As part of the preparations for next year’s RAF Centenary, the gate guardians at RAF Museum London is transforming are being renovated. This week, the Museum’s Mk II Hurricane and Mk IX Spitfire replicas were dismantled and prepared for transportation to the Michael Beetham Conservation Centre in Cosford.
Both Gate Guardians will be returned back to the Museum’s London site in time for the Museum’s commemorations and celebrations of the centenary of the foundation of the Royal Air Force on 1 April 2018. They will be positioned so that they welcome members of the public as they enter through the Museum’s new entrance on Grahame Park Way.
One of the finest developments of the Rolls Royce Merlin engine series, the Mk IX was originally intended as a match for the German Focke Wulf 190. In comparison the Hawker Hurricane Mk II with its greater armament and simple, sturdy construction made it an effective ground attack fighter during the mid-war years.
Its markings are currently those of No 121 (Eagle) Squadron, based at Kirton-in-Lindsey, Lincolnshire during the summer of 1941.
These markings will be changed to that of the Mk I Hawker Hurricane flown by Sgt Ray Holmes of No.504 Squadron from RAF Hendon on 15 September 1940.
In an act of selfless bravery, and with no thought to his own safety, Sgt Holmes prevented a Dornier Do17 Bomber from destroying Buckingham Palace by ramming it with the wing of his aircraft, forcing the Bomber to crash in the forecourt of Victoria Station. His Hurricane was badly damaged, crashing near the grounds of Buckingham Palace.
Holmes bailed out injured but survived eventually becoming a journalist in Liverpool after the Second World War. The adoption of this new colour scheme is indicative of the Museum’s stated aim to tell more stories about its aircraft and the people who flew and maintained them to aid a greater understanding of the RAF amongst its visitors.
In 2004, parts of his Hurricane were successfully excavated and can currently be viewed by visitors in foyer to the Museum’s Historic Hangars. The new scheme for the Spitfire has yet to be decided.
The Museum’s London site will remain open from 10 am daily during the works for the RAF Museum’s Centenary 2018 Transformation Programme. Admission to the site is free of charge. Please note : that from mid-February parking at the site will be restricted until summer 2017. We therefore recommend travelling via public transport to reach us. The nearest Underground Station to the Museum is Colindale on the Edgware Branch of the Northern Line. The nearest main-line station is Mill Hill Broadway. For full details on how to reach us please visit www.rafmuseum.org/london.