the roof, which resembled a Victorian-era knife sharpening board).  Pulled by two horses, this vehicle sat 26 passengers (12 inside and 14 on the rooftop benches).  This vehicle entered service in 1875 and was withdrawn from service in 1895.  In the background is a double-deck horse-drawn tram, built by John Stephenson & Co. in New York in 1882.  Seating 20 on the lower deck and 24 on the open upper deck, this tram was operated by London Tramways Company on the Waterloo-Greenwich route and was one of more than 300 such horse-drawn trams imported from America.  It was withdrawn from service when the tram lines were electrified in 1910.

A displayy devoted to London's horse-drawn buses and trams.  As noted, operating a single horse bus or tram required six changes of horses per day, meaning 12 horses per vehicle.  As a result, 50,000 horses plodded along London's streets every day by 1900, producing 1,000 tons of manure daily.

A scale model of a typical Victorian-era horse bus, showing the team of two horses and passengers seated on the exposed rooftop seating, as well as the prominent advertising displayed on the sideboards.

A diorama depicting the construction of London's early Underground tunnels.  The scene is a hive of activity as workmen employ the cut and cover method, tearing up the street to dig a long trench and then covering the trench to form the tunnel.  Much of the work is done by hand, though some early steam shovels assist in moving tons of earth.

Locomotive #23, the last surviving engine from the early days of the London Underground.  Metropolitan Railway A class 4-4-0T steam locomotive #23 was built in 1866 by Beyer, Peacock & Company of Manchester.  Used extensively on the Metropolitan, Metropolitan District, and Inner Circle lines for over 80 years, these A class locomotives were fitted with condensing tanks, which somewhat limited smoke emission in the tunnels.  Locomotive #23 was retained after the electrification of the Underground in 1905, being used as a work train as late as 1948, when it was Britain's oldest working steam locomotive.  To celebrate the centenary of the Underground in 1963, #23 was restored to its appearance in 1903 and was moved to the London Transport Museum for permanent display in 1980.

Metropolitan Railway 'Bogie Stock' coach #400, built in 1900.  Coach #400, measuring 41 feet 6 inches long, was originally pulled by steam locomotives but, like the other 53 coaches of this class, was converted to work on an electrified system between 1906 and 1924.  As part of the conversion, one end passenger compartment was converted to a driver's cab, and electrical equipment and current collection gear was fitted.  Coach #400 was again used with steam locomotives on the short branch line shuttle service between Chalfont & Latimer and Chesham from 1941 until 1960, when the line was electrified.

The interior of Metropolitan Railway 'Bogie Stock' coach #400.  The various compartments of coach #400 have been restored to represent different time periods, with this one depicting a ladies only compartment in 1929.

Metropolitan Railway electric locomotive No. 5 'John Hampden', built by Metropolitan-Vickers Ltd in Barrow-in-Furness in 1922.  Twenty of these 1,200 horsepower locomotives were built to serve outer suburban traffic on the Metropolitan Line, and all were named after famous persons from the areas being serviced; John Hampden was a famous 17th century parliamentarian from Buckinghamshire.  Locomotive No. 5 was withdrawn from service on 9 September 1961 and transferred to depot duties until mid-1972.

A Q23-stock driving motor car (No. 4248) of the London Electric Railway used on the District Line.  Originally known as G-stock cars, the design of these carriages, of which 50 were built by the Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon Company in 1923, reflects the influence of American railway design.  Of note, a raised section running along the length of the roof of the carriage provided ventilation for passengers.  Redesignated as Q23-stock cars following modernisation in 1938, these cars continued to serve for another 25 years, with carriage No. 4248 withdrawn from service in 1971.      

The interior of carriage No. 4248, presented as it was when withdrawn from service in September 1971, including period advertising.  The carriage measures 49 feet three inches in length and seats 44 passengers.  The narrow width of the Q23 carriages earned them the nickname 'horse boxes' by Underground drivers.

A bench and sign from Hammersmith Station on the District and Piccadilly Line, which opened in 1874.

Coach No. 30 of the City and South London Railway, built in 1890 by the Ashbury Railway Carriage & Iron Co. The City and South London Railway was the world's first underground electric railway.  Its first carriages were not equipped with windows as it was thought that there would be nothing for passengers to look at in the tunnels; as a result, the train guards would shout out the name of the station upon arrival to notify passengers where the train had arrived. These carriages were withdrawn from service in 1924 and No. 30 is the only surviving one of its kind.     

