The Brooklands’ Loch Ness ‘Wellington’ Monster

September 21st, 2020

Brooklands Wellington

Thirty-five years ago today (September 21st 1985), there was frantic activity on the banks of Loch Ness as a ‘monster’ was hoisted from its depths.

This ‘monster’ was Wellington Bomber N2980, nicknamed ‘R for Robert.’

During a training exercise with 20 Operation Training Unit, based at RAF Lossiemouth, on December 31, 1939, this bomber was forced to ditch into Loch Ness due to engine failure where it remained, hidden and almost forgotten, for 46 years.

In 1985, the year the plane was recovered, Squadron Leader NWD Marwood-Elton, the pilot, recalled the night the plane went down.

“It was New Year’s Eve, and snowing slightly, but not too bad because the sun came out between the showers, and we took off from Lossiemouth (in Moray, Scotland) and headed out towards the west coast of Scotland, and whilst we were over the mountains the starboard engine spluttered and came to a stop.

“That in itself meant the aircraft could not fly back to Lossiemouth. It didn’t mean we had to bail out or force land immediately because we were at 8,000ft and had quite an amount of time, but we had to do something, and the first thing we did was to look round for somewhere to land and all we could we see was tops of mountains through the snow storms, and not seeing anywhere where the plane would have come down without crashing, I gave the order for them to bail out.

“I looked round again to see if there was any chance of a landing and, as luck would have it, Loch Ness came into sight. So I cancelled the order for bailing out and said we would land.”

One of the crew members, Sgt JS Fensome, 20, who did not hear the second order, bailed out and was killed. He is buried at the Holy Trinity Churchyard, in Biscot, Bedfordshire.

Marwood-Elton continued: “Landing on Loch Ness was a very easy thing because Loch Ness stretched out like a runway. The only difference was it was water, and of course below those waters was the monster and we weren’t quite certain what he would think about it.”

“We came on down and kept our undercarriage up, opened our escape hatch above us, and landed quite gently. A certain amount of spray came up automatically and it came in through our escape hatch so we got a nice dose of cold water over us. And the dinghy came out on the wing tip. So, we got out, walked along, got into the dinghy and the aircraft sank. And there it’s been all those years.”

Although the plane was recovered in 1985, the story of its discovery began in 1970 when Dr Robert H Rines, a wealthy patent lawyer from Boston, Massachusetts, Martin Klein, a pioneering American sonar expert, and Tim Dinsdale, embarked on an expedition to Loch Ness. The trio used a Klein side scan sonar to search the waters in a quest to find Nessie.

Subsequent surveys in 1980 and 1981 by Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, revealed that the old aircraft had been seriously damaged since it was first viewed in 1978. To save the aircraft and recover it before the damage became too great, in 1984 Robin Holmes, a senior lecturer at the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Heriot-Watt University, set up a charity called Loch Ness Wellington Association Ltd. Thanks to donations from the public and a National Heritage Memorial Fund grant, a recovery operation was mounted in 1985.

Robin said: “The first attempt proved to be a total disaster when the lifting frame collapsed. Another lifting frame was hurriedly designed ‘on the back of an envelope’ and sent off to be built at an engineering company located on the Moray Firth. This time, the recovery was successful and old ‘R for Robert’ was craned out of the water at Bona Lighthouse, up at the north end of Loch Ness, on September 21, 1985.”

Following its recovery, the salvaged material was donated to Brooklands Museum in Weybridge, Surrey, a suitable home as ‘R for Robert’ was first assembled at the Vickers Armstrongs factory in Weybridge in October 1939.

In the intervening years, over 100,000 volunteer hours have been spent restoring the aircraft. Fully restored, the Loch Ness Wellington today takes pride of place in the museum.

www.brooklandsmuseum.com

Commemorating Battle of Britain 80 at the RAF Museum

September 21st, 2020

Battle of Britain Commemoration

2020 is the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain (BoB) which is recognised as the country’s finest hour. The Royal Air Force Museum is inviting the country to remember this significant story of bravery, international alliances and ingenuity both at the Museum and online.

On the evening of Thursday 17 September, the RAF Museum London held a small, private and socially distanced ceremonial event commemorating Battle of Britain 80 and the opening of the new Battle of Britain display and art exhibition.

Full precautions were in place to ensure the small group of guests at the ceremony, adhered to the social distancing laws. In attendance were Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston CBE ADC Chief of the Air Staff (CAS); Air Marshal Andrew Turner CB CBE MA MSC BA FRAES CCMI RAF DCOM Cap; Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen John Hillier, KCB, CBE, DFC, ADC; Malcolm Brecht CB CBE – Director C-17 International Field Services at Boeing Global Services; Maggie Appleton MBE (RAF Museum CEO) and Sir Andrew Pulford GCB CBE DL RAF Museum Chair).

