Blue skies and sunshine
favoured the fifteen Members who visited
what used to be called the Mosquito Aircraft Museum at Salisbury Hall
near Hatfield. We were greeted with coffee and biscuits by Ralph
Steiner, the Centre Operations Director who had opened the museum
specially for us. He gave an introductory talk in the Members' Club
Room and Library before taking us round the exhibits.
The Mosquito prototype, Ralph said, was designed and
eleven months on this site in converted farm buildings of which one
remains. The museum is staffed entirely by volunteers and now attracts
6,500 visitors per annum. Besides housing the collection of de
Havilland aircraft, engines, missiles, memorabilia and other artefacts,
maintenance and restoration work is carried out on the exhibits and
premises. Funds are being raised for a new £1.6m hangar to protect the
aircraft currently outside. Proudly, Ralph reminded us that the de
Havilland Company not only built aircraft but also piston engines, jet
engines, rocket motors, propellers, guided missiles and ballistic
De Havilland Aircraft Heritage Centre
The Comet was the world's first jet airliner and its engine, the DH
Ghost, the first jet engine in the world to be certificated for civil
air transport use. The Halford H-1 Goblin powered America's first jet
fighter prototype, the Lockheed XP-80 Shooting Star, as well as the
first Gloster Meteor to fly, Britain's first jet fighter prototype.
The first stop of our tour was in the Halford Hall,
named after DH's famous engine designer, which houses examples of Gipsy
piston engines (III, Major I, Major 8, Six, Minor and Queen 30),
Goblin, Ghost, Gyron and Gyron Junior turbojets, a Gnome turbo shaft
and Super Sprite and Spectre rocket motors. There is a P.1121 display
by the Gyron, the prototype's intended power plant. There is also a
very well presented photographic history of the de Havilland Company.
In the Workshop we talked with the volunteers
working on the complete restoration of DH 89A Rapide, G-AKDW to
flight-worthy condition. The airframe has been completely stripped down
with all parts refurbished or remanufactured as necessary.
The Main Hangar houses many famous de Havilland
types including: a single-seat crop duster Tiger Moth, a Swiss Vampire
FB6, a Mosquito FBMk6, a Mosquito BMk35, a radio controlled Queen Bee
based on the Tiger Moth, a Hornet Moth, a Humming Bird, a Chipmunk
TMk10 and components of a Sea Venom.
Aircraft parked outside included a Heron, Vampire
T11, a Swiss Venom FBMk1, a Dove Mk6, a Dove Mk8, the first production
DH125 and a Sea Vixen FAW2. Also outside were an ex Air France Comet 1A
fuselage, a BAe(DH)146 fuselage, a Trident 2 forward fuselage and a
Comet nose section and cockpit.
Hangar E houses the 'star of the show', the
prototype Mosquito (W4050/EO234), currently under restoration but
essentially complete. This is the only surviving WW2 twin engined
prototype. Alongside were a DH Cierva C24 autogyro and the fuselage of
an Airspeed - a de Havilland company - Horsa troop carrying glider;
Horsas of Arnhem fame, were built on the site. Amongst the side
exhibits, of which there are a great many throughout the museum, was a
57mm 6 lb Molins-feed field gun as fitted to the anti-shipping 'Tsetse'
Mosquito. The Memorabilia Display, housed separately, contains scale
models of just about every de Havilland type.
Our visit concluded with a visit to the well stocked
Aeroshop where we thanked Ralph for showing us his excellently stocked
and presented museum. Your Editor would unreservedly recommend Members
who didn't come on this visit to do so independently; you won't be
disappointed. It is open from March to October. For opening times see
.www.dehavillandmuseum.co.uk or 'phone 01727 822051.