British aviation museums, gate guardians and memorials etc
In the UK we are blessed with a great many aviation museums - in fact quite an extraordinary number. Many of these are quite small of course, but we really do have some major collections to choose from. It is of course something to be much applauded to see how many aircraft have been preserved for us to inspect and appreciate and our sincere thanks should be extended to all those largely unsung people who beaver away on our behalf.
The subject of aircraft as 'gate guardians' and monuments is also something that has interested me for many years, and I trust you will share this interest. I have seen examples of 'retired' aircraft (usually military of course) sometimes at the most unlikely locations on my travels across Europe and beyond - but they are usually at airfields. Obviously somebody, or a group of people, have seen fit to try and preserve these aircraft, to some extent at least but not always successfully in the long term.
Regarding the memorials included here, these are memorials sometimes situated away from airfields for various reasons. Where an airfield memorial exists, of the few which I have found and photographed, I have included them in the airfield listing.
NOTE: Many of the pictures are by the author unless specified. A notable exception being many pictures from postcards, very kindly sent by Mike Charlton who has an amazing collection. See, www.aviationpostcard.co.uk
Location: In the centre of the Army depot, Aldershot, Hampshire
Location: Just E of the A.1, near Balderton, roughly 2.5nm SE of Newark-on-Trent town centre.
NOTES: This English Electric Lightning F.2A (XN728) was, it appears, purchased by A1 Commercial Vehicles in 1983 and moved from RAF CONNINGSBY to provide a striking addition to their site for travellers on the A.1 trunk road. And indeed it became something of an iconic waypoint on that route. However, after the company closed the Lightning fell into disrepair and gradually it was vandalised and slowly disintegrated. But, nevertheless, still providing a focal point on the A.1. I took this picture in July 1987 after climbing through a hole in the fence when it was still in relatively good repair.
BATTLE OF BRITAIN MEMORIAL
Location: Just south of the old A.20 at Capel-le-Ferne which is NE of Folkestone town centre.
BERKSHIRE AVIATION MUSEUM
Location: Woodley, east of Reading
These were stationed in front of the St George's Chapel built to both celebrate and remember those who served and died defending Biggin Hill in WW2. Later these original aircraft were replaced by fibreglass full-size models and in 2010, these again were replaced by replicas which really are astonishing - looking every bit like the original. The Spitfire 'model' is a MK1A K9998 of 92 Squadron, and the Hurricane a Mk1, P2921 of 32 Squadron.
This picture was scanned from Biggin on the Bump by Bob Ogley.
This picture from a postcard, was kindly sent to me by Mike Charlton.
As far as I can make out, this 'full-scale model' of Spitfire N3194, along with a Hurricane replica, was on display between the two original aircraft being removed, and their later replacements in 2010 with much better replicas?
Location: Just to the north of the A30, roughly 4nm WSW of Camberley town centre.
BLUE MAX MUSEUM
Location:Wycombe Air Park, Buckinghamshire (Period of operating unknown - closed for some years)
BOOKER AIRCRAFT MUSEUM
Notes: The first picture was taken in February 2001 and the tail of the Hunter F.4 XF314 can be seen. It appears that this Hunter airframe is not exactly what it appears to be - so Google it up to discover more.
The second picture is of the Percival Provost T.Mk.1 (WV495) and it appears it was only here during 1988 to 1989.
The third picture is of the North American T.6 Harvard (KF435), which it seems, only appeared here in 1989.
Location: Was situated near to the entrance to Wycombe Air Park for many years. However, it never seemed to exist as a 'structured' museum, but more of a varied collection paying scant regard to how visitors could approach it. A very odd set of circumstances.
Location: 1.5nm SE of Amesbury
This Lightning T.4, XL629, now serves as the Gate Guardian at Boscombe Down and was in service with the Empire Test Pilots School from 1966 until 1975 and wears the colours it had during that period. There is a museum at BOSCOMBE DOWN which is not open to the public, but I am told, on application and approval visits can be arranged.
BOSCOME DOWN MUSEUM
Note: Not normally available for public viewing.
BOURNEMOUTH AVIATION MUSEUM
Location: Just south of Bournemouth International Airport. Originally behind the terminal? This was certainly where some exhibits were once stored.
A NEW GALLERY OF PICTURES
In early January 2017 I took the opportunity to pay another visit to this museum and it was very clear that it has been both growing and improving considerably. This is lovely to see, highly commendable and a visit is certainly recommended; perhaps especially because it is very user friendly for children.
It takes a huge amount of effort, imagination and expertise - not forgetting the money to be raised - to create any museum, and the volunteers who are creating this museum really must be congratulated.
This museum, although having several cockpits open for inspection, also has three airliner flight decks on display. The Vickers Vanguard is freely available and I was told that if a member of staff was available, the Boeing 737 and BAC One-Eleven can be opened up for closer inspection.
BOVINGTON TANK MUSEUM
This museum in Dorset, west of Wareham, is perhaps a most unlikely aviation museum venue. But, this picture from a postcard kindly sent by Mike Charlton who has an amazing collection, see www.aviationpostcard.co.uk proves otherwise. Having looked into the subject it appears the museum also has the fuselage of the General Aircraft Hamilcar I glider, TK718 on display.
BROADWAY TOWER MEMORIAL
Location: SW of the A44 and on top of the hill SE of Broadway.
All pictures by the author unless specified.
Notes: An excellent museum based at the site of the BROOKLANDS aerodrome and major aircraft manufacturing facilities of the Hawker Aircraft Company and later Vickers.
The Vickers VC.10 is a very interersting exhibit and well worth a visit. Previously operated by BOAC as G-ASIX, it was later converted to become a most sumptuous 'flying palace' for the Sultan of Oman, operated by 'The Royal Flight'.
BRUNTINGTHORPE MUSEUM & GATE GUARDIANS
Location: 1.5nm W of A50, 6 nm S of Leicester
BUSHY PARK MEMORIAL:
Location: In Bushy Park N of Hampton Court, and roughly 0.3nm ESE of the Teddington exit.
Note: A memorial ostensibly to the United States Army Air Force but really it is more dedicated to the SHAEF HQ used in WW2 during the period of the D-Day landings. Nothing apart from this memorial exists today. See BUSHY PARK (LONDON & SURREY) for info on flying activity at this location.
Notes:When I flew into Caernarfon aerodrome for the first and only time in 1993, I was rather surprised to find the remains of a Westland/Sikorsky WS.51 Dragon incorporated into a childrens play area - so I took a picture. In 2015 whilst adding sites and pictures to this web-site 'Guide' I rediscovered this picture and made some enquiries on the internet. It appears it was a Dragonfly HR3 (WN499/Y) operated by the Royal Navy and had served at one point with 194 Squadron in the Malaya Campaign. After its career in the childrens play area it seems it was used for fire training practise at CAERNAFON.
