Tucked away in the north east corner of the former RAF base, the Tangmere Military Aviation museum is a bit of a gem.
The museum opened back in 1982, after a group of volunteers came together to preserve some of Britain’s military history on one of the most famous Battle of Britain airfields in Southern England.
The museum contains a number of significant aircraft, most notably a replica of the original Spitfire K5054, Tangmere being only a few miles from Eastleigh where the original made its maiden flight.
Spitfire’s and Hurricane’s, synonymous with the Battle of Britain, both flew during the war years from Tangmere. The museum’s Mk 1 Hurricane, a replica depicting L1679 once flown by Flying Officer Paul Richey whose book ‘Fighter Pilot’ became a classic.
On loan from the Royal Air Force museum is Hawker Hunter Mk3 WB188, which flew with Squadron Leader Neville Duke in 1953 from the airfield to break the world air speed record. A time when Great Britain ruled the air.
The main draw to Tangmere for me was their F53 Lightning, formally of the Royal Saudi Air Force but painted as F6 Lightning XR753 painted in the colours of 23 Squadron.
Sadly I was unable to get a good picture of the Lightning due to the cramp conditions of the Meryl Hansed Memorial Hall. However, like all the aircraft on display, she is well looked after by a team of willing volunteers.
Not only can you see a lightning, but you also have the chance to fly one, well a simulator.
For a small donation, and with some guidance, you can sit in the custom built simulator and fly a lightning from Tangmere. I have to say that I did quite well apart from crashing on landing! Then again that could be seen as a norm for many Lightning’s!
A trip is well worth the entry fee of £9.00. On display in the open air you will find two Harriers, a Phantom, a Sea Vixen and others. Inside you will also find another Hunter, a Supermarine Swift and others. The galleries give a full view of the history of the airfield and the part it played defending these shores.
If you are ever in the South near Portsmouth or Brighton then you must pay a visit.
For more details visit Tangmere’s website here.