Military Museums of London
Royal Air Force Museum
Located in the northern suburbs of London the RAF Museum is off the beaten path, but certainly worth the tube-ride and short walk. The museum features a collection of aircraft dating back to before the First World War, and contains some of the only surviving examples of Luftwaffe aircraft, including a Ju87G-2 “Stuka,” Junkers Ju88R and Heinkel He111H-20. Spread out over three hangers the RAF Museum is an aviation buff’s dream come true.
National Maritime Museum
The Royal Navy has always been the senior service in Great Britain, and the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, just outside of London, features exhibits devoted to the island nation’s nautical traditions. While not truly a “military” museum, the National Maritime Museum does feature a gallery devoted to the exploits of Lord Nelson, and includes the uniform that he was wearing when he was mortally wounded at the Battle of Trafalgar in October 1805.
The Royal Artillery Museum – Firepower
Almost as off the grid as the RAF Museum, the Royal Artillery Museum – Firepower in Woolwich requires a bit of determination to reach. There is no direct access at the present time via the tube, but it is only a short ride from Greenwich, and thus can be visited after a visit to the National Maritime Museum. This museum offers a look at the history of the Royal Artillery Regiment from its earliest days to the current role that it plays today.
In addition to dozens of cannons, a collection of projectiles and various self-propelled guns, the RA Museum also offers hands-on attractions for younger visitors, who will no doubt enjoy seeing the numerous vehicles up close.
Other London Museums
It is hard to separate the history of warfare, and the military tradition from everyday life in Britain’s past. Thus many of the other museums around London also offer something for the military history buff.
The former resident of the Honorable Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington is now home to the Duke of Wellington Museum and is part of English Heritage. This museum features many of the Duke’s personal items, along with several captured Napoleon eagles, plus the Duke’s own collection of art.
One of the world’s premier museums for antiquity, visitors will find a range of interesting artifacts of ancient and classical age armor, helmets and bladed weapons.
The Museum of London
Currently undergoing a major renovation that won’t be complete until fall of 2008, the Museum of London chronicles the history of the city from pre-Roman times. There are numerous examples of pre-Roman and later Middle Age armor on display, and part of the remaining Roman Wall can be seen just outside the museum.
Victoria and Albert Museum
Also known simply as the V&A, this museum features a large collection of art, furniture and fashion from around the world and throughout the ages. Scattered with the museum are examples of arms and armor, including an impressive collection of Japanese samurai pieces, and English Civil War era clothing.
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