Fleet Air Arm Museum

Yeovilton, July 8th, 1997

This section is laid out in two pages. This page describes the Museum in general - the next page looks at the Carrier Experience exhibit.

Getting there!

We called at Yeovilton enroute from Launceston to Cheltenham. It was a busy day, as we also managed to see Glastonbury abbey and Avebury in the same day. Yeovilton wasn't too hard to find - we just followed those nice brown signs from the A303.

The first thing we saw was the buildings comprising HMS Heron, and then we took in the sounds of Sea Harriers at work. We couldn't get too close to the action, but as the image below shows, we could see some. The Museum is straight forward to locate, and parking was easy. The first exhibit is right out front - the Blackburn NA 39, from which the Buccaneer was developed.

Harriers Blackburn NA 39

The Museum

We started with some of the older aircraft - the WWI period. The aircraft are arranged in attractive tableaux with period figures and equipment. I found the rotating engine on the Fokker DR1 a little odd, but apart from that I thought the presentation was really good. There is quite a range of aircraft, although some like the Sopwith Pup, Camel and Triplane were replicas. But many weren't, and were quite historic airframes. Some of these are shown below - the Albatros DVa (D5397/17), the Sopwith Baby (N2078), and the remains of the Short 184 Seaplane (8359) which participated in the Battle of Jutland.

Albatros D Va Sopwith Baby Short 184

Moving onto the inter-war period I have shown the replica Fairey Flycatcher, and the Supermarine Walrus I amphibian (L2301) - this one was of particular interest to me as they had seen service in New Zealand - so I made sure I got a cockpit image too!

Fairey Flycatcher Walrus Walrus Cockpit

I have only shown a couple of the WWII period aircraft - although well placed for viewing, the hall containing these aircraft had pillars which made photography difficult. Shown below are the Fairey Albacore I(N4389) - which was intended to replace the Swordfish, the Grumman G-50 Hellcat II (KE209), and the Fairey Firefly TT.4 (VH127) which is better known for its post war service, as this paint scheme reflects.

Albacore Wildcat Firefly

The next part of our tour was in the large hall containing the second prototype Aerospatiale/British Aircraft Corporation Concorde G-BSST. This hall also contains a comprehensive exhibition relating to vertical takeoff aircraft which culminated in the Harrier. The first of these shown below is the Rolls-Royce Thrust Measuring Rig (XJ314) commonly known as the 'Flying Bedstead'. The second is the Short SC.1 (XG900) which incorporated four vertically mounted RR RB108 engines for lift, and one for propulsion. The last picture shows the Hawker P.1127 (XP980) Kestral which was the predecessor of the Harrier.

'Flying Bedstead' Short SC.1 Hawker P.1127

We finished our tour with 'The Carrier Experience' which is described on the next page.

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