Alice Dryden (huskyteer) wrote,
Alice Dryden

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The Two-Museum Experience

By coincidence, I have managed to visit both instances of the RAF Museum within a couple of days: on Saturday I went to Cosford to meet up with loganberrybunny, and last night I went to Hendon to attend a screening of Red Tails with silvante.

I had a foggy journey up to Cosford on Saturday, but it cleared just before Birmingham and stayed bright and sunny for the museum visit - which was just as well, as there is some walking between hangars to be done.

And what hangars! I think my favourite is the 'Cold War' hangar, which crams in all three V-bombers (Vulcan, Victor and Valiant) along with plenty of other treats including a Lightning displayed splendidly and vertically, but the 'Test Flight' hangar with its TSR-2, Fairey Delta and Avro 707 (or 'baby Vulcan', as I think of it) is impressive too. 'War Birds' has all the warplanes you might expect and plenty you wouldn't, while 'Hangar 1' gets the odds and sods.

The most significant new acquisition since my last visit, as far as I was concerned, was the 'Dogfight - Red Baron 4D Experience' simulator. I felt a bit mean going on it since Logan was barred on medical grounds, but he assured me it was OK and I took my seat.

It was a fun five minutes spent as part of a squadron of computer-generated Fokker Triplanes, going after observation balloons and pursuing British pilots. The 3D film was pretty good, as was the 'fourth dimension' of moving seats, puffs of air and water, and smells of smoke. I am so suggestible that I gasped and yelped throughout and emerged trembling slightly.

At the start and end of the visit I got to spend around an hour chatting with loganberrybunny over lunch and tea respectively, which was lovely and I wish geography and time allowed us to do it more often.

I was delighted to win a pair of tickets to the DVD launch of a movie I'd fancied seeing but missed in the cinema, and also delighted that silvante could accompany me. Getting to Colindale and back after work on a Monday was less of a pain than I'd imagined, too.

When I first heard about George Lucas's Red Tails, my reaction was "Big deal. We had black guys in the RAF and there wasn't all this fuss."

To my surprise, the talk by a member of museum staff before the showing made exactly this point, comparing the integrated RAF favourably with the segregated USAAF.

What followed was a watchable couple of hours with some nicely done dogfights, pretty sets and standard clichés; all the Germans we saw were portrayed as blonde, cruel, humourless and usually scarred, for instance. A war movie in the classic mould, in other words, and a decent bit of entertainment. What put the gilt on the gingerbread was the chance to be on the museum site after hours, canapés and drinks beforehand, and a goody bag with a polystyrene glider in.

Pedants' Corner:
  • Did anything 'look as though it's been through a shredder' in the 1940s?
  • Would the Germans have bothered with a literal translation of 'Flying Fortress'? Wouldn't they just have gone Achtung! Flying Fortressen!?
Tags: planes

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