RAF Museum, Hendon (London, UK)


Photos © Ruud Leeuw

During a visit to the UK in 2007 I found the opportunity to visit the famous RAF Museum at Hendon, London,UK.
Twice before I had put a visit to this museum on my 'to do'-list but circumstances prevented this; it was therefor with great pleasure I stepped into this museum. But I left with mixed feelings about my visit.

The Royal Air Force Museum is somewhat hard to find, smothered in Greater London and locked in. It is in fact called "the RAF Museum, Hendon"... but it's not in Hendon! There are even signs at Hendon Central tube station telling people to go to Colindale...
Anyway, I came by car and found ample parking space and we found the admission to be free. All National Museums in the UK have cancelled admission fees as of 01Dec01.
The collection is extensive: over 100 aircraft are on display in 5 themed halls.
The first hall is the "Milestones of Flight", where we see this North American P-51 Mustang on display.

This is a De Havilland Mosquito ("Mossie"). Its history I could study in greater detail upon my visit to the nearby The De Havilland Heritage Centre a few days later.
This part of the museum was opened in 2003, on Dec.17th, exactly 100 years after the first powered flight by Orville Wright!
Other aircraft on display here are Gipsy Moth, Bf109 Messerschmitt, Me.262, Hawker Harrier, Eurofighter 'Typhoon' plus various others.



This is an excellent display of 'Milestones of Flight': read and remember!

This is the Bomber Hall, one can see the development of bombers from WW1 into the Jet Age on display here.
This particular aircraft has a long road of restoration ahead of itself...

This is ('W2068') Avro Anson I.
The Avro Anson was a British twin-engine, multi-role aircraft that served with the Royal Air Force, Fleet Air Arm and numerous other air forces during the Second World War and afterwards. Named for British admiral George Anson, it was originally designed for maritime reconnaissance but was soon rendered obsolete.
However it was rescued from obscurity by its suitability as a multi-engine air crew trainer, becoming the mainstay of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP). By the end of its production life in 1952, the Anson spanned nine variants and a total of 8,138 had been built in Britain by Avro and, from 1941, a further 2,882 by the Canadian Federal Aircraft Ltd. [Source: Wikipedia]

The list on www.aeroflight.co.uk/mus/uk/hendon/rafmushendon.htm is a great help in identifying the various planes here on display.

Consolidated B-24L Liberator, KN751
KN 751 was built by Ford at Willow Run (44 -50206) for the RAF, delivered in June 1945 and proceed to join 99 Squadron at Dhubalia, (India).
99 Squadron played a full part in the Burma Campaign, as a Bomber Squadron raiding a large number of varied targets in support of the 14th Army.
In August/September 1944 the Squadron converted to Liberators. It was to fly its final W.W.2 bombing and strafing attack against Benkoelin in Sumatra on 7th August having been in action throughout the whole of W.W.2.
KN 751 arrived in time to partake in 99 Squadrons wartime final operational sorties as well as supply dropping to P.O.W. Camps and also the repatriation of P.O.W.s after hostilities.
KN751 was taken on charge by 6 (M.R.) Squadron after the R.A.F. left India as HE 807 and was presented to the R.A.F. Museum arriving at Lyneham on 7th July 1974. Later she was sent to R.A.F. Colerne.
It carries a plaque on both sides of its nose reading "Presented by the Indian Air Force to the Royal Air Force Museum", above the bomb aimer's position.
Source: www.rquirk.com

Airspeed Oxford MP425, Airspeed Oxford I
The Airspeed Oxford was a military development of the same company's Envoy airliner. The prototype first flew on 19 June 1937 and when it entered service with the Central Flying School in November of that year it became the Royal Air Force's first twin-engine monoplane advanced trainer.
The first Oxfords were intended for all aspects of aircrew training including gunnery and had an Armstrong Whitworth dorsal gun turret fitted. The turret was removed from later versions and they were used mainly for pilot training. In addition to their main role as trainers Oxfords were used as air ambulances, communications aircraft and for ground radar calibration duties.
It saw widespread use as an advanced trainer in the United Kingdom, Canada, Southern Rhodesia, Australia, New Zealand and the Middle East and in 1951 they received a new lease of life as Flying Training Command expanded to train National Service pilots.
Source: www.rafmuseum.org.uk

The Princess Mary's Royal Air Force Nursing Service is committed to providing a nursing workforce that is determined to develop the skills, knowledge and ability to deliver high quality care in peacetime and on operations.

