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Royal Air Force Museum, Cosford - Part IV
By Kevin Moore, Contributing Editor & Photographer
Watford, Ontario, Canada
Some of the aircraft we reviewed inside Hangar 1, the Transport & Training Hangar were the BOAC de Havilland Comet, the Scottish Aviation Bulldog, the Red Arrows Folland Gnat and the Jame's May Toy Series Airfix Spitfire.
Last week we returned to the RAF Museum, Cosford and began with the National Cold War Exhibition and made our way through part of the Transport & Training Hangar. We return for a final visit to have a look at a few more aircraft and some weaponry.
The Argosy flew as both a military and civilian aircraft, though the RAF's version had a greater range thanks to the Rolls-Royce Dart 101 engines slung under the wings.
The first aircraft we'll look at this week is the big Armstrong Whitworth Argosy C1, the last aircraft produced by Armstrong Whitworth. They were produced in both civilian and military versions and were basically the same design with changes made to suit either civilian or military purpose. The civilian version could seat 89 passengers and the military version 69 troops or 48 stretcher cases or had the option of carrying 29,000lbs of freight. The military versions of the Argosy were fitted with four Rolls-Royce Dart 101 engines which gave it twice the range than that of the civilian version. The Argosy was deployed to such locations as the Middle East in 1962 as well as to RAF Benson and then, the following year, to RAF Changi in Singapore though, once the squadron was disbanded, those aircraft ended up at RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus. The last Argosy was retired in 1975 having been replaced by the Lockheed Hercules.
The Hunting-Percival Jet Provost, the forerunner of the BAC Jet Provost, stood tall, especially when compared to the BAC Jet Provost as you can see in one of the previous photos.
The Hunting-Percival Jet Provost T1 is the early version of what became the BAC Jet Provost and first flew in June of 1954 right out of the factory at Luton Airport. There were 123 hours of flying time put on the aircraft through to November of the same year before the prototype was moved to Boscombe Down for official RAF flight testing. The aircraft was deemed satisfactory though there were certain refinements that were made including shortening of the landing gear for use on unproven airfields. When looking at a BAC Jet Provost, next to the T1, you can immediately see the difference in that gear. The cockpit of the Provost was essentially the same layout to that of its predecessor, the Percival Provost, a piston-engine training aircraft utilised by the RAF until the appearance of the Jet Provost which was officially accepted by the RAF in 1957. The Provost was withdrawn from service with the RAF in the early 1990's and was replaced by the Short Tucano. Many Provosts have made their way into private hands and continue to fly today.
The delta-wing Gloster Javelin replaced the Gloster Meteor when it retired in 1959.
The Gloster Javelin prototype first flew in 1951 and was the world's first 2-engined, delta-wing fighter designed to intercept bomber aircraft flying at high altitudes at subsonic speed. It was outfitted with electronic and radar devices which gave it all-weather capabilities. The Javelin entered service with the RAF in 1956 and, by 1959, all squadrons that had been flying the Gloster Meteor had converted to the Javelin. The last RAF Javelin was withdrawn from service in 1968, though one aircraft continued to fly with the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment at Boscombe Down until 1975.
The Hunting Percival Pembroke first entered RAF service in 1953 and flew as late as 1988 when the last of 45 ordered by the RAF were retired.
The Hunting Percival Pembroke flew with the RAF as a light transport and communications aircraft, first entering service in 1953, replacing the Avro Anson. The RAF operated 45 of the type, which had rearward facing seats, apparently for passenger safety, something that was common with other RAF transport aircraft. It could be operated as a flying classroom, training navigators and air signallers or could be outfitted with dual controls for use as a pilot training aircraft. Six of the aircraft were converted to fly in photo reconnaissance roles, operating in Malaya. Some aircraft also operated in Kuwait and Bahrain in a communications role. In 1970, operational Pembrokes were modified to extend their life with No. 60 Squadron operating 7 of the aircraft until as late as 1988 when they were eventually retired.
The de Havilland Dove flew in both military and civilian roles, with 30 aircraft serving with the RAF as the Devon and more than 500 operating in civilian roles as the Dove, flying until the late 60's.
