Sunday, 29 March 2015

RAF Museum Cosford (3)

Continuing where we left off....

Hanger 1 was not as spectacular as the others were, but there were some very interesting aircraft here, and a number of the types did serve in South Africa too.

This was also Munchkin Headquarters, and the one corner of the hanger was off limits to non-munchkins so photographing the biggest exhibit in its entirety was once again impossible.

hawker Siddeley Comet 1XB (XM823)
This was really one of those moments when you see something that you read about in the history books, and is now right in front of you.

I really did try getting an image of her from the corner of the hanger but just could not get it right.

The Spitfire in the image is quite an  interesting one too, as it was the end result of a TV Program called James May's Toys. In this particular episode James May and his helpers successfully constructed a 1-1 replica of an Airfix model of a Spitfire. The pieces were built out of out of fibreglass. Unfortunately the fibreglass pieces couldn't support their own weight without internal supports, which were added to ensure it would be strong enough so that it did not collapse. 

The other interesting bird is an Armstrong Whitworth Argosy, a 4 engined twin boom transport that was in use by the RAF, 74 of which were built. 

The short haul passenger shuttle aircraft were also represented, and the Avro Anson C-19 (TX214) was representing her line. The Anson really gained fame as a training aircraft as well in the maritime reconnaissance role. The green aircraft on the left is a Fairchild Argus II. 

 The other classic was hiding at the back of the hanger, and we have a similar one in South Africa. The Casa 352L (Ju52/53), A post-war Spanish version of which 106 were built.


I had seen the South African Casa in flight many years ago, but she seemed to stopped flying awhile ago, and it is quite sad because she was really fantastic to see and hear. This Casa was the first I had seen up close and personal, and frankly I did find the corrugated skin fascinating.

Helicopters are also represented here, there are three examples in the hanger.

Westland Dragonfly HR3
Westland Wessex HC2
Bristol Sycamore HR14
There is a display of German rockets and missiles, and the V1 was of interest, although I have not been able to find out whether this is the real thing, or a replica. Behind the V1 is a V2, and the dayglo aircraft to the left is a Boulton Paul Balliol T21 advanced trainer.

This aircraft rang no bells in my head, but further reading suggests that they were replacements for the Harvards used for training. This particular version is a naval version with fold up wings and arrestor hook.

The other dominant aircraft in the hanger is the Hawker Siddeley Andover, and this was the first complete one that I had seen (a cockpit exists at Boscombe Down Aviation Collection).

There were a number of smaller aircraft scattered around the hanger, and these range from a Chipmunk,

To a de Havilland Devon,

To a Trans Antarctic Expedition branded Auster T7 that was fitted with skis for the 1956 Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition led by Dr Vivian Fuchs. It was known as the Auster Antarctic.

It was getting late and time was marching. I had two more places to visit, and these were a Lockheed Hercules C130 MK3 that was parked outside and close to the hanger.

and the Bristol Britannia 310 close to the visitors centre.

And then we were done. There are a few aircraft that I have not shown here, and of course my images are very variable because of differing light conditions or angles that I was forced to use.
As for the munchkins? well, they are an irritation, however, it was nice to see children being enthusiastic about what they were doing, sprawled on the floor scribbling furiously on paper, or sitting quietly at tables concentrating on some task that had been handed to them. They were all of an age where everything is a new discovery, and probably very few will remember this visit when they are older. However, inside those developing minds may be a pilot, or an engineer, or maybe a designer of the new supersonic airliner. You can never tell with children.

The museum is wonderful, although the food does tend to be expensive, and the shop has an excellent selection of goodies. My only gripe is about how difficult it can be to see an aircraft in its entirity. But, a good day was had, and old friends were seen "in the skin". It never ceases to amaze me how different some aircraft are in real life compared to pictures, those V Bombers were probably one of four highlights, the others being the Catalina, the Casa and the Comet.

Maybe one day I will return, but if I never do at least this blogpost will serve as a reminder.
DR Walker 2015, created 29/03/2015

RAF Museum Cosford (2)

Continuing where we left off...

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There are three aircraft that I deliberately did not include in the last page, and they probably deserve a page on their own, but space may require that I do have a page 3 after all. These aircraft are the famous "V Bombers" operated by the RAF during the Cold War.  These aircraft had a very interesting life, and I am glad that there are examples of all three around. These are amongst the legendary aircraft of the RAF.

Unfortunately there is no way to photograph the complete aircraft because of how they are housed, but I have tried to do my best to show these legends. 

Topping my list is my personal favourite: the Vickers Valiant,

For some reason I still think she was a very under-rated aircraft that has been overshadowed by the successes of her two sisters. They were retired in 1965, and I am glad this one (XD818) has survived, she is the only complete intact survivor of the Valiant fleet.

