Remember D-Day at Duxford at half term

Preparations for D Day at IWM Duxford

Preparations for D Day at IWM Duxford

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In the year of the 70th anniversary of D Day, IWM Duxford ebruary half term activities tell the story of Big Week, the bombing campaign which paved the way for the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944. There will be daily interactive talks from from Saturday 15 to Sunday, February23 in AirSpace at 10.30am, 11.15am and noon and in the American Air Museum at 1.30pm, 2.15pm and 3pm.

The February half term activities tell the story of Big Week, the bombing campaign which paved the way for the D-Day invasion. 70 years ago, military planners knew that the only chance of invading France successfully was if the men on the ground weren’t being attacked by enemy aircraft.

The military planners decided to lure the German Air Force into large-scale aerial warfare which would significantly reduce their bombing and manufacturing capability in the four months leading up to the D-Day invasion.

During February half term, the interpreter inhabits different characters to explore the roles played by airmen and their aircraft during Big Week.

He’ll start by explaining what Big Week was and its significance for the D-Day invasion, letting you in on the secret plans for deception tactics and bombing campaigns in Normandy.

Then, swapping between characters representing a member of RAF Bomber Command and a United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) airman, he’ll examine the aircraft that took part in Big Week, particularly looking at the differences between the Lancaster bomber and the B-17 Flying Fortress.

You’ll also find out about the huge numbers of people who contributed to the success of Big Week, not just air crews, but ground crews, planners and many more. Learn about the hundreds of aircraft that took part in this vital bombing campaign.

In the afternoon, the action moves to the American Air Museum, where a costumed interpreter will talk about the combined operation launched by the RAF and the USAAF. Find out how the German Air Forces defended their skies and how they struggled to defend their territory, both in the air and on the ground.

The Dakota takes centre stage to look at the planning and preparations that were essential for the success of D-Day. Aerial warfare was about more than the bombing campaign, as the museum looks at the role of paratroopers in the D-Day invasion.

Moving on to the P-47 Thunderbolt, an interpreter will look at fighter support for the bombing campaign, and the missions that Duxford’s own 78th Fighter Group flew during Big Week and on D-Day itself. He’ll explore why the P-47 Thunderbolt was so successful in ground-attack missions.

There will also be hands-on craft fun, making badges and paper aircraft, under the wings of Concorde in AirSpace daily between 10.30am and 2.30pm.

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