Fleet Air Arm Museum tour (Yeovilton, June 2016)

A tour of the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton, where we were privileged to be taken round by the Curator of Aircraft, David Morris (who turned out to have a soft spot for old airhead BMWs as well as old aeroplanes).

We were introduced to the two current projects (Barracuda and Sea Gladiator) in the Restoration Workshop (viewable by the public, but it’s so much more interesting to be able to poke around inside instead of peering through glass partitions!)

Although the Fairey Barracuda played a significant role in FAA service, with torpedoes, bombs or anti-submarine mines, for almost the whole of the 1940s, no complete airframes remain. The Museum is keen to fill what is seen as a big gap in its collection and for some time has been carefully retrieving anything that might be in any way useful from crash-sites. Some of  the results of this can be seen on the floor and shelves of the Restoration Workshop.

The Sea Gladiator is a veteran of the Norwegian campaign. Abandoned on a frozen lake, from where it inevitably sank when the ice thawed the following spring, the airframe components come from a recovery operation in the 1960s and 1970s. (The components of several aircraft were recovered and distributed between the RAF Museum, the Gloster Aviation Society and the FAA Museum.)        

There was also a tour of the reserve collection hanger, which has more intriguing airframes and yet more piles of recovered Barracuda metalwork (but unfortunately no photos survived!)