New England Air Museum 2024: Mighty Eighth Air Force

No American or East Anglian can think seriously about B-17s today without feeling the tug of their great purpose and destiny. They were the two-fisted tin cans that tore the roof off a deranged empire.

– Harry H. Crosby, A Wing and a Prayer: The "Bloody 100th" Bomb Group of the US Eighth Air Force in Action Over Europe in World War II

To mark the 80th anniversary of the Combined Bomber Offensive, The New England Air Museum is teaming up with Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours to bring museum supporters the Mighty Eighth Air Force Tour – Reaping the Whirlwind. Delve into the intricate details of this pivotal World War II campaign, paying homage to the extraordinary bravery of thousands of airmen who etched their names in history.

From 1943 to 1945, RAF Bomber Command and the USAAF 8th Air Force embarked on a strategic bombing mission, unleashing three million tons of ordnance and reshaping the landscape of occupied Europe. While historians continue to debate its efficacy, the tour serves as a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by the young airmen who selflessly gave their all.

You will study this most important campaign of World War II in unparalleled detail, learning about these brave men, visiting the aircraft, and exploring the places where they made history.

 

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Highlights

  • London: Visit the famous Blitz of 1940 sites as well as the London Docklands Museum, St. Clement Danes Church (the RAF church), Site of the Air Ministry, Paternoster Square, Guard’s chapel, the remains of air raid shelters
  • Hendon: Travel to the RAF Museum to see rare surviving examples of some of the most famous aircraft of World War II, including the Boeing B-17 and B-24
  • Cambridge: Explore the Battle of Britain Bunker Museum at Uxbridge, a previously top-secret facility that houses the plotting board
  • Duxford Flying Finale: A special end-of-season flying display at the former RAF site, which played a leading role in some of the most dramatic days in 20th-century history. It served as a base for many Spitfire and Hurricane pilots during the Second World War.
  • Lavenham: Have a beer at the pub at the Swan Hotel. A favorite watering hole for many American airmen, the walls are covered with wartime graffiti that many of these brave men left around the hotel.
  • Thorpe Abbotts: Home to an amazing display of wartime memorabilia associated with the 100th BG as well as surviving buildings, including the group’s wartime control tower and remains of the airfield
  • Tibenham: See the Rougham Control Tower Museum and airfield, where the 94th “Square A” Bomb Group was headquartered, and Tibenham Airfield, which was the home base of Hollywood Legend Jimmy Stewart

Day-By-Day Itinerary

DAY 1 – September 30 - Flights to London

Guests book their overnight flights to London Heathrow (LHR).

DAY 2 – October 1 - Arrival in London

Once you arrive, please make your way to the designated tour hotel. There will be a 6 p.m. Welcome Reception followed by Dinner.

DAY 3 – October 2 - London: “The Blitzes”

London has a long and tragic history of enduring a strategic bombing offensive. You will spend our first day visiting sites associated not only with the famous Blitz of 1940 but also some dramatic evidence of the Blitz of World War I and the later, V-1 and V-2 strikes of 1944-45. In addition to Blitz sites around St. Paul’s, you will also visit the scarred remains of the “Sphinxes” to see where bombs rained down on London during the Great War; the site of the V-2 strike near Sloane Square that killed nearly 100 Americans and almost got Glen Miller; the Tabard Street Stretcher Fences; London Bridge Station; and the Imperial War Museum.

DAY 4 – October 3 - London

On your second day in London, you will continue to explore the theme of a capital city at war, stopping at the London Docklands Museum, St. Clement Danes Church (the RAF church), Site of the Air Ministry, Paternoster Square, Guard’s chapel, the remains of air raid shelters that can be found near Queen Anne’s Gate, and London Transport Museum. 

DAY 5 – October 4 - London to Cambridge

Your day will start at the outstanding RAF Museum at Hendon, where you will have an opportunity to see rare surviving examples of some of the most famous aircraft of World War II, including the Boeing B-17 and B-24, as well as the British Lancaster bomber, all of which played a significant part in the story of the strategic bombing offensive. From Hendon you will travel to the Battle of Britain Bunker Museum at Uxbridge.

