Sunday, May 5, 2013

RAF Museum, Hendon

RAF Hurricane, RAF Museum Hendon

There are a handful of things for which the entire world must remain forever grateful and indebted to the British people....the existence of William Shakespeare, the tradition of parliamentary democracy, the invention of afternoon tea and the performance of the RAF during the Battle of Britain.  The most pleasant way to repay this last debt is, perhaps, with a visit to the RAF Museum in Hendon.

The RAF Museum in Hendon is a marvellous treasure trove of aviation history right here in London.  Here is the web site...  Admission is free.  It is easily accessible with a short 10 minute walk from the Colindale tube stop on the Northern line.  The staff is friendly and the guides are informative.

Commander K. + Sopwith Camel
Photo: Courtesy Marc Leslie
Here you will find aircraft from the dawn of flight just over a century ago to modern jet aircraft.

WWI Albatross, RAF Museum Hendon
The Grahame-White building, located in its historic factory, boasts wonderful restorations and recreations of early aviation and World War I era aircraft.  You will find planes such as the German Albatross that was the type flown by the Red Baron (see photo above and earlier post Red Baron, 9/17/12).

German ME- 262 + Friends
Photo: courtesy: Marc Leslie
The Battle of Britain Hall at the RAF Museum has a short film presentation that runs on the hour and provides an excellent introduction to Britain's finest hour.  You will learn more about Britain's wartime experience.  You may see examples of steel pikes that were distributed to Home Guard members to repel the Nazi invaders before firearms became available.  You can see replicas of Anderson shelters that were supplied to citizens for their protection from the Blitz by the British government.  Some have argued that the Anderson shelter marked the beginning of British socialism -- "If the government must pay to protect us from the Luftwaffe why shouldn't they protect us from cancer with NHS?"

With friends and a P-51 Mustang
RAF Museum, Hendon
Photo: Courtesy Marc Leslie
The vital role of the Allied Strategic bombing campaign (see earlier post RAF Bomber Command, 10/13/12) is not neglected a the RAF Museum.  You will find non-RAF planes such as the American P-51 Mustang that provided bomber escort (see earlier post Tommy Hitchcock and the P-51 Mustang, 6/27/12).  An American B-17 is posed loading its bombs and crew.

Commander K. + B-17, RAF Museum Hendon
Photo: Courtesy Marc Leslie
American air crews flew bombing missions by day while their Commonwealth counterparts flew at night in heavy bombers such as the Lancaster in order to deliver a round-the-clock punch to the Axis.

Inscription on Lancaster Bomber, RAF Museum Hendon
Photo: Courtesy Marc Leslie

This Lancaster's  RAF crew remembered the arrogant proclamation of Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering.

RAF Vulcan Bomber,  RAF Museum, Hendon
You will also find many Cold War era aircraft such as the Vulcan bomber; this type of plane that was hijacked along with its atomic payload by SPECTRE in the 1965 James Bond movie, Thunderball.

RAF Spitfire: A Thing of Beauty
Commander Kelly concludes, "That war is a terrible destructive activity and that the Second World War was the most terrible war in human history are beyond doubt.  We must also, however, acknowledge that, from a purely aesthetic standpoint, the Spitfire is also one of the most beautiful things ever made by the hand of man.  The beauty of the Spitfire inheres not merely in the perfection of her form and lines, but also in the nobility of the cause in which she served.  Remember "the Few" with a visit to the RAF Museum in Hendon."

Special thanks to Marc Leslie for photographic assistance.

You can now find Commander Kelly's first book, America Invades,  here or on Amazon


Unknown said...

Commander Kelly,

Great Article


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