A display of the remains of a Douglas A-20 Boston.

New Wings Musum Opens its Doors

The Wings Museum, which is devoted to the aviation history of the Second World War, was originally located at Redhill Aerodrome. Its search for new and larger premises was rewarded with the announcement that a site had been found at Balcombe in West Sussex.

The weekend of 20-21 March 2010, saw the grand opening of the museum at its new home, which is eight times larger than its previous one. The museum can now display its collection of historically important “recovered” airframes which includes substantial sections of a Douglas A-20 Boston, Bell P-63 King Cobra, and a Handley Page Hampden. Some of these airframes or aircraft sections, having been recovered from Russia, are displayed in the museum’s fascinating new “Ghosts of the Tundra” display.

The “Ghosts of the Tundra” display represents one of the few places in Europe where visitors can see aircraft recovered from the Russian front where they were shot down in the last battles of the Second World War between the Russians and Japanese. Grass is apparently growing through the wreckage of a Japanese Nakajima B5N2 or Kate – the only one in the world, in fact. It was found on a remote island in eastern Russia.

A central dominating display of the museum is the full length fuselage of a Douglas C-47 Dakota used on D-Day which was rescued recently from North Weald in Essex. This “walk through” exhibit will give visitors the chance to experience what it was like prior to a “drop” on D-Day complete with engine sounds and flak! This particular exhibit was also used in Steven Spielberg’s film, Band of Brothers.

The museum’s collection includes original items from the Battle of Britian, the Blitz, the Home Front, the Home Guard, D-Day, RAF Bomber Command and the US Eighth Air Force. Items on display include: aero engines, propellers, uniforms, aircraft parts, equipment and aspects of local history. There is a V2 rocket engine which came down in Essex and the relics of a V1 Flying Bomb.

To celebrate its opening, the weekend was attended by Warrant Officer Jack Hodges DFC, who flew Typhoons with 174 Squadron from RAF Redhill and took part in the Battle for Normandy, along with other ex-aircrew. There were also military vehicles and reenactments.

The museum will be open every Saturday between March and October. For more information, visit the museum’s website: www.wingsmuseum.co.uk

The tail section of a Hawker Hurricane Mk.IIB.
The Bell P-63 King Cobra in the museum’s new “Ghosts of the Tundra” display.
One of the main themed displays in The Wings Museum.
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