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Blog: We Saw A Lancaster Bomber

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On Saturday The Wings Of My Plane and I headed out on a DAY TRIP to the RAF Museum in Hendon. The sequel to Storm House (what I'm currently writing) has a whole chapter that takes place there, so we thought it was probably a good idea to go and RESEARCH it!

Getting there was PEASY, via the Northern Line to Colindale, though the subsequent 10 minute walk to the museum was a bit odd, as it seemed that nearly EVERYTHING around there was NEW. There were a couple of old terraced houses, but otherwise it was all fancy flats, showrooms and construction sites. It was quite a bit like being back in East Village! I wonder what was there before - an airfield maybe?

There were more signs of construction when we got to the museum itself, though the main building itself looked more like a local shopping center from approx. 1981. There was a LOT of refurbishment going on, with temporary fences all around, one of the hangars closed, and there was STUFF left lying around a lot of the displays - some of this stuff appeared to be BOMBS!

Once actually inside though it was FLIPPING AMAZING. We'd expected to see maybe TEN aeroplanes but there were FLIPPING HUNDREDS of them in a VAST hangar space that had somehow been hidden behind the aforementioned small-town shopping centre. There were so many that you couldn't take it all in, although I will never forget the sense of SHEER AWE I had when I turned a corner and saw a BLOODY LANCASTER BOMBER!

CRIKEY! It was GINORMOUS! I couldn't believe I was looking at an ACTUAL LANCASTER BOMBER. I mean, I know Spitfires are the famous World War II planes, but I've SEEN those (there were about 300 of them in the museum too) but THIS was the plane that I most remember making from a KIT, and seeing in FILMS, and also the plane that my Grandad nearly flew on - thankfully he didn't because (according to FAMILY LORE) my Nan told him NOT to, which is handy for the EXISTENCE of my Dad, me, and all my siblings, as ALL of his friends who DID were killed.

It's not that I'm a huge PLANE fan or anything, but I DID grow up in the 1970s when pretty much all there was to do on a Saturday afternoon was to build model aeroplanes, and I was VERY impressed with my BRANE for remembering so much about them. "That looks like a HURRICANE!" I thought to myself at one point, and LO! it totally was!

As I say, it was all so overwhelming that it was hard to take in so we didn't read the info boards very much, but the general presentation was fairly casual. The knowledge that most of these amazing machines were designed to be vehicles of MASSIVE DEATH was never far away (there were several pictures of ATOMIC EXPLOSIONS next to the ACTUAL VULCAN BOMBER for instance) but it was never a) emphasized or b) celebrated.

It wasn't ALL death though, there were reconnaissance planes and an alarmingly WEIRD bunch of SEA PLANES, including the Stranrear which was HUGE, made of a QUILT of STEAL, four storeys high and, basically, LUDICROUS. How did it FLOAT, let alone FLY?!?

We staggered out of the main hangar, BRANES FULL, and had a wander round the RAF Photographer Of The Year Competition then to a smaller hanger to see a load of bi-planes in the First World War In The Air exhibition. It was all dead good but it felt like somebody had taken my MIND out of its box and given it a right good PUMMELING, as there was SO MUCH to take in.

What I'm saying is that it was AMAZING - and all free too! And did I mention they had a LANCASTER BOMBER?

posted 6/11/2017 by MJ Hibbett

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