The ceremony featured QCS, Sunset Ceremony and a flypast by a BBMF Spitfire. To conclude the evening RAF veteran Benny Goodman was presented with an early birthday present ahead of his 100th birthday by RAF CAS and the Chelsea Football Club Foundation.’

The London Museum is home to the most complete set of Battle of Britain aircraft in the world including the ‘fighter four’: Spitfire, Hurricane, Messerschmitt 109 and Fiat CR42, all participants in the BoB. This year they will be supported by new displays telling the wider BoB story, including an enigma machine, Dowding and Goering’s busts and medals, and Newall’s uniform. Complimenting the new display will be stunning year-long art exhibition: In Air and Fire: War Artists, the Battle of Britain and the Blitz. The exhibition will present over 50 works of art created in response to the war in the air by acclaimed artists such as Nash, Kennington, Laura Knight, Graham Sutherland, Nessler, Nevinson and Olga Lehmann.

The RAF Museum is FREE to enter and has sites at both London and the West Midlands. With wide open spaces both inside and out, the Museum is a great and safe day out for all the family and will be commemorating BoB 80 with a series of special events and exhibitions.

www.rafmuseum.org

26th September 2020 Aeroboot Cancelled

September 12th, 2020

Newark Aeroboot Cancelled

The Newark Air Museum (NAM) has taken the decision to cancel the Aeroboot /Aerojumble Sale that was due to take place on its Southfield Site on Saturday 26th September, 2020.

This decision has been reached following some detailed in-house discussions; and in response to the legislation changes announced recently by the government, who were responding to the increased levels of coronavirus infection around the UK.

The NAM had delayed sending out the participation passes to sellers as it tried to design a one-way system around the proposed sale. This was aimed at trying to encourage social distancing, but allowed people to access all sellers fairly. Based on observations at previous outdoor sales, NAM recognised that this was going to be challenging. One possible solution was that we may have been forced to request sellers did not put up gazebos and awnings; something that was not perhaps ideal for an outdoor sale of this type.

NAM was planning to use a voluntary listing system to meet our Track and Trace obligations for sellers and buyers attending the sale. However, the recent changes to the Track and Trace legislation, meant that as event organisers NAM would now have a legal obligation to record everyone’s information, or risk a fine. Given the outdoor nature of the event and the challenges of capturing the required information without creating unduly long queues, it was realised this was not going to be a viable option.

Furthermore, a review of the locations that some sellers were travelling from indicated that they were likely to be travelling from areas of the country that were already subject to additional coronavirus restrictions already. As such the trustees felt uncomfortable encouraging people to meet up at a special event.

The decision to cancel, was not taken lightly and NAM does appreciate that this could upset some people. However, many sellers and buyers often travel long distances to attend the event and it was felt necessary to give these people as much notice as possible of our intentions.
The NAM is sorry for any inconvenience these changes may cause but we are convinced that it is the right decision.

www.newarkairmuseum.org

Untold Battle of Britain Podcast to be launched on Battle of Britain Day

September 9th, 2020

Battle of Britain podcast

The National Archives, the RAF and the RAF Museum will release a collaborative bonus episode of On the Record at The National Archives to mark Battle of Britain Day on 15 September.

Listen to the trailer here.

80 years on from the conflict, this episode focuses on lesser-known figures from the Battle of Britain to highlight the variety of people who contributed to the military campaign.

Vicky Iglikowski-Broad (The National Archives) reveals the bravery of three women who kept contact lines open while their airbase was under fire. Lucia Wallbank (RAF Museum) tells the story of Mahinder Singh Pujji and Vincent Bunting, two of the many pilots from overseas who enlisted to fight, while Mandy Singleton (RAF) highlights the engineers who maintained the planes and kept pilots safe.

www.rafmuseum.org

Conway engine arrives at Newark Air Museum

September 2nd, 2020

Conway engine arrives at Newark Air Museum

On Tuesday 1st September 2020, the latest addition to Newark Air Museum’s collection of aero engines arrived at the museum site in eastern Nottinghamshire, close to the county border with Lincolnshire. Today’s arrival was a Rolls-Royce Conway engine RC 042-540.

The engine was transported from its former location at Bruntingthorpe, Leics, over to Newark thanks to the generous support by members of the VC10 Preservation Group. As an Accredited Museum, the trustees of Newark Air Museum were able to accept the transfer of the existing loan agreement between RAF Brize Norton and the VC10 Preservation Group.