The interior of City and South London Railway carriage No. 30.  The high-backed and cushioned seats of these cars earned them the nickname 'padded cell'.  Up to 72 passengers could pack into these carriages during rush hour. 
The last surviving locomotive from the original City and South London Railway, which ran five kilometres from Stockwell to King William Street in the City of London.  The twin circular tunnels ran directly under the street 60 feet below ground and trains serviced only five stations in 1890.
A view of the first type of electric locomotive and carriage used on the Underground, dating from 1890.
A view of the London Transport Museum's lower floor, housing the museum's collection of motor coaches and trolley buses.

A collection of advertising posters for London's underground railways, encouraging Londoners to use the trains to get to shopping and attractions.

A display of London Underground signage and fonts, representing the system's distinctive identity.

A display of various Underground signage.

An exhibit devoted to posters and artwork commissioned by public transport companies and Transport for London.

London Underground driving motor car No. 11182, a 1938-stock car built by Metropolitan-Cammell measuring 52 feet 4 inches in length. With motors and traction control equipment fitted under the floor of the car, the 1938-stock cars had increased passenger capacity, seating 42. When introduced, the 1938-stock cars were the most advanced underground electric trains in the world. Car No. 11182 travelled more than 1.6 million kilometres during 40 years in service on the Northern Line, finally being retired in 1978.

The interior of 1938-stock car No. 11182.  The 1938-stock cars were used mainly on the Northern, Piccadilly, and Bakerloo Lines, but also on the Northern City Line from Drayton Park to Moorgate and on the East London Line.  Although No. 11182 was retired in 1978 after 38 years of service, a few 1938-stock train cars completed 50 years' service before being withdrawn in 1988.

Although car No. 11182 is now permanently housed at the London Transport Museum's Covent Garden location, a four-car set of 1938-stock cars has been preserved by the museum and restored to full working order.  It is housed at the museum's depot at Acton and used for occasional heritage runs.
Part of a gallery devoted to London public transport during the First and Second World Wars, this display recounts the role of the Underground in sheltering Londoners from German air attacks during the Second World War.

A look at the gallery which tells the story of London's public transport during the World Wars, including the herculean efforts required to keep transport infrastructure functioning in the face of devastating air raids and the inevitable loss of employees to military recruiters.

A trio of former London double-decker buses now preserved at the London Transport Museum.

One of five Leyland LB type buses operated by the Chocolate Express Omnibus Company Ltd.  The Chocolate Express was one of more than 200 independent bus operators and ran between 1922 and 1934, when it was forced to merge with the new London Transport.  The 48-seat LB series bus was designed by Leyland as a means to break into the London market and was based on the standard Leyland lorry chassis, though widened behind the dash to provide greater stability as a bus.  This bus entered service in September 1924 and was the only one of the LB buses to be retained by Chocolate Express until 1934, being used as a spare.  Though originally fitted with solid tires, these were replaced in March 1930 with pneumatic tires.  Disposed of at some point after 1934, this bus was rediscovered derelict on a farm near Norwich in 1984 and restored over the following three years.

An 11-ton RT-type double-decker bus, seating 26 on the lower deck and 30 on the upper, and manufactured by Associated Equipment Company (AEC) in 1954.  London Transport worked with AEC from 1935 to design a new double-decker bus; however, while the RT-type design was completed prior to the Second World War, mass production of the RT-type only began in 1947.  In the end, more RT-type buses were built than any other type of London bus and they were a common sight on the streets of London in the 1950s and 1960s.  This bus served for 16 years before being withdrawn in 1970 and used as a driver training bus until 1977.  A notable feature of the RT-type buses was their standardised design, which enabled the bodies to be interchangeable with any chassis, thereby making overhauls far more efficient.

The iconic Routemaster double-decker bus, jointly developed by Associated Equipment Company (AEG) and Park Royal Vehicles (PRV) in 1963.  The Routemaster bus used interchangeable aluminium body parts in place of a chassis, making the vehicle lighter and easier to repair, and a warm-air heating system and improved suspension improved passenger comfort.  The 27 foot 6.5 inch long Routemaster sat 28 passengers on the lower deck and 36 on the upper deck, and weighed over 11 tons fully loaded.  This bus entered service with London Transport in 1963 and was retired from service and donated to the London Transport Museum in 1985.

