Step inside a Lancaster Bomber at IWM Duxford during February half-term break
PUBLISHED: 19:13 05 February 2017 | UPDATED: 09:27 06 February 2017
The spotlight will fall on the legendary Avro Lancaster, one of Britain's most iconic Second World War bombers, at IWM Duxford during the February half-term holiday.
From Saturday, February 11 to Sunday, February 19, the Lancaster Experience will give visitors the rare opportunity to peer inside the rear section of the World War Two aeroplane and hear a selection of amazing stories about the men who flew and fought in this type of aircraft.
Each day at 11am, a historic interpreter will lead an engaging talk discussing the development of the legendary heavy bomber, the different role each crew member played in Bomber Command, and the history behind IWM Duxford’s Avro Lancaster.
Drawing from the personal experiences of members of Bomber Command, the talk will also offer an insight into the dangerous and challenging conditions endured during wartime missions, including the famous Dambusters Raid, and the development of the bouncing bomb.
One story featured is that of Flight Lieutenant John ‘Hoppy’ Hopgood.
Due to the Lancaster’s compact interior, a maximum of six people can enter the aircraft at one time.
To avoid lengthy waiting times, each group will have a maximum of four minutes inside the aircraft.
Due to its popularity, visitors may have to queue for the experience.
At the age of 21, Hoppy helped lead the first wave of attacks on the Mohne Dam during the Dambusters Raid.
His remarkable actions during this dangerous mission, while unsuccessful in destroying the dam, ensured the survival of two of his crew members following intense enemy fire.
Moments after releasing its mine, Hopgood’s Lancaster received the full impact of a 20mm cannon blast, which caused the starboard wing to catch fire.
There was only one option left for Hopgood’s crew – to abandon the aircraft.
Hopgood knew they needed to reach enough altitude to make a safe jump but he struggled to navigate the severely damaged aircraft.
At a mere 500 feet above ground, three of his crew members succeeded in exiting the aircraft.
However, only two survived the perilous parachute drop, making it two of the lowest successful bailouts during the war.
Unfortunately Hopgood and the remaining crew did not survive.
About IWM Duxford
IWM Duxford is Britain’s best-preserved Second World War airfield, with a fascinating history that dates back to the First World War.
Its story reflects the landmark achievements made in aviation history.
Duxford is Europe’s premier aviation museum, where historic buildings intersperse with state-of-the-art exhibition halls, including AirSpace and the American Air Museum.
Historic aircraft can regularly be seen taking to the skies from Duxford’s wartime airfield.
With one of the finest collections of tanks, military vehicles and artillery in the UK, Duxford also shows the impact of technological development on war and conflict.
On recounting the mission, Wing Commander Guy Gibson, VC DSO & Bar DFC & Bar, described Hoppy as “probably the best pilot on the Squadron”.
Many of the exhibitions at IWM Duxford are housed within original First World War and 1930s buildings.
Exploring Duxford, visitors will follow in the footsteps of the men and women who lived and worked at this historic airfield, defending Britain’s skies.
Find out how Britain overcame one of the most significant air campaigns of the Second World War in the Battle of Britain exhibition.
Visitors can also explore the American Air Museum and witness the best collection of American aircraft on display outside North America.
You may even get the opportunity to see contemporary and historic aircraft fly as they take off and land from IWM Duxford’s historic Cambridgeshire airfield.
• Half-term activities from Saturday, February 11 to Sunday, February 19 are included in general admission to IWM Duxford.
Check the IWM website at iwm.org.uk/duxford for up-to-date information regarding February activities.
IWM Duxford’s winter opening hours are 10am to 4pm, with last admission at 3pm.