Various dates

11am and 1:30pm

IWM Duxford

AirSpace

£12

Excludes admission to IWM Duxford

On selected dates in January and February, join one of IWM’s expert guides for a tour exploring the Spies in the Skies: Second World War Aerial Reconnaissance spotlight exhibition.

Go behind the ropes and learn more about aircraft chosen by the Photographic Reconnaissance Unit (PRU) during the Second World War.

Discover the unique story of the Lockheed Electra, modified and flown on clandestine aerial reconnaissance missions over Germany. Get closer to the secretive world of the Westland Lysander and identify Spitfires specifically designed for reconnaissance, including the recovered airframe of Flight Lieutenant 'Sandy' Gunn's Supermarine Spitfire PR Mk IV AA810.

 

Important Information

Two PR Mk XI Spitfires parked at IWM Duxford
© Liam Shaw

The tour will be held in the Spies in the Skies exhibition, please meet your IWM guide inside AirSpace at the entrance to the Conservation Hall.

Tickets must be purchased in advance and will not available to purchase on the day.

Spies in the Skies exhibition tour tickets do not include admission to IWM Duxford, which must be purchased separately. 

You will receive a 10% discount voucher to use in our IWM Shops or online.

Featured Aircraft

  • Lockheed Electra 12A
    © IWM

    Lockheed 12A Electra Junior G-AFTL

    A civilian aircraft which was adapted for use as a reconnaissance aircraft by the Secret Intelligence Service in 1939. Flown by Sidney Cotton, one of the founding fathers of the PRU, this was the last British civilian aircraft to leave Berlin before the outbreak of the Second World War. 

    This year, the Electra flew again as G-AFTL for the first time since 1940, having undergone extensive restoration. 

  • A Westland Lysander flies through the air.
    © IWM

    Westland Lysander Mk IIIA V9312

    Built in 1940, Westland Lysander V9312 served as a reconnaissance aircraft with 225 squadron, flying over 30 sorties in 1940-41. After suffering damage in 1942, V9312 was converted to a target tug and shipped to Canada, where it served until 1944.

    Beginning in 2003, V9312 underwent a 15 year restoration, flying again in 2018. It is the only airworthy British-built Lysander of its kind.
     

  • Spitfire PR Mk XI takes off at IWM Duxford, 2018
    © IWM

    Supermarine Spitfire PR Mk XI PL983

    First flying in October 1944, PL983 saw service from 1945 onwards, flying in missions across Europe as part of 4 Squadron until Germany’s surrender. After the war PL983 served as the personal transport of the American Air Attaché, before being flown in the Lympne International Air Race by Lettice Curtis , breaking the 100km closed circuit record. 

    After several civilian owners, PL983 was acquired by the Aircraft Restoration Company and refitted to its wartime specifications and 'PRU Blue' livery.

  • The belly of Supermarine Spitfire PR Mk IX
    © Liam Shaw

    Supermarine Spitfire PR Mk XI PL965

    Flying over 40 reconnaissance sorties in 1945, PL965 flew over German cities, including Berlin, taking images for target maps and damage assessment. Following the Second World War, PL965 was acquired by the Royal Netherlands Air Force, where it was used as an instructional airframe until 1960. 

    After going on display in the Dutch National War and Resistance Museum, PL965 flew again in 1992, and is one of two airworthy Spitfire PR Mk XIs.

  • Spitfire FR Mk XIVE MV293
    © IWM

    Supermarine Spitfire FR Mk XIVE MV293

    A fighter reconnaissance Spitfire built in late 1944 at the Keevil Supermarine factory, MV293 moved between maintenance units before being shipped to India. It flew with the RAF and Royal Indian Air Force, then was used for instruction by the Indian Air Force Technical College. 

    In 1978, it returned to the UK for Doug Arnold’s Warbirds of Great Britain collection, then passed to The Fighter Collection in 1985, flying again in 1992. Spitfire MV293 is now restored to its authentic RAF markings, including camera windows in the fuselage sides.


     

  • Replica Spitfire, representing PR Mk IG R7059
    © IWM

    Supermarine Spitfire PR Mk IG R7059 Replica

    Painted in pale pink camouflage for sunrise and sunset operations, our replica represents Spitfire PR Mk IG R7059, completed in 1941 as a Mk I fighter. It served as a photo reconnaissance aircraft with No.1 PRU and was originally piloted by James Morgan. Morgan would go on to command 682 Squadron in Italy.


     

Spies in the Skies: Second World War Aerial Reconnaissance runs 27 December 2023 until 25 February 2024.

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A Spitfire PR Mk XI, in D-Day invasion stripes, flies over green hills.
© IWM
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