Tonight’s photoshoot was scheduled to
offer both sunset and night time photography of the Cosford RAF
Museums’ external aircraft, including the Bristol Britannia and
the Hawker Siddeley Nimrod. As a special edition to the event, the
Scottish Aviation Jetstream, usually housed inside Hangar 1, was
moved outside, giving photographers 9 aircraft to capture. Sadly,
as with all outdoor events the weather can play a huge role in the
success of the evening; after a stormy week there was real doubt
as to whether the event would even go ahead.
The photoshoot was run in conjunction
with Threshold Aero, who run a range of aviation based events at
various locations in the UK. They specialise in night photography
and are well equipped with LED lights to offer an alternate,
illuminated view of the subjects. After a quick briefing the eager
photographers were allowed to wonder freely around the exhibits.
The knowledgeable and friendly staff were on hand to offer advice
to those in need of brushing up or refreshing their low-light
photography skills. Similarly, the RAF museum volunteers were
located at each aircraft to share their expertise on the
aeroplanes and their service history.
After already walking around the
museums 4 hangars prior to the beginning of the event, I decided
to enjoy a hot drink in the restaurant (which remained open until
8pm tonight) before venturing out. This proved to be a wise move
as heavy rain and wind dominated the early part of the evening. As
the darkness set in the lights were switched on a decided to brave
the elements. Fortunately the inclement conditions moved through
the area quickly leaving better conditions and lots of puddles for
keen photographers to crawl-in for those low-angle reflections.
The First aircraft I visited was The
Bristol Britannia; nicely lit and conveniently located in a
secluded spot. The Britannia was designed for the British Overseas
Airways Corporation, it made its first flight in 1952. 85
Britannias were built and the RAF used twenty-three as long range
troop and freight transports. G-AOVF was built for BOAC and first
flew on 18 December 1957. The highlight of its career was its use
by HRH Princess Margaret on a tour of the West Indies in 1958.
I then made my way down to the Hawker Hunter, an aircraft that is
still remembered fondly by its pilots as a delight to fly. It
served with 22 air arms world-wide. Cosford’s example is a F6A and
has been standing as the museums gate guardian for some time. As
such, looks a little weary and tired, but still made an
interesting subject for photography. The Hunter is also placed
well away from any of the other exhibits, which allowed for some
nice clean shots.
At the bottom of the museum carpark,
two imposing aircraft; the Vickers VC10 and Lockheed C-130
Hercules represent a more recent chapter in RAF history. Despite
their size both exhibits were lit with an interesting lighting
configuration. The natural banks on the museum car park gave
photographers chance to get a slightly elevated view of the
aeroplanes, further enhancing the photogenic nature of the two
aircraft. The Hercules is still one of the most widely used cargo
transports in the world, the Cosford example was the last RAF
C130K Mk.3 to be retired. The Vickers VC10 was well-known for its
high speed cruising and excellent short runway performance.
All this came at a cost in fuel which led to its ultimate
the lower section the rain stopped and wind eased. I decided to
make my way to the top of the museum where the Locheed P-2H
Hawker Siddeley Nimrod and Dominie were
clustered. All were well-lit but due to the close proximity of the
aircraft patience was required to get a clean shot.
Neptune is a land based maritime patrol and anti-submarine
aircraft, more than 1100 were built and no other post war maritime
patrol aircraft has been built in such large numbers.
The Nimrod fulfilled a similar
role and was derived from the famous Comet airliner. It
originally entered RAF service in 1969 to replace the Avro
Shackleton and continued until 2010. Finally the
Dominie advanced navigation
trainer saw long service with the RAF. It was the first
jet-powered navigation trainer designed specifically for such a
purpose, the similar British Aerospace HS125 CC 3 remains in VIP
communications service with the RAF today.
Better located for photographic purpose were the Scottish Aviation
Jetstream and Consolidated PBY Catalina.
The Jetstream served as the RAF's standard multi-engined pilot
trainer for many years, and was the last aircraft of Handley Page
design in RAF service.
The Consolidated PBY-6A Catalina was the last version of the ‘Cat’
to be developed and was a development of a pre-war design which
first took to the air in 1935. The PBY series were produced in
greater numbers than any other flying boat.
weather, the first external aircraft night-shoot was a real
success; well-attended by over 140 photographers and efficiently
organised. The RAF
museum is free to enter and holds one of the largest collections
of static display aircraft and aviation artefacts anywhere in the
World. Split over two sights, one at Hendon, London and the other
at RAF Cosford, Shorpshire. It offers something for both aviation
enthusiast and members of the general public. Both sites are well
worth a visit at any time of year, but look out for the many
events they run, such as this which showcased the external
aircraft like never before.