Arranged over a number of exhibition halls and hangers, there is an abundance of amazing aircraft and memorabilia that will give you some idea about the history, style & design and innovation behind the aviation industry.
The Spitfire’s in the car park give you an indication of what to expect but the sheer numbers, shapes and colours of aircraft on the floors, walls and ceilings of the museum are jaw dropping and look like a young boy’s dream sequence.
The “Grahame-White Factory & Watch Office” displays the Museum’s oldest aircraft such as the Bristol Monoplane and the Vickers Vimy, the “Milstones of Flight” building contains the Pioneers Terrace, RAF Today and the Aviation History Timeline, while the “Battle of Britain” Hall hosts the exhibition depicting the story of the world’s first decisive air battle.
A reminder of Britain’s role in the shaping of the modern world, here are 5 things to do at the RAF Museum…
Battle of Britain Hall
The Battle of Britain Hall is dedicated to the historical realities of the 1940s when the Royal Air Force stood alone against the might of Germany. “Our Finest Hour” is a stunning audiovisual presentation of the battle that uses film footage, audio, special lighting effects and the real aircraft to give the visitor some of the atmosphere and feeling of the period. For approximately 13 minutes, on the hour every hour, the hall is darkened and the slumbering Hurricane and Spitfire are brought back to life with a roar of engines and the rattle of gunfire.
Show times are daily between 1pm and 5pm.
It is a virtual theatre of dreams
Don your flying goggles and head straight to the Museum’s newest attraction, in the shape of the 4D theatre. By combining 3D computer animation together with dynamic seating and special environmental effects, the theatre recreates what it actually feels like to fly a jet into enemy territory, be involved in an intense aerial dogfight or be a navigator onboard a B-17 Bomber. It is a virtual theatre of dreams.
The Dolphin reconstruction
The Dolphin reconstruction is a project that has taken over 40 years to complete. It is now on display and is the only one of its kind in the world. The Sopwith Dolphin single-seat fighting scout served operationally from during WWI. A total of 1,778 were built in Britain during 1917-1919 before this type of aircraft was declared obsolete in 1921. Restoration work began in the early 1970’s at the Museum’s workshop, with a view to making the only complete example of the Dolphin in the world. Due to the meticulous nature of the process and the length of time taken to source original and replica materials it has taken four decades to ensure that the aircraft has been restored to a level where it is historically accurate in the finest detail.
4. Located in the “Milestones of Flight” building is the all-encompassing Aviation History Timeline. A full 50 metres long, the timeline details the development of aviation and the Royal Air Force against the background of the key social and political events of the first century of powered flight. It illustrates the key events in world, British and Civil aviation from the early pioneer days before the First World War when the Wright brothers completed the first ever flight in a powered aircraft, through the Second World War, up to the modern age of flight and todays jet engines.
5. Getting in an Olympic mood, in line with this summer’s London Games, the Museum has opened brand new temporary exhibition to the public that celebrates the contribution and importance of sports in the RAF. In Athletes and Olympians: Sport in the RAF the Museum explores how sport has proven to be central to the maintenance of morale during operations and how it has assisted in building trust and respect between foreign communities and RAF personnel, particularly during times of crisis. It also examines the histories of a selection of those RAF personnel who reached the peak of their disciplines to represent Great Britain at previous Summer and Winter Olympics, while highlighting the contribution current and former members of the Royal Air Force will make to the Olympic and Paralympic Games of London 2012. The exhibition is open until September 2012.
RAF Museum, Grahame Park Way, London, NW9 5LL; Tel: +44 (0) 20 8205 2266; Opening hours, Mon to Sun 10am-6pm; Admission is free