An aeroplane known as ‘The Vampire’ is one of two new arrivals which have sneaked into the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester’s secret new storage location in Swinton. The de Havilland Vampire military jet fighter, which first flew in 1943, was the first of a range of de Havilland fighters with names beginning with the letter ‘V’. The Museum is working with Manchester Airport to preserve a Vampire trainer, which was the last aeroplane built at Manchester Airport, in 1955.
Joining the Vampire at Swinton is the UK’s last airliner, the 100-seat capacity Avro RJX. This was developed by BAE Systems in April 2001 as a regional airliner, but the events of September 11 meant the aeroplane was no longer considered economically viable, and was consigned to aviation history before it went into service with Flybe and Druk Air.
Two special convoys, each of three lorries, transported the two aeroplanes from Manchester Airport to the 1319 square metre store in Swinton. They will remain there until the redevelopment of the Museum’s Air and Space Hall, which is in the Lower Campfield Market, on Liverpool Road in Castlefield.
Nick Forder, Air & Space Curator at the Museum said: “It’s great that we now have the new store in Swinton that allows me to collect enormous aeroplanes and keep them safe while preparations get underway to redevelop the Air and Space Hall.
“There is plenty of storage space for us to expand our collections and we will be announcing the arrival of another important North West aeroplane soon. And if we are a bit tight on space I suppose that we could always hang the Vampire upside down from the rafters!”
The Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester has one of the most significant collections of aeroplanes in Britain, including several models built by A. V. Roe & Co. Ltd. (Avro), set up in Manchester in 1910 by Patricroft pioneer aviator Alliott Verdon Roe. Avro is now part of BAE Systems. The largest aeroplane in the collection is the 1954 Avro Shackleton, which could fly for up to 24 hours, while another significant model is a replica of the first all-British aeroplane to successfully fly, the 1909 Roe Triplane.
The Museum collects only those aircraft that were built or have been used in the North West. This Vampire is the only known survivor of a batch of 30 which were assembled at Manchester Airport. Most Vampire T11s, which were designed by de Havilland for the Royal Air Force, were built in Hertfordshire or Chester. The Avro RJX was being built at Woodford, Cheshire. The Museum’s aircraft was still on the production line when the RJX programme was cancelled in 2001. It will be used to show how aeroplanes are made.
The work is part of a developing partnership with local communities, universities and industry to highlight the North West’s unique role in the history of aviation and to inspire the next generation of aerospace engineers.
For more information please call Sarah Roe, Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester
on Tel: 0161 606 0176 m: 07847 372 6477
Source: The Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester
Pictures provided and copyrighted by Mueum of Science and Industry - Rachel Hammond