During this half-term week, explore the world of aviation at IWM Duxford and discover what life was like for people who experienced conflict first hand in the 20th and 21st centuries.
The spotlight will be on the legendary Avro Lancaster, one of Britain’s most iconic Second World War bombers each day from Saturday, February 11 to Sunday 19 from 11.30am to 3.30pm.
The Lancaster Experience will give visitors the rare opportunity to peer inside the rear section of the aeroplane and hear a selection of amazing stories about the men who flew and fought in this type of aircraft.
Each day at 11am, a historic interpreter will lead an engaging talk discussing the development of this legendary bomber, the different role each crew member played in Bomber Command and the history behind IWM Duxford’s Avro Lancaster.
Drawing from the personal experiences of members of Bomber Command, the talk will also offer an insight into the dangerous and challenging conditions endured during wartime missions, including the famous Dambusters Raid, and the development of the bouncing bomb.
One story featured is that of Flight Lieutenant John ‘Hoppy’ Hopgood, DFC and Bar.
At the age of 21, Hoppy helped lead the first wave of attacks on the Mohne Dam during the Dambusters Raid.
His remarkable actions during this dangerous mission, whilst unsuccessful in destroying the dam, ensured the survival of two of his crew members following intense enemy fire.
Moments after releasing its mine, Hopgood’s Lancaster received the full impact of a 20mm cannon blast, which caused the starboard wing to catch fire.
There was only one option left for Hopgood’s crew: to abandon the aircraft. Hopgood knew they needed to reach enough altitude to make a safe jump but he struggled to navigate the severely damaged aircraft.
At a mere 500 feet above ground, three of his crew members succeeded in exiting the aircraft. However, only two survived the perilous parachute drop, making it two of the lowest successful bailouts during the war.
Unfortunately Hopgood and the remaining crew did not survive.
On recounting the mission, Wing Commander Guy Gibson, VC DSO & Bar DFC & Bar, described Hoppy as ‘probably the best pilot on the Squadron.’
Many of the exhibitions at IWM Duxford are housed within original First World War and 1930s buildings.
Exploring Duxford, visitors will follow in the footsteps of the men and women who lived and worked at this historic airfield, defending Britain’s skies.
Find out how Britain overcame one of the most significant air campaigns of the Second World War in the Battle of Britain exhibition. Explore the American Air Museum and witness the best collection of American aircraft on display outside North America.
Visitors may even get the opportunity to see contemporary and historic aircraft fly as they take off and land from IWM Duxford’s historic airfield.