Today I popped on the tube nice and early so I could spend all day at the RAF Museum London. An incredible number of planes and great information, it was really interesting and I thoroughly recommend it! A 10 minute stroll from the Colindale tube station and you’re there too, nice and easy.
The day started off not that great, sitting opposite these African dudes who saw fit to pretty much shout at each other in their mother tongue for the 45 minute tube ride, though they’re sitting right next to each other. But this cheered me up:
I took a lot of photos of planes. A LOT of photos of planes. Below are a small selection. (For my plane-nut bros, I’ll try suss an easy way of sharing the lot with you).
After the main entrance hangar, which is a real hodge-podge mix match of planes, you can go to the ‘Graham White Aviation Company’ around the back and that’s where they’ve got heaps of WW1 planes and replicas. It is actually housed in a part of the old aircraft factory, pretty cool! They have a big section about the area and history of aviation there, construction and stuff. The strangest bit was noone else went over there, so I had the entire place to myself! What I thought was fantastic about the Blenheim Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre was the personal stories they had, of you know, sorties of interest, particular dodgy landings, that kind of thing. The RAF Museum had pretty much none of that, I found it a little lacking in that regard. They did however, on occasion, have the full histories of the planes you were looking at which really brought it home!
Barely scratched the surface of the planes in that hangar just here. But moving right along, you go into the Bomber hanger, which is pretty much the coolest thing ever. We’ve got some pretty badass fighters around New Zealand and our WW1 stuff is pretty neat, but we don’t have bombers.
They had a great video about Operation Chastise (Dambusters raid) – below is a replica of the mine used, and also a ghostly image of me.
Below is an inside shot up the rear gun turret of a Halifax bomber which was raised from the fjord where it crash landed attempting to sink the Tirpitz. It was quite eerie, you can still see the RAF insignia on the fuselage (not shown, haha).
|A Vulcan. Notice the pointed ears. It is really far too big to take a photo of so I took an arty one instead.|
The bombers in there are just massive, it was so amazing seeing them. Can’t believe they were chucking 20 year old pilots in the cockpits of these things! I’m guessing 20yr olds didn’t fly the Vulcans, it was quite interesting reading about the history of British nuclear deterrents too, another area we just flat out don’t have.
|I thought this was cool, the front half of the control basket from R34, one of the earliest dirigibles. They couldn’t fit the actual airship in the hangar.|
Beside the bombers there’s another huge hangar with spitfires, that kittyhawk, jets, heaps of cool stuff. And a cafe where I spent £4.20 on a sandwich.
Across the plaza there’s the Battle of Britain hall. I was interested in how all this history would be portrayed in Britain, compared with how it’s covered back home. Was pretty much the same, with a bit more patriotic vigour, which is expected!
Walking in there’s a bit about Hitler’s rise to power – here’s a Hitler Youth having an awesome time:
There was some quite interesting reading about building bomb shelters, and how people handled the London Blitz. They’ve done this quite clever thing with projectors on mannequin faces, so there’s like, human lips talking, projected on a head – it’s pretty creepy really but got me thinking doing museum exhibitions would pretty much be the coolest training to develop ever.
On the hour they have a 15 minute show, projected on a screen across the Battle of Britain planes in the hangar. They turn the lights off and light areas as required, simulate fly-bys (godamn I wrote fly-buys) with great speakers and I just generally found it pretty well done.
I’ve always wanted to see more of the German planes, and they’ve got em! There were 2 Me109s (saves me trying to spell it) and here’s a Heinkel, something:
In the final area, there is a massive Sunderland floatplane. You can actually walk through it, it’s pretty awesome!
Bloody cool place to go, and you know what else? IT WAS FREE. That’s just jolly decent of the RAF what what.