On my first Saturday here, I spent the morning printing out pages from the Daily Mail at British Library Newspapers in Colindale, and then headed over to the nearby RAF Museum London for an afternoon wandering around the historic aircraft. The problem with this is that it meant I had to carry with me (a) my laptop and (b) a thick sheaf of printouts. This was not too hard at first, but as the day wore on my feet got sore, and my arms got weary, and both my patience and my ability to hold a camera still decreased as a result. When combined with the often dimly-lit exhibition halls (including the Battle of Britain hall) this meant that many of my photos didn't turn out so well. Luckily for you, I've weeded out most of the bad ones!
Outside there are a few interesting displays, including some RAF search-and-rescue vessels -- yes, boats! -- and the following:
This (and the previous image) is a BAC Bloodhound surface-to-air missile. It's always been one of my favourite missiles, because with all those boosters and fins, it looks like a missile "should". Very Thunderbirds.
Having a Hurricane (and a Spitfire) sitting outside exposed to the elements seems rather ostentatious!
I made the mistake of eating at the cafe, then entered the Battle of Britain Hall.
The poor old Defiant, here in night-fighter mode. Despite the turret, very pleasing to the eye.
This Hurricane is mainly of interest because it shows the early-war underside paint scheme, black and white, intended to make it easier to distinguish friend from foe. But it seems it also made the aircraft easier to see, and so from June 1940 the switch was made to the more familiar pale blue.
For some reason, several of the German aircraft in the Battle of Britain hall were actually night-fighter variants, like this Me 110 and a Ju 88 -- i.e., not much like the types actually present in the Battle. I suppose there were more of these around at the end of the war when most of these warbirds were captured?
A Stuka. And a mannequin. I have a low tolerance for mannequins in museums, and unfortunately the Battle of Britain hall has them at every turn, including at least one with a missing hand. (On the other hand, I love models and dioramas, and the RAF Museum doesn't. Oh well.)
The Lysander army co-operation aircraft, probably best known for its role in landing SOE agents in occupied Europe. Looking at it, "sturdy" is the word that comes to mind; I do like the headlights on the spats!
Look out, it's a revenge weapon! Aieee! And behind it, a Sunderland, the "flying porcupine" (though the British press called them "flying battleships", at least at first). You get to walk through this, which as a devotee of flying boats I of course loved.
The Milestones of Flight exhibit was crammed full of significant aircraft (and thankfully, well-lit).
Now they're just showing off! If you've got a few to spare, why not stick a Spitfire up on the wall, with paint stripped back to the metal and propeller blades removed? (It does show off the small dimples in the skin, though.)
I think this is a replica of the gondola for HM Airship Nulli Secundus I, "Second to None", so called because it was pretty obviously second to every other airship around -- that's the story I like, anyway! This flew in 1907, was wrecked in a rain shower and was rebuilt the following year, as the slightly more successful Nulli Secundus II.
Also behind it is a Fokker D.VII ... watch out, Biggles!
The Hawker Hart day bomber, at one point the fastest aircraft in the RAF inventory. It must be one of the few bombers to have spawned a successful fighter variant! (Outside of night-fighters, that is.)
Business end of a Me 109G, a mid-war variant. Yes, technically I should probably say "Bf 109", but the British press nearly always called them Me 109s, so I'll stick with that.
A rare Ki-100 of the Japanese Army, a late-war fighter.
The Me 262 jet fighter. I like this angle because it looks like it's thinking about making a run for it ...
As much as I could fit in frame of a Mosquito.
The Mustang: shiny!
Now into the Bomber Hall, where I have very few non-blurry photos.
This is a Be2b, an early RFC bomber/observation aeroplane (in fact it was in service at the start of the First World War). The engine always looks way too small on this thing.
The capacious Lancaster.
Underneath the big wing of a Vulcan.
Finally -- and I'm not really sure what it's doing in the Bomber Hall -- a Focke-Wulf Fw 190.
There's still plenty more I didn't see (including the Grahame-White Factory Collection -- the Museum site is, I believe, roughly congruent with the old Hendon display aerodrome), so hopefully I'll get a chance to go back before I go home.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://airminded.org/copyright/.