musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Category: Aircraft

Moving the Dak

This is another retrospective post that I am doing based on images that I have in my collection. The exif data of the images says that this event happened on 05/04/2009, but, it may be incorrect due to my frequent file movements.

Anyway, one fine Sunday in 2009 I headed off to the South African Museum of Military History aka “The War Museum” in Saxonwold. I vaguely recall the reason for it, but somebody forgot to tell me that they were holding a military themed fair on that day. I hopped onto the M1 North, intending to bail out in the vicinity of St Andrews or Oxford streets, Unfortunately, the universe was not playing fair and as I approached the turn off I realised that I would not be turning off at that point because there was a thumping great Dakota blocking the exit! Now Daks are not the sort of thing you expect to find on a highway, they tend to congregate around airports, airborne invasions and occasionally rusting away in backwaters of the world. Some still insist on flying, and you know what they say “you cannot keep a good Dak down”.

This unfortunate Goony Bird was being towed tail first towards her destination (which was probably the same as mine), her wings had been shed but her engine housings were still intact. However, there was no way I could fit past her and given the fact that this was a highway meant I could not stop for a quick squizz, I had to get back into my lane really quickly and find the next off ramp. I do not know that part of town so well and there was a good chance I would end up taking one heck of a detour as a result. 

Eventually I managed to orientate myself and was in the correct area with the War Museum in front of me, although the place was buzzing with cars and people. I was very tempted to up the hook and head off for home instead.  I have just checked my images to see why I was at the War Museum and the reason was that I wanted to get pics of Nancy, the Springbok Mascot.

I forked up vast amounts of dosh to go into the War Museum, and it was packed, however, I first had to get my image and headed to the display where she was. Images taken, I went outside to look at the exhibits and displays. There was a small contingent of re-enactors  in military uniform and some of them were really amazing to see. The people responsible were Battle Group South. 

Special thanks to the guys that I photographed, especially the sinister looking guy in black. I have blanked his face to protect his privacy. 

There were the usual purveyors of militaria at the show and I wandered around, occasionally examining items or drifting back to the museum exhibits. I did not take too many pics that day for some reason. It could be that the crowds distracted me and I left after doing the rounds. However, there was a surprise in the parking lot!

That Dak and I were destined to meet again! 

The question is: what is the history of this aircraft? fortunately the history could be found at the Dakota Association of South Africa website. In a nutshell:

C/N 27099, Delivered to the USAAF on 11 January 1945.

Transferred to the RAF on lend-lease at RAF Nassau on 18 January 1945 as KN231.

Arrived in South Africa in May 1975 for the South African Air Force as 6850 (2) delivered August 1975.  Was to be donated to the Dakota Association of South Africa but was sold to private concern and displayed inside Caesar’s Palace Casino near Johannesburg International Airport in April 2000.

Sold once again to private concern and donated to the SA National Museum of Military History in Saxonwold Johannesburg in 2009, arrived Sunday 5 April 2009.

It was obvious that she would be a new exhibit, although I do question her arriving at one of the busier days at the museum. It was awhile before I was at the museum again, and the first place I went to was the only area large enough to house a Dakota. 

I must admit I did a lot of looking at this old lady because they are really becoming quite rare birds. 

Random Dakota Images

Who knows, maybe one day somebody will come along and buy her and she may fly again, at any rate, considering this old lady is now 72 years old she is a tribute to her builders and has a special place in the heart of all aircraft buffs. 

There is another Dak at Swartkops AFB that I grabbed 2 pics of… 

You can view more images of the SAAF Museum at Swartkops on allatsea.

What other aircraft does the War Museum have? 

The museum has a number of interesting aircraft, but they are not very easy to photograph in some areas (it is even harder now because of the no photography policy they unilaterally brought in).

Other Museum Aircraft.

My aircraft identification skills are not fantastic, but I can generally tell what they are but not what version they may be. I will slowly add data as I work towards finishing this post. Apart from the Dak there is a….

Hawker-Siddeley Buccaneer S.50 ‘422’

Dassault Mirage IIICZ

Aermacchi/Atlas Impala Mk II

 

Supermarine Spitfire F VIII

Hawker Hurricane IIc ‘5285’

De Havilland DH98, PR IX LR 480 “Lucky Lady”

Messerschmitt Bf109E3

Focke-Wulf Fw190A-6/R6

Messerschmitt Me262B-1a/U1 VH519

Messerschmitt Bf109F-2/Trop ‘31010

Hawker Hartebees Royal Aircraft factory SE5a

Aircraft Manufacturing Company DeH9

 

© DRW 2009-2017. Retrospectively created 23/05/2017.

