Sunday, 29 March 2015

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
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
Hawker Kestrel
Hunting H126
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 surving 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
Hawker Hind
Fieseler Storch
Kawasaki K100
Yokosuka Ohka II
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.

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

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 Bucanneer 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. Completing this portion of the blog, I shall leave you with a door to the next page although that will only open once I have completed the page, so hang in there!

DR Walker 2015. Created 28/03/2015

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