It’s been a long time since I was at the RAF Museum at Hendon- five years, to be exact. But I enjoyed it so much that I remember it well, and am quite eager to go back! In the summer of 2009, I was not yet ineluctably obsessed with World War II and military things, although I did have a long-standing love for aviation. It was at the Royal Air Force Museum London that I began to have a better appreciation for the air force and its aircraft, and I remember paying great attention to my dad and brother as they pointed out various aircraft and talked of their significance. Now, I’m proud to say, I can recognize modern and historical aircraft (almost) as well as my brother can, and museums like the one at Hendon are always on my list of must-see attractions when travelling!
The RAF Museum London is not exactly central, but it’s not too inconvenient to reach. One only has to take the Northern Tube line to Colindale, and then it’s just a short walk to the museum. Museum admission is free, which is fantastic, but nevertheless I would happily pay to visit it!
A replica Hurricane and Spitfire greet visitors to the museum
One of the museum’s packed halls; a P-51 Mustang and Mitsubishi Zero are visible
The RAF Museum has an impressive array of aircraft from many different eras, and it possesses several incredibly rare specimens- like a Vickers Wellington, Eurofighter Typhoon prototype, and Hawker Typhoon. Although the displays are simple and close together, it allows one to really examine the aircraft without many distractions!
Fantastic view of the Eurofighter prototype
Aircraft on display range from a positively ancient Sopwith Camel…
…to a Gloster Meteor, Britain’s first jet fighter
There are plenty of WWII aircraft on display- at the time, most of what I knew regarding historical aviation was to do with WWII, so these planes were not lost on me.
The de Havilland Mosquito, first flown in 1940
A staple of the Luftwaffe, the Fw-190
The utilitarian beauty of a Rolls Royce Merlin engine
Much of the Spitfire’s prowess was thanks to the power of its Merlin engine
One of the highlights of the museum was its resident Harrier jump jet. I doubt I need to explain the amazing nature of the Harrier- it is absolutely remarkable that, over forty years ago, a standard fixed-wing airplane was made capable of hovering and vertical flight. I’ve never seen a Harrier in the air, but I imagine that it demonstrating its VTOL capabilities must be a distinctly unnatural sight.
What a fantastic plane- this one is a Harrier GR.3
When it comes to airplanes, cars, and military equipment, I develop a sudden and unexplainable interest in their technical and mechanical intricacies. (I often find myself, while researching for my blog, becoming distracted by online explanations of things like ramjets and ground-effect vehicles; only to remember hours later what I was supposed to be doing.) At Hendon, I was quite interested by the Harrier’s thrust-vectoring nozzles- and since then, believe me, I have read a great deal about them!
Two of the thrust-vectoring nozzles which allow the Harrier to attain vertical flight
These nozzles essentially funnel the thrust of the engine downwards, to propel the aircraft upwards
In short, the Royal Air Force Museum London is a great attraction for aviation buffs and tourists alike. It wasn’t too busy when I was there, and has plenty of fascinating displays. I also remember there being a great flight simulator- I took a flight with the legendary Red Arrows on my visit! I can’t wait to return there, and revisit all this museum has to offer.