Fleet Air Arm Museum

The Fleet Air Arm Museum is located 7 miles (11 km) north of Yeovil, and 40 miles (64 km) south of Bristol. It has an extensive collection of military and civilian aircraft, as well as models of Royal Navy ships, especially aircraft carriers. Some of the museum has interactive displays. It is located by RNAS Yeovilton, and the museum has viewing areas where visitors can watch military aircraft (especially helicopters) take off and land. The museum's aircraft collection numbers 94.

The museum has a variety of exhibits divided up into several halls.

Hall 1
Previously contained the World War I, Interwar exhibits. During 2008 the hall underwent revision for a new exhibition, "A Celebration of 100 years of Naval Flying". The finished exhibition houses the following aircraft.
  • Short S27 replica.
  • Short 184 which suffered damage during WWII when the Imperial War Museum was bombed.
  • Sopwith Pup replica.
  • Supermarine Walrus (L2301), which was one of the aircraft flown by the Irish Air Corps, before being bought back by the Fleet Air Arm after the war for use as a training aircraft.
  • Fairey Firefly
  • BaE Sea Harrier
  • Westland Dragonfly
  • Westland Lynx
  • Westland Sea King

Hall 2
Contains World War II aircraft, with parts set aside for a Kamikaze exhibit. The Kamikaze exhibit contains models of Japanese aircraft, an Ohka (Yokosuka MXY-7 Ohka II (BAPC 58)) and ships. It also contains final letters home from Kamikaze pilots. Also in Hall 2 is a Korean War exhibit, containing video testament by a Korean War veteran, a Russian Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 and a model of Britain's largest ever aircraft carrier ( HMS Eagle). By the entrance to Hall 3, there are many more models of British aircraft carriers with a history of aircraft carrier design. The planes on exhibition include a Fairey Fulmar (N1854) the Fulmar prototype (and first production Mk I), the only surviving example out of the 800 built of a Fairey Albacore (N4389) which was made from parts of two other aircraft (N4389 and N4172). The Albacore was a single-engine carrier-borne biplane torpedo bomber built by Fairey Aviation between 1939 and 1943 for the Fleet Air Arm and used during the Second World War. It had a three-man crew and was designed for spotting and reconnaissance as well as delivering bombs and torpedoes. A North American Harvard ( T-6 Texan) (EX976), Grumman Hellcat (KE209), Seafire F17 (SX137) (a naval version of the Supermarine Spitfire specially adapted for operation from aircraft carriers), Hawker Sea Fury FB11 (WJ231), Grumann Avenger (XB446) and a Corsair KD431 which has been returned to its 1944 condition.

Hall 3
This is the centrepiece of the museum. Instead of a traditional museum hall, the whole hall has been converted into a mock-up of the British fleet carrier HMS Ark Royal as it would have appeared in the 1970s. The entrance to this hall is by a simulated helicopter ride from Hall 2. The hall itself is made to look like the flight deck of HMS Ark Royal and period aircraft are displayed as if they are on the deck. Two massive screens simulate the landing and take-off of aircraft like Blackburn Buccaneers and F4 Phantoms. There is also a tour through a number of rooms made up to mimic the ship's tower. This is complete with video introductions. The aircraft also include: a Fairey Gannet AEW3(XL503/070/3), Vickers Supermarine Scimitar F1 (XD317/112/R), De Havilland Sea Vixen FAW2 (XS590/131/E), Vickers Supermarine Attacker F1 (WA473/102/J), and the third prototype De Havilland Sea Vampire.

