Sunday, 20 June 2010

Chocks Away Part 1

Hands (or paws) up all those who are guilty of ignoring what is on their doorstep. My paw is half raised, as are Ian and Guzzisue’s hands.

Over the years when Ian’s nephew and niece were up from Southampton we would take them to a local place of interest or an event. Recently they are content with going around the shops or the cinema.

A few years ago we had a Canal Museum in Nottingham, which we visited on several occasions. However, this was closed down due to lack of visitors. Upon hearing of the loss, a listener to our local radio station rang in to complain about this. They were asked one question by the presenter

“Have you ever been to the museum?”

Not surprisingly the answer was an emphatic “No”, and still they argued the toss about the closure.

The museum is now a canalside bar, as if we needed any more!

I have previously posted about Nottingham’s Big Night Out, an idea of BBC Radio Nottingham’s Breakfast Show presenter Andy Whittaker. Following on from this, we now have the Big Day Out. This is an event in which many of the museums within Nottinghamshire open their doors for free. This was the incentive we needed to visit one of the museums that we have passed by countless time throughout time.

Newark Aircraft Museum is partly hidden from the roadside but well signposted. It is situated between the A46 and A17, with access down a short track.

Having peered through the fence for a few minutes we ventured into the shop/museum entrance, a printout showing the Radio Nottingham Big Day Out list of places to visit was all we needed to gain entrance. We were handed a ‘Suggested walking tour’ sheet, which was promptly ignored as we headed for the largest exhibit on show, the Avro Vulcan B.2 XM594.

XM594 was first flown in 1963 and soon was deployed to the Blue Steel armed independent British Nuclear Deterrents Force with 27 squadron at RAF Scampton. It was later transferred to Waddington before once again returning to Scampton.

Refurbished in 1972, XM594 spent the next few years being transferred to different squadrons until February 7th 1983 when it was flown from RAF Waddington to Winthorpe.

Leaving XM594 behind we wandered around the perimeter stopping briefly at G-BFTZ. This aircraft is a Socata MS.880B Rallye Club. Designed by Morane Saulnier, the Rallye originated when the French Government held a competition for a light aircraft in the 1950’s. The aircraft is still in production in Poland as the “Koliber”.

Originally registered in France as G-BFTZ, it flew with the registration F-BPAX. The record books show that this aircraft was first registered in the United Kingdom in 1978 and passed through several owners before being removed from the serviceable aircraft list in 1994. It arrived at the museum in 1996.

Trying to hide in the corner of the museum’s grounds was this Handley Page, Hastings T.5 TG517.

This aircraft was designed to be a multi-purpose transport aeroplane and in later years was used for training.

TG517 was the19th to be produced and came into service in 1948, during this period the aircraft took part in “Operation Plainfare”, The Berlin Airlift.

In 1950, TG517 was fitted with special weather reconnaissance equipment and served in Northern Ireland until 1958, after which it was one of five aircraft to be fitted out with radar bomb-sight equipment before being allocated to the RAF Bombing School at RAF Lindholme, where it remained until 1968.

TG517’s last operations were from RAF Scampton, where the aircraft saw active service in the Icelandic “Cod War” flying four fishery protection sorties. She was finally flown into the museum in 1977.

For a small charge of 50 pence, several of the aircraft had their cockpits open for view. These also had an accompanied guide giving details about the aircraft. There had been a steady queue to look inside the Vulcan, so we took the opportunity to have an inspection of the Hastings.

Having climbed the steps into the fuselage and paid our entry, the guide gave us a brief history of the aircraft before letting us inspect the rest of the aircraft.

The seats shown in the above photo can be removed and be replaced with stretchers, if the need should arise. There are also hooks in the floor so that large cargo can be transported, making it a very versatile aircraft. In the background we can see part of the radar bomb-sight equipment from a Vulcan. This was used for the training of Vulcan, Phantom and Buccaneer crews. With no one looking I had the opportunity to have a go myself. Left, left, right, steady, whoops. Go round again. (With all apologies to Cockersdale)

Realising that I would never make a Biggles Ted I clambered down and went to have a look at the cockpit.

I assume the buckets are to catch either condensation from behind the console or water that may gain entry either through weakened nose panels or the cockpit . Please correct me if I’m wrong on this assumption.

Continuing around the perimeter we stopped briefly at this Mikoyan-Gurevich MIG-23M “Flogger”.

Designed between 1964-66, the MIG-23 was a successor to the MIG-21. Besides having a more powerful engine it also had a variable sweep wing with three settings, 16, 45 and 72 degrees. With the wings swept right back, the aircraft has a greater speed, while fully spread it was able to carry a heavier weapons load.

The prototype first flew in public during the aviation Day Flypast at Domodedove Airport, Moscow on 9th July 1967and entered service in 1970, becoming fully operational in 1973.

In contrast to the MIG-23, this English Electric Lightning T.5 XS417 has had a chequered career.

XS417 was the first production T.5 and flew 47 development flights before joining 226 OCU at RAF Coltishall, Norfolk in 1965. At the end of this year it transferred to 23 squadron RAF Leuchars, Fife, where in 1965 it suffered a Cat.3 ground explosion in July 1966.

Between 1974 and 1987, XS417 passed through several squadrons and had periods when it was placed into storage. On 6th April 1987, XS417 flew in the LTF’s formation flypast at RAF Binbrook. One month later the aircraft was once again placed into store, this time being stripped for spares. The museum bought the aircraft in 1988 and cut the wings off before transporting it back to Newark Air Museum in September 1988.

Around the museums grounds are an engine display hall, an exhibition hall and two display hangers that contain more aircraft. I will discuss this on my next post.


Affer said...

I always felt the Hastings looked ungainly on the ground, with its great nose overhang. It was, I think, the last 'tail-dragger' in RAF service. Certainly, the Hermes (its first cousin) had a proper tricycle undercart.

Great photos!

Nikos said...

I think that the buckets were in lieu of a loo.

Now on a more jovial front, thanks for posting this - another Aircraft Museum to visit - does it feature as an RBR landmark by any chance? That little cracker of a museum down at Woodley did and that was great!

scott davidson said...

What an interesting blog, introduced by a thought-provoking photo. The unusual wall painting of the dwellings is also a strangely modern interpretation. Something like this hieroglyphic view of a park by Swiss painter Paul Klee,
The image can be seen at who can supply you with a canvas print of it.