Daily from 9 to 15 September 2023


IWM Duxford

Battle of Britain Exhibition


Admission to IWM Duxford not included

Join one of our expert IWM guides for a 60-minute tour exploring Duxford's role in the Battle of Britain.

Hear about the background to the battle, learn about the RAF’s secret weapon the ‘Dowding System’ and uncover the myths, controversies and realities surrounding this iconic aerial campaign.

Ask your own questions to our expert and explore our exhibitions The Battle of Britain Exhibition and Battle of Britain: Ops Block.

Aircraft and People

Flight Sergeant George 'Grumpy' Unwin of No. 19 squadron

Between July and October 1940, Britain was engaged in a fight for survival. Some of the most important victories of the Second World War were being won in the skies. 

During this tour, you'll meet some of the key characters who served at Duxford in that pivotal summer, and hear their stories. 

Learn about pilots like George 'Grumpy' Unwin, pictured here climbing out of his Spitfire, and Women’s Auxiliary Air Force personnel like Jean Mills, who worked in the Operations Room.

You'll also discover the RAF's main fighter aircraft, the Supermarine Spitfire and the Hawker Hurricane, both of which flew from Duxford during the battle. 

Duxford’s Role

The Ops Block at IWM Duxford

Duxford was a Sector Station for 12 Group during the Battle of Britain. This meant it was responsible for directing 12 Group's fighter squadrons into battle. 

The Operations Room (pictured) was the nerve centre of RAF Duxford during the battle. It was here that information on enemy aircraft was gathered and plotted on the map, and instructions were issued to the pilots scrambling to meet any incoming threat.

As the battle raged, Duxford became the centre of a controversy about how best to use fighter aircraft.

Acting Squadron Leader of 242 Squadron, Douglas Bader, and Air Vice Marshal Trafford Leigh-Mallory favoured a ‘Big Wing’ of up to 60 aircraft. Detractors, including Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding and Air Vice Marshal Keith Park, argued that this approach was complicated and unnecessary. 


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