Midland Air Museum – Revisited!

Greetings my fellow Adventurers! 

(Apologies for being quiet of late (both here and on the Reader), June turned out to be a very busy month and, thanks to the insane amount of rain we had, we didn’t get out adventuring much either)

Back in April I wrote a post about my local aviation museum – The Midland Air Museum – At the time I said I needed to write a more detailed post, and I promised to return and take some more pictures…

…So needing no further excuse for another visit, over my birthday weekend in May, I went back there with camera in hand for another mooch about.

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Ratty hiding in the hedge outside under the watchful eyes of the Vulcan bomber. Personally I think he was a bit scared! 

The visit started as always with a trip to the cafe for tea and some cake, before heading out into the museum. Firstly you walk through an exhibition all about Frank Whittle and the invention of the jet engine, which is very interesting if you have the time to read it, and then you move on into the main building.

A lot of the displays in this building (and the museum as a whole) are to do with local aviation in and around Coventry.

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A Gloster Meteor – the RAF’s first operation jet fighter and just beaten into service by Germany’s Me262. In front of it is one of the Jet engines designed by Frank Whittle. 
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The slightly haphazard interior of the main building – it has a certain charm about it – I hate spotlessly tidy museums anyway! 
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A De-Havilland Vampire, the RAF’s 2nd front line jet fighter. It first flew in 1943 and was introduced into service in 1946. The aircraft was operated (in it’s many forms) by over 30 countries worldwide and wasn’t retired by some until the 1970’s. In 1945 it was the first pure jet aircraft to be landed on, and flown off, an aircraft carrier – and the fuselage ‘pod’ is actually made from laminated wood, much like the famous Mosquito fighter bomber of WWII

Once we’d toured around the main building, we went outside to the display area, where most of the museum’s aircraft are on show.

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Part of the outside display area with the main building on the right. At this point there was a bit of drizzle still in the air! 

I do like this place. Yes it is a bit disorganised and haphazard, but it has bags of character and the atmosphere is brilliant.

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A Tornado GR.3 with a red bum and the museum’s A.W. Argosy in the background. The view from the Argosy’s cockpit is pretty good and the interior is a great place to shelter when it’s raining

The museum began life in 1967 when a small group of aircraft enthusiasts set themselves up as the ‘Midland Aircraft Preservation Society (MAPS)’. They started by collecting books, photographs and aircraft parts and as they had no permanent home, they exhibited at air displays and fetes to raise money for further acquisitions.

In 1975 a small plot of land on Coventry airport was secured, allowing them to start setting up a permanent museum. MAPS then the changed its name in 1977 to Midland Air Museum (MAM) and, with only five aircraft on display, it first opened it’s doors to the the public on the 2nd April 1978 with 67 visitors.

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The Museum’s Avro Vulcan B.2. No Vulcan was ever officially named in service but this one has been named ‘The City of Coventry’ by the staff – a bit grand maybe but I like the sentiment. The Vulcan carried out the longest attack sortie in British history – a run of 16 hours and 6,000 miles to bomb the runway at Port Stanley during the Falklands war. It was supported by a mere 11 Victor air to air tankers
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The Vulcan, taken from under the wing of the Argosy. The paint on the aircraft is looking a bit faded on the top, but I wouldn’t want to volunteer to re-paint it – I hate heights! The Vulcan was a high altitude (later low) strategic comber operated by the RAF from 1956 to 1984. They originally formed part of Britain’s ‘V-force’ of bombers (along with the Valiant and Victor)  and carried our Nuclear deterrent until that role was given to the Polaris carrying submarines.

One thing I did notice walking around, was the poor condition the paint was in on a lot of the aircraft. This is quite unusual, as the museums’s staff generally take good care of their charges, but I think the rain and the harsh weather we’ve had this year has taken it’s toll – it’s a shame but I’m sure they’ll get them back in good shape over the summer.

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Fabulous Hawker Hunter with a Gloster Javelin behind it. The Hunter was a wonderfully well designed jet and was operated in the fighter and fighter bomber role by over 20 Countries. first flow in 1951, it was so successful that sixty years after its original introduction it was still in active service, being operated by the Lebanese Air Force until 2014!!! The Gloster Javelin, that last aircraft to bare the name of Gloster, was a less than successful all weather interceptor than was only in service for just over 10 years. It is a huge twin engine delta-winged aircraft, and for all its faults, is one of my favourites
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A Hawker Sea Hawk. A great little aircraft, this was Hawkers first Jet aircraft design and flew with the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm. This aircraft was marked up in Suez Crisis markings (the black and yellow Stripes) as the the Sea Hawk was one of the major FAA types during the conflict and performed well against the Egyptian Air Force. I’ve sat in one of these before – it’s quite an interesting experience as your feet are right up in the nose of the aircraft. 
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Armstrong Whitworth Meteor Night fighter. This aircraft was a development of the Gloster Meteor and was designed as an interim night fighter until the new Gloster Javelin came into service. That huge great big long nose was used to house it’s radar – either that or it had told a lot of lies…  
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A De-Havalland Sea Vixen, one of my all time favourite aircraft. This HUGE twin boomed aircraft was the Royal Navy’s first all weather fighter and  had the distinction of being the first British two-seat combat aircraft to achieve supersonic speed, albeit not in level flight (e.g. downhill with the wind behind it!) 
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The English Electric Canberra, This was the it became the RAF’s first jet-powered bomber. It was developed by English Electric during the 1940s in response to a 1944 Air Ministry requirement for a successor to the famous De-Havilland Mosquito. Introduced in 1951, the RAF only retired their last aircraft in 2006 – after over 50 years of service! This is also one of the few aircraft sold by Britain to the United States (I can only think of two others as I write) 

It had been raining for a lot of the day, but thankfully it had held off enough to allow us to sit out on the museums picnic tables for a rest – one of these days we must bring some lunch – you certainly get a great view of the exhibits!

