View Full Version : Museums and Spitfires in the London area

1st Aug 2004, 20:15
Hello Everyone,

We have a trip into the London area this week and will most likely be spending a few days in town. Having heard that there are a few Spitfires that still exist in the area, could any one please help me to locate a field I could visit to see one up close? The Spit has been a passion of mine for years and although I have in fact seen one up close, it was when I was at an age when I did not appreciate what I was looking at. Any help will be greatly appreciated.

Another interest would be to visit the RAF museum. I have heard great things about it and figured it would be a great way to spend an afternoon, if not a full day. Unfortunately I have failed to remember the name of the town in whicis it located.

As we will be arriving in Luton and will most likely be staying in the general vacinity, if anyone cares to offer directions, please reference them to Luton. Keep in mind that we will be limited to public transportation.

Should any web sites exist for either of these ideas, could someone perhaps post the links??

Regardless, any pointers will be appreciate and i look forward to any replies.



1st Aug 2004, 20:42
The RAF museum is situated in Hendon..

There are Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum in London and Duxford which is really outside London but well worth a visit.


1st Aug 2004, 20:47
Imperial War Museum (including Duxford) here www.iwm.org.uk

Hendon here www.rafmuseum.com


1st Aug 2004, 20:53
I think you were thinking of Hendon, Joe.

RAF Museum (http://www.rafmuseum.com/) website is at this link.

If you can get to the Cambridge area, Duxford might be of interest - Website (http://duxford.iwm.org.uk/) gives more details. If you click on the Visitor Information link, you'll find a transport information link as well.

You might also be interested in the Imperial War Museum (http://www.iwm.org) ...

Edit to add -
Oops! Beaten to it by REF. So, since you're using public transport, here's (http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/planmyjourney/Time_Table/journey_requirements.asp) the national rail enquires site

Agaricus bisporus
1st Aug 2004, 23:55
But to answer your question the RAF Museum at Hendon is only 20 minutes from Luton on the Thameslink rail line (free shuttlebus to the station from LTN airport) but I think you'll struggle to get to Duxford by public transport, the UK is not that well organized for non car owners...Hire one if you can.

Both sites are superb, the RAF museum is all static with some fantastic rarities and Duxford is much larger with lots of flying aircraft on view. To get really up close go to the Shuttleworth Collection near Bedford where there is also a Spit (albeit with very odd shaped wingtips...), plus a couple of score of the rarest pre WW2 and several pre WW1 aircraft on display, most flyable.

2nd Aug 2004, 05:39
That is fantastic!! What a great response filled with all the right information. Thank you very much. I will have to take a few minutes to browse through all of the web sites but they all look very good.

As for the Spitfire, what I would really like to know if there are any that are still flying? I imagine that the Spits in the museums will all be on static display. What would actually get me going is to hear one, especially when it is flying. I can't imagine what it must sound like. Maybe just the opportunity to speak with someone who flies one, or flew one. Maybe I could even get a ride!?!? ......OK, back to reality, but I really do not know what options exist??? But if any chance to be "up close and personal" with a Spit did exist I would be willing to do almost anything for that thrill of a lifetime.

Anyhow, looking forward to the responses.

Again, thanks a lot!!


2nd Aug 2004, 07:16
Best chance of seeing a Spitfire flying would be at the weekend at Duxford. Also check the Shuttleworth Collection site to see if they have a display at Old Warden soon.

Duxford is about 25 miles ENE from Luton and Old Warden about 15 NNE. Would you consider hiring a car for just a day?

When are you going to be here?


2nd Aug 2004, 07:34

If you want to see airworthy Spitfires, Duxford really is your best bet. At present there are about half a dozen flying Spits there, possibly more.

To get there from Luton, you have a few options;

1 - Take the train from Luton into London, get to London Kings Cross, and take a train out to Cambridge. There is a free bus service from Cambridge rail station straight to Duxford.

2 - If you're able to hire a car for the day, head east out of Luton, routing Hitchin, Letchworth, Baldock, Royston and then the A505 towards Cambridge, which leads you straight to Duxford.

3 - Coaches; I've just done a bit of googling, and come up with the JL787 National Express service, which runs a number of return journeys from Luton bus station to Cambridge Drummer Street every day. Journey time about 1hr 25 each way. Click on this link http://www.bus-pass.com/ and there's a times and fares link to click on.

Whichever method of travel you choose though, I'd urge you to visit Duxford. You'll need a full day to take it all in though. Oh, and while you're there, treat yourself to a flight in one of the Classic Wings Dragon Rapides or Tiger Moths. The guys who operate them are a great bunch of lads and lasses, and they'll do everything they can to make you feel welcome.

Have a good trip!


Rallye Driver
2nd Aug 2004, 07:37
From memory there are eight flying Spitfires at Duxford (2 x Mark V, Mark IX, Tr9, Mark XIV, 2 x Mark XVI and a Mark XVIII) and two Hurricanes. You may be lucky enough to see one flying when you visit - especially at a weekend, when they very often have a short display in the afternoon or fly off to display at an airshow.

We had a Spitfire and Hurricane fly in to North Weald yesterday afternoon after they had displayed at Woodchurch. Those two are based at Breighton in Yorkshire.

Next weekend, 7-8 August there is an airshow at Chailey in East Sussex, where several Spitfires are due to fly (some based at Duxford)..


Here are a couple of Duxford residents.

