of Norwich Aviation Museum
Parsons visits a growing collection beside Norwich's prospering airport
of Norwich Aviation Museum was founded in the 1970s - not by a bunch of
aviation fanatics, as one would expect, but by a group of Norwich busmen.
All original members have long since retired but from the initial group
the 'Eastern Counties Aircraft Association' was formed in 1979 (Eastern
Counties being the local bus company of the time).
charity today, the museum operates under a Board of Trustees, the Chairman
for who is local builder Derek Waters. Located on the Northern side of
Norwich Airport, the museum occupies an area of land near to the new control
tower constructed in the 1980s, and is accessed through a dead-end lane
from Horsham St Faiths village - although the exhibits can just be seen
from the Airport proper, it's still a three-mile drive! The current site
is rented from the Airport on a ten-year lease and funding is being sought
from the National Heritage Lottery Fund for an extension and construction
of a hangar. In the near future it is planned to move the workshop to
create more exhibition space.
exhibit is, of course, Vulcan B2 XM612, delivered in 1983 for the
sum of £5,026 with the retirement of the type from RAF service.
Built in 1962, this was the 76th Mk 2 built, entering service with
9 Squadron in 1964 and was one of five aircraft chosen to take part
in the Falklands conflict in 1982. Although the type never served
in Norfolk it represents the V-Force with which Marham played a key
role - first with the Valiant, then the Victor. Now resident at Norwich
for twenty years, it has had one re-paint and is undergoing her second
- a daunting task for any preservation group. The rear undercarriage
doors, flying control surfaces and airbrakes are especially prone
to corrosion due to their high level of magnesium and have been re-skinned
in the past. The re-paint is expected to take two years to complete,
using synthetic automotive paints that are longer-lasting and more
durable than the military original. Despite being grounded for twenty
years, the electrics are still fully functional and the aircraft is
'sparked-up' occasionally throughout the year. Entry into the cockpit
is usually permitted on other days for a small extra charge (subject
to staffing levels).
to fame the museum enjoys is that it was the very first aviation-related
one to register with the Museums and Galleries Commission. Today, each
museum should have an 'acquisition and disposals' policy, in other words
a theme in which to display its exhibits. Naturally, Norwich's theme is
'recording and preserving the history of aviation in Norfolk' and all
current acquisitions are targeted thus - obviously their next target is
a Jaguar, which is just becoming available for disposal to museums. Funding
is always an issue, as with many such aviation museums, and is entirely
self-generating topped up with grants from Norfolk County Council and
Broadland District Council, whose help is greatly appreciated.
Whirlwind HAR Mk 10 XP355
permanent loan from its owner, XP355 is currently painted in RAF Air
Sea Rescue colours. It is under long-term restoration.
first acquisition was an Avro Anson, sadly destroyed in the gales of 1987.
Following the Anson was Whirlwind XP355, then the Mystere from the ex-French
Air Force disposals of the late seventies and a Sea Vixen, later sold
for funds to buy the Hunter from Wales with which Norwich Airport (then
RAF Horsham St Faith) is well remembered.
had a Javelin until recently, but it was privately owned and the owner
was asking some £6,000, an unrealistic sum as far as the museum
could afford, despite many of its members helping with its upkeep and
restoration. It was eventually sold to the Yorkshire Air museum at Elvington
and moved in the summer of 2000.
Just by the
gate grows a small Scottish pine - a symbol of the friendship that exists
between the museum and the Dumfries & Galloway Museum in Scotland.
