Thursday, 11 July 2013

RAF Museum at Cosford

Thursday 11th July, 2013 at Brewood.
Only about 15 minutes from Brewood is the RAF Museum at Cosford, so today we decided to go and visit it. We had organised a taxi to pick us up at the Bridge Inn, just a few hundred yards from where MM is moored. The Museum is free, and we did not quite know what to expect. We were completely overwhelmed by the reality! It was as good, if not better, than RAF Hendon.
There are a number of aircraft parked outside, there is a reception building including a restaurant (called "Refuel"!), three large hangars and a huge purpose built exhibition hall.
After a cup of coffee in "Refuel", we went into the first hangar, which contains an incredible collection of research aeroplanes built by the British when the British Aviation industry lead the world. They included one of two surviving TSR2s, rescued and hidden from the Government when all the aircraft and jigs were destroyed in 1965.
Others include the Short S.5 used in the development of the Lightning, the English Electric P.1A pre-production version of the Lightning, the Fairey Delta 2, that R remembers seeing at the Farborough Air Display, and the Bristol 188, stainless steel research aircraft that was incredibly advanced for its time.
After wandering around the Test Flight hangar, we walked across to the "National Cold War Exhibition" housed in a huge purpose built exhibition hall.
The exhibition displays aircraft from both sides of the Cold War and a great deal of background information about the differences between the East and the West and the tensions of the time, including the Berlin Airlift and the Space Race, as well as information about the cultural differences between the two sides. The exhibition was opened by the Queen and apparently when she walked in and saw all the aircraft, many of which are hanging from the roof, she asked "Are they models?" The Museum Director is reported to have replied "Yes, Ma'am and you should have seen the size of the boxes that they came in!"
One particular example that caught our eye was the Victor Bomber that had a very naughty "Maid Marion" painted on its nose!
Another was the English Electric Lightning that was, appropriately, hanging from its nose - it is one of the few aircraft ever developed that could go supersonic going straight up vertically.
As we were walking around, an announcement was made that the Dornier 17 area was now open to the public. R had heard that a Dornier 17 had been discovered on Goodwin Sands and there were plans to lift it. Sonar images showed it to be remarkably complete.
About four weeks ago, it was lifted from the bottom of the sea and brought to RAF Cosford for conservation, where it is stored in two polytunnels.
It will be sprayed with a mildly acidic solution for two years to stabilise it. The wings have been removed and they are still upside down as they were under the sea.
The fuselage is in a number of bits, but they reckon that they have about 70% of the aircraft. When they started to spray it with the solution, it seems to have upset the local wildlife as apparently the polytunnels was full of crabs trying to get out!
The aircraft will not be restored but will be re-assembled as far as possible and put on display at RAF Hendon. The plan is to put it alongside a replica to show what the aircraft originally looked like.
We were so lucky to be here to see this so soon after it was recovered!
Then we went into Hangar 1, which houses transport and training aircraft as well as a collection of engines from small piston engines right through to a huge RB211 jet used to power jet airliners. Also in this hangar is the James May Spitfire, that was built for his television program as a full scale plastic kit. The pilot is even modelled on May himself!
Nearby was one of R's favourite aeroplanes, the diminutive Folland/Hawker Siddeley Gnat T.1 as used by the original Red Arrows.
Finally we visited the Warplanes Hangar, which included one of M's favourites, the Tornado. R thinks that M wanted to lead this one home!
There was also another of R's favourites, the de Haviland Mosquito, being given some maintenance and TLC.
It is getting to be a habit with us that we are the last to leave!! The taxi took us home after an absolutely fantastic day out.
Today: MM stayed moored in the sunshine.

No comments:

Post a Comment