Royal Air Force Museum – American & Axis Aircraft

June 12th, 2012

The Royal Air Force Museum in Hendon, UK has a fantastic collection of not only British designed aircraft but also those of American, German and Italian origin (Axis). American aircraft include World War Two legends such as the Curtis P-40N Kittyhawk IV, Republic P-47D Thunderbolt and North American P-51D Mustang fighters; and the Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress, North American TB-25J Mitchell and Consolidated B-24L Liberator bombers.

RAF Museum Hendon P-40 P-47 P-51 TB-25
Clockwise L-R: Curtiss P-40N Kittyhawk IV, Republic P-47D Thunderbolt, North American TB-25J Mitchell and North American P-51D Mustang
Boeing B-17 RAF Museum Hendon UK
Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress
B-24 Liberator RAF Museum
Boeing B-24J Liberator

The majority of aircraft that served the RAF during the Cold War era (1947-1991) were of British origin, the major exception was the American designed McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II. The RAF operated various versions of the Phantom II from 1969 to 1992: the FG.1  (interceptor fighter), FGR.2 (ground attack/reconnaissance) and from 1977 their primary role was as an interceptor fighter. After 1982 a squadron of F-4J(UK) were acquired also for interceptor duties (these were retired in 1992 with the others all being retired by the late 1980’s). The major exception with these aircraft from those built in the US was the fitting of Rolls Royce Spey engines and British designed avionics. The Panavia Tornado replaced the Phantom II in service.

McDonnell Douglas F-4 FGR.2 Phantom II RAF Museum
McDonnell Douglas F-4 FGR.2 Phantom II

The German aircraft include a World War One Fokker D.VII, two very rare night fighters the Messerschmitt Bf-110 and Junkers Ju-88 (they are the only complete aircraft of this type in existence today); a Messerschmitt BF-109G, Messerschmitt Me-262 Schwalbe (“Swallow“), Heinkel He-111 H-20 (this is a troop carrier version used to drop paratroops), Heinkel He-162 Volksjager (the “Peoples Fighter” was fitted with a jet engine and made mostly of wood), a Focke-Wulf FW-190A-8/U-1 (two seat trainer version of the famous “Butcher Bird”) and the infamous dive bomber the Junkers Ju-87 Stuka (one of only 2 complete airframes left today – the other is in Chicago).

Fokker D.VII RAF Museum
Fokker D.VII
German Fighters Night Fighters Bombers RAF Museum bf-109 fw-190 he-162 me-262
Clockwise L-R: Messerschmitt Bf-109E, Messerschmitt Bf-109G, Focke Wulf FW-190A-8/U-1, Heinkel He-162, Messerschmitt Me-262 and Focke Wulf FW-190A-8
me-110 ju-88 night fighter RAF Museum Hendon
L-R: Messerschmitt Me-110 and Junkers Ju-88 nightfighters
he-111 ju-87 stuka RAF Museum
Heinkel He-111 (top) and Junkers Ju-87 Stuka

An Italian aircraft on display was one of the last biplane fighters to be used in World War Two; the Fiat CR-42 Falco. The Falco was highly manoeuvrable and a tough aircraft that could take a lot of damage, it surprised a number of French and British pilots in combat with its combat manoeuverability but despite many success against aircraft like the Hawker Hurricane it was poorly armed and completely outgunned by the much faster British fighters.

Fiat CR-42 Falco RAF Museum
Fiat CR-42 Falco
Fiat CR-42 Falco Royal Air Force Museum
Fiat CR-42 Falco
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