Painted in anti-flash white, she looks featureless and almost ghostly. If anything they were not as radical a design as the other two V Bombers.

The second  V Bomber of the fleet was the Handley Page Victor. And I will admit I was never really a fan of this aircraft because she really was almost Flash Gordonish with an very futuristic shape and profile. She was somewhat of a troubled lady to, but eventually fond her niche and was very successful in her tanker role. The example at Cosford is a Mk2 (XH672), and is the only surviving intact example.

The Victor unfortunately is almost impossible to see in her entirety, and if anything the museum need a large high viewing platform where you can see the whole aircraft properly, and of course to understand the beauty of her crescent wing and high tailplane.


Unfortunately there was no real way to see the whole of the aircraft in the space available. 

Probably the most famous of the V Bombers was the Avro Vulcan, and she is the stuff of legends, especially when it comes to long distance bombing missions. The Vulcan, is perched in a bit of a precarious position, but you do manage to get some sort of scale of her.

Make no mistakes, she is a big aeroplane, and she has become the poster girl of the V Bombers. There is one flying example still left (XH558), and a number of them have managed to secure a place in museums. Vulcan fans will always cite the famous Black Buck Raid on the Falklands Islands as an example of how effective a Vulcan could be, however, the reality is that without the Victors refueling the aircraft the raid would not have been possible.

The three V Bombers are legendary aircraft, and Cosford is the only place where you can see all three together.

Feeling somewhat shellshocked I headed down the stairs to visit some of the transport aircraft housed in that area of the hanger. There are a number of interesting aircraft down there, although the one that interested me the most was the Avro York, and she derives her lineage from the Lancaster. 

In the image below we can see the Handley Page Hastings, with a Dakota above and the wing of a Short Belfast dwarfing that East German iconic car; the Trabant.

The Short Belfast is anything by short, and only ten of them were produced. Enceladus (XR371) is the last of the aircraft produced.
The last aircraft exhibit that interested me was the Sikorsky MH-53M helicopter, but it was being used as a background to some sort of production and it was difficult to photograph from anywhere but the front or back.

There were a number of non aviation objects on display here, and the Trabant as mentioned above was one of them. Many were related to the Cold War theme of the display and while I do not have an interest in missiles I do appreciate vintage military vehicles.

Leopard 1A5 Main Battle Tank
Centurion MBT
Scorpion light reconnaissance vehicle
Alvis Saladin armoured car
Soviet Bloc PT76 amphibian tank
And when all is done and dusted, we really need to call the fire brigade to clean up the mess.

Bedford mobile pump unit
That really wrapped up the Cold War Hanger, although I have to add in one last image of that most famous of transports, many of which are still flying today.
Douglas Dakota IV
It is strange to think that the venerable Dakota is still flying so long after most of the aircraft in this museum were removed from service. 

The next page will feature Hanger 1; which houses Transport and Training, The Engine collection and a host of other  items of interest.
DR Walker 2015. Created 29/03/2015

RAF Museum Cosford (1)

This fine gray day saw us heading for the RAF Museum in Cosford,  It was sheer luck that I made the connection between the museum and the area where I was, and once that connection is made there is no getting away from it.

Like most aircraft museums, Cosford has a lot of really large exhibits, and they do take up space in a hanger, so many of the images do not show a complete aircraft,  Quite a number of my favourites are at Cosford, although there are still a lot of aircraft that are part of the collection but which are housed elsewhere.

Without further ado, grab your camera lets go!

The gate guard is the old faithful, The Hawker Hunter. Probably one of the finest looking fighter jets ever designed. This is the 3rd Hunter that I have seen, and she is a beaut.

I won't waffle about the visitors centre, it is a slick operation, and the toilets are clean, those are important things to me. Unfortunately it does seem as if every munchkin in the county was visiting the museum as well, and there were crocodiles of kids everywhere.

I had recently been reading a book about the Hawker Siddeley Nimrod, and there was one in front of me. The grey weather and grey aircraft blended in together, rendering her difficult to distinguish from the background. The Nimrod does not stand out as being one of the most attractive aircraft ever built, but it served a difficult role successfully for a number of years before being retired.  Also present in this space was a Lockheed Neptune, another very successful design that has served faithfully for many years.

Jetstream T Mk1
Hawker Siddeley Dominie
Having dealt with the aircraft outside the visitors centre, it was time to head across to the "Test Flight" hanger. This was a place of wonderous things, many of which I was totally unaware of. British Aviation produced many aircraft and were at the cutting edge of design, and while many designs were failures, they often ended up becoming responsible for even greater things. 

The first aircraft that really caught my eye was the BAC TSR-2. This aircraft was years ahead of its time and extremely controversial, as well as really over budget.  It is a very controversial aircraft, and at the end the project was shelved by politicians and the existing aircraft and tooling was destroyed. The aircraft on display is the most complete survivor of the project.  