However, it now appears that the remains have been acquired by Aeroventure in Doncaster and they intend to restore it to represent how it was when serving with 194 Squadron in Malaysia - a very substantial task.
Location: W of A4074, on Icknield Farm, in/near Ipsden, roughly 2.5nm SSE of Wallingford
NOTE: This is a most unusual feature at a UK flying site, and, rather difficult to find a definition for. Obviously not a 'Gate Guardian' it does sort of serve as such for users of the airfield.
Location: In/near the main entrance to RAF Chivenor which is south of the A361 and roughly 4nm west of Barnstaple town centre.
Notes: The picture of Hawker Hunter F.6 (XF509) was taken by my good friend Maurice Wickstead in or around 1992. Sadly it is no longer there and was probably removed when the Army took over. It seems such a shame that for some reason 'Gate Guardians' are removed from airfields when the RAF depart, but, the site remains as an active military site.
Note: These two pictures from postcards were kindly sent to me in 2017 by Mike Charlton who has an amazing collection of British aviation postcards, See, www.aviationpostcard.co.uk
The question being I suppose - when was this first picture taken? I imagine it was before the museum opened, therefore pre-1979?
As the BA (British Airways) management team in recent years seems to be determined to de-value the airline, and be generally run-down as a major global operater, in 2006 they withdrew support for their aircraft based here. As a result it appears that the only BOAC Boeing 707, a VC.10 and Trident had to be scrapped.
By 2018 the situation had become really dire, without any doubt the lowest point British Airways has ever been in since it was formed. And, the management seem determined to drive the airline down even further. But why?
Location: South of the A41, north of the A464, SSW of J.3 on the M54 motorway and roughly 8 miles NW of Wolverhampton town centre.
NOTES: The Fairey FD2 in the museum (one of only two built) is not the FD2 that broke the World Air Speed Record on the 10th March 1956. That was WG774 flown by Peter Twiss at 1,132mph, the first aircraft in the world to officially exceed 1,000mph. Without any doubt the FD2 could have flown much faster, (and did), but was limited by its small fuel capacity for record breaking attempts. Plus, the Air Ministry were not at all keen on the UK breaking air speed records. A first class museum and highly recommended.
In the picture of the of the centre of the main hall you have: The English Electric Lightning F1/PIB XG337, the Douglas Dakota KN645, the Avro York C1 TS798 and the Handley Page Hastings TG511. The Hastings flew in here and that flight was claimed to the last flight of a Hastings anywhere in the world. Also in the main hall is the Gloster Javelin FAW1 XA564 and a glimpse of the Short Belfast XR371.
Location: To the W of the A23, roughly 1.5nm SW of Croydon town centre.
NOTE: Now known as EAST MIDLANDS AEROPARK. My pictures taken in May 2003.
Location: On the NW Corner of EAST MIDLANDS AIRPORT
DUMFRIES & GALLOWAY AVIATION MUSEUM
Note: These pictures from postcards were kindly sent by Mike Charlton who has an amazing collection. See, www.aviationpostcard.co.uk
Regarding the first picture I reckon the Gloster Meteor is the T7 WL375, the Lockheed Shooting Star T33A is 5-3047, and the Hawker Hunter is a F4, WT746.
A look at the web-site clearly shows that this is a museum well worth a visit. The postcode is: DG1 3PH.
DUXFORD: IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM
Location: Just south west of junction 10, on the M.11. The entrance is off the A505.
Notes: This is arguably the most significant aviation museum in the United Kingdom, especially as it hosts some magnificent air displays mostly featuring classic 'war-bird' aircraft.
DUXFORD PICTURES IN OCTOBER 2000
DUXFORD PICTURES TAKEN LATER
On another visit in July 2015 I took the opportunity to take some more pictures, not least because it was a great chance to get some better pics of some of the American Air Museum collection, which had been moved to allow refurbishment of that building. Seeing as this is my web-site, this seems an ideal way of asking a question regarding the Lockheed T-33A which has a feature which I cannot recall seeing on any other aeroplane. Running from a very stout 'fixing' just in front of the canopy on the starboard side, a strong cable runs aft to what appears to be a lifting arm. Being ex French Air Force and knowing their penchant for very low flying, is this a 'cable-cutter?
In closing I have included (above) two pictures of the Boeing B.52 Stratofortress; arguably the most fearsome conventional bomber ever built. Here below are two more pictures of what the USA achieved during the early 'Cold War' years. The first is of the Lockheed SR.71 Blackbird, (squashed into a dark corner), which was without any doubt the most incredible aircraft ever designed and built in overall performance terms, and nothing even remotely similar has been seen since. It surely seems almost beyond belief today to think back and realise that the first flight of the SR.71 was on the 22nd December 1964 - and only 32 were built. The SR.71 was in service by 1966 and at one point some, (a couple?) were based at MILDENHALL (SUFFOLK). The second picture is just being arty-farty - with two classic types types from the early 'Cold-War' period juxtaposed - the F-100 Super Sabre (which once held the world air speed record), and the ubiquitious B.52.
Location: Roughly 10nm SSE of Barnstaple, Devon
Note: I simply cannot remember if any other aircraft, like this Hawker Hunter were on the airfield at the time, but, the fact is that seeing such an aircraft was often indicative of a small aviation museum in the making. As far as I am aware, however, no museum has been established here?
EAST MIDLANDS AEROPARK, see DONNINGTON AEROPARK
Location: E of the B4022, N of the B4030 and roughly 1.5nm NE of Enstone village on the A44 and approximately 14nm NW of Oxford city centre
Notes: It is of course quite possible that these two relics are not related to each other, despite being closely situated. These pictures were taken in 1996 when I flew in from WYCOMBE AIR PARK in the Cessna 172 G-WACL, my old favourite with Aussie Brown to photograph the wreck of the Bristol Freighter which had recently crashed there. See the listing for ENSTONE>
Was the Viscount especially evidence of an idea to establish an aviation museum here? And, if not, can anybody explain why it ended up here? Also, is anything known about the history of the 172? I cannot believe the airframe was time expired as 172s of this vintage are still in use with flying schools around the world.
In October 2015 I discovered on Google the 'Vickers Viscount Network' which has a huge amount of history on the type. It appears this Viscount was withdrawn from service in 1975 by BA (British Airways) and was donated to the Wales Aircraft Museum and repainted in Cambrian Airways colours although Cambrian did not operate this particular Viscount. When this museum folded in 1996 the fuselage was transported to ENSTONE - but why? This is a very expensive exercise so presumably some plan to preserve it was in hand? However, it appears it was scrapped in 1997 with only the cockpit section going to a diving school in Leicestershire.
None of this appears to make any sense as South Wales is a major centre for the recycling of metals.