Developed from the de Havilland Dove, the de Havilland Devon was designed for use by the RAF as a transport and light communications aircraft which first flew in 1945, replacing the de Havilland Rapide. They also flew with the Fleet Air Arm and the Royal Aircraft Establishment and Empire Test Pilots School with a total of 30 aircraft having been ordered. However, the civilian version was very successful and flew in most countries throughout the world with over 500 aircraft having been produced between 1947 and 1967.
The uniquely coloured Auster T7 Antarctic was developed for operations
during the 1956 Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition.
The bright yellow/orange of the Auster T7 Antarctic was developed from the original Taylorcraft from the Taylorcraft Aircraft Corporation in the United States. The British/Commonwealth version, built by Taylorcraft Aeroplanes (England) Ltd, was developed further for use by the RAF as a light observation & communication aircraft as well as artillery spotting. It had dual controls so that it could also be utilised as an aircrew training aircraft. Further development saw the T7 replace the Mk V for use as a training platform for air observation post operations and for simulated night and instrument flying. The Army took over responsibility for the aircraft when 77 of the T7s were transferred to the Army Air Corps. The Auster Antarctic was a modified T7, of which two were adapted, for use during the 1956 Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition which was lead by Dr. Vivian Fuchs. These two aircraft could be fitted with floats or skis for use in snow/ice and water conditions. The Auster saw service with at least 16 Air Forces and Armies within the Commonwealth.
This Bristol Britannia 312 was once used by
HRH Princess Margaret during her tour of the West Indies in 1958.
The Bristol Britannia was designed in 1947 and first flew in 1952, built for the BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) as a medium-range airliner. The aircraft was further developed as a long-range trans-Atlantic aircraft for the BOAC London to New York route, first flying in 1957. The RAF also utilised the Britannia as a long range freight and troop carrying aircraft. Twenty three of the type were flown by the RAF providing excellent flying characteristics such as its speed, cabin comfort, lack of aircraft vibration and, after retiring from British military service, many went on to fly very successfully as cargo transports within the civilian world. The museum's aircraft, a Britannia 312, was once used by HRH Princess Margaret during her tour of the West Indies in 1958. Her last flight was made in May of 1984 when she was flown into Cosford from Southend, UK.
The Baulton Paul Sea Balliol T21 flew until as late 1969.
The Baulton Paul Balliol was designed to replace the venerable Harvard. It was originally designed as a turboprop aircraft housing a Bristol Mercury piston engine with which the prototype first flew in 1954. The second prototype was the first aircraft to fly with a single, turboprop Armstrong Siddeley Mamba engine however, there was little interest so another version with the intrepid Rolls-Royce Merlin was developed. Despite excellent performance, the jet age was upon them and the Jet Provost won out as the leading training aircraft for the RAF and only 187 Balliols were built for the RAF. There were a dozen T2 variants built for the Royal Ceylon Air Force. A carrier version, the Sea Balliol, was built and flown in 1952 and an order was placed for 30 of the type, serving until the late 1950s, though the museum's Sea Balliol T21, flew until 1969 having been utilised for other duties. It had a top speed of 460kmh (288mph) at 9000' using a 1245hp 12-cylinder Rolls-Royce Merlin 35. The aircraft had one Browning 7.7mm machine gun in the port wing and could carry four rockets or eight practice bombs under the wings.
The German designed & built Rheintochter R1, left, and the Bloodhound, right,
were 2 of many assorted weapons on display inside the various hangars.
There were also an assortment of various missiles, rockets and other weapons placed in different areas of the museum including the Rheintochter R1 built in Germany. The Rheintochter R1 is a two stage solid fuel, surface to air rocket with a range of 18km (11miles) and was radio controlled from the ground. There were 82 of the Rheintochter R1s fired before further development was ceased in favour of the Enzian and Rheintochter R3. The other is a British Aircraft Corporation Bloodhound surface to air missile (SAM). The Bloodhound Mk2 was developed in 1958 as an improvement of the Mk1 version, improving its flight performance using something called a "continuous wave" (CW) radar system which improved the missiles low level performance. It used Thor ramjets and was available in a mobile or transportable missile section with the transportable version utilising a type 87 radar, known as Scorpion, code named "Blue Anchor." The mobile version utilised the Ferranti Firelight, type 86, radar system and was codenamed "Indigo Corkscrew." Mobile sections were deployed throughout the globe and provided defence systems for bomber bases.
