Sunday, 29 March 2015

RAF Museum Cosford (2)

Continuing where we left off...

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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 is one flying example still left (XH558), and 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
Centurion MBT
Scorpion light reconnaissance vehicle
Alvis Saladin armoured car
Soviet Bloc PT76 amphibian tank
And when all is done and dusted, we really need to call the fire brigade to clean up the mess.

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.
DR Walker 2015. Created 29/03/2015

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