Notes: This memorial is to those who died when the Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin G-BLUN suffered a tragic accident on the 27th December 2006.
FLIXTON: NORFOLK & SUFFOLK AVIATION MUSEUM
Notes: The three jets are, from left to right: The Dassault MD.452 Mystere IVA, the Lockheed T.33A (55-4433), and the DH 110 Sea Vixen FAW.1 (XJ482).
Location: On the west side of the B1062 in Flixton, roughly 2.5 miles SW of Bungay in Suffolk
This museum appears to have had an identity crisis over the years and can be found under several names. When I visited many years ago, possibly in 1987 (?), although it had a few interesting exhibits, (all out in the open), they were not in very good condition. Since then, looking at the web-site in 2015, it appears the situation is much, much improved. I am quite certain the people managing the museum today will not welcome these pictures, but, they are testament to the history of this enterprise.
THE MIKE CHARLTON GALLERY
Notes: In September 2017 I was kindly contacted by Mike Charlton who sent these scanned images from postcards.
If anybody can kindly put a date on the pictures, this advice will be most welcome. Also, from my point of view having taken aerial photographs professionally for around a quarter of a century; why was the last aerial picture accepted in the 'composite' postcard because part of the undercarriage and wheel is clearly visible. One has to wonder why a picture taken by an incompetent amateur was deemed suitable?
FRANKLIN'S FIELD, SANDY, BEDFORDSHIRE
Hardly a 'Gate guardian' and well tucked away out of view from the road, I was interested to discover the Vickers 700 Series Viscount fuselage residing here when delivering an aeroplane for restoration.
GATWICK AVIATION MUSEUM see VALLANCE BY-WAYS
GILLINGHAM: ROYAL ENGINEERS MUSEUM
NOTE: This picture was provided by Alan Faupel and taken in June 1992. It appears other aircraft, or at least parts of aircraft, are on display.
Location: N of the B2004 and NE of the junction with the A231. Roughly N of Gillingham town centre and close to the River Medway.
NOTE. This picture was taken by the author in June 2003. Is this Hunter still on display?
Location: S of the A41, SE of the B4544, about 3.nm SE of Aylesbury
Note. These pictures were kindly sent by Mike Charlton who has an amazing collection of British aviation postcards. See - www.aviationpostcard.co .uk
The first picture: A bit of research seems to reveal that this Vickers-Supermarine Mk LF IXe Spitfire was MK356. Except that when 'posted' here to act as a 'Gate Guardian' from 1953 to 1958, it was painted silver and given its 'Maintenance' serial of M5690. The impression is that nobody in the senior echelons of the RAF cared a jot about the operational history of this aircraft, and would quite likely would have happily have had it scrapped.
The second and third pictures: I will welcome advice but it would appear that the Spitfire and Hurricane now on display are replicas?
HENDON: RAF MUSEUM
Location: Situated in north London on the edge of the original HENDON aerodrome. West of the A.1/A.41 and east of the A.5. Well signposted.
Note: A truly world class museum with many fabulous and rare exhibits all beautifully presented. Highly recommended. Just a personal note; the Bristol Bulldog picture was taken after I had transported it to FILTON for the Bristol centenary celebration, and is in the process of being reassembled.
Note: These pictures from postcards were kindly sent by Mike Charlton.
What I think is interesting about the first picture is that the nose of the Blackburn Beverely XH124 is visible. Some very strong feelings surround the fate of this aircraft, and quite rightly too. It was allowed to deteriorate to such an extent that the decision was made to scrap it in 1981. This was, without any doubt, and act amounting to vandalism, and quite typical of the attitudes in the higher echelons within the RAF regarding their history and the preservation of aircraft for both posterity and educational purposes.
Regarding the second picture it appears that this Spitfire has been on continuous display since 1971.
Note: Pictures by the author.
Location: W of A6001, NNW of Lower Stondon, 5nm N of Hitchin, 4nm NW of Letchworth
Note: It appears that this early Hunter is the earliest example of the type on display as a 'Gate Guardian' in the UK.
On the west side of this WW2 airfield a substantial memorial has been erected to celebrate the memory of the airfields in the New Forest area during WW2.
IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM
Notes: These two pictures from postcards were kindly sent by Mike Charlton.
The first B&W picture was clearly taken many years ago - the museum today has been totally reconstructed. But, without much doubt this Spitfire is the Mk.IA, R6915, which was first displayed in 1946 and a genuine example of a Spitfire that fought in the so-called 'Battle-of-Britain'. It seems it was removed for restoration at IWM DUXFORD in 2012 - the intention being to return it once restored.
The second picture shows an overall view of the aviation collection. In the foreground is the Sopwith Camel N6812. Suspended above is, it appears, the only genuine WW1 Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.8 in existence. Beyond is a Hawker Hurricane, a Focke-Wulf 190 and a North American P-51 Mustang.
Location: In Southwark, just SE of the junction with Lambeth Road and Kennington Road
Notes: This Gloster Meteor F8 (WH364) served as a 'Gate Guardian' at RAF KEMBLE for many years. It appears it is now in the museum at GLOUCESTER airport?
Location: Just N of the A1065, roughly 4nm NNE of Mildenhall town centre.
Note: This picture is of the North American F-100D Super Sabre which is a permanent gate guardian at the main entrance to the air base.
First picture: This is not the aircraft featured in the flying scenes. That was HB-FFW which went on to be a parachute dropper, F-HDEY, operating from Nimes Courbessac in France.
Second picture: Shown tucked away in 1998 I believe that this Cessna 172 was probably the one featured in the crash scene at the end of the sequence. It is difficult if not impossible to read the entire registration but enough can be seen to realise this was not the 172 Skyhawk used in the flying scenes. That was apparently N54748N although the production company had cheekily modified the '8' to a '3' for the flying action.
Third picture: Taken in August 1998 I was told that these 'mock-ups' using the front sections of two 'Cold War' English Electric Lightning interceptors featured in one of the Starwars films by George Lucas. Oddly enough, despite spending a bit of time in research, I cannot pin down how or from where these airframe parts were obtained. Or indeed, that they actually were used in a Starwars film.
These pictures were taken inside the main film studio block at LEAVESDEN (HERTFORSHIRE) which was previously an aircraft factory in WW2 producing Handley Page Halifax bombers, and later a Rolls Royce aero engine factory - complete with its own aerodrome.
This is being a bit cheeky, this is hardly 'museum' or 'gate guardian' material - but I trust you will find these pictures interesting. For many years I was delivering and collecting motion control equipment to and from Leavesden Film studios, based on the disused airfield - which incidentally was where I had my first flying lessons. As a general rule anybody seen taking pictures without permission on this site could expect to be hung, drawn and quartered at best. Hanging was reserved for minor offences.