Updated: 26/11/2017 — 17:42

Curse this war!

Its that time again… Wartime in the Cotswolds with the GWSR (Gloucester Warwickshire Steam Railway). The theme? The Battle of Britain. So grab your gas mask and tin hat and follow me….

Last year I attended a similar event and it was amazing and I was really hoping for the same on this day. The weather has been changeable this whole week, but there was the promise of sunshine for later in the day with no rain in sight. I headed out early in the morning to grab a bus to Cheltenham and another bus to Cheltenham Race Course station. On the way I spotted Captain Mainwaring on his way to the station too!

I just hope that Private Pike isn’t lurking in the bushes somewhere.

Although the Americans had set up camp outside the station and that can only mean silk stockings and chewing gum for the locals. 

ARP had set up their barricades too and were checking tickets and dishing out ID cards. Naturally they were looking out for Fifth Columnists too. 

Unfortunately our train was the class 117 diesel railcar  that I always seem to end up travelling on. http://www.gwsr.com/planning_your_visit/what_to_see_and_do/DMURailcar_1.html She is not my favourite rail vehicle. I would have preferred a steam engine, but this was wartime after all, we have to make do with what we have.

The train was full, and many of the passengers were dressed in period clothing or military uniforms, it never ceases to amaze me how the British tackle something like this with so much enthusiasm, and I would really like to thank them for paying homage to a bygone age with so much enthusiasm.

And then we were off….  Our destination: Gotherington

The view out of the window was Britain in Spring, it was really beautiful, especially the huge fields of Rapeseed.

Gotherington was like a military camp, and I expect will remain like that until tomorrow when the event finishes.

It is a very quirky place and one day I must really bail out and have a look around. 

The next stop on the line is Winchcombe, I had visited the town in May last year and I was considering doing it again today, although it really depended on train timings and my own energy levels.  At Winchcombe the train to Toddington stops and waits for the train from Toddington. It is single line working between stations and a token system is used to ensure that accidents don’t happen.

It too had been taken over by the military who were cleaning their rifles and doing what soldiers have done since the days of yore.

Curse this war! how much longer must it go on?

As an aside, there was even a military dentist in his own private rolling surgery, just ready to declare you dentally fit in 7 days!

And then we heard a whistle in the distance and the oncoming train appeared around the bend.

The loco in charge was 4270, a  “42xx” class tank locomotive. She was running bunker first to Cheltenham Race Course, and would carry on with her journey once we had departed. 

The next stop was Toddington, which is really the current endpoint of the GWSR, although they do run trains to Laverton halt further up the line, and in a few years time there will be another station on the line as they extend the rail network closer to the mainline all the time.   Toddington is also where the loco shed is and the majority of displays were being held. There were a few that I had my eye on too..

As usual there was a mixed bag of cars, military vehicles, squaddies, GI’s, airmen, sailors and all manner of uniform on display, along with the usual bag of stalls selling militaria or hobby-est items. There was even a tank just in case there was an invasion.

I had seen her last year at the Welland Steam and County Fair, and just in case I need a reminder, she is a M18 Hellcat Tank Destroyer.

The jaw dropper however was the reproduction Spitfire that was on display. I am struggling to find a definitive identification of the aircraft, but it appears as if she is based on the aircraft that Johnnie Johnson flew (MKIX EN398). More information on the “Spitfire Experience” may be found on their website. 

And yes, the engine did run while I was there and it was awesome. Unfortunately it did not run at full power, but it was really something to experience.

Meanwhile, back at ground level, I strolled down to the workshops to see whether there was anything there that interested me. Fortunately it was not a wasted trip because there were a number of diesels in the yard.

GWSR has a number of heritage diesels and they are quite handsome beasties, although against a steam engine they are reasonably insignificant.

Class 47376 (D1895), a Brush Type 4.

Class 37 no: 37215

Class 26043 (D5343)

Class 45/1 45149 (D135)

At the Toddington Narrow Gauge Railway they too had a train at work, although I did not go for a ride this time around. They were using “Tourska” , a 1957 Chrzanow build with works number 3512.