ML407 shot down the first German aircraft on D-Day and was converted to a Tr9 after the war. It is possible to arrange a flight in this one, but there is a three year waiting llist! I am lucky enough to have 37 minutes in my Log Book.


BM597 is a Mark V in the markings of a Polish squadron.


RD :ok:

3rd Aug 2004, 07:21
Spits at Duxford:

Vbs BM597 and EP120
IXc MH434
Tr.9 ML407
XIVs MV293/"MV268" and RN201
XVIs TD248 and TE184 (which is in the OFMC hangar)
24 VN485 (although not sure if this is accessible as it's being restored).

Hendon boasts 3 Spits (1a X4590, VB BL614 and the Mk24 whose serial I can never remember!! :O ), not including the fibreglass one outside...

The Old Fogducker
3rd Aug 2004, 18:00
Hi Joe:

I'm a life-long Spitfire admirer too. Based on my experience, the RAF Museum is an "absolutely must see" spot. I made the mistake of allowing myself to be "booked" so as to allow me only an afternoon on-site. It was totally inadequate, as I was litterally running from exhibit to exhibit.

The next year I gave myself an entire day to visit. Much better, as I arrived within a few minutes of door opening, and stayed until they almost had to drag me out of the facility. I think you really need 2 days to see everything, talk to people, and generally absorb the significance of what's under the roof.

You'll also want to buy a few keepsakes in the gift shop, so save a ltlle time and money for that.

One of the things I notice about the British museums in general is the high quality of the restorations and the care taken to ensure that somebody can't damage or vandalize the displays. It means though, that you'll spend a fair amount of time standing there in the crowd of the non-aviation types wanting to climb the barrier and hop into the cockpit.

I had the unfortunate experience of attending the USAF Museum in Dayton a few years ago. Marvellous place, full of history. I had the chance to lay hands on one of the X-15's that had contributed so much to the science of highspeed flight. As I was marvelling about the way it was built, I noticed some love crazed juvenile couple had carved their initials inside a heart just below the canopy ..... what jerks!

Enjoy your visit.


6th Aug 2004, 12:50
Thanks again for all the replies.

Here I am in London and would you believe it, I do not believe that I will not be able to make it out to Duxford. I am still goign to give it a shot, but if half a day is not going to be enough, then ......well what to do. Such is life.

I'll letr you all know if i make it or not.



6th Aug 2004, 13:46
Hi JoeCo,

Welcome to extremely sunny London!

Regretfuly, half a day is not really sufficient t o see all of Duxford properly. You could probably walk through all the hangars and see everything, but you'd never get a chance to look at all the exhibits. If you just want to go and only look at Spitfires, then its just feasible.

Are you in Luton or London? If you are in London, then a train to Cambridge that stops at Duxford or Whittlesford might be your best bet. Then get a cab from Whittlesford to Duxford airfield, its only 2-3 miles.

Chimbu chuckles
9th Aug 2004, 05:59
I just did the trip from London last Friday while on a 48 hr slip in London.

Slept in so didn't leave the Hotel until lunchtime...from Kings Cross to Cambridge was 45 minutes on one of the fastest trains I've ever been on. From Cambridge to Duxford was almost as long on the bus:(

Arrived just in time to see Caroline Grace arrive in her Spitfire while another was having engine runs up past Hangar 1, a silver and red one (Mk14?).

Had a wander through virtually every hangar but ended up finding my way past hangar 1 and got in where the red and silver spit was as well as a Hurricane. The people were very friendly and gave me the cooks tour followed by the run of the place. Even allowed me up on the wing of the Hurricane to look inside the very original cockpit. It was G-HURI.

Fascinating seeing the Spits being rebuilt/remanufactured..including an ex Burmese AF one and a two seater nearing completion in Irish AF colours.

Flying aircraft, beside the spit, was arrivals of a Harvard and Beech 18 in close formation and very low level overhead join...and a Trojan that made the Harvard/Beech duo look like they joined upwind in orbit:ok: Of course various Dehav products doing joy rides ( a Rapide I think)...as well as a few normal GA types.

A very long, hot afternoon but well spent...when next I hit London in a few weeks I'll be sure to get up earlier.

Only damper on the day was 2+ hours each way from my hotel and on the return journey the west bound trains from Kings Cross to Baker St, where I needed to change tubes and connect on to the station closest to my hotel (mental blank) stopped running as I walked onto the platform. A rude/stressed rail employee directed us out to the busses...got a cab instead. 19 quid day return was a little steep...especially when you don't ge to use 1/2 the return, 5 quid bus fares and 9 quid cab fare...10 quid entry...wasn't a cheap day but very excellent non the less.

Never seen a real live Hurricane in the flesh before:ok:

Plus you Poms certainly aren't set up for warm weather are you? No airconned public transport??


9th Aug 2004, 07:16
That would have been either the Aircraft Restoration Co or Historic Flying you got a guided tour of then??

Bloody hell, there was an offer to go see all that lot in one of the periodicals earlier this year - if you wanted to stump up 55 for it!!

18th Aug 2004, 09:20

How did you get on?

25th Aug 2004, 10:22
Hey Gang,

Well I must admit that this post generated more interest then I imagined. First let me say thanks for all the great informative replies. Next time I'm in London I will know exactly what needs to be done. If you caught that little hint, then you know what's coming next. Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to make it out to Duxford. :{ I guess it will have to wait for next time. ....If I only had one more day in town!?!? Regardless, I will be looking forward to next trip up to London.