This is a cutaway R-R Conway engine prepared by British Airways (BA) apprentices in 1981. The cut away engine is powered electrically, with rotating parts, which are displayed behind Perspex covers. The engine is noted for having flown 31,587 hours’ in a BA VC10 and fills another gap in the museum’s extensive aero engine collection. Initially it will be displayed in Hangar 2 close to its off-loading point, but eventually it is hoped that it will be displayed close to the museum’s TriStar CIM at the eastern end of the building.

“We are extremely grateful to Chris Haywood and Jason Kelly from the VC10 Preservation Group for helping us to complete this latest acquisition”, commented museum trustee Colin Savill, he continued. “Based on my own RAF service career the VC10 is an aircraft type that is close to my heart, and it is great that we have been able to secure this Conway engine that in itself was an important part of the VC10 fleet.”

He concluded, “We look forward to being able to demonstrate some of the workings of the mighty Conway to the public in the coming weeks and months!”

www.newarkairmuseum.org

Commemorate Battle of Britain 80 at the RAF Museum

August 30th, 2020

Battle of Britain 80 at RAF Museum Cosford

2020 marks the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, widely recognised as the country’s finest hour. The Royal Air Force Museum is inviting the country to remember this significant story of bravery, international alliances and ingenuity both at the Museum and online.

The RAF Museum is FREE to enter and has sites at both London and the West Midlands. With wide open spaces both inside and out, the Museum is a great and safe day out for all the family and will be commemorating Battle of Britain 80 with a series of special events and exhibitions.

LONDON:
The London Museum is home to the most complete set of Battle of Britain aircraft in the world including the ‘fighter four’: Spitfire, Hurricane, Messerschmitt 109 and Fiat CR42, all participants in the Battle. This year they will be supported by new displays telling the wider Battle of Britain story, including an enigma machine, Dowding and Goering’s busts and medals, and Newall’s uniform. A new interactive will explain in an engaging way how the Dowding System worked, challenging the visitors to help detect the raids that happened on the 15 August 1940.

Complimenting the new display will be stunning year-long art exhibition: In Air and Fire: War Artists, the Battle of Britain and the Blitz. The exhibition will present over 50 works of art created in response to the war in the air by acclaimed artists such as Nash, Kennington, Laura Knight, Graham Sutherland, Nessler, Nevinson and Olga Lehmann. Many of these works have never been shown to the public.

COSFORD:
Home to the world’s oldest Spitfire, the Cosford Museum houses a collection of both British and German aircraft from the Battle of Britain era. The Spitfire forms the centerpiece of the new display, where the RAF’s frontline fighters, the Spitfire, Hurricane, Gladiator and Defiant are face to face with their German rivals the Me 109 and Ju88, to tell a coherent story. Previously unseen objects from the Museum’s collection including a Rhino suit worn by Defiant pilots, Dowding’s jacket, artefacts from the plotting rooms and medal bars, will share the stories of the people who helped win the Battle, in the air and on the ground. A highlight of the new display is James Nicolson’s flying jacket and medal bar containing his VC medal, the only VC awarded during the Battle. Nicolson also flew the Spitfire on display at Cosford.

ONLINE:
To ensure that everyone across the country is able to commemorate this historic occasion, the Museum has a number of online events as below.

Livestreamed Event
The Museum will be livestreaming a talk with Jim Nicolson’s Nephew; and a talk from the Air Historical Board.

Untold Battle of Britain Podcast
An exclusive podcast created in conjunction with The National Archive and the RAF, which looks at a range of untold and unheard stories from the Battle of Britain.

The Battle of Britain Bake
The Museum is inviting master bakers and baking novices alike to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain by taking part in The Battle of Britain Bake, with a prize bundle worth £80 up for grabs. Make and bake your own Battle of Britain inspired cookies, cupcakes or cakes, and get creative with the decoration. Share a photo of your Battle of Britain inspired baked goods on social media and tag @rafmuseum to be in with a chance of winning. The winners of each category (Under 10s / 10-18 years / Over 18s) will receive a Battle of Britain prize bundle worth £80 from the RAF Museum Shop. Competition closes on Tuesday 15 September and winners will be announced on Sunday 20 September.

Virtual BoB celebrations
The Museum is also commemorating the Battle of Britain virtually this year with the Spitfire 10K and Spitfire Family Run. Complete 10K any time between the 29 August and 15 September, wherever and however you choose – running, cycling, rowing, or even walking the dog! Participants will then be rewarded with one of the highly sought after 2020 Spitfire 10K medals! Find out more and register online at rafmuseum.org.