There was still quite a lot to see so I did the rounds once again, hoping to find a few warships for my collection, but there were lots of distractions.

It was really time to head towards Winchcombe, the train at the platform was headed by the 1950 built 7820 Dinmore Manor, a Manor class light mixed traffic locomotive.

We were supposed to leave at 11.30, but somewhere along the line the timings of the trains went haywire and we sat for an additional 20 minutes. I know there is a war on but….  

Winchcombe was crowded, and our altered timing meant that we had to wait for the train from Cheltenham Spa to arrive before we could leave. 

Fortunately ENSA was at hand to provide some wartime melodies, but I think seeing Laurel and Hardy really made my day.

And then I got suspicious because I spotted Oliver Hardy on the cellphone!  It was another fine mess he got Stanley into.

I had decided to not continue into Winchcombe because the messed up times just didn’t fit in with my plans. Remember, Cheltenham Race Course is not the end of the line for me. I had to get back into Cheltenham, catch a bus to Tewkesbury and then hoof it to where I lived. It was a long stretch ahead of me and I was tired.

Then the air raid siren went off……

and once again I could not help think of what it was like living in wartime Britain. The ever present threat of aerial bombing, rationing of food, the long lists of casualties, propaganda, soldiers, aircraft overhead, overzealous ARP members, children being evacuated, family that never returned home. This was the reality between 1939 and 1945, this small experience that I had was nothing like the real thing, and I am fortunate that I did not experience it. When I see the people dressed in their period uniforms and glad rags I cannot help but think that these were the sort of people that took it on the chin and gave it back 100 times more. I suspect the British enjoy these re-enactment events because they are reminded of what their parents and families went through in those dark hours of war. It is their way of saying: “We have not forgotten, and never will.”

And as the Home Guard peddled along the platform on his way to the NAFI, I felt a tinge of pride because I understood what Churchill meant when he said….

“Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”

And then the train departed for Cheltenham Race Course with me on it.

The War was over, the Battle of Britain won. 

The event was great, although last years was definitely better, there was much more to see and experience than there was this time around. The delayed trains were an irritation because you do not want to be stuck in a place like Winchcombe of Toddington with no way of getting home. And of course my own stamina is not as good as it used to be. I tire very easily nowadays and that’s not a good thing at all. Still, sign me up for next year if I am still around. Now where did I leave my tin hat?  

© DRW 2017. Created 22/04/2017

Updated: 24/05/2017 — 12:49

Return to the UK

On the 6th of April I packed my gear and prepared to go home from South Africa. I still struggle with the idea that South Africa is no longer home, and that I really was doing things the other way around. I was flying Virgin Atlantic again, and would use the Gautrain to get to the airport.

The weather had been typical summery weather (even though it was Autumn), but rain was forecast for the later that week, although by the 6th the rains came.  

Driving in Johannesburg is a challenge, the roads are crowded, potholes are large, idiots abound and law enforcement is usually absent. The highways are really a free-for-all and at times a giant parking lot. After having lunch it was time to go and my friends took me to Marlboro Gautrain station where I caught the airport link to Oliver Tambo International Airport. It started raining just as we left and fortunately we were heading east as opposed to west where the traffic was bumper to bumper. I did attempt photography from the front seat but the combination of rain, vibration and everything else rendered the images useless.

Once at the airport things got really slow as we queued to go through immigration. So much so that by the time I got through it the gates for boarding were open and I was not able to take any images in and around the international departures. The one thing I do recall was the exorbitant price for half a litre of  water (R35), at one vendor and R10 at the duty free.

The flight was scheduled for over 10 hours and we took off at 8.30ish and it wasn’t too awful and there were just over 250 people on board. It always amazes me how some people consider 5 items of luggage as being perfect for carry on luggage.  Service was much better on this return flight than it had been on the departure flight and I didn’t watch too much though. A rewatch of Rogue One was in order and I also took in Hacksaw Ridge and Arrival. Those two were really good watches and I recommend them both. 

I had an aisle seat in the centre aisle and for once I actually remembered to show what food was available on the aircraft and the menu is to the left of the text. I had the Bobotie and the eggs for brekkies and they were not great. 

I managed quite well during the flight and my bladder did not make a nuisance of itself for once, and I did not sleep at all as we headed North with the longest stretch over Africa.

