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.