The interior, upper deck of the AEC Routemaster bus, complete with period mid-1980s advertising from when the bus was withdrawn from service.

A rear view of the Routmaster bus, with its distinctive rear passenger loading platform and staircase leading to the upper deck seating.

The 1954-vintage RT bus (right) and 1963 Routemaster bus (left).

More vehicles of the London Transport Museum collection, including a B-type omnibus, a double-decker tram, and a K-2 class electric trolleybus.

A B-type motorbus dating from 1911.  This bus, B-43, was built by the London General Omnibus Company (LGOC) for service on the streets of the city, with a wood and steel chassis and a 30 horsepower petrol engine.  With the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, more than 1,000 motorbuses were commandeered by the War Department for military service, including B-43.  A large number of these buses were transported to the Western Front for use in ferrying troops.  B-43 served served in France and Belgium as a troop carrier, taking relief forces up from rear areas to the front line and returning with exhausted and wounded troops.  Returning to London and commercial service with the LGOC in 1919, B-43 was inspected by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 14 February 1920, the first bus the king had ever boarded.  In the early 1920s, B-43 was retired from service and preserved by the Auxiliary Omnibus Companies Association, which renamed it 'Ole Bill' after the famous British soldier caricature by cartoonist Bruce Bairnsfather.  Used in commemorative parades through the mid-20th century, 'Ole Bill' was donated to the Imperial War Museum in April 1970. 

A scale model of a London United Tramways (LUT) Company class Z double-decker electric tramcar from 1901.  This vehicle ran on one of London's first electric tram services, from Shepherd's Bush to Kew Bridge.

A display on London's electric tram services.  As the display notes, electric tramways opened all over London in the 1900s, with 14 different services operated by local councils (11) and private companies (3).  The disjointed and unconnected nature of these local networks was frustrating for passengers forced to transfer from one tramway to another, though the cheap transportation offered by trams led to over 800 million passenger trips per year by 1914.  Although electric trams were seen as the wave of the future in the early 1900s, motor buses soon began to overtake trams on account of the former's greater flexibility and ease of maintenance.

A K2-class double-decker trolleybus, one of over 150 built by Leyland Motors.  This bus was constructed in 1939 and operated by London Transport on routes in north and northeast London between March 1939 and April 1961.  The K2-class trolleybuses measured 30 feet long and 15 feet 7 inches tall, with seating for 30 passengers on the lower deck and 40 on the upper deck.  Powered by electricity supplied through overhead wires and transmitted to the vehicle's engine by long boom poles in contact with the wires, the trolleybus was known for its quiet and smooth ride and outfitted with comfortable seating.  Notwithstanding these advantages, from the late 1950s trolleybuses were replaced by conventional buses, which were cheaper and more flexible to operate on account of not being tied to routes equipped with overhead electric wires.  This trolleybus has been exhibited at the London Transport Museum since 1980.

A display on London's electric trolleybuses, which began superseding trams in 1931.  With upholstered seats instead of wooden tram benches and rubber tires instead of steel rails, trolleybuses were more comfortable for passengers and cheaper to operate.  Trolleybuses were also safer, with passengers able to board directly onto the bus after it pulled alongside the curb, rather than being forced to dash out to board a track-bound tram in the middle of the road.  London Transport replaced its trams with trolleybuses in a relatively short period of time, converting about 70% of its tram network to trolleybuses between 1935 and 1940, and becoming the world's largest operator of trolleybuses. 

An overhead view of the K2-class trolleybus on display at the London Transport Museum, showing its sleek body and the twin boom poles used to connect the bus to overhead wires supplying electricity for motive power.

The iconic black London taxi cab: a FX4S Plus Carbodies taxi, built in 1988 and seating five plus a driver.  the FX4 Plus model was a development of the earlier FX-type vehicle and was introduced in September 1987.  FX-type cabs were produced from 1958 to 1997.  From the mid-19th century onward, cabbies have been required to pass the gruelling 'Knowledge of London' test before being granted taxi licenses.  This vehicle was donated to the London Transport Museum in 2007 by Steve Sutherland, who worked as a London cabbie for over 30 years.


No comments:

Post a Comment