On a couple of occassions I noticed aircraft, or parts of aircraft, sitting around the studios - and asked permission at one point - given my quest for the 'Guide' to take a few pictures. I was quite astonished at how readily this permission was granted for which I am very grateful. All part, I would claim, of the rich aviation history we enjoy in the UK.
The Spitfire TE356 served here as a 'gate guardian' from December 1970 to April 1976. Later it was purchased by Doug Arnold and restored to flying condition; then being sold to an owner in the U.S.A.
This picture from a postcard was kindly sent by Mike Charlton who has an amazing collection. See www.aviationpostcard.co.uk
Location: On LONG MARSTON airfield, just W of the B.4632, roughly 4nm SW of Stratford-upon-Avon.
Note: Acting in a kind of way as a 'Gate Guardian' to LONG MARSTON airfield, being positioned on a slight rise just beyond the airfield entrance, this Percival P.57 Sea Prince T.1, WM735 (G-ARCA), is in a very sorry state. As are the other aircraft remains of the defunct Jet Preservation Society littered around the site.
Note: This memorial on 'Whittle roundabout' in Lutterworth is a fairly crude but full scale model of the Gloster E.28/39, the first British jet aircraft, which was flying in 1941. Two prototypes were produced, W4041/G and W4046, and the initial flights were from the Gloster companies grass airfield BROCKWORTH (GLOUCESTERSHIRE). Subsequent testing was from CRANFIELD (BEDFORDSHIRE).
The reason for the monument is because Power Jets, lead by Frank Whittle (later Sir Frank), were based here in Lutterworth and developed the first British jet engine. Sadly, as far as I could see, no signs have been erected to explain any of this; so the majority of drivers passing by today probably have no idea of its significance.
MANCHESTER: MUSEUM of SCIENCE and INDUSTRY
Location: On the west of Manchester city centre
Notes: Here again another fine museum which is well worth a visit, not least because the collection is housed, I seem to recall, in an old Victorian(?) cast iron building which was once a market place.
MIDLAND AIR MUSEUM
Aerial picture by Austin J Brown.
Location: Adjacent to Coventry Airport, Warwickshire
MONTAGUE MOTOR MUSEUM, BEAULIEU
This probably rare picture from a postcard was kindly sent by Mike Charlton who has an amazing collection. See, www.aviationpostcard.co,uk
Some research reveals an astonishing history for this aeroplane, which is well worth looking up. It appears that, probably between 1944 and 1947 Air Chief Marshall Sir James Robb used SL721, with his 'personalised' code JMR, as his personal means of transport. It was later purchased after being surplus to requirements, by the garage proprietor of Swandean Garage near Worthing, who displayed it and sometimes ran the engine.
It appears that an arrangement was made to display it at the Montague Motor Museum at Beaulieu in 1962, in a 'caccooned' state initially, before being restored, painted blue and wearing the code JMR. However, it appears it was sold on in 1965. It then passed through several owners, being restored along the way into flying condition, and, as far as I can make out, is still flying in Canada.
NEWARK AIR MUSEUM
Note: Picture by the author and taken through perspex.
PICTURES FROM POSTCARDS
Note: These two pictures from postcards were kindly sent by Mike Charlton.
Location: On the WW2 RAF Winthorpe site, just S of the A46 and about 2nm NE of the centre of Newark.
Note: This picture from a postcard was kindly sent by Mike Charlton.
I have visited NORTH WEALD, flying in and by road several times in the last thirty years, (dated 2017), but cannot recall ever seeing this 'gate guardian'. Can anybody kindly offer some advice?
Location:On the north side of the A40 in west London, just west of the Hangar Lane gyratory system in west London.
Notes: This Hawker Hunter is often seen over the years, mounted on the office block tower of the Vanguard Self Storage company. This is not a permanent installation and usually only appears in the spring to autumn period in recent years. The aircraft belongs to the owner of the company who also has an English Electric Lightning F.3 in store. The Lightning It is also a rare example of this iconic jet fighter, XP745, as it appears it was in fact the first production F.3.
This aircraft was also the 'Gate Guardian' at RAF BOULMER from 1976 to 1992: See entry below. Some people say it was a Lightning F.1, but I think this can now be discounted.
Location: On the northern end of Portland Bill (DORSET) and south of Weymouth.
Notes: This Westland Lynx HAS2 (XZ 250) is on loan from the Fleet Air Arm museum at YEOVILTON (SOMERSET) and acts as a 'Gate Guardian' being positioned on part of the Royal Navy major helicopter operating base.
Note: This picture from a postcard was kindly sent by Mike Charlton.
It appears that this Lightning served as the 'Gate Guardian' at BOULMER from 1976 to 1992, then being replaced by the McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom XV415.
Then it appears that the Lightning was acquired by the owner of Vanguard Self Storage at Perivale in west London, and has been stored ever since. However, the Hawker Hunter he also owns often appears on top of the tower; see PERIVALE.
RAF BRAMPTON (Circa 1970s?)
Note: This picture from a postcard was kindly sent by Mike Charton.
Unfortunately the production method used made it very difficult for Mike to get any image, so I am grateful to get even this rather small image. I think it is probably the Jet Provost T.3 XN602, which was later replaced by a McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom FGR. This in turn was removed just before RAF BRAMPTON, which was a non-flying site, closed in 2013.
NOTES: These pictures from postcards were kindly sent by Mike Charlton.
It appears, regarding the first picture, that this Vampire was on display from 1961 to 1964 The second picture is rather interesting as this was one of a few fitted with swept wings. It was withdrawn from service in 1955 and given the identity of 7175M, which it wears here, after becoming a Technical Training airframe. However, given that the Attacker was the first jet to enter service with the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm, and only operational with the FAA, one might well wonder how it ended up as a 'Gate Guardian' at a RAF Station? Is it reasonable to assume that it was replaced by the Vampire VT812?
The third picture of the Spitfire LA255 also raises a couple of questions as it appears that it served as a Gate Guardian for RAF CARDINGTON from 1952 to 1962. I have no reason to doubt this, and it was presumably replaced by the Vampire VT812? So, can it be assumed that for a while from the late 1950s to the early 1960s, RAF CARDINGTON had, in effect, two 'Gate Guardians' on display?
Notes:The first picture from a postcard was kindly sent to me by Mike Charlton.
The Spitfire TB252 served as a 'gate guardian' here from 1969 to 1986. The other two pictures were taken by the author in 2008.
RAF MANSTON & RAF MANSTON HISTORY MUSEUM
Notes: These five pictures from postcards were kindly sent by Mike Charlton. It seems that the Spitfire TB752 served as a 'gate guardian' from 1956 to 1979 and at some point was restored by the Medway Branch of the RAes. Today it can be seen inside the Spitfire and Hurricane Memorial Museum which is next door to the R.A.F. Manston History Museum.
