Archive for May, 2023

Strike Hard, Strike Sure: Bomber Command 1939–1945

Friday, May 19th, 2023

Bomber Command Exhibition - London

Marking the 80th anniversary of the famous ‘Dam Busters’ raid, the Royal Air Force Museum London has unveiled a new permanent exhibition dedicated to Bomber Command.

Around 125,000 aircrew from 60 nations served in Bomber Command during the Second World War, volunteering from Britain, the Commonwealth and Dominions, occupied and neutral countries as well as German nationals fleeing persecution. Their average age was just 23.

Our exhibition shares the Bomber Command story through the lens of the personal experiences of those who served. They were, in their eyes, just ordinary people from many different countries and backgrounds. In history’s, they gave extraordinary service. Men and women from across the world, on the ground and in the air, played a part.

Throughout the exhibition, silhouettes depict the stories of individuals who played crucial roles, like that of Barnes Wallis the genius inventor behind the ‘bouncing bomb’, used in the famous Dams raid, and the Vickers Wellington bomber; Wing Commander Raymond Hilton who was the first operational captain of Lancaster ‘S for Sugar’, currently on display at the Museum; and Corporal Lilian Bader who was one of the first Black women to join the British armed forces.

Also on display are other Bomber Command aircraft such as the Handley Page Halifax and the tail section of the Short Stirling Mk III surrounded by new hi-tech interpretation.

New showcases have enabled us to exhibit personal objects taken from storage such as the fire-damaged flying helmet, jacket and goggles belonging to Sgt John Hannah. This brave wireless op/air gunner was awarded the VC by extinguishing an on-board fire with just his bare hands – thereby saving his aircraft and crew against all odds.

On display are some of the innovative technical developments that supported Bomber Command in the delivery of their operations. Visitors can see the replica 9,250lb cylindrical Anti-Dam Mine (also known as the bouncing bomb); the 22,000lb Grand Slam Bomb; and a Rose Brothers Type R gun turret.

The exhibition’s themes cover training, tech and tactics, precision raids, and experience and loss. Context is provided by a timeline detailing key events in Bomber Command’s history and aircraft development while new exhibition features including augmented reality will help aid visitor understanding.

‘Strike Hard, Strike Sure: Bomber Command 1939–1945’ is now open.

The Museum is open daily from 10.00am and entry is free. Pre-book your arrival time at

USAF, RAF and Hellenic Aircraft Confirmed!!!

Friday, May 19th, 2023

RIAT Phantom

Things here at RIAT HQ are getting very exciting! This week, we have more announcements coming in from the Royal Air Force, Hellenic Air Force and United States Air Force.

First up, we’re pleased to announce the first confirmed aircraft from our friends in the United States Air Force! Visitors to RIAT will be able to see a mighty C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft, coming from Charleston Air Force Base in South Carolina, on static display.

Somewhere a bit closer to home, as part of our SKYTANKER23 them visitors on all three days will be able to witness a simulated air-to-air refuelling flypast from the Royal Air Force’s Voyager! In addition, we’ll see multiple types of aircraft on static display, which will all be parked in the Red Zone near the RAF Experience. One to watch for fast jet fans include a pair of Typhoons on static display and a F-35B Lightning on the ground for the first time too.

In addition, we previously announced that the Italian Army would be sending their Mangusta attack helicopter for static display at RIAT 2023. Following further discussions with the unit, we can now announce that this aircraft will now be featured in the flying display on Saturday & Sunday!

To wrap us up for this week, the return of an Air Tattoo favourite, as we welcome a pair of Phantoms from Greece to the static display over the weekend at RIAT 2023!

Check out the full update here:

You can have a look at the full list of confirmed aircraft as well as a sneak peek into what might be on the way in the coming weeks.

Want to see those Phantom’s flying into the show? Why not upgrade and become a FRIAT member!

Having a FRIAT pass gives you complete flexibility over what days you would like to attend, granting access to all the 3 show days as well as access to Park and View on Wednesday 12th, Thursday 13th and Monday 17th! From £300, you’ll have a front-row seat to catch aircraft arriving and departing over the full 6-day event, so be sure to not miss out on the opportunity to see some of the world’s best take flight.

New Bomber Command Exhibition opens at RAF Museum Midlands

Tuesday, May 16th, 2023

RAF Museum Wellington Bomber

Marking the 80th anniversary of the famous ‘Dambusters’ raid, a new permanent exhibition, ‘Strike Hard, Strike Sure: Bomber Command 1939–1945’ is now open at the Royal Air Force Museum Midlands.

Featuring the newly restored Vickers Wellington bomber, Guy Gibson’s Victoria Cross, and new arrival the Bristol Blenheim, discover how the RAF’s Bomber Command took the war to the enemy. The new interactive displays tell the wider Bomber Command story, exploring stories of the crew, technology and raids that were crucial to Allied victory.

