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Royal Air Force Museum Cosford
Established 1 May 1979
Location DCAE Cosford, Shropshire
Type Aviation museum

The Royal Air Force Museum Cosford (RAF Museum Cosford) is a museum dedicated to the history of aviation, and the Royal Air Force in particular. The museum is part of the Royal Air Force Museum, a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Ministry of Defence and a registered charity.[1] The museum is spread over two sites in England, the other site is at the Royal Air Force Museum London at Colindale (near Hendon) in north London.


The London 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. On opening, the museum initially exhibited airframes which had been used for technical training at RAF Cosford. In the following years additional aircraft were added to the collection and in 1980 it was agreed that the British Airways Collection be displayed at Cosford. On 21 June 1998 four additional galleries were opened, housing art, temporary exhibitions and other aviation subjects. 13 May 2002 saw the relocation of the RAF Museum Conservation Centre from Cardington, Bedfordshire to Cosford. The Centre, costing £2.4 million, was opened by Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Michael Beetham and is named after him.[2]

The Cosford site includes several developmental aircraft such as those that led to the English Electric Lightning and the second prototype of the BAC TSR-2.

British Airways collection

In 1980, the Cosford site agreed to house the British Airways Museum collection. In 2006 British Airways withdrew funding from the collection, after which the RAF Museum did not take on the costs of maintaining the aircraft. Several of the jet airliners have subsequently been broken up, including the only Boeing 707 that was preserved in the UK, a Vickers VC10 and a Hawker Siddeley Trident.

National Cold War Exhibition

The National Cold War Exhibition

The National Cold War Exhibition opened at Cosford in February 2007. The exhibition houses the museum's V bombers and other Cold War aircraft in a newly constructed 8,000m2 exhibition building designed by architects Fielden Clegg Bradley.[3] The exhibition concept and design was developed by Neal Potter and includes 'silo theatres' which depict, in a variety of media, the key tensions of the Cold War period.

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 site can be reached by public transport via the neighbouring Cosford railway station on the Wolverhampton to Shrewsbury Line.

Aircraft on display

List from Royal Air Force Museum Cosford official website.[4]

Hangar 1 (Transport & Training)

The Armstrong Whitworth Argosy C1 on display in Hangar 1

National Cold War Exhibition

The Mikoyan MiG-15bis on display in the National Cold War Exhibition hall

Vickers Valiant B1 XD818 – outside the National Cold War Exhibition hall in 2006

The new Hawker Siddeley Nimrod on display

Externally displayed exhibits

A Lockheed C-130 Hercules on display at RAF Cosford

Test Flight (Research & Development Collection)

The BAC TSR-2 on display in the Test Flight hangar

War Planes Collection

A Hawker Hurricane II on display in the War Planes hangar. A selection of armament used by the type is also displayed

Focke Achgelis Fa 330A-1

Engines on display

The Cosford museum houses a large collection of aero engines, the majority are located in Hangar 1, a small side room of this hangar contains a display of rocket engines.

The Rolls-Royce Kestrel on display in the War Planes hangar

The Rolls-Royce Conway on display in Hangar 1

  • Pratt & Whitney R-1830
  • Renault 70 hp
  • Rolls-Royce Avon
  • Rolls-Royce Dart
  • Rolls-Royce Conway
  • Rolls-Royce Derwent
  • Rolls-Royce Olympus
  • Rolls-Royce Viper
  • Rolls-Royce Spey
  • Rolls-Royce Tyne
  • Rolls-Royce RB108
  • Rolls-Royce RB162
  • Rolls-Royce RB.211

Missile collection

The museum holds a large collection of missiles and rocket-powered weapons, including several rare German World War II types, the majority are located in the National Cold War Exhibition with the German collection on display in Hangar 1.

Michael Beetham Conservation Centre

Michael Beetham Conservation Centre

A Sopwith Dolphin under restoration in 2003 with the Miles Mohawk behind.

Also on the museum site is the Michael Beetham Conservation Centre. The centre restores aircraft and artefacts for display at both Cosford and London. It is named in honour of Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Michael James Beetham and was opened by him on 13 May 2002.[2]

Aircraft currently in storage or long-term restoration include:

See also

  • List of aerospace museums




  • Ellis, Ken. Wrecks and Relics – 19th Edition, Midland Publishing, Hinckley, Leicestershire. 2004. ISBN 1-85780-183-0

External links

Coordinates: 52°38′38″N 2°18′41″W / 52.644°N 2.3115°W / 52.644; -2.3115

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