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The Sky Above Us – Tour of Duxford Air Museum

To celebrate the release of The Sky Above Us, author Sarah Sundin is showing photos from her research trip to England and Normandy. Today - Imperial War Museum, Duxford

To celebrate the release of The Sky Above Us, author Sarah Sundin is showing photos from her research trip to England and Normandy. Today – Imperial War Museum, Duxford

To celebrate the release of The Sky Above Us, I’m conducting a photo tour of locations from the novel that I saw on my research trip to England and Normandy.

London!

D-day in the Air

Today—Duxford Air Museum

The Queen Mary (sister ship of the Queen Elizabeth)

Don’t forget to enter The Sky Above Us Release Day Giveaway, which includes lots of items I picked up on the trip! Giveaway runs Feb. 5-12, 2019.

In The Sky Above Us, Adler Paxton flies his P-51 Mustang with the 357th Fighter Group based at Leiston Army Airfield in Leiston, England. Today we’re visiting the air museum at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford, England. Built in 1917, Duxford Airfield served as a sector station for RAF Number 12 Group of Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain, and in April 1943 it was passed to the 78th Fighter Group of the US Eighth Air Force, which flew P-47 Thunderbolts and later P-51 Mustangs.

Today Duxford is the home of a complex of excellent museums—from general aviation to the Battle of Britain to the American Air Museum. You can watch restoration in process, and when weather permits, the historic aircraft take to the air.

The Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

The Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Interior of the Airspace Museum, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Interior of the Airspace Museum, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Many of the airfield’s original structures remain or have been restored. Here are pictures of the control tower, the operations room (which is set up as it was during the Battle of Britain in 1940-41), and the corrugated tin Nissen huts. Since Duxford was a permanent airfield, the airmen were housed in heated brick barracks, far more luxurious than the coal-stove-heated temporary Nissen huts used at other US Eighth and Ninth Air Force air bases.

Control Tower at Duxford Airfield, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Control Tower at Duxford Airfield, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Operations room at Duxford Airfield, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Operations room at Duxford Airfield, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Nissen huts at Duxford Airfield, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Nissen huts at Duxford Airfield, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

The Battle of Britain museum houses the RAF Hurricanes and Spitfires that won that pivotal battle, a German Messerschmitt Me 109, as well as an antiaircraft gun and searchlight that were so crucial in defending the British airfields from the Luftwaffe.

Hurricane fighter, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Hurricane fighter, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

RAF Spitfire, Imperial War Musuem, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

RAF Spitfire, Imperial War Musuem, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

German Messerschmitt Me 109 fighter, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

German Messerschmitt Me 109 fighter, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

RAF antiaircraft gun, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

RAF antiaircraft gun, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

RAF searchlight, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

RAF searchlight, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Duxford also commemorates the Yanks who invaded the island, with an excellent exhibit in the American Air Museum and loving restorations of B-17 Flying Fortress Sally B and several P-51 Mustangs. Of course, I was thrilled to see two P-51s with the red-and-yellow checked markings of the 357th Fighter Group. They also have on display a “paper” drop tank (actually a paper-plastic composition). These extraordinarily lightweight tanks carried 108 gallons under the Mustang’s wings, could be easily dropped if the fighter needed to engage the enemy, and they extended the range of the P-51 to reach any location in Germany. One of the many reasons the P-51 is—arguably—the best fighter aircraft of World War II.

B-17 Flying Fortress “Sally B” (also painted as the “Memphis Belle” on one side), Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

B-17 Flying Fortress “Sally B” (also painted as the “Memphis Belle” on one side), Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

US P-51 Mustang, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

US P-51 Mustang, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

P-51 Mustangs "Frenesi" and "Berlin Express" in markings of US 357th Fighter Group, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

P-51 Mustangs “Frenesi” and “Berlin Express” in markings of US 357th Fighter Group, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England, September 2017 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Just for fun…here are some short video clips I took of B-17 Flying Fortress Sally B and an RAF Spitfire in flight! What a treat it was to see this beautiful planes flying in England!

Please join me tomorrow for a tour of the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California, the sister ship of the Queen Elizabeth, which transported both Adler and Violet from New York to England.

4 Responses to “The Sky Above Us – Tour of Duxford Air Museum”

  1. Lisa Hudson

    Sarah,

    This is another fantastic presentation! This reminds me a great deal of the National Navy Avation Museum at NAS, Pensacola, FL. We’ve toured it many times as it’s at the base where where my 93 yr old Daddy was stationed during WWII. It’s also home of The Blue Angels. Thank You so much for the long hours and detailed work you put into this presentation and into the research for your books. That’s what makes them feel so authentic!