Kent Battle of Britain Museum

While researching UK attractions, I find it hard to believe, but I actually missed this museum. Fortunately, a couple of days ago, after departing Samphire Hoe and changing to the eastbound carriageway, for the return to Dover, we spotted a sign for Kent Battle of Britain Museum.

On checking the website, we both said, “We gotta go there”. When departing Kent for the Southampton area, we took a detour via Hawkinge, an old RAF base and home to the museum.

Note – no cameras are permitted, so all photographs are courtesy of their website.

Located a couple of miles north of Folkestone, it is a private museum, which was opened in 1971. Most of the exhibits were recovered in the late 1960’s and early 70’s.

Battle of Britain Museum map

Stuart-Buttle Hangar

Opened in 1995, this is the first hangar on the self-guided tour, which includes a number of Spitfire and Hurricane models, and engines recovered from numerous crash sites.

Stuart-Buttle Hangar

Some of the full-size replica Spitfires and Hurricanes were used in the 1968 film, The Battle of Britain. Also prominently displayed are a number of engines recovered from various crash sites. The museum has conducted thousands of hours of research, as each engine was identified from the serial numbers. Then they cross-matched the engine to a specific aircraft, followed by determining information about the aircraft and pilot/crew, including:

– date, time and location where aircraft was shot down

– name and short bio of the pilot/crew

– which squadron, when/why they were scrambled

I found this very interesting and took the time to read through the story included with each engine.

Dowding Memorial Hangar

A tribute to Air Vice-Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding, who commanded the UK Fighter Command and was instrumental in providing the guidance that aided UK & Allied pilots in winning the Battle of Britain.

This hangar has 3 replica ME 109’s, which were used in the Battle of Britain film, a German glider and a number of recovered engines. Similar to the previous hanger, they have conducted extensive research and tell the human story for each item on display.

Operations Block

This is the old Flight Operations room at RAF Hawkinge, where they controlled all air operations during the war. It is where they display hundreds of artifacts that have been recovered, or donated. One of the volunteers pointed out holes in the roof, dating from German attacks on the airfield back in 1940.

Operations Room

V1 Display Hangar

This hangar was the ready room, or dispersal hut for “B” Flight as they waited to be called into action. It now houses a V1 flying bomb and associated equipment.

The Armoury

The original Armoury building now displays an eclectic mix of items ranging from uniforms, insignia, ground based and aircraft guns, wall of honour, personal items, etc.

No 25 Squadron Mess & Tea Room

Basically just a small trailer, with a few tables and chairs. However, on nicer days you can also sit outside. The staff are wonderful and we thoroughly enjoyed sitting enjoying a cup of tea and bacon butty, while chatting with the staff. Prices are very reasonable and everything is made fresh.

Volunteers

I have left the best to the end, as the volunteers are amazing. On the day we visited they must of had at least 6 volunteers, both males and females. They were truly amazing, as they constantly wander around the hangars and engage visitors in conversation, if you are interested.  Otherwise, they will answer questions. We talked to most of the volunteers extensively and their knowledge is extensive. If they didn’t know the answer to a question, they went to find it and returned. We thoroughly enjoyed our conversations with each of the volunteers.

Entry Fees

– Adults:     UKP 8.00

– Seniors (60+) UKP 7.50

We spent a most enjoyable 3 hours here and would definitely return for another visit.

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