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Royal Air Force Museum London
Established 15 November 1972
Location Colindale, London
Type Aviation museum

The Royal Air Force Museum London, commonly known as the RAF Museum, is a museum dedicated to the history of aviation, and the British Royal Air Force in particular. The museum is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and a registered charity.[1] A second collection of exhibits is housed at the Royal Air Force Museum Cosford at RAF Cosford in Shropshire, 5 miles north west of Wolverhampton.



The museum was officially opened at the Colindale (then part of Hendon) London site on 15 November 1972 by Her Majesty The Queen. The hangars housed just 36 aircraft at opening. Over the years, the collection increased and aircraft were stored at RAF stations around the country when they were not on display. While they were being so stored, these aircraft were not publicly displayed.

On 1 May 1979, the Cosford site was opened at RAF Cosford, one of the RAF stations which had been used to store the museum's collection of aircraft. In 1980, the Cosford site agreed to house the British Airways Museum collection, which has now been removed after British Airways withdrew funding. Recently opened is the National Cold War Exhibition. This addition to the museum's already impressive collection houses the V bombers and other Cold War aircraft, many of which are hung from the Hangar roof. The first Director of the Museum was Dr John Tanner who retired in 1987. In 1988 Dr Michael A Fopp (who had previously directed the London Transport Museum) was appointed and is currently Director General of all three sites covered by the Museum.


The Royal Air Force Museum London comprises five exhibition halls:

As of 2009, it has over 100 aircraft. These aircraft include one of only two surviving Vickers Wellingtons left in the world and the Avro Lancaster S-Sugar, which flew 137 sorties. It also includes the only complete Hawker Typhoon and the only Boulton Paul Defiant in the world.

Recently added to the museum is a B-24 Liberator, which was moved to Hendon from Cosford. The aircraft was originally presented to the Museum by the Indian Air Force. In exchange, a Vickers Valiant was sent to Cosford to take part in the new Cold War exhibition. Most recently in July 2009, the Royal Air Force Museum took delivery of a FE2b World War 1 bomber, which had been in production for the museum for over 18 years. It was unveiled to the public on 1 July 2009 and became one of the few examples of this aircraft in the world.

There is a large free car park at the site, and reasonable public transport links, with Colindale tube station around a 10 minute walk away.

As of April 2009, work began on The Battle of Britain Hall to improve lighting conditions and provide full re-cladding to the exterior of the building. This new form of energy-saving lighting can change colour and light intensity whilst still being cheaper to run and as it is kinder to the exhibits, because it doesn't give out any UV light, light intensity can be increased between each "Our Finest Hour" showing. The hall is also set to benefit from a new glass fascia overlooking the Sunderland aircraft making it viewable from outside and also providing natural daylight throughout the Sunderland Hall, a section within the Battle of Britain building. Works were completed in August 2009.

Aircraft on display


Milestones of Flight

The Sopwith Camel in the 'Milestones of Flight' hall

The Bomber Hall

Avro Lancaster R5868 in the Bomber Hall of the RAF Museum London

Historic Hangars

Battle of Britain Hall

Junkers Ju 87 Stuka on display in the Battle of Britain Hall

The Grahame-White Factory

Grahame-White Factory interior, Bristol M.1c and Vickers Vimy in foreground

Engines on display

See also


External links

Coordinates: 51°35′56″N 0°14′19″W / 51.59889°N 0.23861°W / 51.59889; -0.23861


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