At the centre of the new exhibition is the Wellington B Mk X bomber, one of only two remaining examples, and on display for the first time in the Midlands after more than a decade of conservation work. The Wellington was widely used as a night bomber in the early years of the Second World War, and by 1942 Wellingtons were the most numerous aircraft in Bomber Command. They began to be replaced by more capable four-engined heavy bombers such as Halifaxes and Lancasters but continued to operate with Bomber Command as a training aircraft. The Wellington’s rear turret is displayed alongside the aircraft, allowing visitors to peer inside the fuselage and view its famous geodetic structure designed by Barnes Wallis. Interactive displays around the Wellington focus on the roles of the five-strong crew, their extraordinary service and the close bonds they developed when flying together.

On display for the first time in the Midlands is the Bristol Blenheim Mk IV, a light bomber and night fighter. Although Blenheims were faster than other RAF fighters when they entered service in 1937, by the start of the war they proved to be too slow and lightly armed to defend themselves adequately. As a result, they suffered high casualty rates. With no surviving RAF Blenheims, this Royal Canadian Air Force example represents aircraft of No.139 Squadron, the first RAF squadron to undertake an operational mission in the Second World War.

Personal artefacts from the Museum’s collection are now on display, many for the first time, sharing the stories of RAF aircrew and groundcrew, including Wing Commander Guy Gibson’s Victoria Cross and medal bar. Gibson received the medal for his leadership of No. 617 Squadron, The Dambusters, on their first operation over Germany, the daring Dams raid of 17 May 1943. He completed an astonishing 177 operations and was awarded the Victoria Cross as recognition of the leadership, determination and valour he demonstrated throughout his career. Other artefacts featuring in the new display include a collection of aircraft nose art, flying suits, aircrew lucky charms, uniforms and caps, log books, and post-raid reconnaissance photographs. Some of the innovative technical developments which supported Bomber Command to deliver their mission are represented through items including Barnes Wallis’s bouncing bomb test models and sketch.

People stories are at the heart of the Bomber Command storytelling. Men and women from across the world, on the ground and in the air, played a part. Throughout the exhibition, silhouettes depict the stories of individuals who played crucial roles, like that of Squadron Leader Ulric Cross DSO DFC. Born in Trinidad, Ulric Cross enlisted in the RAF in 1941 and trained as a navigator. He flew Pathfinder sorties on Mosquitos and completed 80 operations, his proficiency and skill leading to his award of both the Distinguished Service Order and the Distinguished Flying Cross. Of around 6,000 volunteers who came to the UK from the Caribbean to support the war effort, 450 were aircrew and 360 of these flew with Bomber Command.

Interactive elements of the display will encourage participation from visitors of all ages. Learn about ordnance, navigation, protecting the bombers, pathfinders, and an unpredictable enemy – the weather! A timeline shows the key activities of Bomber Command during the Second World War and illustrates how bomber aircraft and tactics changed. View animations, video footage and personal accounts in a series of videos. Have your say and contribute to the debate about the RAF’s contribution on the wall of reflection.

Other aircraft on display as part of the Bomber Command exhibition include; the de Havilland Mosquito, Junkers Ju 88, Messerschmitt Me 410, Focke-Wulf Fw 190, Messerschmitt Me 262, a section of a Short Stirling Mk III and a Tiger Moth in which many bomber pilots received their first flying experience. Interactive display panels allow visitors to delve deeper into the role of each aircraft including a view inside the cockpit. Displayed alongside the aircraft is a V-1 ‘doodlebug’ flying bomb and catapult ramp, and a V-2 supersonic ballistic missile.

The ‘Strike Hard, Strike Sure: Bomber Command 1939–1945’ exhibition is now open. The Museum is open daily from 10am and entry is free. Pre-book your arrival time online at

Training Aircraft Inbound!

Monday, May 15th, 2023

RIAT Mustang

We are very happy to announce a large assortment of training aircraft will be joining the RIAT 23 Static display.

Starting us off, we are announcing our first batch of Royal Air Force aircraft joining the RIAT static displays, with all powered aircraft types from 22 Group to be represented at the show this year. Aircraft that are coming include a pair of Hawk T2’s, a pair of Beechcraft Texans, a pair of Juno Helicopters and much more! Check out the link at the bottom of the page to see the full list of aircraft. Also, m-ake sure that when you are on the showground that you check out the RAF Experience (in the Red Zone) to see a good mix of RAF aircraft and speak to RAF personnel about their roles. More aircraft announcements from the RAF to follow next week so keep an eye out for that…

The training theme continues with aircraft from Portugal and France! We’re pleased to welcome Esquadra 101 back to RIAT, once again with a pair of their Epsilon aircraft on static display. In addition to the previously announced flying display items, the French Air & Space Force will also contribute a TBM-700 to the static aircraft displays.

Finally, we have four historic civilian aircraft for those of you joining our static displays. We’re pleased to be welcoming the Norwegian Vampire back to Fairford, which will be wearing Italian Air Force markings and join our special ITAF100 static display area. We are just putting the finishes touches to our plans and awaiting the final approval from the Italian Air Force to announce their modern-day aircraft which will be on display in this special ITAF100 exhibition.

