Cosford, July 9th, 1997
This section is laid out in three pages. This page describes the experimental and jet aircraft exhibited in hangar one - the next page looks at the captured aircraft exhibited in hangar two - and the third page looks at the other aircraft exhibited in those hangars and some of those on display outside.
We called at Cosford enroute from Cheltenham to Portmeirion in Nort Wales - so it was a busy day. We had been late departing Cheltenham after taking the opportunity to view the architecture of the Ladies School (thanks Nina and Robin!). Fortunately it only took 75 minutes to reach Cosford heading north on the M5 and then west on the M54 turning off near before Shrewsbury.
Access to the museum was straightforward - follow the signs and pay at the gate. As we entered we passed some of the outside exhibits - such as the Dutch Lockheed P-2H Neptune (204) and the C.1 Andover (XS639) shown above. We initially made for Hangar One, which contains a range of mainly experimental aircraft.
Shown above are a selection of the aircraft in Hangar One. There are three Meteors on display - the prototype DG202/G which first flew on 24 July 1943 (its so shiny it looks brand new) - the 'prone position' experimental (WK935) used to examine 'G' effects between 1952-54 - and Martin Baker's T.7 ejector seat testing model (not shown). The Hunting Percival Jet Provost (XD674) is one of 10 ordered for evaluation, and first flew in June 1954. (The RAF adopted the type in 1959). The Hunting H126 is a curious looking beast. Apparently it was used to explore the use of jet assisted blown flaps, and according to the museum guide is placarded with a slow speed warning 'don't go below' of 28kts. The P.1A (WG760) is one of two prototypes which led to the Lightning. This one first flew on 4 August 1954, and on its third flight became the first British aircraft to exceed Mach 1 in level flight. The next picture shows a P.1B Lightning F.1/3 (XG337), the last one of the development batch. The final picture shows a Folland Fo.141 Gnat F.1 (XK724) the fighter version of the famous Red Arrows aircraft (there's also a T.1 in the collection).
The TSR2 was one of the aircraft I really wanted to see - and I wasn't disappointed. Its an awesome beast, and really leaves one wondering about what might have been. To learn more about its history, check out Damien Burke's account on his Thunder and Lightnings site. Shown above are a general view of the second prototype (XR220), along with an open avionics bay, the cockpit canopies, a Bristol Siddeley Olympus 320 engine (originally for the TSR2, later developed by Rolls Royce/SNECMA into the 593 for Concorde), and a cutaway of the main undercarriage wheel structure. This aircraft was due to fly on 2 April 1965, but was damaged while being transported by road. Before it could be repaired the TSR2 project was cancelled on April 6th. Truely a sad day in aviation history!
The next page shows some of the 'captured' aircraft on display in Hangar Two.
© 1998 Phillip Treweek, all rights reserved