Duxford - Hangars 2 and 5
Flying Aircraft and Conservation and Restoration - Page 2

LINKS BELOW are to pages in the IWM Duxford site and to the Colin Day Travelling Days series:

     1 : IWM History
     2 : IWM Duxford History
     3 : Indoor Displays
    4 : Outdoor Displays

HOME PAGE : Imperial War Museum Duxford

HOME PAGE : Colin Day's Links


This British BL 9.2 inch Mk I Howitzer 'Mother' represents the original prototype weapon and has been recently transferred to Duxford from the Imperial War Museum, London.

While gun is original the prototype carriage was later replaced by a standard Mark I production carriage as is shown here. The gun carriage and recoil system are painted in a typical WWI dazzle camouflage scheme. The barrel itself is painted in peacetime olive drab - it was probably also painted in the dazzle camouflage pattern in WWI.

The 9.2 inch howitzer was introduced into service with the British Army in 1914. The barrel on this piece was tested in July 1914 and was the first of its type. The prototype howitzer was sent to France in October 1914 and was brought into action by the 8th Siege Battery, RGA at La Couture and was later in action at Nieppe and Warneton.

From February to July 1915 the howitzer was manned by the 10th Siege Battery, taking part in the battles of Neuve Chapelle and Festubert. Up to February 1915 it was the only howitzer of its type in France and was nicknamed 'Mother'. It was heavily guarded.

The Mk I fired a 290 pound shell up to a maximum range of 10,000 yards. By the end of the war approximately 450 of these howitzers had been supplied to the British Army. Weapons of this type, which were intended mainly for the battering of permanent fortresses, proved to be of great importance as the War of 1914-18 stabilized into something resembling siege operations. The pattern shown here was the first of its kind in the British Army in modern times except for a battery of about four very unsatisfactory weapons purchased from a foreign manufacturer in 1900.

With weapons of this class mobility was sacrificed for power and accuracy. The Howitzer and mounting were carried on three special four-wheeled carriages, weighing with their loads over 41 tons each, and were so designed as to form the necessary machinery for the operations of mounting and dismounting. Under normal circumstances these would take thirty-six hours to accomplish. Each carriage could be drawn by twelve heavy draught horses, but normally mechanical traction was employed.

On the 18th November 1914, 'Mother' was visited by H.R.H. The Prince of Wales.



This British Aerospace GR.9A Harrier vertical/short take-off and landing jet aircraft was constructed as GR.5A and had its first flight at Dunsfold on 16/11/89. It was delivered to the RAF on 21/02/92 where it then had its first flight after conversion to GR.7.

It later served on various UK stations and also in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also took part at various airshows in the UK.

In 2008 at RAF Cottesmore under the Joint Update and Maintenance Programme (code 51A) the plane was converted to GR.9A while still carrying Afghan mission markings. On 21/01/10 it went to the USA but only five days later, at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, it suffered what was deemed to be 'repairable damage' caused by a brake fire after taxiing.

On 19/03/10 it arrived, in a dismantled state, by road for repair at RAF Cottesmore.

On 15/12/10 the Harrier fleet was withdrawn from service and the repairs were abandoned. The plane was then declared to be 'scrap'. It was then stored stored at Cottesmore in its dismantled state until January 2012 when it was offered for sale to IWM.

The acquisition of a second-generation Harrier with Afghanistan theatre history is hugely important to the IWM and will enables it to communicate and interpret significant aspects of contemporary conflict. No other aircraft in the current IWM collection has Afghanistan service history.



The Grumman F8F Bearcat (affectionately called 'Bear') was an American single-engine naval fighter aircraft of the 1940s. It went on to serve into the mid-20th century in the United States Navy, the United States Marine Corps, and the air forces of other nations. It would be Grumman Aircraft's final piston engined fighter aircraft. Modified versions have broken speed records for propeller-driven aircraft, and are popular among warbird owners.

The F8F prototypes were ordered in November 1943 and first flew on 21 August 1944, a mere nine months later. The first production aircraft was delivered in February 1945 and the first squadron, Fighter Squadron 19 (VF-19), was operational by 21 May 1945, but World War II was over before the aircraft saw combat service.

An unmodified production F8F-1 set a 1946 time-to-climb record (after a take-off run of 115 ft) of 10,000 ft in 94 seconds. The Bearcat held this record for 10 years until it was broken by a modern jet fighter (which still could not match the Bearcat's short takeoff distance!).

Postwar, the F8F became a major U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps fighter, equipping 24 fighter squadrons in the Navy and a smaller number in the Marines. Often mentioned as one of the best-handling piston-engine fighters ever built, its performance was sufficient to outperform many early jets.

Bearcats have long been popular in air racing. A stock Bearcat flown by Mira Slovak and sponsored by Bill Stead won the first Reno Air Race in 1964. 'Rare Bear', a highly-modified F8F owned by Lyle Shelton, went on to dominate the event for decades with victories in his own Bearcat and also the holder of a propeller-driven aircraft world speed record in it. 'Rare Bear' also set many performance records, including the 3 km World Speed Record for piston-driven aircraft (528.33 mph) set in 1989, and a new time-to-climb record in 1972.

The Duxford F8F-2P Bearcat 121714 is a photo-reconnaissance version, fitted with camera equipment and armed with two 20 mm (.79 in) cannons.    Sixty of this version were built.


Spitfire LF Vb EP120 Registration G-LFVB AE-A was delivered in May 1942 to 45MU and later served with 501, 19, and 402 Squadrons, finally ending with 53OTU.

After a distinguished RAF career in which its pilots were credited with nine enemy aircraft shot down, it acted as 'Gate Guardian' at a number of RAF airfields before being acquired by The Fighter Collection.   It returned to the air on September 12 1995 and is currently based at Duxford.

(Information with acknowledgement to Steve de Roeck whose website is well worth a visit!)


To visit the other Indoor Displays please go to the top of the page (tab below right) and click on "3 : Indoor Displays" and then click on the required display.

Please go to the top of the page (tab below right),
Click on "3 : Indoor Displays",
Then click on the required display.

buttongo.jpg - 7212 Bytes