Strathallan…………the lost air museum (2)

Last time we looked at just a few of the aircraft which my friend, Bill, and myself saw on our visit to Strathallan Air Museum, near Auchterader, in the mid-1970s. Strathallan, if you remember, was the aircraft museum which eventually went bankrupt and all of the aircraft were disposed of in one way or another. A look at the map shows why, in pre-motorway days, very few visitors came to see the aircraft:

One of the most easily identifiable aircraft at Strathallan  was their de Havilland Comet, the world’s first jet airliner, which made its maiden flight on July 27th 1949.

Here’s my photograph, taken with a plastic camera whose controls for light were “bright” and “dull” :

And here’s a de Havilland Comet, by a much better photographer, which I found on the internet. On second thoughts, though, perhaps that may be a model. If so, it’s a really good one :

Of course, it’s a model ! But what are the other articles on this 1950s table? Is that the pilot’s map?

The Strathallan Comet (XK655) was eventually broken up for scrap metal, and in 1995 its nose was sold to Gatwick Airport for display purposes on the Spectators Terrace. Not a fate I myself would care to share. Here it is:

On an internet forum I found “G-ORDY” who said that XK655 was built for BOAC as the first Comet Mark 2, G-AMXA. It was eventually converted into “a Comet 2R, an aircraft of electronic intelligence gathering (ELINT) configuration, by Marshalls of Cambridge, and flew with 51 Squadron from Wyton. The forward fuselage of XK655 is now in the Al Mahatta Museum, located at the old Sharjah airport, UAE, and is restored in BOAC colours.”

There was another de Havilland aircraft at Strathallan. This was a De Havilland DH-98 Mosquito TT35, “TT” standing for “target tug”. Here’s my photograph:

And here it is in a much better photograph which I found on the internet:

In the RAF, the Strathallan aircraft had a serial number of RS712 and had featured as one of the bombers in the film “633 Squadron” and the later film “Mosquito Squadron”. The aircraft is currently displayed at the EAA Museum in Oshkosh, in Wisconsin, as RS712 and EG-F, the aircraft flown by Group Captain P.C.Pickard during the attack on Amiens prison in 1944:

I have actually already written very briefly about the book featured above, in a post called “Books for Christmas 1”.  I said:

“A famous incident of the air war is investigated in this book by Jean-Pierre Ducellier. Its title is “The Amiens Raid: Secrets Revealed: The Truth Behind the Legend of Operation Jericho” and Ducellier has spent the majority of his adult life attempting to put the evidence together into a coherent whole. And his solution is not a lot like the official version.”

Here’s Strathallan’s Grumman Avenger, a TBM-3W2 of the Royal Netherlands Navy, the Koninklijke Marine. Here’s my photograph:

And here’s a much better photograph, of an Avenger in a much better state of repair:

When the museum closed, the Dutch aircraft went back to the USA and is now registered as N452HA at Hickory Air Museum, a private museum in North Carolina whose proud boast is that they never charge a penny for entrance.
The only other aircraft I can remember seeing at Strathallan was the RS3, built in 1945 at the Reid and Sigrist factory at Desford, some seven miles from Leicester:

It was designed as a small, twin engined trainer, although the RAF showed little interest. In 1948 it was adapted for prone-pilot experiments, with a lengthened, glazed nose, and a set of controls for another pilot who lay on his stomach. Here’s a better photograph from the internet:

The RS3 flew in this form in June 1951, and eventually went to the Institute of Aviation Medicine at the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough.

When I went to Strathallan, there may have been some other aircraft there which today, just over fifty years later, I have simply forgotten. It all depends on which year I went to the museum and in which year certain aircraft were sold off. The aircraft which I can no longer recall were an Avro Anson, an Avro Lancaster, a Supermarine Spitfire and a Westland Lysander. To be honest, had they been there during my visit, I do think I would probably have taken some  photographs.

This picture from the Internet was the closest I got to the ex-Strathallan Lancaster, KB976 and GB-BCOH. It is currently held at Polk City, Florida:



Filed under Aviation, Bomber Command, History, military, Personal, Science

17 responses to “Strathallan…………the lost air museum (2)

  1. At least your photographs were of real planes on site

    • Thank you, Derrick, although when I first got my photographs back from the chemist’s, I was so disappointed that they were so blurred. It must have been the camera though, because it had nowhere to adjust focus, and the pictures themselves show that I was well back from the subject and that it was a sunny day. Indeed, I think it may have been the scorching summer of 1975, when the reservoirs of southern England ran dry (well, some of them!)

  2. GP

    I’m happy to hear the US took some of the aircraft. It’s always sad when a museum is lost.

    • Yes, it certainly is. And what was even better is that at least one of the receiving museums had the “proud boast that they never charge a penny for entrance”. What better way of involving youngsters in in aviation history?

  3. Love seeing all the pictures! and glad to hear about the ones that got taken elsewhere.

  4. It’s always nice to know that the exhibits found a safe place to stay. Too many end up being turned into tins of beans these days. That’s said, I can see why it closed though, pre ‘motorway days’, it’s certainly was off the beaten track a bit!

    • Indeed it was. I suppose it was relatively close to the road between Aberdeen and Glasgow-Edinburgh, but even then, it was more like forty miles than four left to drive before you got there.

  5. Your unending knowledge of planes, John, is astounding. I’m passing your blog on to my brother who is a pilot and who may very well enjoy reading what you publish.

    • You’re very kind, Amy, and I do hope he will enjoy it. Hopefully, though, his plane is a lot more modern than the ones featured here, especially the Dutch one, which I always think looks rather like an aircraft with a hangover!

  6. Your post makes me imagine young men flying great distances, some lost forever and many coming back . But I read in books about the psychological effects of war. It is tragedy but war continues. Thank you.

    • That’s a very accurate summary of the situation. Lots of very young men flying off hundreds of miles, and most came back but some were lost for ever. Some indeed, are still being found nowadays, as the Germans built foundations for a new supermarket or the Dutch drain another area of very marshy land. And yes, it is all a terrible tragedy, but each succeeding generation thinks a war will be different for them. And yet war is always the same.

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