Text & Pictures: Bruno Ghils - Translation: Philippe Decock © sbap 2016
 

The Science Museum is, as its name indicates, a science museum, situated in Kensington, London.
There you will find about 300.000 objects of different origins, ranging from the first steam locomotives to the space race, objects used in daily life, telecommunications, medicine, and of course, what interests us the most, aviation. Even if the models shown are less numerous than in a conventional aviation museums, there are some very rare pieces of an exceptional quality.
The museum was open in 1852, starting with a collection from the Royal Society of Arts and some excesses from the World Exposition. It included a collection of machines that came from the Museum of Patents in 1858. In 1883, all the machines from the Museum of Patents were transferred to the museum in South Kensington. The scientific collections were renamed to Science Museum in 1885 and a separate director was appointed in 1893. The art collections were renamed to the Victoria and Albert Museum by the London Museum of Arts.

The Science Museum owns a fabulous collection of famous creations like Stephenson's rocket, Puffing Billy (the oldest steam powered locomotive), the first jet engine, a complete section on the history of medicine, another section on communications and telecommunications and one on the history of man in space. The museum is really large, and a single day will be barely enough to watch and go over everything.
The last floor, the hall destined to aviation, contains some really nice surprises.
First of all, the engines. There are not only British engines, but also Renault, Clerget, Anzani, Rolls Royce with a nice Kestrel, and a wonderful Sabre. After the piston engines, the jet engines caught our attention.
The part dedicated to the First World War is quite small, but contains an original Fokker E.III from 1916. Another interesting aircraft, from the interwar period, is the De Havilland Gipsy Moth used by Amy Johnson to achieve the first solo connection by a female between England and Australia.
There is also the Vickers Vimy flown by Alcock and Brown, it is the first aircraft to have crossed the Atlantic ocean. It is half stripped so that visitors can observe the importance of the fuel tanks within the fuselage. That piece of great value joined the museum in 1919!
There is also the Supermarine S.6B, serial S1595, that won the Schneider cup in 1931. The S.6B was designed by Reginald Mitchell, the Spitfire's father. A beautiful aircraft, preserved in its original condition, unrestored, with the famous trophy being displayed in a showcase next to the aircraft.
One can only be struck by the resemblance between the S.6B and the Spitfire of which a wonderful specimen, Serial P9444, a Battle of Britain veteran, is hanging above the S.6B, next to his well-known brother in arms, the Hawker Hurricane, Serial L1592, a Dunkirker and Battle of Britain veteran.
Those are not the only WWII representatives, as the museum goal is to show science and technology advances. A beautiful specimen of the Messerschmitt 163 Komet, an infamous V1 flying bomb and a V2 rocket are also on display. The latter is displayed in the large gallery next to the part relating to the German inventivity and engineering.
But, in this conflict, engineering was not only German. As reflected by the Gloster E28/39 prototype, the first British jet and a beautiful piece of British engineering.
Another piece of British engineering is the Hawker P.1127 prototype which gave birth to the Harrier/Sea Harrier series. The prototype of the Short SC1 is also displayed in the gallery but taking
a picture of it is really difficult. The list of interesting pieces is long.
There are record-breaking aircraft, replicas of some famous aircraft, some of the most important aircraft in British history, dummies, nice models in showcases and a great didactic exhibition.
By visiting that place, you will have paid a visit to a great museum even if only about thirty aircraft can be found. Some large aviation museums would be happy to own such rarities, for sure!
It is quite surprising to find, for example, a marvel like the Supermarine S.6B as it could easily be found in Hendon, Cosford or Duxford...
If you are looking for a reason to visit London with your family, this museum is a very good one, as everybody will find something to learn and to discover, or will be able to admire marvels born from the fertile human imagination.
In addition, the museum lies at a short distance from the famous Harrods mall (where your significant other will happily make good use of your credit card) or from one of the most beautiful art museums.
England will always be recognized for the preservation of its heritage, its culture, its history and it is, without a doubt, the trademark of a great nation.

 
Stephenson's Rocket London & North Western Rly 2-2-2 (1868)
  
 
Airship No.17 Antoinette Monoplane
Avro 504K Avro Rota I (Cierve C.30A)
Cessna F.150F Cody Military Biplane
De Havilland DH.60G Gipsy Moth from Amy Johnson Douglas Dakota IV
Fieseler Fi 103 (V-1) Fokker E.III
Frost Ornithopter Gloster E.28/39
Hawker Hurricane Mk I Hawker Siddeley P.1127
Hawker Siddeley HS.125 Harding Monoplane
Lilienthal glider Lockheed 10A Electra
Messerschmitt Me 163B-1 Pitts S-1S Special
Roe Triplane Rolls-Royce ‘Flying Bedstead’
Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5A Saro Skeeter AOP.12
Schemp-Hirth Cirrus glider Short SC.1
Supermarine S.6B As at the time, "in its juice"
The Schneider Trophy ! 
Supermarine Spitfire Mk Ia Supermarine Spitfire F.22
Vickers Vimy IV from Alcock & Brown Partially unpacked to see internal equipment
 
 De Havilland Gipsy Twelve
 Viale 35 Hp ADC Cirrus II
Armstrong Siddeley Jaguar  Armstrong Siddeley Tiger 
Bentley BR2 Nakajima Homare HA-45-11
ABC Motors Dragonfly Salmson B.9
Wolseley 60 Hp Wolseley W.4A Viper
Beardmore Tornado from R101 airship Beardmore 120 Hp
Royal Aircraf Factory 4a  Rolls Royce Merlin III
 Rolls Royce Trent turboprop
Whittle Jet engine Napier E.146 Oryx
Napier Naiad Rolls Royce / Snecma Olympus 593
 
 
Goddart Rocket parts - German V2 rocket - Bristol Type 84 Bloodhound air to air missile
British Black Arrow rocket British Waxwing rocket motor
Sputnik I  -  Sputnik III  -  Prospero X3
Valentina Tereshkova Vostok 6 module Valentina Vladimirovna Terechkova
Soyouz TM-14 Apollo X 
Russian LK-3 Lunar Lander Apollo moon landing module
Zvezda SOKOL space suit worn by Helen Sharman in 1991 Apollo XI space suit
J-2 rocket engine from Saturn V 2nd stage  -  Gamma 201 engine and re-entry head  -  British Black Knight launcher model
Hubble Space Telescope Mars expedition probe
 
More information's about the Science Museum of London 
can be found by a simple click on the logo...
 

Museum main page- Homepage