Notes: It appears this aircraft was air-lifted by helicopter from RAF COLTISHALL to be placed as a 'Gate Guardian' at NEATISHEAD. These pictures, by the author, were taken in May 2001 when moving a Druine Turbulent from RAF BRIZE NORTON to be restored here by a serving RAF officer. It is reported that this Phantom was scrapped in 2005.
Note: It seems that this example does not have a serial number because it was made up from several time expired components.
Note: This picture from a postcard was also kindly sent by Mike Charlton.
If you look up RAF Quedgeley on the inter-web there is a lot of information, much of which is misleading - such as it having a runway. Without too much doubt the runway, hangars and control tower were at MORETON VALLANCE which is fairly close by.
Established in 1915 for munitions duties, it appears to have much later become No.7 MU (Maintenance Unit) and closed in 1995/6. The Meteor WF784 was, it seems, the 'gate guardian' from 1965 to 1996 and still exists today at STAVERTON (GLOUCESTER AIRPORT).
Note: This Wessex was pictured in May 2017, and has been on display for several years, despite rumours that it was listed for removal.
RAF TURNHOUSE (EDINBURGH AIRPORT)
Note: This Vickers-Supermarine Spitfire L.F.XVIE, RW393, was original and stood outside the RAF Station from March 1957 to October 1989. It did disappear for a while in 1975 to 1976 when it was shipped to RAF KINLOSS for refurbishment.
The Spitfire you can see today near the passenger terminal is a full-size GRP Model. This picture from a postcard was also kindly sent by Mike Charlton.
Note: Today we have two full scale models here, one of a Hurricane and the other of a Spitfire. However, many years ago RAF Uxbridge had a real Spitfire on display, and as a lad back in the early 1960s when cycling to DENHAM for reggie-spotting we paid no attention to it whatsoever, bar a cursory glance. And of course we didn't have cameras - how things change as you get older!
In October 2017 Mike Charlton kindly sent me this picture from a postcard. It looks to me as if it might have been a genuine Spitfire rather than the replica we see today? Possibly before being repainted as BS239? Any advice will be most welcome.
Location: E to ENE of junction B1090/A141, E to NE of B1090, S to SE of A141. 1nm N of Wyton village, 3nm NE of Huntingdon.
Note: The English Electric Canberra PR9 'Gate Guardian' XH170 in the 2000s.
Note: For many years this Robinson R.22 acted as both a 'Gate Guardian' and advert for Cabair.
Location: Sandtoft airfield, Lincolnshire - roughly 7nm SW of Scunthorpe
Note:It came as quite a surprise when flying into Sandtoft for the first time, on the 28th September 1997, to discover a Fairey Gannet there. This was the Gannet AEW3 XL502 (G-BMYP). I wonder what became of it? Was somebody considering establishing a museum here?
Note: This picture from a postcard was kindly sent by Mike Charlton.
The Gloster E.28/39 (W4041/G), was the first British jet aeroplane to fly in 1941. The British authorities were very reluctant to back the idea of jet propulsion right from the start, and I suppose, it is hard today to understand the mindset of those in charge, and how to describe them. They now mostly appear to be moronic fools - but it this really being unkind?
The first jet aircraft was the Heinkel He 178, and that first flew in Germany during 1939. The Italians came next with the Caproni Campini N.1, flying in 1940.
A VISIT IN FEBRUARY 2018
I had been putting this off for ages and ages. No excuse really, just laziness. As I live in west London it is something that can easily be fitted in as and when - and so the years passed. I have no idea what sparked it off, but I woke up one morning and knew that today must be the day.
Hardly surprising the museum is hardly as I remember it from my last visit some fifty years ago. By heck - what a revelation. It really is today a fabulous place to visit. A gem, worthy of ranking in the top places to visit for aviation enthusiasts anywhere in the world. And not just for aviation enthusiasts either, the entire museum is a credit to the nation.
First picture: This aircraft, G-AACN, is unique. Only one was built and its STOL performance was quite extraordinary. Have look around the inter-web to see pictures.
Fifth picture. This Royal Aircraft Factory SE5A was built by Wolseley Motors in WW1 and had the serial F937. On the 26th September 1923 it was placed on the civil register as G-EBIB and registered to Major J. C. Savage at the 'London Aerodrome' HENDON. Major Savage ran a company specialising in aerial sign-writing by trailing smoke from the aircraft exhaust. A highly skilled business which few pilots could perform.
It appears that G-EBIB was operating from about September 1923 until the 6th August 1935 when it was withdrawn from use. It appears it was acquired by the Science Museum in July 1939. The Antoinette is sticking its nose in on the top righthand side.
Eighth picture. This is the famous DH60G Moth, G-AAAH 'Jason' flown by Amy Johnson from England to Australia in 1930, the first woman to accomplish this. There is a lot of myth and legend about this flight. Although very brave, Amy was not a very good pilot, something she clearly recognised and admitted. She was however a trained, qualified and competent aircraft mechanic.
And indeed, when researching her flight to Australia, I discovered that she twice crashed so badly along the way that her aeroplane had to be rebuilt. Discovering this has, in my estimation ar least, raised my respect for what she achieved. And it appears, the subsequent fame was something that plagued her life ever after.
Thirteenth picture: Somewhat tucked away up in the roof, and probably not much noticed by many visitors, the Westland-Hill Pterodactyl was a most remarkable tailless design developed during the 1920s and 1930s. This version had enough promise to be given a military serial - J8067. It is well worth reading up on its history and development, but sadly a far-reaching design ahead of its time. Much too advanced for the British 'establisment' to appreciate. The nearby Messerschmitt Me 163 shows how the Germans developed the tailless principle during WW2. But of course, 'tailless' only means dispensing with the horizantal tail-plane. Some sort of fin/rudder is always required.
Fourteenth and fifteenth pictures. Two views of the Supermarine S.6B, (Serial S1595), which established the World Record airpeed of 340mph in 1931 and securing, after a third win over three years, the Schneider Trophy for the UK forever. It is often claimed that the S.6B, designed by R J Mitchell was the inspiration for the Spitfire - and this is just nonsense. The two types clearly have nothing in common.
What is far more significant is that the expertise gained by Rolls-Royce in providing the engines for the 'S' Supermarine Series record-breaking aircraft almost certainly led to the development of the 'Merlin' engine. It also appears that, perhaps incredibly and thankfully, this aeroplane has never been 'restored'. Looking today just it was presented to the Science Museum in the 1930s.
Eigthteenth and nineteenth pictures: I have tried to identify what this C-47/DC-3 actually is - and failed. Although only 607 Douglas DC-3s were built, the total of military and license built versions, mainly the C-47, is reckoned to exceed 16,000. The type first flew on the 17th December 1935 and in 2013 it was estimated that around 2,000 are still flying.
