Battle of Britain Tour 2020 - Fly in a Spitfire!
17-22 September 2020
Battle of Britain Tour 2020 - 80th Anniversary. The Battle of Britain is the most famous aerial conflict in British history and now, on the 80th anniversary of the battle, 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.
Spitfires at Duxford Aerodrome in the build up to the Battle of Britain
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 2019 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!