The Prelude to World War II exhibit chronicles post-World War I Germany, the conditions that allowed Adolph Hitler and his Nazi party to win the support of the German public, and his ambitions for Europe to be dominated by the Third Reich. Original uniforms and artifacts brought back by American soldiers after the war help bring this exhibit to life. The use of propaganda by all countries is also discussed as well as the essential role it played in swaying public opinion.
In August 1940, once Hitler and the Axis powers conquered the majority of Europe and Northern Africa, he turned his attention to the United Kingdom – which stood alone against the formidable German war machine.
The Battle of Britain exhibit highlights the fortitude of the British people who were able to “Keep Calm and Carry On” under the leadership of Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
This short film in our Battle of Britain Theater, gives an overview of the importance of the Battle of Britain, how the country withstood the Luftwaffe's onslaught, and why this accomplishment would have a direct impact on the United States.
While Germany was wreaking havoc in Europe and Africa, its ally Japan escalated its own campaign of conquest in the Pacific Theatre. The Day of Infamy exhibit examines the events surrounding the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, launching the United States into World War II.
After the Germans and the Italians declared war on the United States on December 11, 1941, the U.S. and its allies had to come up with a plan to win the war with fronts on opposite sides of the globe.
In February 1942, 8AAF Operations shifted to East Anglia, England. In From Savannah to the UK, an interactive map details the locations of the airfields across the country. A short video containing oral histories with 8th veterans, allows the men to tell of the experiences in their own words.
For many of the Americans, it took some time for them to get acclimated following the move to rural England. The Yank fliers were described as "over-paid, over-sexed, and over here!"
The arrival of the newly formed United States Eighth Air Force in England offered the Allies a new weapon against Hitler’s Reich. Visitors walk onto a re-creation of Molesworth Airfield, home of the 303rd Bomb Group during World War II.
A 90-foot-long mural painted in oil by Ely Scardamalia and Patrick Dempsey surrounds a Nissen hut and control tower to create the feeling of stepping onto one of the Eighth Air Force’s East Anglia bases.
The Mission Experience
This three-part film series takes you from an early morning mission briefing, to the flight line with the ground crew, to the skies over Occupied Europe on a bombing run
The third film is a bombing run experienced on multiple screens with special effects. You'll have to visit to see it for yourself!
A second authentic aircraft is the Boeing-Stearman PT Kaydet. The PT-17 was one of the most widely used training aircraft in the United States.
The Combat Gallery is also home to the nose piece of the “Fightin’ Sam” B-24 Liberator. B-24 Liberators were flown in the Eighth Air Force’s Second Air Division through all of WWII. Our Second to None exhibit outlines the outstanding accomplishments of the Second Air Division.
Other features of the Combat Gallery include a P-51 Mustang model, a German Me-109 model, a Crosley CT-3 Pup vehicle, and the Ploesti Diorama, illustrating one of the most daring and dangerous bombing missions of World War II.
Interactive exhibits in the Combat Gallery include a Navigator Exhibit, a Gunner Exhibit where visitors practice shooting down enemy fighters with a .50 caliber machine gun, and the Deenethorpe Diorama which illustrates how an average farm in East Anglia was transformed into an airfield during World War II.
The Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial Exhibit reminds all of the price that free men paid in defense of liberty during World War II. The staggering losses associated with World War II left an indelible mark upon the world. The Eighth Air Force alone suffered an estimated 26,000 combat fatalities.
Honoring the Eighth
In the Honoring the Eighth exhibit, there are collections of artifacts donated from various World War II Eighth Air Force groups. Rich in stories of heroism and militaria, visitors view some of the personal, treasured items of men of the Eighth.