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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, (RAF Museum London), is located on the former Hendon Aerodrome, with five major buildings and hangars dedicated to the history of aviation and the British Royal Air Force. It is part of the Royal Air Force Museum, a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Ministry of Defence and a registered charity.[1]

A second collection of exhibits, plus aircraft restoration facilities, is housed at the Royal Air Force Museum Cosford at RAF Cosford in Shropshire, five miles northwest of Wolverhampton.


File:Royal Air Force Museum London logo.png

Logo of the Royal Air Force Museum London

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 36 aircraft at opening. Over the years, the collection increased, and aircraft not on display at Hendon were stored or displayed by smaller local RAF station museums. On 1 May 1976, the Cosford Aerospace Museum was opened at RAF Cosford, one of the stations used to store some of the museum's collection. Recently opened is the National Cold War Exhibition, adding to the museum's already impressive collection, housing examples of all three of the V bombers and other Cold War aircraft, many of which are suspended 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 Director General of all three sites operaed by the Museum. Retired RAF Air Vice-Marshal Peter Dye, replaced him as Director General on 9 June 2010.[2]

In 1980, the Cosford site agreed to house the British Airways Museum collection, which has now been removed after British Airways withdrew funding.


CR 42 Falco at the Battle of Britain hall

The Royal Air Force Museum London comprises five exhibition halls:

  • Milestones of Flight
  • The Bomber Hall
  • Historic Hangars
  • The Battle of Britain Hall
  • The Grahame-White Factory

As of 2010, it had over 100 aircraft, including 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. It was presented to the museum by the Indian Air Force. In exchange, a Vickers Valiant was sent to Cosford to become part of the new Cold War exhibition. In 2009 the museum took delivery of a FE2b World War I bomber, which had been in production for the museum for over 18 years and is one of the few examples of this aircraft in the world.

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

In 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 while still being cheaper to run. It is kinder to the exhibits because it does not emanate UV light,and light intensity can be increased between each "Our Finest Hour" showing. The hall will also benefit from a new glass fascia overlooking the Sunderland flying boat 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

The Rolls Royce R

  • Rolls-Royce Merlin III
  • Rolls-Royce Merlin XX
  • Rolls-Royce Merlin 23
  • Rolls-Royce Pegasus
  • Rolls-Royce Spey
  • Rolls-Royce R
  • Sunbeam Arab I

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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