Heritage Category: Listed Building

Grade: II*

List Entry Number: 1309405

Date first listed: 15-Feb-1973

Statutory Address: BUILDING 78 (HANGAR A)


Ordnance survey map of BUILDING 78 (HANGAR A)
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2018. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1309405 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 13-Dec-2018 at 21:06:42.


Statutory Address: BUILDING 78 (HANGAR A)

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Cambridgeshire

District: South Cambridgeshire (District Authority)

Parish: Duxford

National Grid Reference: TL 45845 46064


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.




GV II* Aircraft hangar, one of a group of three. 1917, by the War Office's Directorate of Fortifications and Works. Drawing No 332/17. Brick piers, curtain walls and internal pillars, all painted, timber roof trusses, profiled steel covering, but felt or corrugated steel roofing to annexes.

PLAN: The three hangars have been planned in-line facing the flying field, with a larger gap between easternmost (84) and central (79) hangars, formerly occupied by a service hangar of the same date. Each hangar is a double shed and of standard plan, in 15 bays, overall length 170ft and each shed of 100ft span; the roof is a double very flat segmental arch, carried at the central valley to compound brick piers; giving clear access through each bay. Each hangar has a low, lean-to annex to the long outer walls, in varied formations. All sheds have full width and height sliding/folding doors.

EXTERIOR: The opening ends have 'Essavian' sliding/folding doors with diagonal timber running to an overhead track with a deep apron above running the full width of the double shed, to compact brick pylons at each end. The long flanks have raking buttresses carried up to the eaves soffit, with half-brick curtain walls between. Each end bay is plain, the remaining 13 bays have a full-width steel casement window in 27-panes, alternate bays also incorporating a 6-pane pivoted opening section. Above these windows is a deep apron band. At each end the pylons are in the form of a square shaft, but that the NE corner of Building 78 is modified, being larger in plan, with an open arch to the N side, a corbelled arch to the W, and carrying a brick box superstructure approx 3m high, with flat concrete slab roof. The roofs are in profiled steel in flat segmental form, with continuous ridged patent glazing roof lights (to the central 13 bays), and with a line of patent glazing each side of the central valley. The eaves have a plain painted fascia with gutter. The segmental gables above the door are plain, with regular vertical divisions. The annexes built as low lean-to structures against the long sides of the hangars formerly housed on the S, flying field side, accommodation for the flight commanders, pilots and clerks, plus stores and a boiler room. To the N there were electrical and radio rooms, with equipment stores and offices. The annexes were modified variously in 1928 and 1935. Windows are steel casement, originally in 16 panes, and similar in detail to those to the sheds, but later of a more domestic kind, but all in small panes. Roofs are either corrugated steel or felt on boarding. Building 78 has 11 bays to the N, with original windows, and a similar run to the S. Several bays have doorways.

INTERIOR: Close-spaced timber 'Belfast' trusses are carried to the buttresses in the outer walls, and the central row of piers. The trusses, all whitewashed, have a flat bottom chord and a bowed upper profile, formed in a series of straight members. All truss members are small-section softwood, with doubled main members sandwiching a close-spaced diagonal grid infill; at the end supports the trusses are strutted to shaped stone corbels, and this 'knee' area is strengthened by diagonal close-boarded sheeting. Longitudinally there are 5 sets of simple cross-bracing, and diagonal sheathing on small purlins carried to the roofing. A central row of brick oblong brick piers, approx 1.6m x 0.6m has a narrow central opening to an arched head; each side is a modelled stone corbel carrying the roof strutting, and running between piers to support the gutter and provide stiffening is a diaphragm, one brick thick, on flat segmental arches. Floors are in concrete.

HISTORY: Duxford represents the finest and best-preserved example of a fighter base representative of the period up to 1945 in Britain, with a uniquely complete group of First World War technical buildings in addition to technical and domestic buildings typical of both inter-war Expansion Periods of the RAF. It also has important associations with the Battle of Britain and the American fighter support for the Eighth Air Force. See descriptions of the aircraft hangars for further historical details.

The hangars at Duxford are historically outstanding, since they remain unchanged since they were built as part of the original layout and designs of 1917; a fourth, the repair hangar, was unfortunately destroyed during the making of 'The Battle of Britain' in 1968. The interiors are particularly impressive, as they remain undivided, so that the full impact of the space and construction can be appreciated. The annexes were altered in 1928 and 1935, but retain the original format for the most part. The Training Depot Station at Duxford is the most complete WWI airfield group, with hangars and ancillary buildings, in Britain. The training of pilots for service overseas formed a critical aspect of Britain's air service in the First World War period, and the Training Depot Stations - initiated in 1917, and of which 63 were built by November 1918 - comprised the largest airfield construction programme of the First World War period. Each TDS comprised three flying units, each having a coupled general service shed, and one repair section hangar (the only surviving example of the latter is at Old Sarum, Wiltshire), for the provision of serviceable engines and aircraft. Other specialist buildings, such as carpenters' shops, dope and engine repair shops and technical and plane stores, characterised these sites.

Duxford is the most outstanding example, in terms of its degree of preservation, in Britain.

