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Cambridge / Suffolk

'Big Week' US Eighth Air Force Commemoration Tour 2022

Dates

10-14 July 2022

'Big Week' - US Eighth Air Force Commemoration Tour 2022

Join us for this 4-night aviation history tour from 10th-14th July 2022, exploring the background of the US Eighth Air Force heroes and their epic air battle in 1944 - 'Big Week'.

‘Big Week’ – A Brief History

Operation Argument or ‘Big week’ was a sequence of raids by the USAAF and RAF Bomber Command from 20 to 25 February 1944. As part of the strategic bombing campaign against Nazi Germany, the intention was to attack German aircraft industry and lure the Luftwaffe into a decisive battle. The damage inflicted by the Allies would be irrepairable and would achieve air superiority, thereby ensuring the success of the invasion of mainland Europe.

USAAF B-17's head out, in formation, on a daylight bombing raid during the latter stages of WW2


Throughout 1943, the US Eighth Air Force had been growing in experience and started pressing attacks deeper into Germany. It was believed that the defensive firepower of the B-17 and B-24 bombers would allow them to defend themselves. In practice this proved less successful and although the bombers did claim several German fighters, losses were unsustainable. Daylight missions into Germany were then temporarily cancelled to allow replenishment of aircraft and crews.

The P-38 Lightning and P-51 Mustang were just being introduced into service and had the range needed to escort bombers to targets deep within Germany. Over the winter of 1943 they re-equipped the existing USAF fighter squadrons and long-range versions of existing fighters were developed.

The North American P-51 Mustang, one of the greatest fighters of the Second World War


By early 1944, the USAAF, expecting a fighter advantage, planned missions that would demand a German response. They decided to make massive raids on the German fighter factories. If the Germans chose not to respond, they would be at risk of losing the air war, if they did respond, they would meet the new long-range fighters in the process. In addition, allied fighters were ordered to abandon their role as bomber escorts and make their primary goal to shoot down Luftwaffe fighters. The primary purpose of 'Big Week' was not the bombing missions, but to engage the Luftwaffe and the allied bombers were used as bait. Once freed of close bomber escort duty, allied fighters decimated the Luftwaffe.

In six days, the Eighth Air Force bombers flew more than 3,000 sorties. As predicted, German aircraft could not be sufficiently replaced and as a result, the allies achieved air superiority by the time of the D-day invasion. The combined bomber offensive officially ended on April 1st 1944, when control of the air forces passed to US General Dwight D. Eisenhower in preparation for the invasion of France. While the USAAF continued strategic bombing, its main priority became the tactical air battle in support of the Normandy invasion, Operation Overlord.

'Big Week' - The Tour

Twynhams Tours are giving you the opportunity, as part of our exclusive group, to immerse yourself in our 4-night US Eighth Air Force Commemoration Tour. Commencing with an exclusive VIP hospitality experience at the world-famous Flying Legends airshow. As well as spending time visiting the multitude of classic aircraft hangars at the Imperial War Museum including the internationally famous, American Air Museum, we will visit several ex-bomber airfields in East Anglia and pay our respects at the Cambridge American Cemetery.

The tour culminates with the spine-tingling roar of the Packard Merlin engine warming up, ready for you to take to the skies in an original WW2 North American P-51 Mustang from historic Duxford Aerodrome, the ex-Eighth Air Force WW2 fighter and bomber base. The flight will take you over the same East Anglian countryside that became home to the thousands of US aircrews back in '43 and '44.

DAY ONE
Sunday. Our luxury coaches will meet you at the tour 'take-off' point in London, early on Sunday morning, and head North for your VIP day at the Flying Legends airshow.

Take your seats, sit back and prepare to be enthralled. This world-famous tribute to piston-engined aircraft has moved from Duxford to Sywell Aerodrome in Northamptonshire for 2022. The new venue brings with it a unique history. The aerodrome opened in 1928 and during the Second World War, as RAF Sywell, was used as a training facility and later an important centre for the repair of Wellington bombers; extensive sheds from this time remain on the site. Many aerial shots for the 1969 film 'Battle of Britain' were taken over the airfield and local countryside.

Here is the official trailer for the 2020 Flying Legends Airshow to whet your appetite....


Flying Legends takes you back to the halcyon days before jet-power conquered the skies. You will witness the sights and sounds of a mass Spitfire flypast and an afternoon of entertaining aerial displays and dogfights from iconic aircraft. This world leading airshow offers something for every vintage aviation fan, with DC-3's, pre-war biplanes, American WW2 fighters and bombers including the P-51, P-47, B17 and of course the crowd favourites from the Battle of Britain including Hurricanes, Spitfires, Messerschmitts and many more. Flying Legends culminates in the finale Balbo formation when all the WW2 fighters take to the skies to salute you in a mass flypast.

The Twynhams Tours package gets you to the heart of the action with a full day of VIP hospitality. Our exclusive ‘Hangar Suite’ has incredible views across the airfield from its private terrace. An exquisite all-day menu with complimentary bar makes this the only way to spend your day at Flying Legends.


Flying Legends - Exclusive VIP hospitality and a private terrace with panoramic views of the airfield

Timetable for your day at Flying Legends: 09.30 Tea and coffee served on arrival // 11.00 Drinks reception served with assorted canapés // 12.30 Lunch service commences // 14.00 Flying Legends flying programme commences // 15.30 Afternoon tea served // 17.30 Flying Legends flying programme ends // 18.00 VIP Suite closes.
*Please note timings are subject to change.

On completion of the flying programme the coaches will be ready to transfer you to our boutique hotel for the next four nights, The Lodge Duxford. Located just one hour’s drive from Sywell Aerodrome it is also only 15-minutes from Duxford Airfield. With its ambience, character and history (Winston Churchill stayed here during the war) it has recently been restored back to its former glory.

The Lodge Duxford - Charming, sophisticated and perfectly located


The Lodge comprises a hotel, café and restaurant, offering a welcoming hideaway. Step inside and you’ll find a blend of charming traditional features and contemporary design touches. Wherever possible the team at the hotel use local suppliers and source local ingredients for their menus, ensuring a sustainable environment.