Twenty-second and twenty-third pictures: The Hawker Siddeley P.1127 first flew on 19th November 1960 and six were built. It was developed into the Harrier which first flew on the 28th December 1967 and subsequently other versions appeared.
Twenty-fourth picture: The Me163 Komet was a most extraordinary aircraft, powered by a rocket motor - albiet very dangerous indeed to operate. To show how just advanced the German aircraft industry was in WW2, the first Me163 first flew on the 1st December 1941. It had, needless to say, massive development problems to overcome before entering service with the Luftwaffe in 1944 Only 300 or so were built, and in many ways its incredible rate of climb and speed, combined with a very short duration, meant it had limited effectiveness in combat.
Just one attack, very fast - probably too fast to be accurate (?) - and that was it. Nevertheless, as you might well imagine, just catching a glimpse of such a weapon, deeply unsettled USAAF bomber crews.
Twenty-fifth picture. It is a common myth that the Supermarine Spitfire was the 'hero' type in the so-called 'Battle of Britain'. It wasn't - the Hawker Hurricane was - for a very simple reason. It was a much better 'gun-platform' and could concentrate fire much more effectively than the Spitfire onto bombers. And obviously, it was the bombers that were doing the damage.
This said, the Spitfire was the better type to attack the Luftwaffe fighters providing air cover, but the fact remains that the more bombers shot down seriously decreased the effectiveness of the Luftwaffe bombing campaign.
Thirty-first picture. The Fokker E.111 Eindecker, (meaning one platform or monoplane), was first flown in 1915 and introduced into service by the Germans in the same year. It was a most unwelcome arrival to Allied airmen. Being the first to have a machine gun with 500 rounds, synchronised to fire through the propeller arc, its effectiveness in combat was devastating. German pilots could point their aircraft at close range directly at the target and be pretty much guaranteed to hit it. The period was known as 'The Fokker Scourge'.
Thirty-second picture. I find it quite incredible that this gondola has survived. The British airship Beta 1 was built in 1910, and was not a success. The British, by and large, were not very good at designing and making airships. The Beta 11 was, it appears, a total rebuild of the Beta 1, and first flew in 1912. This was much better and became HMA (His Majesties Airship) No.17, serving first with the British Army and then the RNAS (Royal Naval Air Service) before being Struck Off Charge in 1916.
Thirty-third picture. A much larger version was constructed and tested in CHARD (SOMERSET) and later demonstrated in CREMORNE GARDENS (LONDON). See seperate listings for more information.
Thirty-fourth picture. William Samuel Henson and John Stringfellow were so convinced that this design was viable that they patented it in 1843. And, the next year, they formed the Aerial Transit Company. They were of course both hopelessly optomistic regarding the potential of steam engines to power aircraft.
However, if you look at the basics of their design for an airliner, they had it spot on, and even today we have not come up with a better configuration.
Thirty-fifth picture: I will make no excuses for including three pictures of this Lockheed Electra. The first flight was on the 23rd February 1934 and straight away it was obviously a winner. Perhaps it is age thing (?) but I will still insist it was one of loveliest 'airliner' designs. It seemed to explemplify the era it was born into,
Thirty-sixth picture. The Avro 504 is arguably the most astonishing type produced in the earlier years of the twentieth century. The first 504 flew on the 18th September 1913 and was so successful in a variety of roles, from trainer to fghter and bomber, it became the most produced type in WW1 with 8,970 being built. Production of the type went from 1913 through to 1932, resulting in some 10,000 produce in total.
It became the aircraft of choice for many operators providing joy-rides around the UK between the wars, using ex-military examples available at 'knock down' prices. But perhaps not so well known is that the RAF kept the 504 operational even during WW2, when they were used at CHRISTCHURCH (HAMPSHIRE) for radar calibration duties allied to the Radar research establishment at Worth Matravers near Swanage, across the bay.
Being mainly made of wood and fabric these aircraft barely made an impression, if any, on radar, and they could therefore tow a wide variety of droques made up of various materials to see how they showed up on radar. Needless to say, as the war quickly progressed it was soon realised that being there, the establishment was very exposed to enemy bombing, so they moved to Malvern.
Thirty-seventh picture. Two examples of the Rolls-Royce TMR (Thrust Measuring Rig), soon nicknamed 'The Flying Bedstead', were built and were initially tested at HUCKNALL. The first 'free' flight was on the 3rd August 1954 - becoming the first ever VTOL aircraft in the world. The man behind the concept was Dr Alan Arnold Griffith, and he started to explore the idea in the 1940s. A story well worth looking into.
Thirty-eighth picture. The Short SC.1 was a direct development of the 'Flying Bedstead' and was the first British fixed wing VTOL aircraft, making its first VTOL flight on the 26th May 1958. Two examples were built, being retired in 1971. This research eventually led the way to the Harrier.
Location: Shoreham aerodrome, west of Brighton in West Sussex
Note: Quite why and how this forward fuselage section of a Channel Express Handley Page Herald has appeared here is not known. But, thankfully, just one of so many examples of our aviation history being preserved.
SOLENT SKY MUSEUM
Location: In Albert Road South (SO14 3FR), E of the A33 and situated in the SE corner of Southampton city centre.
Notes: Considering its relatively small size, this lovely museum 'punchs well beyond its weight' and contains some very rare aircraft. With the exhbits being squeezed in tightly it does make photography a challenge, but, nevertheless a visit is highly recommended. For those able to scale the vertical ladder, a visit to the flight deck of the Sandringham can be easily arranged. Ask at the reception desk.
SOLWAY AVIATION MUSEUM
Note: Picture by the author.
Location: Situated on the north side of Carlisle Airport.
Notes: In 2015 the collection included the Avro Vulcan B.2 (XJ823). English Electric Canberra T4 (WE188), Hawker Hunter F.51 (E-425), and the Gloster Meteor NF14 (WS832). In addition the De Havilland Vampire T.II (WZ515), Percival Sea Prince T.Mk1 (WP309) and the Hunting-Percival Jet Provost (XS209). Rather oddly on their web-site, the serial numbers of an English Electric Lightning F53 and a McDonnell-Douglas Phantom FGR2 are not given. (See below). Representing helicopters is the Westland-Sikorsky S.55 (WV198). As all these exhibits are positioned outside in the weather, I was interested to see they also have an AOP Auster - presumably in a shed or small hangar?
A MIKE CHARLTON GALLERY
Notes: These pictures from postcards were kindly sent by Mike Charlton. I think the first picture of the Vulcan XJ823 making a low pass, was not seen at CARLISLE. Can anybody kindly offer advice.
Regarding the Lightning ZF583, it appears this was an ex-Royal Saudi Air Force example.
Note: Although described as a sculpture, this also serves as a memorial to some astonishing flights in the 1930s. See SOUTHPORT flying sites for more information.