Duxford's suitability as a landing field led to its use for military flying during the Military Manoeuvres of 1912. Construction started on October 1917 on the Training Depot Station (TDS), the first units including Americans arriving in March 1918. The group of hangars and other buildings on the technical site now constitute the best-preserved group of buildings surviving from a First World War airfield in Britain. TDS's, which comprised the main instructional flying unit for the Royal Flying Corps and the RAF, were built in pairs, Duxford and its sister station at Fowlmere making one wing. Each TDS comprised three flying units, each having a coupled general service shed and one repair hangar (the Duxford example was demolished in 1968, leaving Old Sarum in Wiltshire and Leuchars in Scotland as the only examples which survive as part of hangar groups). Other specialist buildings, such as carpenters? shops, dope and engine repair shops and technical and plane stores, characterised these sites.

It was one of a core number of stations retained for the RAF after 1918, first as a Flying Training School and then (from 1 April 1923) as a fighter station with 19 Squadron. This was designated as a mobile (expeditionary) squadron, and they remained on the base until replacement by the Eagle Squadron of American volunteers in August 1941. 19 Squadron's expertise resulted in the station introducing a number of aircraft into RAF service - such as the Gloster Gauntlet which it received in January 1935 and was displayed along with the prototype of the Gloster Gladiator at George V's Silver Jubilee in July of that year; the first Spitfire to an RAF squadron was delivered to Duxford by Supermarine's test pilot in August 1938, and 12,000 visitors caught their first sight of the Spitfire during Empire Day on the 20th of May 1939. With one exception, the wooden-framed barrack buildings were replaced in a rebuilding campaign that commenced in 1928. A major phase of modernisation was approved in 1931, resulting in the construction of the station headquarters and guardroom on the south camp and the construction of domestic buildings in the north camp - the sergeants' mess being the first building ready for occupation. Other building phases were related to the Scheme 'A' of RAF expansion made from 1935 and Schemes 'L' and 'M' commenced in 1939.

During the Battle of Britain, Duxford was the most southerly airfield in 12 Group, responsible for the defence of the Midlands and Eastern England but also making it well-placed to reinforce and support 11 Group to the south which bore the brunt of the Luftwaffe assault. Czech and Polish squadrons operated from Duxford during the battle, and on the 15th of September - the critical point in the battle - five Duxford squadrons led by Squadron Leader Douglas Bader claimed their highest score of 52 aircraft destroyed (plus 16 probably destroyed and 3 damaged). Bader - Commander of 242 Squadron initially based at Coltishall - was the instigator of what became known as the Duxford Wing, a strategy whereby he led led 3 and later 5 squadrons of Spitfires and Hurricanes into battle which formed the focus of disagreement concerning fighter defence strategy. This continued into the winter of 1940 and finally resulted in the removal of Sir Hugh Dowding from his position as C in C, Fighter Command, and the replacement of Air Vice Marshal Keith Park as A.O.C 11 Group by his rival AVM Trafford Leigh-Mallory of 12 Group. Some of the pillboxes, air raid shelters and fighter pens installed by 1940 for the purposes of airfield defence and protection against attack have survived.

The arrival of the RAF's Air Fighting Development Unit, in December 1940, saw a wide variety of new aircraft for evaluation and testing, including the Hurricane's replacement, the Hawker Typhoon, the Mosquito and the Mustang (the most powerful fighter of the Second World War). The airfield was officially handed over to become base 357 of the US Eighth Air Force on 1 April 1943, the first of 75 P47 Thunderbolts arriving on the same day, the King and Queen returning to Duxford (after their visit in January 1941 to inspect the base and present medals) to welcome the Americans in May. The first of the new Merlin-powered P51 Mustangs - which were to play a critically important role in the European air war - arrived to replace the Thunderbolts after the completion of the steel matting runway in December 1944, and the base in its fighter support role was responsible for the destruction of 338 aircraft in the air and a further 358 on the ground for the loss of 167 aircraft and 113 pilots. Duxford's post-war service as a jet fighter station, with Meteors, Hunters and then Javelins, was marked by the completion of a replacement runway in concrete (6000 feet long with operational Readiness Platforms at both ends) in August 1951. The station was closed in 1961, subsequently chosen as one of the locations for filming of 'The Battle of Britain' (1968, when the 1918 repair section hangar was destroyed), and was the subject of a public inquiry in 1976 when Sir Douglas Bader argued for the retention of the entire airfield in opposition to the construction of the M11 across the eastern boundary of the site. Duxford is now home to the Imperial War Museum.

(Raby A: Duxford Airfield: the Story of a Famous Fighter Station (unpublished); Duxford Diary, 1942-5, Duxford Aviation Society, 1989; Ramsey W G (ed), Airfields of the Eighth (After the Battle, London), 1978, pp. 72-6; Raby A, 'Duxford', in Ramsey (ed), The Battle of Britain Then and Now, 5th edition, (London, 1996), pp.198-211; Francis, P, British Military Airfield Architecture, 1996; Dobinson C, Twentieth Century Fortifications in England, Vol IX - Airfield Themes, 1997; Operations Record Books, AIR 28/232-4 and 1017)


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 52898

Legacy System: LBS


Books and journals
Salzman, L F, The Victoria History of the County of Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely, (1978), 202

End of official listing