Adopt a Battle of Britain Artefact
Support the Museum by adopting a Battle of Britain artefact. With several objects up for adoption including RAF flying ace Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader’s Logbook, entries record Bader’s flights and victories in wartime Britain as a Hurricane pilot, plus a selection of objects from the new displays including a Sector Room Clock and Aircraft Recognition Cards. For more details on how to Adopt an Artefact and to browse the items available, visit www.rafmuseum.org.uk/support-us/adopt-an-artefact.

For more information on Battle of Britain 80 anniversary activities at the RAF Museum visit www.rafmuseum.org.

The Museum is now open daily with a range of measures in place to ensure a safe and great day out for the whole family. While still offering FREE entry to all, visitors are kindly asked to pre-book their arrival time online at www.rafmuseum.org.

Brooklands to remember 88 killed in 1940 air raid

August 27th, 2020

Hawker Hurricane factory

Brooklands Museum are holding a memorial service in remembrance of the 88 civilians killed at Brooklands in a German Air Raid who were manufacturing Wellington Bombers and Hawker Hurricanes for the Battle of Britain.

The service, led by The Bishop of Guildford will take place next Friday 4th September; 80 years since the famous Vickers Armstrong and Hawker factories were directly hit by the German Luftwaffe.

Friends and relatives of those killed will be invited to take a minute’s silence following the roll call of names at 1324hrs, the time of the bombing, before a celebration of their lives in the Garden of Memories.

The Museum is commemorating this anniversary with the opening of the new Air Raid Shelter Walkthrough Experience which features the images and voices of the men and women who survived the attack. The new exhibit has been funded by BAE Systems, formally British Aerospace Corporation including Vickers Armstrong.

The Brooklands Air Raid Shelter along with Brooklands motor racing circuit, the remains of the pre-World War II aerodrome, World War II Bofors tower, and the Brooklands memorial, are Scheduled Monuments with Historic England.

Do you know anyone who was involved in the attack or is a living friend or relative of someone who was? Please contact 80thanniversary@brooklandsmuseum.com to let us know.

www.brooklandsmuseum.com

Newark Air Museum Monospar Update

August 17th, 2020

Newark Air Museum Monospar Update

As volunteers have returned to work at Newark Air Museum in increasing numbers, long-term projects are once again slowly starting to receive attention again.

In recent weeks to distinctive VH-UTH identification markings have been reapplied to fuselage of the General Aircraft Monospar ST-12. This represents another step forward in this iconic project, which has drawn positive comments from around the world.

The project is still clearly visible to visitors in Display Hangar 1 as they are guided around the site’s one-way system that helps it comply with its Covid-Secure obligations, since reopening in early July.

A loss of revenue from not being able to open aircraft cockpits on a regular basis mean that the museum has also introduced a major fund raising campaign to help it continue with its diverse range of aircraft restoration projects. Their Just Giving page can be found here https://justgiving.com/campaign/Newark-Air-Museum-2020-Restorations

www.newarkairmuseum.org

Tri-Service Museums mark the 75th anniversary of VJ Day

August 7th, 2020

RAF Museum celebrates 75th Anniversary of VJ Day

TRI-SERVICE MUSEUMS AND COMMONWEALTH WAR GRAVES COMMISSION MARK THE 75TH ANNIVERSARY OF VJ DAY WITH VIRTUAL EVENTS PROGRAMME ‘VJ75: NEVER FORGOTTEN’

• Tri-Service museums join forces to mark the 75th anniversary of VJ Day from 14 – 16 August 2020
• A series of free virtual events will pay tribute to those who fought against the Japanese in the Far East Campaign
• ‘Never Forgotten’ a live debate will discuss how the conflict was fought on land, sea and air and how it continues to be commemorated today

Following the success of their VE Day Festival in May, The National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN), National Army Museum (NAM) and Royal Air Force Museum (RAFM) together with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), are coming together in a unique collaboration to mark the 75th anniversary of VJ Day with a series of free virtual events for the public to engage with from the safety and comfort of their home.

Taking place from Friday 14 August to Sunday 16 August 2020, the ambitious commemorations will feature a variety of online talks and events which will explore the contribution of the British and Commonwealth forces during the Far East Campaign in the closing months of the Second World War.

Although victory had been declared in Europe, the gruelling fight against Japan continued. From 1941 to 1945, the British Commonwealth Forces alongside the allies fought a bitter campaign in Asia. The fighting took place over challenging terrain, from the jungles of Burma to the remote islands of the Pacific, and always against a tenacious enemy. Despite the extraordinary nature of the far eastern element of the conflict, it remains less well known or recognised than the European elements of the war.

