De Havilland Heritage Centre

Photos © Ruud Leeuw

LogoEntrance and parking Returning from the Duxford air show, on our way to the ferry, I payed a visit to this exquisite museum, "de Havilland Aircraft Heritage Centre", incorporating the "Mosquito Aircraft Museum".
The museum is located near London Colney, at junction 22 on the south side of the M25, north of London,UK. For more details see their website.
And here is a their list of aircraft on display.

DH Heron Space is at a premium here, in fact I had the distinct impression I crossed a farmyard getting here, that this DH 104 Dove is on display in the 'carpark'.
This D.H.104 has tailnumber G-AREA (c/n 04520); it was built in 1961, according to the G-INFO website.

This website has helpful details on this museum, also including a list of the aircraft on display:

Dennis Buck wrote me in Oct.2008:
"I was interested to see your photos of G-AREA.
I was the last pilot to fly her from Chester to Hatfield in 1986, when the aircraft was deemed unsafe for senior BAe executives and grounded as a cost cutting exercise..
Up until that point she had been the hack for Hatfield, generally used for flying between the factories in the UK, but I had flown her as far afield as Munchen! And to the Paris Air Show a few times ...I recall having to get start clearance using the radios in a BAe 125 aircraft at Le Bourget...dash across and start the Dove and call for taxy...! The batteries would have been flattened had we called and waited on the Dove's radio!
Just before her retirement some 55,000 pounds was spent on her giving her a new colour scheme amongst other things. After that she flew just two more trips!
She survived the hurricane of 1987, sitting outside, was lived in by squatters and vandalised!
The seat covering used to be light blue leather, as far as I can recall.
A sad ending to a fine old lady. Pig headedness prevented her being sold for the display circuit!
At one time I compiled a list of people who had occupied the front seats, including John "Cats Eyes" Cunningham and Jan Leeming, the TV news reader.
The aircraft was always based at Hatfield; it was just that the name of the company changed with mergers: de Havilland to Hawker Siddeley to British Aerospace!
During WW2, Boeing was designing the 707, while the British built the Dove!
Somehow the Comet was able to fly first...into disaster."
InteriorQuite a deluxe interior!
The website has only the following history of G-AREA:
03Aug1960: registered as G-AREA by the deHavilland Aircraft Company;
: registered to Hawker Siddeley Aviation Ltd.;
20Jul1965: registered to Hawker Siddeley Aviation Leasing Ltd.;
2000: to the deHavilland Heritage Centre (Mosquito Museum).

De Havilland Dove on Wikipedia.

DH Comet 4 This is actually the first place you go to: the office to buy a ticket! You can come back later to buy some icecream or a book...
Next to the office is a cockpit section of a DH Comet.

De Havilland Aircraft Heritage Centre on Wikipedia and De Havilland Comet on Wikipedia.

Flight engineer station
Cockpit of the Comet

This building was in fact the place they built DH Mosquito prototype in World War II; it was disguised to look like a farmhouse. In this part of the building a selection of engines are on display, including jet engines.
more engines!
Map of the museum

Map and layout of the museum

Cabin interior This HS121 Trident 2E (G-AVFH) was repainted in BEA livery during 2007.
One can only view the cockpit at certain hours, but I did have a peek in the cabin.

Mould.. These concrete moulds were used in shaping the D.H.103 Hornet fuselages similar to those used in the manufacture of the Mosquito.
The fuselages were made in two halves, fitted out with the various components and then joined along the vertical centre line using a 'V'-butt joined reinforced by plywood strips in rebates inside and out.
The British de Havilland D.H.103 Hornet was a development of de Havilland's classic Mosquito.

This is G-AOTI, a DH114 Heron 2D, newly restored and painted.

De Havilland Heron on Wikipedia.

Info on DH Heron

D-IFSB D-IFSB is DH104 Dove 6, it was used for airfield calibration.
C/n 04379:
  • 19? The registration N4380C was reserved for this aircraft, but it was not taken up.
  • 19? The aircraft was registered as G-AMXR.
  • 19? The registration D-CFSB was reserved for this aircraft, but it was not taken up.
  • 19? The aircraft was re-registered as D-IFSB.
  • 19? The aircraft was re-registered as G-AMXR.
  • 19? The aircraft was acquired by the deHavilland Heritage Centre (Mosquito Aircraft Museum).
  • Source:

    Memorial Close up Memorial in memory of all Allied Mosquito Air and Ground Crews, who serviced, flight tested and flew Mosquitos in worldwide operations during and after WWII.

    Allan MacNutt was a postwar pilot of the Mosquito; he flew many types during his career and wrote a very entertaining book, 'Altimeter Rising', remeniscing highs-and-lows...
    He wrote this in a chapter called 'Incident in Colombia': "airplanes like the Mosquito fly beautifully on one engine in cruise, but when you reduce speed for landing, put the gear and some flaps down, you are committed to land unless you have lots of air beneath you."
    Allan MacNutt also wrote: "Fully operational Mosquitos could be purchased then for $15.000, plus $5.000 for the ferry pilot to deliver one to Ottawa from RAF surplus stores in Britain."