We landed around about 6.30am and after a long queue at immigration I had my baggage and was on my way to the Heathrow Express station to catch my ride to Paddington. I had used the Heathrow Express to get to Heathrow initially, but wanted to use the Heathrow Connect for this trip so that I knew it for the future. The Express does not cut too much time off the trip to Paddington, but is more than double the price of the Connect option. The first time I landed in the UK I had used the Tube to get me to my destination, although that made more sense considering I was heading to South London whereas now I had to get to Paddington Station.

The train is comfortable and got quite crowded as we got closer to Paddington and it appears as if it is used by a number of locals to commute with. The cost for a ticket is £10.30 (or thereabouts)

At Paddington I finally stopped and grabbed a breather. I had almost 3 hours to kill before my next train to Cheltenham Spa was due. It was too short a time to go into London but very long if you have time to spare. If I had not had luggage with me I would have spent the time in reckless abandon in London on what was a really nice Spring day. I had deliberately planned the train time to be able to deal with any eventualities or delays along the way.

Paddington Station is an interesting space, especially when it comes to the roof. And, while there is not a large variety of trains in it you do get unique images if you look for them.

I am quite proud of seeing 4 HST’s under one roof on the same day!

The new shopping area is also open and I found that they had installed a Paddington themed shop in it too. 

I also found a neat Paddington shaped collection box in the shop and was able to donate some of the heavy change that I was accumulating along the way.

Paddington Station can be very full at times, and there is a constant hussle and bustle as trains arrive or depart. My 11.36 train appeared on the board at roughly 11H10, and was listed as “preparing”. 

They put up the platform number roughly 10 minutes before scheduled departure and then there was a mad rush as we all headed to the platform for our train. 

I arrived in Cheltenham Spa close to 13H30 and managed to grab the bus to Clarence Street Bus Station and then a bus to Tewkesbury where I found that there was no real way to get home with my luggage unless I hung around to 15H45 for a taxi or 15H17 for the local bus that goes through the area where I live. It was too far to hoof it with luggage though so once again I waited. 

It was all done and dusted. I had used 8 trains, 2 aircraft and 3 buses on this trip, I had covered a lot of kilometres, and discovered that even though I had last driven 3 years ago, still knew how to drive. Unfortunately my trip was not about pleasure and more about reality, it was not a holiday either, although I did get to renew acquaintances with friends I had last seen in 2014. 

South Africa has changed and is constantly changing as people get more cheesed off with the powers that be. At some point something is going to have to be done. The events of 7 April show that more and more people are getting very unhappy with the status quo. Whatever happens I just hope that it does not involve violence. 

And, to make matters worse it is back to work on Monday.

Random Images.

© DRW 2017. Created 08/04/2017

Updated: 05/05/2017 — 12:48

The Science Museum

The Science Museum in South Kensington is probably one of the most innovative and interesting museums that I have ever visited. It is the sort of place that has something for everybody, and it is probably one of the best places to take children to when they need to explore.  I have visited it twice (2016 and 2017) and would visit it again if ever I get the chance. It is that sort of place! 

The Science Museum

The Science Museum

To cover everything in this blogpost would be impossible, there is just so much to see. Founded in 1857 from the collection of the Royal Society of Arts and surplus items from the Great Exhibition as well as a collection of machinery that originated from contents of the Patent Office Museum. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_Museum,_London). There are over 300000 objects in the collection, many of which are very rare and of historical importance.

Over 450 000 children visit the museum every year, which ranks it very highly in museum popularity. 

My first visit in 2016 was a short one, I literally ran out of time and I had really wanted to return at some point but my finances precluded a day trip just to see the museum, unless I was in London for another reason.  

I had heard great things about this museum too. and they are all true; it is an amazing place, although I did find the Munchkins crowded me out. However, they were having a blast and I hope that someday they will become great scientists instead of bankers and accountants or “something in the city.” 

Again there was just too much to see and I did not see a third of it. But, there were a lot of exhibits that tied into my interests. (I will be adding many more images to this gallery below at a later date)

 science1314  
   

Now who says Science is not fun? Oh, and by the way, the basement has a really interesting exhibition in it called “The Secret Life of the Home”, and it was amazing.

My 2017 trip was really to see the flight gallery. I had missed it in 2016, and from what I had read it held a number of interesting aviation artefacts.

   
   
   

Unfortunately the flight exhibition is in a very dark environment so pics were almost impossible to get, I was disappointed in that, but it just means a revisit is required.

From there I explored another area that I had missed, and it was really about communications and computing. 

