Video: Pilots’ war briefing room goes on display at IWM Duxford

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Imperial War Mumeum (IWM) Duxford has a new exhibition in a hanger where wartime action took place.

Built at the end of World War I the hangar was used by No.19 Squadron between the wars and became the first home to the RAF’s legendary Supermarine Spitfire in 1938.

From 1943 to 1945, like the rest of Duxford, the hangar was used by the 78th Fighter Group of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF); it became its Group Headquarters.

This new display area was once used by the 78th Fighter Group as a briefing room, where nearly 50 pilots would gather to discover their mission for the day.

The first phase of work allows visitors to see footage of one of those briefings in the area where it once took place.

There is a replica wartime blackboard, containing all the information the pilots needed for one of their missions.

Visitors can try on a replica A2 flying jacket and USAAF cap similar to those worn by pilots in the wartime footage.

78th Fighter Group veteran Ernie Russell remembered his first mission briefing in this hangar: “The room droned like a beehive – everyone was talking until there was a loud, “Ten’ shun!” from the back of the room.

“Chairs rattled as we all jumped to attention; you could have heard a pin drop.

“Footsteps echoed on the floor and then, ‘At ease men’ – we all dropped into our seats... my first briefing for a combat mission was impressive.”

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