    Mosquito WW2 veteran
    Talking to a WW2 veteran
    In passing I overheard some conversation and learned that this gent flew Mosquitos during WW2. He must have some stories to tell, unfortunately I had a ferry to catch...

    On the left is the DH98 Mosquito TT.35 seen above, TA634; it was flown in 633 Squadron, but has 571 Sqdn markings (according to the museum's website.
    On the right is TA122, DH98 Mosquito FB6, as one can see currently under restoration.
    Another one in restoration

    W4050 is the unique DH98 Mosquito I prototype... It is under active restoration in the 'Robin' hangar.

    The website has more on W4050 here
    This website deserves exploring.

    LEFT: WP790, DHC-1 Chipmunk T.10
    DHC-1 on Wikipedia

    RIGHT: G-ANRX, DH82 Tiger Moth, in crop spraying configuration.
    More on Wikipedia.

    No idle hands in this museum: here is another restoration project, D.H.89A Dragon Rapide G-AKDW.
    The de Havilland DH.89 Dragon Rapide was a British short-haul passenger airliner of the 1930s.
    Chris Wagstaff has a website about the piston-engined De Havilland airliners. The website does require Java software installed on your PC.
    As it ever was

    Mystery DHC-3 I checked this sad looking DHC-3 Otter for a registration but could not find one. The museum's website has it identified as VP-FAK, of the British Antarctic Survey.

    VP-FAI (VP-FAK)     1959/60 - 1966/67

    Info from BAS Archives: "Registered as VP-FAI but painted and flown as VP-FAK.
    DHC-3 Otter, Construction No. 294.
    Purchased 1959.
    This and all later aircraft were fitted with wheel-skis. Shipped to Deception Island for assembly, arriving 26 January 1960. Wintered and serviced at Deception Island. Operated summers from Adelaide Island from 1960/61 on.
    Damaged by gale at Deception Island, 6 October 1961 and by crevasse accident at Adelaide Island, 19 December 1964. The first airborne radio echo sounding in the Antarctic, using SPRI equipment, carried out by this aircraft 1966/67.
    Grounded due to extensive metal fatigue in fuselage, 26 March 1967. Written off at end of season."

    Upon my visit, VP-FAK (c/n 294) was 'on loan' and the museum's website had the following information on offer:
    DHC-3 Otter VP-FAK, this historic artifact was recovered from Deception Island, Antarctica in April 2004 where it had lain for nearly 40 years since the aircraft was grounded due to structural problems.Note the large cargodoor
    Otter 294 made its maiden flight in Canada on 17Oct59.
    It was shipped to Deception Island arriving on 26Jan60 before assembly and flying on 03Feb60. The aircraft was flown by aircrew seconded from the RAF to British Antarctic Survey (BAS) when it carried the identity 294 with RAF roundels.
    Flying conditions in the Antarctic are very demanding and the aircraft was damaged a number of times, the last time at Adelaide, making its last flight from there to Deception Island on 07Mar67.
    Following an inspection it was grounded due to structural problems, having flown 981.30 hours and made 853 landings.
    The aircraft was stored outside at Deception Island [photo] in a dismantled state until recovery to Rothera ready for shipping to Britain, where it arrived at Grimsby on 08May05.
    More here.
    Photos which show VP-FAK at work in Antarctica can be seen on the website, which has an extensive report on use of VP-FAK in Antarctica: the Shack Returns.
    You may also like to visit the BAS Aircraft pages:

    A photo from the museum, VP-FAK seen in better times.

    In Feb.2013 I received an update from the British Antarctic Survey - Archives Service, which stated that
    for restoration purposes VP-FAK had been moved elsewhere in the UK. I quote from a document which was sent: "20Jun2011: De Havilland Aircraft Heritage Centre notified BAS they wanted to end the loan. It hadn’t been possible to find volunteers to work on its restoration. 27Jan2012: all parts removed from De Havilland Aircraft Heritage Centre under terms of a Letter of Understanding with aircraft enthusiast Glyn Craig. Transported by MK Aero Support Ltd to barn at Newhouse Farm, Leaden Roding, Dunmow CM6 1RE."

    Information Sheet 2 VP-FAK --- FIDS AND BAS AIRCRAFT INFO --- Model Aircraft


    One last glance... The bright red DHC-3 Otter is clearly visible and further to the right is the cockpit section of DH106 Comet C.2(R) XK695, in use as an Amateur Radio Station.

    After this, we sped to the carferry at Ramsgate, for our return to the Continent.

    More photos of this museum on my pages

    To email me, click on the image and write the correct adress as given below
    (replace -AT- by the @ symbol).

    Sorry for the inconvenience, but this is because spam has increasingly become a problem.