At some point I will caption the images above, I do not have all of my Science Museum information with me so it will happen when I return to the UK. In the meantime I shall leave you with this image.

© DRW 2016-2017 Created 24/03/2017

Updated: 06/04/2017 — 06:21

The Sinking of the Bismarck

As the 27th of May approaches I could not help but think of what it was like in 1941 when the events surrounding the sinking of the German battleship KMS Bismarck were announced.

KD Bismarck. 1/1200 scale (Triang Minic)

KMS Bismarck. 1/1200 scale (Triang Minic)

As a child I was enthralled by all things naval, so her demise was probably amongst my favourite wartime moments, although viewed through the eyes of a child who did not understand the mechanics involved in naval battles such as this. Neither was there the wealth of information that is available now so a lot of what we read as children was skewed from the British point of view with no input from the German. 

The first time I really understood the last days of this ship was when I read Dr Robert Ballard’s book “The Discovery of the Bismarck” about the rediscovery of the long lost battleship. My viewpoint was also enhanced by reading “Battleship Bismarck” by Burkard Baron von Mullenheim-Rechberg, who was gunnery officer on board the vessel when she went down.  I do recall watching the TV special about the discovery and it was strange to see this floating fortress in her dark underwater world. It is hard to believe that it is the same ship that gave the Royal Navy a run for its money.

There is no doubt that Bismarck and Prinz Eugen were tough opponents, and had they been given a free hand they would have not only sunk HMS Hood but probably HMS Prince Of Wales too. And of course, had she come across a convoy the carnage would have been horrific. 

It is difficult to write about something like this so many years after the fact. I am not a naval historian, and there are others much more qualified to expound on what is now known as the Battle of the Denmark Strait. As I have said so often, I only photograph what is left over and view things like this with some sort of hindsight. I did do some thinking about the events that occurred on 24 May 1941 about how I could present my own small tribute to these ships and men that fought battles at long distances in an environment that was even more deadly than the shells that they fired from their large calibre guns,

15" Naval Guns, Imperial War Museum.

15″ Naval Guns, Imperial War Museum.

The biggest shock of the battle was the loss of HMS Hood in one cataclysmic explosion that left 3 survivors out of a complement of 1418 on board.  

HMS Hood. 1/1250 scale. (Atlas Editions)

HMS Hood. 1/1250 scale. (Atlas Editions)

1384 Members of her crew are Commemorated at the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. They are however not listed under their ship, but rather in order of rank for 1941.

Portsmouth Naval Memorial

Portsmouth Naval Memorial

HMS Prince of Wales was fortunate enough to escape with reasonably minor damage, 

HMS Prince of Wales. 1/1250 scale (Atlas Editions)

HMS Prince of Wales. 1/1250 scale (Atlas Editions)

but she too met her end on 10 December 1941 along with HMS Repulse by Japanese air attack off Kuantan, in the South China Sea. Of her crew are mentioned on the Chatham Naval Memorial

As for the Bismarck, the one machine that really brought about her end was an insignificant biplane from HMS Ark Royal, possibly flown by pilot John Moffat that delivered a torpedo that critically damaged her rudder, leaving the ship sailing in circles, thereby ensuring that she would not be able to flee to a safe haven, but would have to face up to the might of the Royal Navy that was closing in on her for the final battle.

 

The age of the battleship was drawing to a close, no more would the imposing firepower of these floating fortresses dominate all within range, the Second World War was really the final gasp of the big gun ship.  From now on the aircraft carrier and submarine would reign supreme. 

Bismarck however lives on our memories as one of the ultimate war machines of her era, and as we remember her sinking so many years ago, let is not forget those who went down with her, and those who died on HMS Hood and the brave pilots in their biplanes that went forth and crippled the pride of the Kriegsmarine.

Remembered on the grave of his mother. A sailor from HMS Hood.

Remembered on the grave of his mother. A sailor from HMS Hood.

© DRW 2016-2017. Created 26/05/2016.

Updated: 15/12/2016 — 07:24

The Jet Age Museum in Gloucester

I had heard about this little museum when I visited the Mini Steam Fair in Tewkesbury in June and it has sat at the back of my mind for awhile. Although it is not too far from where I stay it is not exactly easy to reach because I have to get to Gloucester via Cheltenham first.  Fortunately the 94 Bus goes past the museum and I tentatively planned my visit for today as the weather was not really photography friendly enough for me to do much more than recce a graveyard and get my shoes soaked.  
 
