By Roy Stevenson In the lush, green rural community of Duxford, a 20-minute bus ride from the university town of Cambridge, the American Air Museum in Britain houses the finest collection of historic American combat aircraft outside the United States. Part of the largest aviation museum complex in the world, the American Air Museum, opened in 1991. It tells the story of American air power and its effect on the 20th century, focusing largely on World War II in Europe. It’s an appropriate site—Duxford was known as Base 357, the headquarters of the U.S. 78th Fighter Group and home of P-47 Thunderbolts from April 1943 and P-51 Mustangs from December 1944. The Thunderbolts and Mustangs acted as fighter escorts on the large U.S. bombing raids over Europe and Germany. The 78th fought with distinction, claiming the destruction of 697 enemy aircraft in the air and on the ground by the end of the war. The 78th provided air cover for the Allied invasion fleet on D-Day and shot down the first German Me-262 jet aircraft. Duxford was handed back to the Royal Air Force in December 1945. The American Air Museum, built into the ground with the wide sweeping arc of its geometric torus ring roof reminiscent of a futuristic spacecraft or a huge World War II Nissen hut, this cavernous museum house


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