Derek Waters and his counterpart David Reid share a strong friendship
and the two museums try to help each other as much as possible.
to the indoor exhibits is the RAF 100 Group memorial room, funded by the
100 Gp Association. The Group played a major part in the Second World
War, flying from airfields in and around the Norwich area, and was the
pioneer of electronic warfare. Flying exclusively from Norfolk airfields,
100 Group consisted of bomber support units flying converted bomber types
packed with electronic countermeasures. These would fly missions to confound
the enemy radar and electronic intelligence gathering. Other 100 Group
units flew radar equipped Mosquito and Beaufighter night fighters, hence
the Group's motto 'Confound and Destroy'. Every year a reunion is held
for the remaining airmen and groundcrew who served with the associated
With a well-stocked
shop, tea and coffee facilities and a wealth of indoor exhibits, Norwich's
museum is well worth devoting a couple of hours for a visit if you're
anywhere near the area. Visit their website here.
Page Herald G-ASKK
Mystere Mk 4
Meteor F8 WK654
T33 Shooting Star
Hunter F51 XE683
of only two Heralds left in airline trim, G-ASKK was built 1962 under
an order by Maritime Central Airways that was cancelled after it was
built. It flew on lease with Autair before being bought by Sadia Airlines
of Brazil and later came back to the UK being used by British Midland,
BUA, BIA and Air UK in 1980. In 1985 the museum purchased it from
Air UK for the princely sum of £1, in whose colours the aircraft
is displayed today. It was restored inside and out by Museum members
during 1999/2000. The interior contains a picture of every one of
the 50 Heralds ever built.
loan from the USAF. It is currently painted in the colours of the
French Air Force display team 'Patrouille de France' but will be
changed in the near future. It still retains its engine and along
with the Vulcan is one of the most complete airframes the museum
by 247, 46 and 85 Squadrons at RAF West Raynham and was used as the
gate guardian at RAF Neatishead. On disposal in 1995 the aircraft
was bought by the museum and is currently being restored.
to the Museum on 31 May 1986, this aircraft was was with the French
airforce (nothing is known of its history/units) and was flown into
Sculthorpe prior to being transferred to the Turkish air force. Having
had temporary Turkish markings painted on, it suffered engine problems
and was unable to leave with the others. Its delivery was eventually
abandoned and when CNAM collected it a year later, the engine was
lying on the grass beside the aircraft. It has recently been finished
in the colours of the 47th TRW based at RAF Sculthorpe following a
to the RAF in July 1955 and later acquired by the Danish Air Force
as serial E409. Bought by the CNAM from the Cardiff Air Museum and
is now painted in RAF colours of 74 (Tiger) Squadron, RAF Horsham
St. Faiths. During the re-paint no less than 23 coats of paint were
F27 Friendship G-BHMY
the only complete F27 to be preserved in the UK. Built in 1962, it
was ordered by ANA of Japan as JA 8606. It later served with two other
airlines before commencing operations for Air Anglia and Air UK in
1980. Was in service until as recently as 1998, when it was placed
in storage until donated by the airline to the museum in late 2000.
It is currently being restored for which propellers have recently
flown on 27 August 1956, XG172 had a varied career with the RAF before
being retired in 1984 as a ground instructional airframe at Cosford
and later Scampton. It was entered into the April 1995 Philips auction
and was sold to Ipswich-based aircraft collector Richard Everett,
and moved to its new home a few months later. In October 1997 the
aircraft was delivered to North Weald for a full restoration to flying
condition, but work was slow and the aircraft was put in storage whilst
efforts were concentrated on another Hunter. In mid-2000 Barry Pearson
acquired the aircraft and the aircraft was placed in storage pending
an intended move to Exeter, but in January 2001 the aircraft was moved
by road and placed on loan to the City of Norwich Aviation Museum.
It is being rebuilt as a Hunter FR10 and is being restored by a team
of engineers from RAF Coltishall. More detail can be found here.
flown in June 1968 and delivered to the Royal Saudi Air Force in 1969,
returning to the UK in 1986. It is currently on loan to the museum
from a local enthusiast, John Sheldrake, who is restoring it with
the intention of displaying it in 74 (Tiger) Squadron markings. Unfortunately
it has suffered from salt-water corrosion through being stored on
the South Coast for a number of years.