Sunday, November 29, 2009

Barracuda Studios at IPMS UK Nationals - part 2

A rare restored Bristol Beaufort in Coastal Command colors.
Sopwith triplane on display at the RAF Museum Hendon.

Hi Guys,

Hey, at least its still the same month as the last posting... Back to my trip to the the other side of the pond for the IPMS/UK Nationals. I arrived at Heathrow Airport around 7AM, went through Customs and picked up my luggage. I was met by Robin Powell, who had, as previously mentioned, taken the week off. We loaded my stuff into his beloved Land Rover Discovery, and headed off to the RAF Museum at Hendon. My first plan, to visit the Mosquito Air Museum, had gone down in flames as they rolled up the sidewalks for the winter not 3 days earlier. I had been to Hendon twice before, more than 12 years ago. I was not all that excited to see it again, as I assumed that it would be much the same. I was wrong.

Arriving at Hendon at about 10:30, we soon discovered that the museum wasn't open until noon. OK, we'll go and sit down and have some breakfast in the cafeteria next door. Nope. No hot food until 11:30. OK... adapt, adopt, and improve. The guard told us that the WWI exhibit was open, and closes at noon! Right... So, off we went to see the bipes. A superb collection, focusing on British types mostly, and nicely displayed. We then grabbed a traditional English breakfast at the cafe.

By then, the main museum was open, so we entered the brand new Milestones of Flight Hall. While it is very new and modern looking, we were dismayed at how the aircraft were displayed. The only complete Hawker Tempest V on display anywhere, and not only is it hanging 30 feet in the air, but it is painted in Target Tug markings! WTH?? One of the RAFs best fighters of WWII, and its painted up in non-combat markings! At least they could have put it in Beamont's markings and had it chasing a V-1 or something! In fact, the only aircraft that were displayed on the ground were Luftwaffe and Japanese aircraft. If the whole Museum was like this, we were going to leave.

We moseyed over to the next hall (can you mosey in the UK? I guess you can!), and were greatly relieved. The hall was well laid out and reasonably well lit. While the aircraft were roped off, you could get pretty close to them and most aircraft were displayed so that you could see them from every angle. There are 3 main halls, filled with an outstanding collection of important and beautifully restored aircraft, just over 100 in all! Go to Wikipedia and type in RAF Museum Hendon to see a complete list. My favorite exhibits were the Bristol Beaufort (first one I've seen!), the Tempest II, the Lightning F6, and of course the Lanc and Spit 24. They also have a truly excellent display of weapons and engines. Many billions of pixels gave their all as I went on a mad photographic spree. I am very glad we stopped by.

An excellent museum, and I'd like the guys from Udvar-Hazy to see how a museum SHOULD be laid out. I'm not knocking all the hard work the Smithsonian guys put in, but the way the aircraft are displayed is useless to the serious historian or model builder. Many aircraft are only viewable from one angle, and you can't get within 30 feet of many of them. They are also militant about tripods and even balancing cameras on benches and the like.

Ok, rant over... for now. It was getting late, and we had a 2 hour drive (or more, I didn't keep time) to get to Poole where Robin and Linda live. The next morning (Friday), we started packing up and getting ready for the drive up to Telford for the IPMS show. Robin has run the Magna Models stand for the last few years, as the owner now lives in Spain, and does not make it out for the shows anymore. Jamming all the Magna and Barracuda Studios stuff into the Disco took some doing, but eventually it all fit, and by the early afternoon we were heading north.

The faint smell of plastic in the air driving us on...

Happy modelling! Roy

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