13 October, 2008

Wings World War 2 Aviation Museum, Redhill Aerodrome

Wings Museum WW2 #1
Finally got around to checking out the museum practically sitting on my doorstep, the "Wings Aviation Museum" based at Redhill Aerodrome (this thanks only to my folks for paying a surprise visit and whisking me over there on a whim)...and I am rather glad they did - admittedly it's not the biggest museum in the world (we had to look pretty closely at everything to use up a full hour), as such the entry fee of £5 did seem just a little on the expensive side (although that price did get you a free cup of tea or coffee at the cafe alongside the runway, should you fancy one)...and take into consideration that it's being run as a registered charity by voluntary workers and it doesn't seem like too much to pay for keeping alive an important part of our history...

The four rooms out the back of the hangar hold some extremely interesting objects (and occasionally the stories that accompany them, where research has borne fruit)...
Wings Museum WW2 #8
The first room you enter is the largest, containing some real goodies, including (something I had never even heard of before) an unexploded (and I am guessing made-safe) Butterfly bomb, they apparently used to flutter down and get stuck in trees or snag on power lines causing untold chaos -
Wings Museum WW2 #59
- quite cruelly the Nazis used to paint them bright yellow too, so curious kids would wonder what they were and set them off...
Wings Museum WW2 #56
A few bits of V2 that somehow managed to stay in one piece (and in remarkably good condition) when they slammed into East Croydon at several thousand miles an hour -
Wings Museum WW2 #65
- An interesting map of the local area showing where all the various groups with war-time responsibilities were stationed -
Wings Museum WW2 #53
- oh and this map was recovered from a crashed Nazi bomber - you can still see the navigators pencil markings if you look closely...much of the rest of the museum is dedicated to displays of horrifyingly tangled aircraft wreckage -
Wings Museum WW2 #14
Wings Museum WW2 #11
- with carefully marked out reasons why they aren't currently performing air show flybys...(for some of the aircraft they have even tracked down the crew and have presented information about their lives) -
Wings Museum WW2 #16
Wings Museum WW2 #15
- oh and apparently from all the various donated parts they are working on reconstructing a bomber cockpit (so they must have some bits and bobs in better condition than this lot lurking in the hangar -
Wings Museum WW2 #45
Wings Museum WW2 #44
- other things that caught my eye in their collection was a chaff package (aluminium strips jettisoned from aircraft to baffle radar) -
Wings Museum WW2 #30
- detonators for various bombs (this one was for a 30lb Incendiary device) -
Wings Museum WW2 #34
Wings Museum WW2 #46
Wings Museum WW2 #25
- all sorts of different shapes and sizes of ammunition (some in better condition than others) -
Wings Museum WW2 #24
- an RAF Bomber Jacket (lovingly decorated by the owner) -
Wings Museum WW2 #27
- some bomb fuse pins (donated by the guy that pulled them out, who had kept them as a souvenir)
Wings Museum WW2 #5
Wings Museum WW2 #7
- gas masks and posters -
Wings Museum WW2 #3
- a Nazi flag found in a house in Merstham -
Wings Museum WW2 #2
- even the menu for Christmas lunch when Redhill Aerodrome was an RAF base! One particularly good display is practically the entire history of one member of a Nazi bomber crew member, including his posessions upon his death and lots of his personal documentation, right down to a translation of the letter written to his next of kin saying he was merely missing in action and could have parachuted to safety (well, to the pitchforks of the home guard)...
Wings Museum WW2 #9
Anyway, I've only really touched on what the museum has to offer (and they are constantly adding new material), it's definitely well worth a trip (especially if you are in the area anyway), plus you will come away with the warm feeling that you have done your part to support a charity and keep an important bit of local history alive...and then after your visit you can stop for a spot of lunch (with your free tea) in the Cafe and watch people learning to fly helicopters or light aircraft...a very pleasant morning...

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