A display outlining the fatigue damage as a result of square windows and improper installation on the early de Havilland Comet aircraft.
An interesting display is a 3 window and escape hatch section from a de Havilland Comet showing the fatigue fuselage cracks that appeared at the square windows. Three of the first Comets to enter service broke up in flight a year after entering service. The cause was determined to be catastrophic metal fatigue in the airframes at the corners of the square windows as well as the installation methods. As mentioned previously, the aircraft was redesigned with oval windows and structural reinforcements as well as other changes. Lessons learned through these tragic events may have saved further accidents and deaths in other aircraft that were structurally similar to the Comet. Despite the changes to the DH Comet, sales never really recovered though some Comet 4s flew for roughly 30 years.
The Land Rover, left, was used as a VIP, light duties ground transport. The German V2 rocket, right, was a deadly weapon used late in the war against Britain.
There were a few vehicles and other weapons displayed around the museum including a Land Rover which was used for VIP duties from April 1955. There were also various other rockets, missiles and other weapons such as the German Army V2 rocket, introduced by the Germans during World War II in order to destroy British cities and factories from launching sites within Germany. The first V2 launched in offence fell on English soil at Chiswick, September 8, 1944. They were, for the most part, moved by rail mounted on a Meillerwagen which was a wheeled transporter and launcher. It had an electronic ram which enabled the rocket to launch at 90 degrees then changed its angle of climb to roughly 40 degrees to the vertical until their guidance system cut the motor once a specific velocity was achieved allowing for its ballistic trajectory to take it to the target. Though more than 10,000 V2s were built, less than one third were actually launched offensively.
There were also many engines displayed around the museum.
Engines from different eras in British aviation were on display throughout the museum, from piston & radial engines from the early days of flight to turbine and jet engines from the 1950s through to modern age. Some engines were displayed with cutaway sections so you could see what the inner workings of the engines looked like. Engine enthusiasts could easily spend hours, if not days, walking around checking out the number of engines the museum had displayed.
The Westland Wessex was the British built version
of the American Sikorsky S-58 helicopter.
The last aircraft we'll look at is the Westland Wessex which was produced for use by the Royal Navy and first entered service in 1961. The HC2 was a higher performance helicopter from its predeccesor, the Mk 1, and had two Bristol Siddeley Gnome turboshaft engines. It was utilised as a transport, ambulance and general purpose helicopter and could carry up to 16 fully equipped troops or could handle a 4000lb underslung load. It was used as an anti-terrorist aircraft during operations in Northern Ireland as well as supported UN Peacekeeping forces in Cyprus, with the last retiring in 2003.
Looking out over the hangar at various aircraft including the Argosy and the Andover.
The RAF Museum at Cosford is a fantastic place to see British aviation history and, combined with the RAF Museum at Hendon in London, a visit to both museums covers many of the changes in aviation from early to modern days. Whether you're from the UK or you're visiting from foreign lands, don't pass up the opportunity to visit either of the RAF Museums because they are well worth your time. Remember to help with the upkeep of these museums by making a donation and/or making purchases in their fabulous gift shop. You may also have the opportunity to see the RAF at work should they be flying any aircraft from the base during your visit. Make plans to visit soon!
Another look at the big Bristol Britannia 312.
There are some nasty but effective weapons that have been developed and used over the past 100 years, as seen in the photo to the left. The big, bulbous nose of the Armstrong Whitworth Argosy, right.
Make the trip to RAF Museum, Cosford, for a brilliant and
enjoyable day out around other aviation enthusiasts and history buffs!
Visit the Royal Air Force Museum Website:
By Kevin Moore, Contributing Editor & Photographer
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