It was here in Uxbridge that the fighters of 11 Group were ordered to take to the skies to try and stop the waves of German bombers descending on London and other British cities at the height of the Blitz. Our exclusive Mighty Eighth Air Force tour will take you deep underground to the heart of this previously top-secret facility to see the plotting board, which has been restored to its exact appearance on September 15, 1940, Battle of Britain Day. Churchill was a frequent visitor to the bunker during the battle, and it was after a visit on August 16, 1940, that he first uttered his famous phrase, “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed, by so many, to so few.”

You will finish the day at High Wycombe, the home of both Bomber Command and the nearby Wycombe Abbey School, which, during the war, was headquarters for the USAAF 8th Air Force. You will see where the critical decisions were made by men such as Arthur Harris, Ira Eaker, and Carl Spaatz to launch the destructive might of the Western Allies against Nazi Germany.

DAY 6 – October 5 -  Duxford Air Show

Duxford Flying Finale is a special end-of-season flying display that takes place at the former RAF site, which played a leading role in some of the most dramatic days in 20th-century history. It served as a base for many of the Spitfire and Hurricane pilots during the Second World War.

  • Royal Anglian Regiment Museum - Showcasing equipment used during the war, from uniforms to rationed foods and fun activities for all ages.
  • Duxford Aviation Society: Concorde Nose Droop - A special live demonstration to showcase the droop of the famous Concorde nose.
  • U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) Aviation Armorers & Mechanics Display - Using practical demonstrations and period artifacts, Aviation Armorers & Mechanics Display portray the work of the Armorers, Mechanics, and Ground Crew, found at any USAAF Fighter or Bomber Airfield in England, during the Second World War.
  • Discover D-Day - Discover a display of 101st Airborne Paratrooper artifacts that relate to D-Day and the weeks following operations in Normandy.
  • Meet the team: Aircraft Restoration Company & Aerial Collective Duxford - the in-house warbird flight experience provider of the Aircraft Restoration Co. Get up close to iconic vintage aircraft from their stable and browse a range of new merchandise.
  • And many more activities!

DAY 7 – October 6 -  Cambridge

For much of the war, the most dangerous assignment for any American was to be assigned to flight operations. By the end of the war, more than 40,000 young Americans had been killed flying in combat operations. You will begin the day at the Cambridge American Cemetery, paying your respects to 3,811 of these young men who made the supreme sacrifice.

Next, you will travel to the world-renowned IWM Duxford and its dedicated American Airpower Museum.

DAY 8 – October 7 -  Cambridge/Lavenham

Today, we will focus on the strategic bombers of the “Mighty 8th” Air Force. You will go to the former airfields of the “Bloody Hundredth” Bomb Group at Thorpe Abbotts, which houses an amazing display of wartime memorabilia associated with the 100th BG as well as surviving buildings, including the group’s wartime control tower and remains of the airfield. At Horham, the wartime home of the 95th BG, you will be able to enjoy the museum as well as the delights of the Red Feather Club, which during the war was the NCOs mess for the 95th (it has been lovingly restored to its original wartime appearance by a dedicated group of local volunteers), as well as the wartime home of the 95th Bomb Group at Horham and 94th Bomb Group at Bury St. Edmunds.

For refreshments, we will go to the beautiful village of Lavenham, where you can enjoy the many surviving medieval buildings as well as the pub at the Swan Hotel. During the war, the Swan Hotel was a favorite watering hole for many American airmen. While you’re enjoying your beer at the pub, you can peruse the wartime graffiti that many of these brave men left around the hotel's walls.

DAY 9 – October 8 -  Cambridge/Tibenham

Your visit to the airfields of the 8th will continue with stops at the Rougham Control Tower Museum and airfield. The 94th “Square A” Bomb Group was headquartered at Rougham from June 1943. It was from Rougham that the 94th flew in some of the biggest raids of the war, including the “Big Week” of February 1944. You will also have a chance to see the remains of the 356th Fighter Group Airfield at Martlesham Heath, the 493rd Bomb Group Airfield at Debach, and Tibenham Airfield, which was the home base of Hollywood Legend Jimmy Stewart.

You will then travel south to London in time to prepare for a visit to the RAF Memorial and our final, exclusive dinner at the renowned RAF Club, where, in impressive and historic surroundings, you will have an opportunity to reflect on what you have seen.

DAY 10 – October 9 -  Home

Morning airport transfers to LHR for guests and safe travels home!

Tour Dates

  • September 30 - October 9, 2024
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TRIP COST $5,990

Prices are per person based on double occupancy. For a single room add $1,400.

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