On the 10th September Members met at the IWM, newly reopened after a
multi-million pound refurbishment, for a visit organised by Frank
Rainsborough. We were given an introductory talk covering the history
of the museum and pointing out some of the new features. Afterwards
Members split up and explored as the fancy took them.
The museum is much changed with many items moved elsewhere and new
exhibitions organised. Of the latter the First World War exhibition and
the painting galleries were well worth visiting. The former explained
how the war started, why it continued, how the Allies won, and its
impact on people's lives across the globe. The weapons and equipment
utilised were shown, including Sopwith Camel, N6812, suspended over a
simulated trench, with a Mk V tank close by.
Hanging in the atrium above a V1 ‘Doodlebug’ and a V2 rocket were
Harrier GR9, ZD461, a veteran of Afghanistan, and Battle of Britain
Spitfire Mk1, R6195. Other items of particular interest were a ‘Little
Boy’ atomic bomb and a WE177 nuclear weapon as carried by Sea Harriers.
The wreckage of a Mitsubishi Zero and a Lancaster front fuselage
completed the aircraft exhibits. In the picture galleries on the top
floor was displayed a large collection of war-related paintings of
outstanding quality by many famous war artists, several with aviation
interest including ‘Building Flying Boats’ by Flora Lyon and a dogfight
painting by RFC pilot Sydney Carline.
Imperial War Museum Visit
The IWM is now much more spacious and airy than it
was before but to create the effect many important exhibits have gone,
some to the IWM at Duxford. There is now more ‘interpretation’ - ie
lots of panels with writing - and the labelling of exhibits is somewhat
idiosyncratic in that the labels are not on or by the item! One has to
find information boards, which have a plan of the area, on which the
pieces are named. Nevertheless, the IWM is certainly worth a visit and
those of us who went had an enjoyable day.