Saturday, 5 July 2014

Dumfries & Galloway Aviation Museum

RAF Dumfries was established in 1936, being built on a small existing airfield.  Its purpose was to act as a holding station for reserve aircraft and as a gunnery training station for aircraft crews.  It closed in 1957 and it was sold in 1960 to private enterprise.  Much of the old airfield is now an industrial estate.
The air traffic control tower and nearby land became the air museum and it has a selection of retired aircraft from around the world, many in the condition in which they were scrapped and some which were donations.
The control tower is restored to wartime condition and it fits with my recollections of such control towers that I was in during the late 1960's and early 70's.  The shop dummy models are not so convincing, but the restoration was done on a limited budget.
There is something to satisfy most air enthusiasts needs - this is the cabin of a HS Trident 3.
There are several museum exhibits, including one dedicated to the Airborne troops.  Engines, home life, model aircraft, local airfields, etc., are many of the exhibition topics that can be seen here.  There are volunteers on hand to help explain the exhibits and direct you to the video room and the shop.
One exhibit of personal interest was this BAC Lightning "F6" ZF584 of 11 squadron which did not seem right.  There was no such aircraft when I was visiting 11 squadron at RAF Binbrook in the mid 1970's.  This was a lightning that was returned from the Royal Saudi Air Force as part of the Tornado deal in 1986.  Whilst most were put into storage, this one became the gate guardian at the Farranti factory in Edinburgh.  When the factory closed, it was donated to the Aviation Museum.
The registration was a temporary RAF code for what was 53-682 of the RSAF at Jeddah. These numbers were applied to all the aircraft flown back from Saudi Arabia.  Aircraft transported by sea were not re-coded. Other ex-Saudi lightnings can be seen at the City of Norwich Air Museum (53-686 fuselage and 53-700 wings), RAF Tangmere (53-670), Midland Air Museum (55-715 twin seat trainer ZF598 in Saudi colours and 53-693 painted in 74 squadron colours).
Another Lightning fuselage marked 55-715 (ZF596) has been shipped to the USA as spairs to maintain lightning XS422.  Lightning serial numbers were often tactically displayed on more than 1 aircraft to confuse "enemy" observers. The nose of the 2 seat trainer marked 55-715 (ZF596) is a cockpit only at Lightning Lakes, Sparks Bridge, Cumbria on a private site.

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