THE STRATHALLAN AIRCRAFT COLLECTION
A GRAEME SIMPSON GALLERY
Notes: These pictures were very kindly sent by Graeme Simpson. It appears the museum closed, for public access at least, in 1988. It is well worth looking up the history of this collection, which in its day was a most extraordinary collection.
Much of the collection was sold off but I believe that many of the exhibits can now be seen at EAST FORTUNE.
Note: This aerial picture from a postcard was kindly sent by Mike Charlton who has an amazing collection. See, www.aviationpostcard.co.uk
The museum is situated on part of the RAF USWORTH aerodrome.
SYWELL AVIATION MUSEUM
Location: On the south-east side of the aerodrome, just E of the main public entrance.
TANGMERE MILITARY AVIATION MUSEUM
Note: These two pictures from postcards were kindly sent by Mike Charlton.
The museum was opened in 1982 and well worth a visit. It is situated just west of and on a bend in Tangmere Road, just south of Tangmere village.
THE ALCOCK & BROWN MEMORIAL
Note. Now in the Republic of Ireland, SSW of Clifden, when Alcock and Brown landed here, having achieved the first non-stop flight across the north Atlantic in 1919, this was still part of the UK. Please see my entry for DERRIGIMLAGH and the article 'The First Non-Stop Transatlantic Flight'.
There are two memorials on this site, neither it appears on the exact site their Vimy landed on. But, in the car park there is an information centre which has much useful information and history.
THE HELICOPTER MUSEUM (WESTON)
Aka: THE INTERNATIONAL HELICOPTER MUSEUM
Note: These pictures from a postcard were also kindly sent by Mike Charlton.
It appears that the collection was first started in 1958 but the first complete example, a Bristol Sycamore Mk.3, arrived in 1969. The museum was officially opened by HRH Prince Andrew, Duke of York, who arrived in a Wessex HC.4 of the Queen's Flight on the 3rd November 1989.
Since then it has gone from strength to strength and is quite probably the best and largest musuem in the world devoted entirely to rotorcraft, with over eighty examples.
It is located on the old LOCKING aerodrome site, just W of the A371 and E of the M5, and ESE of Weston-super-Mare town centre.
THE POTTERIES MUSEUM and ART GALLERY
Note: Here again are two pictures from postcards kindly sent by Mike Charlton.
It appears that the Spitfire RW388 was donated to the City of Stoke-on-Trent in 1972 and presumably went on exhibition shortly afterwards, quite possibly being on permanant view ever since? I suspect the actual venue has changed at least once as the present building looks quite modern.
The present location is in Hanley, just north of Stoke-on-Trent, east of the A5008 and just north of the Hanley bus station.
TORBAY AIRCRAFT MUSEUM
Probably not much remembered today, the then well known TV presenter Keith Fordyce, a very keen aviation enthusiast, set up an aviation museum close to his Country House hotel in Higher Blagdon. It was set up in 1975 but appears to have closed in the mid 1980s. Other sources say it existed from 1972 to 1988. Here again in researching UK aviation history I am astonished that a 'recent' site such as this can create so much controversy as to when it was actually open.
A MIKE CHARLTON GALLERY
Note: These pictures from postcards were also kindly sent by Mike Charlton.
First picture. It appears the Hurricane and the Me109 'Buchon' were used in the 'Battle of Britain film which appeared on our screens in 1969 and has since done so much to totally distort the history of this conflict in the eyes of the public. It was in fact a disgrace, utterly distorting the real picture. The museum also featured a couple more replicas including a WW1 Fokker Triplane.
Third picture: From the bottom left, clockwise: 1) Focke-Achgelis Fa330 Bachsteize 2) de Havilland DH112 Sea Venom FAW22, XG629 3) de Havilland DH100 Vampire T11, XE995 4) Hawker Sea Hawk FB5, WM961 5) Gloster Meteor T7, WF877 6) de Havilland DH104 Dove 6, G-ALFT 7) Tail of the DHC.1 Chipmunk T10, WB758 8) Percival P.56 Provost T1, WV605 9) Westland Dragonfly HR3, WN499
If anybody can kindly advise a date when this picture was taken, this will be appreciated.
Note: It seems the Focke-Achgelis Fa330 is now on show at the Fleet Air Arm museum, Yeovilton.
Fourth picture: Much the same as the third picture, except the Focke-Achgelis, and the Percival Provost WV605 have gone. But, the Westland Whirlwind HAR2, XJ393 takes 'centre stage' and the Avro 652A Anson C19, TX235 (minus outer wing sections) appears beside the Dove 6 G-ALFT. Here again, if anybody can kindly date this picture, this advice will be most welcome
As you can see I haven't done this for any other museum, mainly because they are so well known. But, I was fascinated to discover that this short-lived museum had so many very interesting exhibits.
For example it appears the Avro Avian G-EBZM, was featured here before going to the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry.
It also appears that two Miles M.38 Messengers were acquired, the example with a miltary serial applied, RG333, and the civil G-AKEZ.
The Percival P.31 Proctor IV, G-ANYP was obtained, and I suppose we must remember that wood and fabric classic aircraft such as the Proctor, were in those days, far more likely to feature on a bonfire rather than a preservation project.
It also seems that two examples of the Percival P.56 Provost T1 were procured. WV605 and WV679, the latter being an instructional airframe - 7615M. It seems that WV679 went to the museum at WELLESBOURNE MOUNTFORD.
Other notable examples in the collection were the Saro Skeeter AOP!2 helicopter, XN351, the BA Swallow 2, G-AFGE, and certainly the rare Desoutter 1 G-AAPZ.
ULSTER FOLK & TRANSPORT MUSEUM
Notes: This museum is in Holywood, County Down.
This picture from a postcard was also kindly sent by Mike Charlton.
The Spitfire TE184 was on display here from 1977 to 1986. Later it was purchased and restored to flying condition, which - in 2017 at least, I believe it still is.
VALLANCE BY-WAYS (GATWICK AVIATION MUSEUM)
Location: In/near Charlwood. Situated just north of the western end of runway 08 at GATWICK.
Note: This museum has long been surrounded in mystery and rumours of conflicts regarding planning permission. However, since about 2012/13 the collection appears to have changed ownership and a new and much brighter future beckons. On a visit in September 2015 a completely new building was nearing completion to house all the exhibits except for the Shackleton, and if all goes to plan, this should open in the spring of 2016. Just one note regarding the Hawker Seahawk listed as XE489, this entry has WM983(?) in brackets. So presumably there is some doubt as to the service history of this aircraft?
WHALEY FARM AIRSTRIP (Aka NEW YORK)
Note: On a visit in July 2013, when delivering the Gardan Minicab G-AWEP in my truck, I was most interested to find the remains of the English Electric/BA Lightning T.5 XS416 and the Panavia Tornado GR.1 ZA341. What fate awaits these aircraft seems unclear.
