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Posted on Jul 8, 2005 in Front Page Features, Stuff We Like

Hendon RAF Museum

Armchair General

At one end of the Battle of Britain hall lies this Short Sunderland flying boat. Unfortunately, although usually open for viewing internally, it was closed on the day. Nevertheless it’s a massive machine. Check out the bomb rack on the port wing in the right hand picture.

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Where would the British have been during the Battle of Britain without the Spitfire? Eclipsing its slightly more dowdy cousin the Hurricane in terms of performance, the Spitfire was a magnificent plane which was superior to the best the Germans could offer. There are various Spitfire models at Hendon, the one here is appropriate for the period, being a Spitfire Mk I. I apologise for the darkness of this picture, however the entire BoB hall was rather dimly lit to add to the atmosphere. I guess you’ll just have to visit it for yourselves if you want the full experience of seeing these incredible machines up close.


The next picture is of a V2 rocket – the first ballistic missile in the world. Such rockets were fired at London during the later stages of WWII. The British people were the first nation on earth to come under ballistic missile attack and the V2 caused much destruction before the launch sites were located and destroyed.

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Here’s an interesting comparison and an intriguing look at the development of one type of weapon system. Check out this German V1 Flying Bomb (aka "Doodlebug") from WWII and compare it to this MBDA "Storm Shadow" Cruise Missile next to it from the Milestones of Flight hall. Both pictures were taken from approximately the same distance and haven’t been resized in any way. Yes, they look kind of similar, aerodynamics don’t change after all, but imagine how much more powerful and/or accurate the second of these missiles is compared to the granddaddy of them all. Indeed, whereas the V1 was designed to cause fear and terror by randomly crashing into the ground when its fuel supply ran out, the Storm Shadow is specifically designed to avoid collateral damage by veering off and hitting a pre-designated crash point if its infra-red scanner can’t positively match the target ahead of it with the planned target in its memory. An interesting demonstration of how the politics of war changes.

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