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Between the wars

On 4 May 1939 the press were invited to Duxford to see the new Spitfire. It was the latest fighter aircraft to be introduced in the RAF and went on to become one of the most iconic aeroplanes of the Second World War.

Nos. 19 and 66 squadrons were present on the day, but the press were asked not to release these details by the Air Ministry for security reasons. Twelve Spitfires from 19 squadron performed an air drill and Squadron Leader Cozens gave an individual demonstration.

To really give the press an idea of the capabilities of the Spitfire in the air, journalists were taken up in five Blenheims to be the target in a mock attack! Flight magazine reported that the Spitfire was ‘truly a poem of speed and precision’.

On 4 May 2011, the scene in this photo was almost recreated. The press came and took photos of two Spitfires that had been brought out of the hangar to mark the occasion. School children and visitors were able to get up close to the aircraft and photograph them, just as the press had done 72 years before.

BBC Radio Cambridgeshire also covered this anniversary and interviewed our very own Carl Warner. Have a listen to the breakfast show for 5 May. The interview features after about 1 hour 23 minutes.

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Hangar 3: Air and Sea and the Watch Office. By permission of the Imperial War Museum, IWM_SITE_DUX_000317

Phase 1 of the interpretation of Historic Duxford will take place in what is currently known as Building 89. This building was used in the 1930s as a Watch Office, where the duty pilot or officer on watch would be stationed during flying activity.  It was built in 1917/1918, along with Hangar 3: Air and Sea. These are the first 1918 buildings that visitors encounter on their journey through the Museum.

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