This possibly unique aviation museum is partly situated in an underground bunker on the airfield which is very much still in use for GA use. The most impressive exhibit is the Avro Vulcan B.2 XM655 and you can see its arrival on 'You Tube'. They also have the Hunting-Percival Provost WV679, the YAK 52 RA-01378 and the rare McBroom Argus hang-glider. Plus a collection of other aircraft parts.
Note: This is the latest in a line of gate guardians at WOODVALE, and this picture was taken in August 2016. Airfield security kindly allowed me in to take the picture, but I could only snap it from behind as any other angle would show buildings, which it appears could seriously compromise the safety of the site.
I could well be mistaken, but, I think this is (in 2016) at least, the only example of a Jet Provost acting as a gate guardian in the UK?
WROUGHTON: The Science Museum Aeroflight collection.
A PERSONAL MEMORY
In July 2009 I collected the Rutan Varieze G-IPSY from BIGGIN HILL and delivered it to WROUGHTON to feature in the collection.
YEOVILTON GATE GUARDIAN
NOTE: Not part of the museum, (see below), but appearing seperately at the main gate to the Naval Air Base. Picture by the author.
YEOVILTON FLEET AIR ARM MUSEUM
Location: Adjacent to the YEOVILTON naval air base, now on the B3151 (once the A.303) and about 4 miles north of Yeovil town centre.
Note: An exemplary museum with many rare aircraft very well displayed. Highly recommend for a visit. These first six pictures by the author.
A MIKE CHARLTON GALLERY
Note: These pictures from postcards were kindly sent by Mike Charlton who has an amazing collection. See, www.aviationpostcard.co.uk
If anybody can kindly offer advice as to when these pictures were taken, this will be much appreciated. I would guess they are mostly from the 1970s?
The second picture: The BAC221 was a development of the Fairey Delta 2, which broke the World Air Speed record at 1,132mph on the 10th March 1956. It could have flown faster if it had been provided with more fuel!
The sixth picture: It appears that the Fairey Gannet T5 XG883 is no longer part of this collection.
The seventh picture: With little to go on, I assume this picture is of the Sea Prince WP313?
The ninth picture: The Westland Dragonfly is almost certainly the HR5 version VX595. The Westland Whirlwind is quite another matter. The example exhibited today is the HAR3 XG574, but it appears the museum also has a HAR1 XA864, a HAR3 XG574 and two examples of the HAS7, XG594 and X853. If anybody can kindly offer advice as to which one is pictured here, this will be most welcome.
PICTURES FROM A LATER ERA
I feel fairly confident that these pictures from postcards were mostly taken in a later era. I'd guess the 1990s, and quite possibly later still? If anybody can kindly advise when, this will be much appreciated.
First picture: Am I correct in thinking that this is the Wessex XS508? It appears the collection includes another Wessex HU5, XT765.
Fifth picture: This is interesting. Regarding the Argentinian Pucará, I had not expected to find this aircraft exhibited at YEOVILTON. I think I saw it at the Army Aircraft Museum at MIDDLE WALLOP a few years ago - but it appears it is no longer there. So what has happened to it?
YORKSHIRE AIR MUSEUM (ELVINGTON)
Location: Just E of the B1228, roughly 5nm ESE of York city centre
Note: This is an excellent museum, very well arranged with many distinctive and unusual features - well worth a visit. Not least for having a complete Handley Page Hailfax on display - just one of two in the entire world which has survived.
FIRST ROW PICTURE DETAILS
The first picture, an aerial view, was taken when flying past en route to FULL SUTTON. The second picture is of the replica Hawker Hurricane 1, P3873. The third picture is of the Handley Page Victor K.2 XL231 and together with the Nimrod these two aircraft are major features on 'Thunder Days' when they power down the runway at considerable speed - the Victor trailing its parachute to aid braking. A very nice feature when we visited was that a generator was running alongside the Victor, plugged in and keeping it 'powered-up' for immediate action, just as it would have been during the 'Cold War'. Yet another feature that sets this museum apart from others. The fourth picture is of the BAe Nimrod MR2, XV250.
SECOND ROW PICTURE DETAILS
The first picture features the WW2 control tower and the signals square, which was often used in the old days especially by non-radio aircraft flying overhead before joining the circuit and landing. Even today, all licensed aerodromes still display a signals square, although few pilots need to use them as their aircraft are mostly equipped with a new-fangled gadget called a radio. The second picture is of the Fairey Gannet AEW3 (XL502) which clearly shows how little space such a large aircraft could occupy on a carrier. The third picture is of the De Havilland DH.104 Devon (VP967) which was a miltary version of the civilian Dove regional airliner; a popular type in both guises from the late 1940s through to the 1960s. And indeed beyond with a few still flying commercially today. The fourth picture in this row is of the De Havilland DH.--- Mosquito NF.11 (HJ711), a type that can arguably lay claim to being the most extraordinarily versatile, and successful design of WW2 - which performed with distinction in every role that it was employed in.
THIRD ROW PICTURE DETAILS
The first picture in this row is of a true classic, the Douglas DC-3/C-47 Dakota IV (KN353/G-AMYJ). Developed from the DC-2 airliner in the 1930s, this type became both hugely successful as a civilian airliner, before and after WW2, and was also the workhorse transport type in a huge variety of military roles. By complete contrast the second picture is of the Mignet HM.14 Pou-du-Ciel (Flying Flea) G-AFFI. This design by the Frenchman Henri Mignet in the 1930s appered set to take the world by storm for those prepared to build it from plans as a very safe (it couldn't stall) and affordable means to take to the air. It was not to be however, as so many crashed the type was grounded. The main problems were not with the design as such but because many builders did not appreciate issues such as weight and balance, or indeed the strictures of correct aeroplane construction techniques. The third picture is of a Gloster Meteor and a Blackburn Buccaneer, both presumably in the process of being restored. The fourth picture is a replica of the second glider constructed by Sir George Caley and flown from his estate at Brompton Dale in 1953. See BROMPTON HALL for more info.
The Yorkshire Air Museum tries to make much of a mistaken belief that the 'aeroplane' was invented in Yorkshire. It was not, although without too much doubt Sir George Caley can be attributed with the accolade of being 'The father of aeronautics' as nothing has appeared in history (so far) to have been as thorough as his systematic experiments. The first authenticated flight I have discovered in the UK was by a monk in Malmesbury, who designed and built an elementary 'hang-glider' which he flew, just once, in the year 1003, possibly 1010?
FOURTH ROW PICTURES
Without any doubt in my humble opinion, the 'star' of the Yorkshire Air Museum is the Handley Page Halifax II (LV907). Just one of two examples to be displayed 'fully intact' in the world today. It is of course a composite reconstruction made from many parts, including wings from a Handley Page Hastings. The second picture is a 'nose-art' detail of LV907.