Hall 4
Here, the main attraction is the second Concorde prototype, although most of the aircraft in the hall are experimental aircraft and other important milestones in the British aerospace industry since World War II. It includes video introductions to the aircraft and the technology. The Concorde on display was the second prototype to fly. It was powered by four Bristol Siddeley Olympus engines. The first flight, piloted by Brian Trubshaw was on 9 May 1969. Its Certificate of Airworthiness expired in 1974. It was flown to Yeovilton on March 1976 and opened to the public in July of that year. It has been on display ever since. The aircraft in the hall include a Handley Page HP.115 (XP980) a test for the delta wing shape of Concorde, and a BAC 221 which was also part of the Concorde development. The HP.115 was designed to explore the low speed envelope of slender, delta wing aircraft. It featured a delta wing of very low aspect ratio swept at 75 degrees and a fixed tricycle undercarriage derived from the main gear of a Percival Prentice and the nosegear from a Miles Aerovan. The fuselage was quite slim and narrow except at the nose where it bulged to give space for the cockpit. It was powered by a single Bristol Siddeley Viper turbojet set at the base of the tailplane fin. The single aircraft XP841 flew for first time on 17 August 1961 at the Royal Aircraft Establishment with J.M. Henderson at the controls. The first Fairey Delta 2 was aircraft WG774 which made its maiden flight on 6 October 1954, flown by Fairey test pilot Peter Twiss. On 10 March 1956, this aircraft broke the World Air Speed Record raising it to 1,132 mph (1811 km/h), an increase of some 300 mph (480 km/h) over the record set in August 1955 by an F-100 Super Sabre, and thus became the first aircraft to exceed 1,000 mph in level flight. It was later rebuilt by British Aircraft Corporation (BAC), who had absorbed Fairey, in 1960 as the ogee- ogive wing form aircraft BAC 221. It featured a new wing, engine inlet configuration, a Rolls-Royce Avon RA.28, modified vertical stabiliser and a lengthened undercarriage to mimic Concorde's attitude on the ground. It flew from 1964 until 1973. There are also a Sea Harrier FRS1, an experimental Hawker Siddeley P.1127 (a development aircraft that led to the Hawker Siddeley Harrier, the first VSTOL jet fighter-bomber), a Westland Wyvern TR1 (VR137) with contra-rotating propellers, a Hawker Hunter T8M, with a replica Bristol Scout D (N5419) from World War I suspended above them.

Other Halls
Aside from the four main halls, there are smaller exhibits containing interactive displays and pictures. One of these is the Merlin Experience, which explains advanced anti-submarine warfare techniques. Since the museum is adjacent to the RNAS air station, visitors can also view some of the operations of the modern-day aircraft from specially placed viewing areas throughout the museum.

Engines on display
The museum possesses a number of aero engines located throughout the halls.
  • Alvis Leonides
  • Armstrong Siddeley Cheetah
  • Bristol Centaurus
  • Bristol Mercury
  • Bristol Siddeley BS100
  • Clerget 9B
  • Bristol Siddeley Pegasus
  • de Havilland Gipsy Major
  • de Havilland Gipsy Queen
  • Rolls-Royce Avon
  • Rolls-Royce Nene
  • Rolls-Royce Merlin
  • Rolls-Royce/Snecma Olympus 593
  • Sunbeam Gurkha
  • Wright R-1820

Other Services
The museum also carries out various restoration projects, the last project was a Corsair KD 431 which in the summer of 2006 was unveiled as it would have appeared in 1944. Visitors can see (but not enter) the restoration hanger between Hall 3 and Hall 4. Restoration is currently taking place on a Grumman Wildcat, or Martlet as it was known to the British. The Fleet Air Arm Museum is the home to an extensive collection of military records. The museum catalogues and restores these documents. The museum's shop is one has the most extensive selections of naval merchandise in the area. The selection includes various themed books and documentaries such as Sailor . There is an outside adventure playground for children in the museum's grounds, as well as two cafés.

Coordinates: 51°00′49″N 2°38′41″W  /  51.0136°N 2.6448°W  / 51.0136; -2.6448

British Aviation Museums England Isle of Man Northern Ireland Scotland


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Building Activity

  • updated a digital reference
    about 5 years ago via Annotator
  • updated a digital reference and removed a media
    about 5 years ago via OpenBuildings.com