Website: www.pmrafns.org

44-83868, Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress
Built with c/n 32509-DL (USAF serial 44-83868), it was delivered (designated PB-1W) to the US Navy with serial ("BuNo") 77233 in 1945. Its military career was cut short on 10Jul56.
Its 1st civilian owner was American Compressed Steel Corp, Dallas, TX during 1957-1960; whilst registration N6466D was reserved it was not taken up. Instead it became registered as N5237V.
it was stored unconverted, marked as USN XD-2, at Dallas-Love Airport, from 1958 to 1960.
Next owner was Ashland Corp from Tucson,AZ, registering on 29Feb60.
This lasted only briefly: Marson Equipment & Salvage Company (also of Tucson) owned it from 07July60, until 27Sep61 when it was registered to Aero Union Corp. of Anderson,CA.
It took on a new role, that of a fire bomber (what's in a name...) and was registered to Calvin J. Butler (of Butler Farm Air, later to become Butler Aircraft Corp) of Richmond,OR. from Dec61-1971. It was flown as airtanker 'E15' (later 'F15', then '65').
From 1979-1983 it was flown from TBM Inc (of Sequoia,CA), as tanker 65.
Upon retirement it was converted back to military configuration as 483868 at Sequoia,CA and has been owned by the RAF Museum Hendon sine 09Dec83.
Source: www.warbirdregistry.org/b17registry/b17-4483868.html
The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress is an American four-engine heavy bomber aircraft developed for the US Army Air Corps (USAAC). Competing against Douglas and Martin for a contract to build 200 planes, the Boeing entry outperformed both the other competitors and more than met the Air Corps' expectations. Although Boeing lost the contract due to the prototype's crash, the Air Corps was so impressed with Boeing's design that they ordered 13 B-17s. The B-17 Flying Fortress went on to enter full-scale production and was considered the first truly mass-produced large aircraft, eventually evolving through numerous design advancements, from B-17A to G.
From its pre-war inception, the USAAC touted the aircraft as a strategic weapon; it was a potent, high-flying, long-ranging bomber capable of unleashing great destruction yet able to defend itself. With the ability to return home despite extensive battle damage, its durability, especially in belly-landings and ditchings, quickly took on mythic proportions.
Despite an inferior range and bombload compared to the more numerous B-24 Liberator, a survey of Eighth Air Force crews showed a much higher rate of satisfaction in the B-17. With a service ceiling greater than any of its Allied contemporaries, the B-17 established itself as a superb weapons system, dropping more bombs than any other US aircraft in World War II.
Source (and more to read on): Wikipedia
A few days later after my visit to this museum, I saw a B-17G put up a fine flying display at the Duxford Air Museum, more than 60 years after this type enjoyed its operational heydays!.

920 Supermarine Stranraer
Stranraer is a town in the south of Scotland, in the west of the region of Dumfries and Galloway. It is best known as a ferry port connecting Scotland with Belfast in Northern Ireland....
However it is also a flying boat in its original form, without a permanent fixed undercarriage which would qualify it an 'Amphibian'. No, this is a real deal Flying Boat! Also on display is the 'beaching gear' to get it on- and off shore.
The Supermarine Stranraer marked the end of biplane flying-boat development for the Royal Air Force.
They entered service in 1937 and many were still in service at the outbreak of the Second World War undertaking anti-submarine and convoy escort patrols. They were withdrawn from operational service in March 1941 but continued to serve in a training capacity until October 1942.
The production version was fitted with the 920hp Pegasus X and the first flew in December 1936, entering service operations on 16Apr37; the last Stranraer was delivered 03Apr39.
In service, the Stranraer was sometimes referred to as a "whistling shithouse". It drew this derisive nickname because the toilet opened out directly to the air and when the seat was lifted, the airflow caused the toilet to whistle...
A total of 40 Stranraers were built in Canada, serving with the RCAF until 1945. Some units passed into civilian use after the war; notably several Stranraers saw service with the Queen Charlotte Airlines in British Columbia, Canada.
Source: Wikipedia
Unfortunately I came across an over-zealous steward who insisted I went back to the frontdesk to request a special pass for the use of a tripod... A pass is needed to keep control on use of tripods in this museum and while I obviously was the only visitor using a tripod, rules had to be obeyed: "befehl ist befehl". This took precious time and rubbed me the wrong way. His name is Alan Wicks, beware of him, 'more than me jobsworth'-type of person. (The frightful thing was I think I saw him again at the Duxford air show, fortunateley he was there without his badge so could do no harm!)
Beaching gear

www.rafmuseum.org.uk has this to add:
"Curiously, the Stranraer was built in greater numbers and had a longer service life outside the United Kingdom than with the Royal Air Force. Selected by the Royal Canadian Air Force, the type was put into production by Canadian Vickers who built forty.
Eight were in service with the Canadians at the outbreak of war. Hese aircraft were used for patrol duties both on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. They were finally retired from service in February 1945.
After retirement from service use, several Stranraers were registered for civil use. Queen Charlotte Airlines continued to use Stranraers into the 1950s, operating from Vancouver and providing a service along the pacific coast of British Columbia."
A nice book to read about Queen Charlotte Airlines is "The Accidental Airline" by Howard White and Jim Spilsbury (Spilsbury bought an airplane in 1943, when wartime restrictions prevented the use of his boat to visit the upcoast camps and settlements where he repaired radios. From this innocent beginning grew Queen Charlotte Airlines, and when he sold the business to Pacific Western Airlines twelve years later, it was the third largest airline in Canada; very nice reading indeed).