The Jet Age Museum  is situated in Meteor Business Park, Cheltenham Road, Gloucester, and it butts onto Gloucester Airport. Given that the majority of exhibits are from the Gloster stable of aircraft you can bet that this small airport has seen a lot of historic aircraft flying out of it. 
 
To start my day there was a nice display of vintage Riley cars outside the museum, and that was enough to make me drool at the seams. 
  
After some drooling I entered the museum. It is not a large space, but then even a large one can fill very quickly when there are aircraft on display. And, the first aircraft (or should I say replica) is the Gloster E28/39
  
This aircraft is the granddaddy of British Jet Aircraft (only this is a replica of the granddaddy). The jet engine in it was designed by Frank Whittle and it was an aircraft that changed history. This replica comes from a set of glass fibre mouldings made by the Sir Frank Whittle Commemorative Group. It is a small unassuming aircraft from which great things came.
 
The only Allied jet aircraft built during the war was the twin engined Gloster Meteor,  which served in a number of theatres during and after the war and which served as a testbed for a number of developments in aviation. There are quite a few survivors and the museum has a number of variations of the aircraft.
  
Pride of place goes to the Gloster Meteor F8 (WH3644)
 
There is also a two seater version  T7 (WF784)
 
and a night fighter version which was built by Armstrong-Whitworth and designated the NF14 (WS807)
 
There are two other examples which are not part of the display but i cannot identify them yet.
 
Actually outside the museum hall there are really only these aircraft on display, as well as the cockpits for Hawker Siddeley HS-121 Trident 3B G-AWZU, which I did not get to see inside. and another aircraft which I will get back to at the end of the blog.
Back inside the museum, there is also a Gloster Javelin on display. This large delta winged fighter is quite an impressive machine.

This particular example is a FAW9 (XH903). It is a substantial aircraft, and was really the precursor to the famous English Electric Lightning.

There is one more Javelin at the airport, and it is quite far from the museum and missing its wings and tailfins and is  FAW4 (XA634). I grabbed this image from the bus last week.

The other aircraft at the museum is a Gloster Gamecock reproduction.

as well as a Hawker Hurricane reproduction which was built out of plywood to star in the movie “The Battle of Britain”.

Real Hurricanes are rare beasties, and a replica is better than nothing at all.

There are a number of other exhibits of engines and models and cockpits at the museum, but they all pale into insignificance when facing up to the main exhibit outside.

Unfortunately the rest of the aircraft is not behind the wall, and this is only the cockpit of the most famous of the V Bombers. The Avro Vulcan. This particular cockpit is from a B2 version XM569.

There were three V Bombers in service: The Valiant, Victor and the Vulcan, and the last has become a legend in its own right, having participated in the the famous “Black Buck”  bombing raids on the Falkland Islands; which, at almost  12,600 km and 16 hours for the return journey, were the longest-ranged bombing raids in history at that time.

The cockpit is open for visits and I was fortunate enough to sit in the right hand seat as well as one of the rear facing seat (electronics warfare officer?).

The cockpit seats 5 and the seating/operating area is small and crowded and I have no idea how it must have felt to sit in that small space wearing all that gear for so long. Comfort does not come into the equation.

 
I will be honest, the Vulcan was such a great find, the only other one I have seen was at RAF Cosford although I had hoped that I would get to see one in flight, but the chances are very small as the only remaining flying one will stop flying in October. 
 
The museum also has a Canberra, Vampire and a Gladiator under restoration somewhere. Fortunately I have seen the  first two before, but the Gladiator is also a rare beastie.
 
That was the Jet Age Museum, and it was great. A small museum with a big heart and a great collection. Entrance is free and it is better to check their website for opening times and dates.
 
© DRW 2015-2017. Created 05/08/2015, images migrated 01/05/2016
Updated: 15/12/2016 — 19:23

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)

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 Dragonfly HR3

Bristol Sycamore HR14

Bristol Sycamore HR14

Westland Wessex HC2

Westland Wessex HC2

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 entirety. 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.
 
