Tonight while pondering the lack of interesting things around this time of year I ended up looking at my huge folder list and found that my Brooklands folder was dated 22/01/2015, so I looked through the pics and realised that I did not post as many of my VC10 pics as I would have liked; and this was a perfect opportunity to play catch up. I rate Brooklands. the Birthplace of British Motorsport & Aviation very high on my list of favourite museums because it had such a wide variety of exhibits that meant something to me. That included a Concorde, VC10, and of course a Wellington Bomber.
There is one complete VC10 and one intact fuselage at the museum,
Vickers 1103 VC10 (G-ASIX “Sultan of Oman”) was built by Vickers-Armstrongs (Aircraft) Ltd and first flown from Brooklands on 17/10/64 with delivery to British United Airways at Gatwick, she was transferred to British Caledonian in November 1970 and then sold to the Omani Government in 1974. Refurbished at BAC Hurn; she operated as ‘A40-AB’ by The Sultan of Oman’s Royal Flight at Muscat, and was the last civilian operated VC10 in service.
Her final flight was from Muscat to Brooklands via Heathrow on 6/7/87, crewed by Officers of the Omani Royal Flight and with His Excellency Hussein Bin Mohammed Bin Ali (Omani Ambassador) and Sir Peter Masefield (Chairman of Trustees of the Museum) as passengers. I did not photograph all of the interior, but you can see from the pics below that this was not your run of the mill long haul airliner. (https://www.brooklandsmuseum.com/explore/our-collection/aircraft/sultan-oman-vc10)
The VC10 is an aircraft from my past, even though I had never travelled on one or even been near to one until my Brooklands visit. It was an icon of aviation and very distinctive with the high tail and set back wings and 4 engines mounted at the rear. That tail was a very popular image used in advertising too.
The real thing is even more impressive.
SAA did not operate any of them, but BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) certainly did, and I believe they were regular callers at what was then Jan Smuts Airport (Now OR Tambo). In fact the VC10 was well suited to operate out of “Hot and High” airports (OR Tambo in Johannesburg is classed as a hot and high airport). The rear-mounted engines gave a more efficient wing and made them less vulnerable to runway debris. The resulting high fuel consumption compared to the contemporary Boeing 707 made the VC10 somewhat of a failure though, as major airlines dismissed the VC10 as it cost too much to operate.
The other VC10 fuselage at Brooklands (G-ARVM “Victor Mike”):
If my memory serves me correctly the interior seating was not her original seating but from when the RAF used to aircraft in a transport role.
The VC10 was in service with the RAF for 47 years, and was very successful in air-to-air refuelling operations. It accomplished its final aviation milestone on 20 September 2013.
The VC10 is an iconic aircraft and one which we will never see the likes of again. Today the airliner is fast, efficient and has longer range and capacity. But, they all look pretty similar and very few stand out amongst the horde. I am glad that I was at least able to have a closer look at these because they are a part of aviation history.
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.
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 below is quite an interesting one too, as it was the end result of a TV Program called James May’s Toy Stories. 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 fibreglass but 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. I saw the show 2 years ago and it was fascinating viewing. I just wish I had taken a better look at the plane at the time.
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.
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.
This fine grey 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 and 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.
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:
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.
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.
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.