N9899 Supermarine Southampton I (fuselage).
The Supermarine Southampton was one of the most successful flying boats of the between-war period. It was a development of the Supermarine Swan, which was used for a 10 passenger service between England and France.
The Southampton was designed by the team of RJ. Mitchell, better known as the designer of the Spitfire. Because of the success of the Swan, the Air Ministry ordered six Southamptons direct from the drawing board, which was very unusual.
The Southampton was a two-engine biplane flying boat. The Southampton Mk I had both its hull and its wings manufactured from wood. The Southampton Mk II had a hull with a single thickness of metal (the Mk I had a double wooden bottom). This change gave a weight saving of 900 lb (409 kg) allowing for an increase of range of approximately 200 miles (325 km).
In 1929 twenty-four of the Mk I were converted by having newly built metal hulls replacing the wooden ones. Some of the later aircraft were built with metal wings and were probably desinated as Mk III. There were three positions for machine guns, one in the nose and two staggered in the rear fuselage.
Source: Wikipedia.
While these Flying Boats were the highlight of my visit, I found it disappointing to find the exhibition to the Sunderland flying boat closed.

A16-199 Lockheed Hudson Mk. IIIA (c/n 414-6464, G-BEOX)
The Lockheed Hudson was an American-built light bomber and coastal reconnaissance aircraft built initially for the Royal Air Force shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War and primarily operated by the RAF thereafter. The Hudson was the first significant aircraft construction contract for the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation—the initial RAF order for 200 Hudsons far surpassed any previous order the company had received. The Hudson served throughout the war, mainly with Coastal Command but also in transport and training roles as well as delivering agents into occupied France.
A total of 350 Mk I and 20 Mk II Hudsons were supplied (the Mk II had different propellers). These had two fixed Browning machine guns in the nose and two more in a Boulton Paul dorsal turret.
The Hudson Mk III added one ventral and two beam machine guns and replaced the 1,100 hp Wright Cyclone 9-cylinder radials with 1,200 hp versions (428 produced). The Hudson Mk V (309 produced) and Mk VI (450 produced) were powered by the 1,200 hp Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp 14-cylinder two-row radial.
The RAF also obtained 380 Mk IIIA and 30 Mk IV Hudsons under the Lend-Lease programme. Total production: 2.584
Source of above information (and more to read on): Wikipedia.
The Lockheed Hudson is related to the development of the Lockheed L.10 Electra, L.12 Electra Junior and L.14 Super Electra.

Stuka 494083, Junkers Ju 87D-3 or Stuka...
Never before have I seen one is such condition, really nice!
This is a display in the Battle of Britain Hall.
Much on this divebomber can be read on Wikipedia.

Claude Grahame White created a company, the Grahame-White Aviation Company, taking control of more than 200 acres of Colindale and converting it into what could be recognised as a proper modern airfield. It was from Hendon, as part of the George V coronation celebrations, that the first ever 'official' airmail was carried in September 1911. The first aerial derby was held here in 1912, which it was said was watched by 500,000 people.
Production of aeroplanes was one of the features of the aerodrome's activities under Grahame White. During the First World War production increased rapidly. To facilitate the transportation of the 3500 workers and materials, The Midland Railway built a spur from the embanked main line with a platform close to the main line and a loop around the airfield to the plant. The Air Ministry took over in 1922, which led to a protracted and ugly legal action lasting until 1925 with Grahame White leaving the site. Aircraft manufacture went into decline between the wars.
The above building is the Grahame-White factory; unfortunately it is only open in the mornings, so I found it closed during my visit... One of several disappointments I had here.
Because of the isolated, boxed in location of this museum and building going on at a nearby new estate, it took us more than 45 minutes to get out of town and due to the various delays we decided to forego a visit to St.Albans Cathedral. And I had so promised my wife...

On this webpage I have exluded types of aircraft such as jet-engined aircraft or helicopters (a variety on display in the 'Historic Hangars') as well as vintage fighter planes and modern jet fighters.
A selection of these can be seen on my Flickr.com account

Useful links:
Hendon Aerodrome on Wikipedia
RAF Museum Hendon on everything2.com


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