The Battle of Britain @ RAF Museum

First of all, I have to apologise about myself giggling at the display of the mannequins which were enacting the scenes in the Battle of Britain exhibition at the RAF Museum. No one saw me making a callous remark to Hubbie, still, I’ve been feeling bad about it.
Therefore, please allow me to express my remorse and a huge thank you to the people who put together this valuable exhibition within a constrain of the limited budget.

At the end of the exhibition, I had an opportunity to have a brief chat with one of the museum attendants and learnt from him about the difficulty of the museum facing during the recent austerity period. As the museum being a part of the armed forces, they are not allowed to charge the visitors therefore they have to manage the upkeep of this place with public donations, corporate hire, gift shops, etc – a great difficulty. Looking after this enormous institution on a day-to-day basis alone must siphon off hundreds and thousands of pounds. Yet, they also have to organise worthy exhibitions which impress and satisfy the audience who are already well used to sophisticated presentations commercially done by cinemas and amusement parks.
By realising the sacrifice behind the scene, I am full of admiration and gratitude towards the team of the people who made this exhibition, “The Battle of Britain“.

The venue for the exhibition was behind the Hurricane & Spitfire in the visitor car park…

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Immediately after entering the exhibition, we were greeted with the scene of the Blitz – the each section depicting how the people coped with daily & nightly aerial bombings.

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I could hardly bear the thought as if or when my house would be hit or any of my beloved ones would get hurt or even worse, killed…

A Fiat CR42 “Falco”

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This Italian-made biplane is a lesser known face of the epic battle which unfolded over the British sky during the summer and autumn of 1941.
The Allies and the Axis, both highly praised the aircraft’s exceptional manoeuvrability and strength. However, its role was much marginalised by the emergence of better armed monoplanes and for the Battle of Britain, it flew some operations in the later stages but with a high loss rate.

A Messerschmitt Bf110 with its pilot…

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The Bf110’s lack of agility was an acute weakness against its arch-rival, Spitfire which became obvious during the Battle of Britain. Later, some of the twin-engine heavy fighters, equipped with radar system, re-deployed as night fighters.

Finally, face to face with a legendary Spitfire MkI..

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Its iconic semi-elliptical wings were unmistakable! What a beauty! Never seen it “in the flesh”, I was over the moon.
‘Does it still fly?’ I asked the aforementioned museum attendant. ‘The engine may start but the body won’t stand the vibration. It will fall apart’, he answered.
Those Spitfires, Hurricanes and Lancasters which we see in events or on TV are privately own by the enthusiasts who restore the vintage planes to a flyable condition – every single rivet to be redone and every steelwork to be replaced, for example. In a way, they are a brand new replica. Otherwise, how can any aircraft over 70 years old fly?
All the aircrafts the museum exhibit are original, and apart from the fresh coat of paint, the condition is kept as authentic as possible. In fact, even the landing gears are in a fragile state, therefore, discreet supports have to be  devised to support the entire weight of the aircraft.

Behind a glazed façade, a Short Sunderland was exhibited…

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Unfortunately, the area dedicated to a British flying boat patrol bomber which contributed greatly during the Battle of the Atlantic, was closed for a maintenance work.
Oh well, the encounter with this giant will have to wait until our next visit…

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We left the Battle of Britain exhibition, feeling for sure that we had learnt something new about a particular part of the British history.

A Spitfire for anyone?

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How much does it cost to hire? I would love to sit in the cockpit…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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