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Picnic anyone? 
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Lightning striking twice! 
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An English Electric Lightning F.6. The lightning was the last all British designed fighter And the first Mach 2 Aircraft to enter RAF service. Fantastic to fly (apparently), during it’s time it set a number of airspeed and time to climb records. An interim design(!!), it was first flown in 1957 and in typical British fashion wasn’t retired until 1988! 
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A Royal Canadian Air Force McDonnell F-101 Voodoo fighter bomber and reconnaissance aircraft. A successful if short lived design, it was also used by the United States Air force, who intended it to carry tactical nuclear bombs into the Soviet Russia (crew most likely expendable…)  
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The Voodoo and Vickers Viscount – The world’s first turboprop powered airliner. This does show how big the Voodoo actually is!

There is another hanger at the far end of the museum. This houses a display about the history of the museum, and some other exhibits, including aircraft in restoration.

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Lots of bits!

Running out of time, we headed back up the flight(less) line…

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The clouds are drawing in! 
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A rather cool looking PZL TS-11 Iskra from Poland. My son was very taken with this one! (Although I think he might have been worried it was going to eat his square crisps!)
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A McDonnell-Douglass F-4 Phantom II. Probably the most successful western fighter of the 1960’s, this particular aircraft was used in during the Vietnam war and shot down a North Vietnamese Mig-17 in 1967.  
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Speaking of Migs, this is an Ex-East German Airforce Mig-21. First flown in 1957, they are still in service across the world today. 
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A North American Aviation F-86 Sabre of Korean war fame. This type of aircraft was flown in combat by a young Buzz Aldrin before he joined NASA. 

And it’s not all fast jet powered whizzy things – they do have some propeller jobs too!

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A rather lovely De-havilland Canada Beaver utility plane. Used by many air forces and civilian operators around the world – this rugged aircraft is the quintessential ‘Bush Plane’

We also had to fend off the local wildlife…

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I wonder if he paid to get in? 

As normal, it was possible to sit in the Argosy and the Vulcan, but as we’d done that several before we’d decided not to. However, as we were walking past one of the volunteers asked if we’d like to sit in this beast (which is not normally open) …

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A Soviet era Mil-24 Hind-D Attack Helicopter. Did I want to sit in it? er… Yes please!!!
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Ratty gets an upgrade! (please please all at MAM – put the rotors back on it and get rid of the awful BAE paint scheme!)
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How do you start the damn thing..? Attack Helicopter Adventures anyone?
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Plenty of space for 8 fully armed Commandos – or all of your shopping? It should be simple enough to land in your local supermarket…  

What great way to end our visit!

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Here comes the rain! 

Well, farewell for now my friends, normal service will resume shortly.

P.S. A quick shout out to my SPAM buddy Bruce Cooper in California. I hope this finds you well Bruce and inspires you to get out more!  😀 ) 

15 thoughts on “Midland Air Museum – Revisited!”

  1. You look right at home in the cockpit! I’m sure you’ll get a hang of the levers and controls in no time, haha. I have to agree with you, it’s nice to see a museum that’s not 100% orderly – it leaves more of a sense of discovery and exploration as you roam about. If you ever make it out here to Arizona, you’d love the Pima Air & Space Museum near Tucson. Lots of neat aircraft like these.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Tyson! Lol – I think I’d have to learn Russian first as all the placards were written in it! I’ve heard of PIMA, definitely on the to do list!
      This place still have less exhibits than you do in your private museum though! 😀

      Like

  2. It looks like a really interesting museum. It is nice to have an outdoor exhibition but unfortunately, the weather doesn’t do outdoor exhibits a lot of good, too much sun, rain, and wind and as you can imagine painting them would be a time-consuming and expensive job. I’m thinking of various rail museums I’ve visited. I have been to an aviation museum in South Australia but it is smaller and all undercover but interesting just the same. Pretty sure I saw a Vampire there too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, I definitely think the weather pays a huge toll on the exhibits, especially the last few years, and having done it myself, repainting aircraft is no mean feat.
      Vampires are great aircraft!

      Like

  3. I also like museums run by enthusiasts where everything seems to be all over the place. It gives it a human touch somehow.
    I was disappointed not to see any square crisps strewn over the picnic tables, but relieved to know that they were tucked away safe and sound.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Stuart – this is a master post- well done and great resource to have in the blogosphere – the plans have such different looks and the Mig21 is weird looking – but cool and laughing at imagining some shopping goodies loaded into that I enjoyed plane – love your humor

    Liked by 1 person

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