London / Duxford
Battle of Britain Tour 2021
16-21 September 2021
Battle of Britain Tour 2021.
The Battle of Britain is the most famous aerial conflict in British history and you can follow in the footsteps of those brave young pilots, who we now regard as the ‘few’. We visit Lord Dowding’s office at the headquarters of Fighter Command during this intense period, the underground bunker that served as an operations room and attend the Battle of Britain Airshow at Duxford aerodrome. The Tour culminates in the opportunity for you to either fly in or alongside the legendary Supermarine Spitfire.
"The gratitude of every home in our Island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world, except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the World War by their prowess and their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."
20 August 1940.
Supermarine Spitfire Mk.1's lined up for a photo shoot at Duxford Aerodrome during a press day in May 1939
Thursday. Your Battle of Britain Tour commences this afternoon with a private screening of the iconic 1969 movie - 'Battle of Britain', followed by our welcome drinks and dinner at the RAF Club's central London location.
A private showing of the 'Battle of Britain' kicks off your tour in style
After the film it's time to enjoy dinner at the historic RAF Club in Pall Mall
Friday. We start with a private guided tour of Lord Dowding's office and RAF Bentley Priory, Fighter Command’s HQ during the Battle of Britain. Dowding's time leading Fighter Command left a lasting legacy on the organisation. His creation of the Operations and Filter Rooms, the essential elements of the Command, Control and Communications system, became the cornerstone of the Air Defence System.
The system he developed gave air controllers the best chance of scrambling fighter squadrons to intercept Luftwaffe raids before they reached their targets. This rapid, flexible approach was essential because there were insufficient aircraft and crews to keep fighter patrols continuously airborne in 1940.
After lunch we move on to RAF Uxbridge and visit the original 11 Group Ops Room bunker. As the location of No. 11 Group Operations Room, The Battle of Britain Bunker was one of the key parts of the world's first integrated air defence system. The system linked Fighter Command with Anti-Aircraft Command, Barrage Balloon Command, the Observer Corps, Chain Home Radio Direction Finding (radar), and the intelligence services. Under the system, these organisations worked together for the first time in order to achieve one goal: the successful defence of the UK's airspace.
No.11 Group was an important part of the system for several reasons: Firstly, as one of four group headquarters, No.11 Group's Operations Controller was responsible for making key decisions that would affect the outcomes of aerial battles - how many fighter aircraft to scramble, which type of aircraft, which squadrons to use, when to scramble them, where to scramble them from, where to scramble them to, etc. Secondly and also due to its role as a group headquarters, No.11 Group was responsible for organising and coordinating the activities of seven sector stations at which its fighter squadrons were based - Kenley, North Weald, Debden, Biggin Hill, Tangmere, Hornchurch and Northolt.
In April 1940 Air Vice-Marshal Keith Park was posted to No. 11 Group as its Air Officer Commanding. Of the four Fighter Command groups, No. 11 Group, controlled from the bunker, saw the most action and shot down many of the 1,733 German aircraft lost.
The prime minister, Winston Churchill, visited the bunker on 16 August 1940 and spoke the famous words "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed, by so many, to so few". He said the phrase as he got into his car, close to the entrance of the Bunker, then repeated them in the House of Commons on 20 August 1940. Churchill visited again on 15 September 1940 and wrote in his memoirs about the moment at which "all of the bulbs glowed red", referring to the squadron state boards in the Operations Room and indicating that every No. 11 Group squadron was engaged in combat at the same time.
RAF Uxbridge Operations Room, as it was at the height of the battle in the Summer of 1940
Saturday. After check-out we make our way the short distance to the award winning RAF Museum at Hendon for a very special look at the Battle of Britain 'Fighter Four'. The museum was established in 1968 as the landmark legacy of the RAF’s 50th anniversary and today we are privileged to be guided around original examples of the four fighters that were the key aircraft of the Battle; Supermarine Spitfire Mk 1A, Hawker Hurricane Mk 1, Messerschmitt Bf109E-4/B ‘Emil’ and Fiat CR42 Falco (Falcon).
The 'Fighter Four' collection at the RAF Museum, all orginal survivors of the Battle of Britain.
After a couple of hours free time at the museum we transfer north to Cambridgeshire and our next hotel.
Sunday. The annual Battle of Britain Air Show brings to life Duxford's finest hour as an important WWII fighter station defending Great Britain from aerial attack. The roar of Merlin engines will fill the air as you witness the sights and sounds of dogfights from iconic aircraft of the Battle of Britain including Hurricanes, Spitfires, Messerschmitts and the last surviving airworthy Bristol Blenheim. This unforgettable day of incredible flying by historic aircraft will culminate with a mass Spitfire formation taking to the sky.
On the ground, discover Duxford’s remarkable past as the museum, hangars, airfield and showground are transformed for the weekend with re-enactors, forties music and dance, entertainments and activities.
Here's the 2020 Battle of Britain Airshow trailer to whet your appetite!
The Twynhams Tours package gets you to the heart of the action with flight-line access and a full day of VIP hospitality. Our exclusive ‘Airside Suite’ has incredible views across the airfield from our private balcony. An exquisite menu with complimentary bar makes this the only way to spend your day!
A fantastic view of the Battle of Britain Airshow at Duxford from our private balcony
Timetable for your day at the Battle of Britain Airshow: 08.00 IWM Duxford and VIP car parks open // 09.00 Airside VIP Suite is open to guests // 09.00 Tea and coffee served on arrival // 09.00 Flight Line Walk opens // 11.30 Drinks reception served with assorted canapés // 12.30 Lunch service commences // 14.00 BoB flying programme commences // 15.30 Afternoon tea served // 17.30 Flying programme ends // 18.00 Airside VIP Suite closes. *Please note timings are subject to change.
Monday. This morning we transfer the short distance back to Duxford Aerodrome and unique behind-the-scenes access to world leading Spitfire experts, the Aircraft Restoration Company. You’ll get to see where the warbirds are restored from the ground up, serviced, maintained and operated from.
It's time for the highlight of your Battle of Britain tour. Depending on your chosen tour package, either climb into the rear cockpit of an original WW II Supermarine Spitfire for a 20-minute Flight Experience or take your seat in a classic airliner to fly alongside a Supermarine Spitfire Mk1.
TWO-SEAT SPITFIRE PASSENGER FLIGHT
Take to the skies in THE aircraft that won the hearts of both pilots and public in the Battle of Britain. it's a symbol of Britain’s refusal to give up in the Country's darkest hour. The Spitfire is an icon and a joy to watch, imagine what flying in one feels like! Twynhams Tours and our colleagues at ARC will create a moment in time you’ll never forget in an original Spitfire that saw action in World War II.
It's impossible to put this flying experience into words, so here's a short video from our Battle of Britain Tour Spitfire flights....
FLY WING-TO-WING WITH A SPITFIRE EXPERIENCE
Travel back to the thirties in style in the de Havilland Dragon Rapide vintage airliner and enjoy a graceful sightseeing flight over Cambridge in one of the last flying Rapides in the world. Each of the eight seats on board has a large window, perfect for viewing the landscape below and allowing you to fully appreciate the graceful lines of the WWII Supermarine Spitfire that will join us during the flight.
Literally 'out of the blue' the Spitfire appears alongside in close formation, it feels like you could almost touch it's wingtips, an evocative and awe inspiring piece of aerial choreography that few people ever get the chance to experience. The Spitfire pilot will perform graceful arcing turns and spend time on both sides of the Rapide, gives everyone a chance to take plenty of photos! Finally peeling away in true Battle of Britain style to reveal its legendary elliptical wing shape as it returns to base.