© DRW 2015-2017, created 29/03/2015, images migrated 29/03/2016

 
Updated: 15/12/2016 — 19:37

RAF Museum Cosford (2)

Continuing where we left off...
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 was one flying example left (XH558), but she has since been grounded, while 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

Leopard 1A5 Main Battle Tank

Scorpion light reconnaissance vehicle

Scorpion light reconnaissance vehicle

Alvis Saladin armoured car

Alvis Saladin armoured car

Soviet Bloc PT76 amphibian tank

Soviet Bloc PT76 amphibian tank

Centurion MBT

Centurion MBT

And when all is done and dusted, we really need to call the fire brigade to clean up the mess.

Bedford mobile pump unit

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.
 
© DRW 2015-2017. Created 29/03/2015, images migrated 29/04/2016
Updated: 15/12/2016 — 19:38

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

Jetstream T Mk1

Hawker Siddeley Dominie

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

British Aerospace EAP

Hunting H126

Hunting H126

Sepecat Jaguar GR. 1/ACT

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 surviving 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

FMA Pecura

Hawker Hind

Hawker Hind

Fieseler Storch

Fieseler Storch

Kawasaki K100

Kawasaki K100

Yokosuka Ohka II

Yokosuka Ohka II

Sopwith Pup

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. (I believe the Sabre is hanging from the ceiling).

 
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

Armstrong Whitworth Meteor NF14

English Electric Canberra PR-9.

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 Buccaneer 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.
© DRW 2015-2017. Created 28/03/2015, images migrated 28/04/2016
Updated: 15/12/2016 — 19:38

The London Bus Museum

The London Bus Museum is housed at Cobham Hall in the Brooklands Museum, and I paid it a flying visit during my trip to Brooklands. As a child I was slightly infatuated with buses, or rather with toy buses, but I shall deny everything. My own experience with buses in Johannesburg I posted about in October 2012, and I expect it is rather different from the experience that people in the UK had. Still, old buses are great to see because they do not have that sleek self important look of todays eco-friendly wi-fi enabled people carriers.

  
The first buses I saw (apart from one which I messed the pic of) was this pair, and the blue BOAC liveried one was really quite odd, I would have liked to have had a better look at her, after all, when last did you see something with BOAC on it?. 

The museum is next to the field where the aircraft are housed, and a line up of three generations was waiting for passengers (or munchkins?). 

 

The museum itself is in a very good condition (and free), and you just follow the arrows to discover the history behind the ubiquitous red London bus, or rather, the London bus, because not all of the London buses are red.

 
And some were not powered by diesel either. This one was marked Camberwell, and I lived very close to Camberwell when I was living in London in 2013, and the bus service there was excellent.
Fortunately the horse driven bus was replaced by the motor bus and things have never been the same since, although the pollution is very different between a horse and an engine. 
 
 
I suspect this one started its career as a single decker, and was modified into a double sometime in its life. 
 
I really liked the 1968 Bedford Ambulance they had on display, it carries a London Transport logo and was used as a staff ambulance at the Aldenham Bus Works. 
 
and of course this 1959 mushy pea green Ford 300E general purpose van
  
Although this interesting minimalist bus below does seem to take cost-cutting a bit too far. I expect it is some sort of driver training vehicle, or maybe some sort of big boys toy? 
 
And yes, if you are not careful they will gang up on you.
 
It is not my intention to show every bus in the museum, that is what the museum is for, but my one gripe was that very few of the buses was open so that you could have a look at their interiors, although most buses probably look very similar on the inside. 
 
And those that I did get on board were very similar to what we had back in South Africa when I was a child.  
 
The modern London bus is a different beastie altogether, with a lot of the lower deck taken up by areas for prams and wheelchairs and lots of scowling women or people talking loudly on their cellphones.  
  
In fact I was looking through my pics and could find very few images of new buses that I took in London, although I do recall doing walking speed one rush hour on board one, and there were more buses in that street than I had ever seen at any one point in my life.
 
What of the future? the “Borismobile” seems to be the new face of buses in London, although it does lack a certain charm and businesslike appearance. If anything it looks politically correct.
 
I was only able to get up close to one in Salisbury and I asked at the museum whether there were any plans for acquiring one, but the reply was in the negative. It takes many years for an object to become a classic, and the red Routemaster buses in London have been classics for many years. In fact, when you think of London you think of red Routemasters rounding Trafalgar Square. 
 
Its not a bad museum, but not the sort of place to spend a lot of time in. Kinda like a bus, in peak hour traffic.
 
© DRW 2015-2017. Images migrated 25/04/2016
 
Updated: 15/12/2016 — 19:48
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