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 original aircraft is in the London Science Museum but I was never able get a decent image of it.  

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.

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