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  • jochengielen

Duxford Imperial War Museum

Updated: Mar 14


A continuation of aircraft that spark my interest immediately ... but first just a few shots of things I didn't mention in these 2 blogs.

And now the rest of the list ...

B-17G (serial number 44-83735): Another great bomber from World War 2, this time the American Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, probably the best known bomber in the world. It began life in the 1930's as a heavy bomber being developed for the US Army Air Corps (later the US Air Force). The prototype outperformed its competitors but crashed, yet more aircraft were ordered for testing and development. Eventually the designation B-17 Flying Fortress was applied by January 1936 and after a few low number orders, by World War 2 the massive orders had started and in total more than 12.000 have been produced. Most of these saw action in the European theatre as daylight bombers flying from bases in England to bomb German positions. Although a lot of them were lost being shot down by German flak, the aircraft became famous for being able to continue its mission even when heavily damaged. After the way these planes were no longer considered needed and most of them were quickly phased out. At the time of writing according to Wikipedia, 45 still servive in complete condition although only 4 are still flying. This one is not flying but in static display at Duxford.

B-29A (serial number 44-61748): The Boeing B-29 Superfortress was introduced because the B-17 would not be adequate for the Pacific theatre as that would need a bomber that could carry larger loads over a longer distance. When the B-29 was introduced, it was the largest aircraft of World War 2 and it retained that title. It was also the first pressurized bomber and it could carry 20.000 lb of bombs although only a short distance flying low, however at operational standards, it could fly 5.230 km and had a maximum speed of 575 km/. The pressurized fuselage was a great comfort for the crew when you consider that the plane could fly at 31.850 ft. This bomber would operate mainly in the Pacific theatre and later also in the Korean War, however ... most of them were also phased out after World War 2, only few remained in service as they were the only aircraft capable of dropping Nuclear bombs with the type being the only aircraft in history to ever drop a Nuclear bomb in anger. Enola Gay and Bockscar were the 2 aircraft dropping the "Little boy" and "Fat Man" Nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 and both are still on display. Of all the B-29 produced, 22 are still around and 2 are still flying according to Wikipedia at the time of writing. This one is the one named "It's Hawg Wild" and is on static display at Duxford.

Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird (61-7962: The Atomic age and Cold War between Russia and the United States resulted in the development of many reconnaissance aircraft, probably the most famous one and also still the fastest air-breathing manned aircraft ever, is the SR-71. This remarkable aircraft was developed in the 1960's and based on the earlier designed Lockheed A-12. At first the demand was that this aircraft would also be a bomber but later the main goal shifted to only high-speed reconnaissance missions. The first flight was in 1964 and operational introduction in 1968. It remained in service until 1999 in some roles. This aircraft was able to fly at mach 3.3 or 3.540 km/h and had a service ceiling of 85.000 ft with a range of 5.230 km (ferry range). This example is the only one located in Europe and none of the 32 aircraft built are currently flying. NASA still has the 2 aircraft they maintained until 1999 but it is not sure if they are still able to fly (at the time of writing).

Boeing B-52D Stratofortress (56-0689): The B-52 is one of the longest serving military aircraft in the world and one of the best known as well. After the B-29 and B-36, the USAF needed a replacement and both of the older aircraft were propeller driven and initial designs for this one were also equipped with turboprops, however ... later designs were drawn with turbojet engines. Eventually the B-52 would become the subsonic strategic bomber equipped with 8 jet engines mounted in 4 double-engine pods. It first flew in 1952 and entered service in 1955. In total 742 were produced from 1954 until 1963 and as of 2022 there were still 72 in service. This one was transferred to Duxford in 1988.

Vickers VC10 (G-ASGC): The Vickers VC10 was built as a narrow-body long range airliner by Vickers-Armstrongs in England. The only western airliner using a 4-engine rear mounted setup, it first flew in 1962 and was introduced into passenger service in 1964 with BOAC. Although some other airlines operated this aircraft, it did't remain in service very long with BOAC retiring the last one in 1981 and the last civilian aircraft being retired in 1987. In Military service it was in service with the RAF and some other countries with the RAF being the last one to operate the type until 2013. In 1981 British Airways still had 15 of them and sold 14 to the RAF, the last one was sent to Duxford for preservation and is now on display in the BOAC Cunard colors.

Bristol Britannia series 312 (G-AOVT): Even during World War 2, some great minds were already thinking ahead. They decided that Britain needed to get more modern airliners for civilian and transport use when the war was over and started to ask for designs of such an airliner. With early jet engines already being developed, Turboprop engines also in the making and radial engines being improved for military use as well, the choice to make was hard. Eventually the choice was made to use tested technology and get a new airliner on the market as soon as possible, ending up with a design that used 4 Bristol Centaurus radial engines and could carry 139 passengers, way more than the required 48 passengers in the design contest. Later the Turboprop Bristol Proteus engines were used. First flight was in 1952 and by 1957 the first commercial flights were started with BOAC. In the end, only 85 were built due to delays in design and some problems with regulations but these aircraft were among the greatest aircraft in history. This model 312 was initially built for BOAC as the last of 18 series 312 delivered in 1959, in 1963 it was sold to British Eagle International Airlines and later in 1969 to Monarch Airlines. Eventually in 1975 during the Duxford airshow, it landed in Duxford for preservation.

De Havilland DH89A Dragon Rapide TX310 Nettie (G-AIDL): With this one we go a bit further back in history, but only slightly. In 1934 this aircraft flew for the first time as a development from the DH84 and DH86 for the short-haul and domestic market, eventually foreign customers also used it and during the war it was used in several military roles. Even though the design looked much older, it was a modern reliable aircraft well loved by crew and passengers. This one is owned by Classic Air Force and is in flying condition, painted in its RAF colors as TX310. It is used for tourism flights.

Catalina (11005 / G-PBYA / US Navy PBY-5A): The Consolidated model 28, or better known as the PBY Catalina is a flying boat with a difference. Most large flying boats in the 1930's were passenger aircraft that operated on water and were only taken out of the water on specially designed sleds or external wheels for maintenance and repairs. The Catalina was different, this aircraft can operate on land and water, making it a 100% amphibious. It was designed in the 1930's for a multitude of purposes although primarily as a patrol bomber for use in a possible Pacific conflict. This resulted in its wide use in World War 2. The design was however so multifunctional that other versions were easy to build or adapt, giving the aircraft the capability to operate as a patrol bomber, attack aircraft, anti-submarine warfare, convoy escort, search & rescue and cargo transport. After the war, many remained in use as patrol and scout aircraft in various countries. In civilian service, there were also many roles the aircraft could fulfill, mainly water bomber during forest fires, cargo and passenger deliveries in hard to reach areas, and even diving support and flying yachts. At the time of writing there are still a number of Catalinas in use as water bombers to fight forest fires and some remain in service as display aircraft at airshows. This one is operated by "The Catalina Society" in England and is a Canadian built former Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft that operated in World War 2 and after a long career, ended up in England.


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