Not wanting to miss out on any day exclusive aircraft, or wanting to see some of the iconic static aircraft flying into Fairford? Why not upgrade and become a FRIAT member!

With a FRIAT pass you can enjoy complete flexibility, allowing you to choose the days you’d like to attend, including the Park and View enclosures and Grandstand enclosure admission on Thursday through to Monday. From £300, you’ll have a front-row seat to catch aircraft arriving and departing over the full 6-day event.

May Update at Newark Air Museum

Wednesday, May 10th, 2023

Sea Vixen XJ560

At Newark Air Museum along with the restoration work being undertaken on Fairey Gannet XP226; further museum volunteers have recently started work on a partial repaint of de Havilland Sea Vixen XJ560.

As with the Gannet, this work had been planned for 2022, but it was delayed by the major repaint work required on Vulcan XM594. In recent weeks some surface preparations work has been carried out on the upper surfaces of the Sea Vixen and in recent days the first primer has now been applied to the nose.

Early Bird offer ending soon!

Friday, May 5th, 2023

RIAT King Charles

You’re running out of time to get your RIAT tickets at Early Bird prices! There are only a few days left to secure your admission at a discounted price, as our offer comes to an end at midnight on Monday 8th May.

This weekend is set to be one full of celebration for King Charles III’s Coronation. As part of the Royal activity, almost 70 aircraft are taking part in a flypast and you can catch some of them for a second time at RIAT.

Why not upgrade and enjoy the weekend in style with one of our enclosures while you still can as they are selling fast?

Welcome to the Turkish and German Air Forces!

Friday, May 5th, 2023

RIAT Tornado

First aircraft announcement of May and we are starting off with a bang, announcing more for our SKYTANKER23 theme as well as adding another international display team to our line-up.

We are happy to confirm a large contingent of aircraft from our loyal supporters, the German Air Force will be joining us at RIAT 2023. Headlining their contribution will be a special flypast, with an A400M performing a simulated air-to-air refuelling with a pair of Tornados! In addition, we welcome their mighty CH-53G helicopter for static display, alongside a pair of H145M helicopters and a Eurofighter EF2000.

After not being seen at a British airshow since 2010, we are incredibly pleased to welcome the Turkish Stars Display Team! The team will be performing in our weekend flying display with their six colourful NF-5A Freedom Fighter aircraft, sure to be a highlight of the show!

Finally, we all add four more civilian aircraft to our static display. Aircraft include a Max Holste MH1521 Broussard, a Reims-Cessna F152 from the Halton Aero Club, Reims-Cessna FR172H and a Vans RV-12 from the Southampton University Aviation Society.

Keep your eyes peeled next week as we hope to be able to announce additional contributions to RIAT from the Royal Air Force. Some of the aircraft types you’ll be able to see flying over London in the Coronation flypast this weekend.

With a FRIAT pass you can enjoy complete flexibility, allowing you to choose the days you’d like to attend, including the Park and View enclosures and Grandstand enclosure admission on Thursday through to Monday. You’ll have a front-row seat to catch aircraft arriving and departing.

From £300 you can gain access to an exclusive grandstand seat in a prime location along with a marquee, wifi and private toilets!

RAF Museum saves Scarf VC for the nation

Thursday, May 4th, 2023

Scarfs medal bar

The Royal Air Force Museum is proud to announce the success of our campaign to keep the Arthur Scarf Victoria Cross and medal bar in the UK and on display at our London site.

The Victoria Cross awarded to Squadron Leader Arthur Scarf for his bravery during the Second World War is a unique and rare artefact which shares the story of the RAF in the Far East.

This important part of history was under risk of being lost to the nation after being sold at auction to a private overseas buyer. With the help of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, generous donations from the public and other charities, and coverage in the press, the RAF Museum has now matched the £660k winning auction bid in order to keep the medals in the UK.

Maggie Appleton, RAF Museum CEO, said:
‘A heartfelt thank you to every single person who supported us. Whether you donated or shared our campaign with friends and family, we couldn’t have done this without you. To have raised £660,000 in three months is simply amazing. Special thanks to the National Heritage Memorial Fund for their major donation of £390k, and to our good friends at the RAFHS and the Bomber Command Association. We will be displaying Arthur’s Medal at our London site this summer and will also make short tour of our Midlands site. So come and visit and discover more about this remarkable story.’

Eilish McGuinness, Chief Executive of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, said:
‘I am delighted that the RAF Museum’s campaign to acquire Arthur Scarf’s Victoria Cross has been successful and that the National Heritage Memorial Fund has been able to support this important acquisition with a grant of £390,000. The National Heritage Memorial Fund works to safeguard the UK’s most significant heritage and form a lasting memorial to those who gave their lives. This rare and unusual medal, which will now form part of the national collection, perfectly encapsulates what NHMF stands for’