The programme of online events will begin on Friday 14 August and will see the tri-service museums introduce the Far East Campaign and explore its vast geographical spread. They will also share the rediscovered stories of individual service personnel who fought during this period. These online videos will be available to view via the museums’ individual digital channels.

The programme continues Saturday 15 August, the date of Japan’s surrender and the end of the Second World War, with ‘Never Forgotten: The War in the Far East and Modern Memory’. This exciting debate hosted by journalist and author Dr Shrabani Basu sees historians from the three museums and the CWGC discuss how the Far East Campaign was fought on land, sea and air and how it continues to be commemorated today. After the debate members of the public are invited to get involved in a live Q&A. This is a free event that will be broadcast on Crowdcast on Saturday 15 August at 2pm.

The final day of the commemorations on Sunday 16 August will see the three museums and the CWCG come together for the last time to discuss the popular cultural legacy of the war in the Far East. It will address topics such as why so many of our war films are only focussed on the war in Europe, and how the war is remembered today. Like the previous debate, this is also a free event that will be broadcast on Sunday 16 August at 2pm.

The full events programme can be found on the websites of The National Museum of the Royal Navy, the National Army Museum, the Royal Air Force Museum and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission by Monday 10 August 2020.

The museums are encouraging those joining to share pictures on social media with the hashtags #VJDay75 #NeverForgotten

www.rafmuseum.org

Virtual Bournemouth Air Festival 2020

August 2nd, 2020

Bournemouth Air Festival 2020

A ‘take off’ of a different kind has been planned for what would have normally been Bournemouth’s summer highlight the much anticipated 13th air festival. This year, the team behind the event have been working with Centre VR in Bournemouth to broadcast an online festival – celebrating all that is loved about it…on land, at sea, in the air and community fun!

Broadcasting online and via social media platforms, the Virtual Air Festival 2020 will be live Friday 21st, Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd August from Europe’s largest VR Centre with support from Live TV. Entertainment will have hourly themes including Friday’s Royal Navy, Night Air and Air Festival Celebrations, Saturday’s Royal Air Force hour, the Red Arrows and Festival Fun and Sunday’s Daredevil Flying, Vintage Hour, a not to be missed Army slot.

There’s also the chance to find out more about the festival’s armed forces nominated charities, the Soldiers Charity, Royal Navy Royal Marines Charity, Royal Air Force Association and RAF Benevolent Fund.

Cllr Vikki Slade Leader BCP Council said: “The air festival is an integral part of our events calendar one which is enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people. We want to broaden the programme to reflect the plans for 2021 to appeal to a wider audience, engaging both residents and visitors. The team have worked really hard to make sure we don’t miss the air festival. It’s a shame we’re not on the beach but the line-up is impressive with something for everyone.”

Supported by Wave105, Daily Echo and Hotel Miramar (supporters of the Strikemaster Pair and vintage hour prize), there will also be an art and craft session with Martin Bridge, who famously created the air show in his back garden for his family which went viral at the start of ‘lockdown’, and a specially recorded acoustic music set from Roy Stride, lead singer from Scouting for Girls, who have previously appeared on the Wave105 ‘Night Air Stage’.

Squadron Leader Martin Pert, Red 1 and Team Leader of the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows, said: “We’re delighted to be supporting the virtual Bournemouth Air Festival – it’s one of our favourite, best-attended venues of the display season, and if we can’t be over the Pier or at a meet-and-greet on this occasion we’ll be online, doing something a little different for 2020.”

Presented by Andy Marlor who has previously fronted Air Festival TV and everyone’s favourite, voice of the air festival, George Bacon, entertainment is live online. Viewers can engage with competitions, including the chance to win exclusive prints and even help to design next year’s brochure front cover, fancy dress Friday, online voting and Facebook Q&A sessions with star pilots! You can tune in on the hour and watch back online via the official YouTube channel Love Bournemouth – so you can pick and choose what you want to watch without having to watch it all day.

David Bailey, chairman of the BCP Destination Management Board said: “The tourism industry always looks forward to the air festival, the footfall, the incredible amount of money spent within the local economy and the chance for us to really showcase our wonderful resort. It’s important we keep going in these unprecedented times and a move for 2020 to a virtual event is going to be great fun – we are obviously looking forward to welcoming festival goers back next year. Huge thanks to everyone who has given their support including pilots, display teams the armed forces, local businesses and of course Centre VR for their incredible team, venue and technology!”

The Air Festival will be back 2nd-5th September 2021.

www.bournemouthair.co.uk/virtualair