The TSR-2 was definitely one of those moments when you see something incredibly rare.

Other aircraft in the test flight gallery are:

British Aerospace EAP
Hawker Kestrel
Hunting H126
Sepecat Jaguar GR. 1/ACT
It was time to leave the Test Flight and head across to the "War in The Air" Hanger. I was expecting great things here, considering the aircraft that had been in service with the RAF during the war years. The most iconic of them all is the Supermarine Spitfire. And the example below is a Mk1, and it is the oldest surving in the world. 

Just across the path is the other iconic warbird from the Battle of Britain, The Hawker Hurricane. The display aircraft is a MK IIc. 

However, an equally rare lady graced my field of vision, and she was swarming with munchkins intent of doing what munchkins do best (ruining my pics?). 

The Consolidated Catalina is yet another iconic aircraft that has become legendary, famous for the many roles that it worked at, this flying boat is right at the top of the list of famous flying boats. This particular one, a PBY6A is outfitted in the search and rescue role, and dos not have a front turret.

I was very tempted to tarry a lot longer at this aircraft but it was becoming increasingly more crowded, so I sauntered along to the next aircraft of interest, which is a German Focke-Wulf FW190 A-B. These were formidable aircraft, and were well respected on both sides. 

And, very close to the FW190 was one of those odd aircraft that pushed the envelope, but wasn't really too much of a success. The Messerschmitt Me163 "Komet". These early rocket powered aircraft were really short mission aircraft, and often were more dangerous to the pilot than the bombers they were trying to shoot down in that brief few minutes of powered flight. 

It was not a very large machine, and would jettison the wheels shortly after take-off and land on the retractable skid.

Possibly one of the few aircraft that stood any chance of coming vaguely close to the Komet was the versatile, plywood built de Havilland Mosquito. Also known as the "Wooden Wonder". 

The Mosquito was probably one of the most versatile aircraft in the air, and was extremely popular with its crews, sadly, the nature of the their construction was as such that very few of them survive to this day.

Sadly, one of the biggest disappointments of the day was the Avro Lincoln, the successor to the Avro Lancaster. It was placed in a very awkward position, and roped off in such a way that access to the back of it was impossible, and ironically they mention the rear gun turret in the guide book. I did not get good images of this aircraft, and she is a tad on the big side so getting even close to fitting all of her in the shot is impossible. 

And finally, special mention must go to the Hawker Harrier that seemed out of place in this hanger, but given how well it performed its duty in the Falklands War it really does deserve a place in history.

Not all aircraft will earn a place here, there are limitations as to how many images I can use, yet I do not really want to leave anything out either.

FMA Pecura
Hawker Hind
Fieseler Storch
Kawasaki K100
Yokosuka Ohka II
Sopwith Pup
It was time to move onto the largest hanger, or at least the strangest shaped one, and that was the "Cold War" Hanger. I was expecting great things from here, and I just hoped that photography would be not too complicated.
The Cold War era produced a lot of aircraft, and of course dictates of the era meant an increasing degree of sophistication. The museum does have a Sabre, but I could not find it, and that would have been a perfect introduction to the Korean War Era, there is however, a MIG 15.

And of course the old Stalwart Canberra and Meteor. Unfortunately a number of important aircraft are hanging from the roof, so it is really an underside that can be seen.

Armstrong Whitworth Meteor NF14

English Electric Canberra PR-9.

Actually the full sized aircraft hanging from the roof are quite effective in some instances, and the best example of this would be the BAC Lightning seemingly flying directly out of the roof.
It is very effective, although you do need a good lens to take a close look. There is an upper viewing deck, but it does not extend anywhere as far as it should, and that is my biggest gripe. You cannot really see some of the aircraft in their entirety, although you can get a great view of the  Hawker HunterT-7A passing by.

The MIG21 was an important aircraft in its era, and a number ended up flying in Southern Africa.  Compare the shapes of the Hunter to that of the MIG.

The bitter irony is that one of the aircraft on display is a General Dynamics F111F-CF, the same aircraft that was bought and used as an excuse to scrap the TSR-2. The F111 is a very capable aircraft, but did cost a lot more than was budgeted for and was subject to a lot of delays. 

The old stalwart Bucanneer is only represented by a cockpit, and that is a pity because it was a legend in service. 

There are three exhibits that I will deal with over the page, However, looking over the railing to the floor below there are a lot of large cargo aircraft that may seem familiar.

In that image there is an Avro York,  Douglas Dakota IV, and a Handley Page Hastings T3. These are visible from the gallery, and I was not yet at that level. Completing this portion of the blog, I shall leave you with a door to the next page although that will only open once I have completed the page, so hang in there!

DR Walker 2015. Created 28/03/2015