October 4, 2001
Southampton was the first of the aviation related sites I visited on this trip to the UK - and by this point, I'd been in the country for six days.
Louise and I departed from our friend's house in Hilmarton (near Swindon) where we based ourselves for a week, and headed for Gosport fairly early. A route took us across the A4 and then down the A34 to the M3 and M27. For a weekday I thought the roads were good. Gosport is across the harbour from Portsmouth and is home to the Royal Navy Submarine Museum. We spent an excellent morning, and then some, there. After a late lunch, we headed up the road to Southampton about 2pm. The drive into Southampton was straightforward, but after missing the turn at the Museum the first time, we went round the block twice in the one way system.
My main objective was to photograph Short Sandringham VH-BRC. After RAF service as Sunderland JM715, this aircraft was converted to a Sandringham in 1947 and subsequently flew for TEAL as ZK-AMH 'RMA Auckland'. At the end of its service it was sold to Australian interests. More details on the aircraft's history can be found here. This was the first of seven significant New Zealand connected aircraft I managed to photograph during my travels.
External views of Sandringham VH-BRC. Note the 'action' diorama of refueling which nicely shows off the maintenance stands built into the wing root.
I wandered round the Aviation Hall at floor level, and then on the mezzanine floor photographing the Sandringham. I then toured the interior of the aircraft, finishing up with the flight-deck, as I had arranged earlier with the museum staff. I found it quite an exhilarating experience. The aircraft seemed very familiar - having been on the flight deck of a Sunderland. The Sandringham was very similar, but had been customised somewhat by its last operator. I couldn't help but compare the passenger compartments with those of Solent IV ZK-AMO
Internal views of Sandringham VH-BRC. These show the flightdeck looking forward, flightdeck looking aft, upper passenger compartment looking aft, and the rear lower passenger compartment looking forward.
More pictures from my walkaround of VH-BRC can be found here.
Having obtained my main objective, I had a chance to check out the rest of the Museum. The Hall is large and well lit, and dominated by the Sandringham - but there is plenty more to see. The most interesting exhibit for me was the Supermarine S.6A N248. There is a focus on Supermarine and the work of Mitchell - marked by the Spitfire F.24 on display.
Mixed views of speed record setting Supermarine S.6A N248 on display in the Southampton Hall of Aviation.
There was plenty of other types to see, although I was a little camera'd out by this point. As can be seen from the pictures, aircraft I found a little different were the Saro SR.A.1 (TG263) and the Britten-Norman BN-1F. I was also intrigued by the Avro Monocar.
From top left: Saro SR.A.1 (TG263), Avro Monocar, DH Sea Venom FAW.22 (WM571), and Britten-Norman BN-1F (G-ALZE).
Stopped at the little shop before I left - got a copy of Vic Hodgkinson's 'Beachcomber' book which details the story of VH-BRC and other 'civil' Sunderlands in Australia. Had a pleasant chat with the two staff on duty. They were a little surprised when I told them that Ansett Airlines had gone 'belly up' - VH-BRC is displayed in the Ansett colours it operated in for seventeen years.
© 2002 Phillip Treweek, all rights reserved