Text: Marc Arys - Pictures: Serge Van Heertum & Marc Arys  © sbap 2015

(Aerial view Google Earth)

During our trip to the Shutleworth Military Pageant on July 04, 2015, we decided to stop in Baginton, next to Coventry Airport to visit the Midland Air Museum.

On arrival we were welcomed by Mr Barry James, chairman of the Board of Trustees of this museum, who gave us a guided tour through all the beauties to be seen at the site. Barry emphaszied the fact the museum was awarded the status of a Nationally Accredited Museum in recognition for their achievements over the years.

This museum, entirely managed by its members and self funding, was started in 1967 as the Midland Aircraft Preservation Society (MAPS) collecting books, photographs and aircraft parts.

MAPS exhibited at air displays and fetes to raise money for further acquisitions and to attract new members. In 1975 they secured a lease for a small plot of land on the North side of Coventry airport, laying the foundations for a permanent museum. Changing the name to Midland Air Museum in 1977, it became a Charitable Trust with Educational Charity in 1979.

The Midland Air Museum (MAM) opened to the public on Sunday 02, 1978 with only five aircraft on display. Steadily acquiring aircraft for its collection, a big step forward was the arrival of the Avro Vulcan in 1983. The Armstrong Whitworth Argosy Freighter joined the collection in 1987. This latter was particularly significant because of the local connection through the Armstrong Whitworth Company. The museum continued to expand and moved to its present location in 1987, building the display hall which became the Sir Frank Whittle Jet Heritage Centre.

A WWII Robin Hangar was acquired in 1995 giving the museum covered space for restoration projects and additional displays.

In 2010 it funded a purpose built Education Centre and further developments of the collection, infrastructure and visitor services are planned to take the museum forward into the future.

It was absolutely stunning to see such a collection of aircraft and parts cherished by these passionates of aviaton and history. Taking a seat in the Armstrong Withworth Argosy cockpit or the Avro Vulcan Bomber cockpit was already worth the visit...


The SBAP-team would like to thank Mr Barry James for his kind and cordial welcome and especially the much appreciated guided tour of his museum.


If you are travelling to the UK, you have to stop at Baginton and visit the Midland Air Museum. It surely is worthwhile !

  (Marc Arys)
Air Commodore Sir Frank Whittle: "Gentlemen, I give you the Whittle engine"

(Serge Van Heertum)

Frank Whittle, credited with single-handedly inventing the turbojet engine, was born in Earlsdon, Coventry, on June 01, 1907 where he attended a local school and higher education later on at Leamington College. From an early age, Whittle demonstrated an aptitude for engineering and an interest in flying. Aged 16 he joined the R.A.F. and at first was turned down but, determined to join the Royal Air Force, he overcame his physical limitations and was accepted and sent to No. 2 School of Technical Training to join No 1 Squadron of Cranwell Aircraft Apprentices. He was taught the theory of aircraft engines and gained practical experience in the engineering workshops. His academic and practical abilities as an Aircraft Apprentice earned him a place on the officer training course at Cranwell in 1926. Before graduating he wrote a thesis on future developments in aircraft design, his first step towards the turbo-jet engine. Attached to n° 111 Fighter Squadron at Hornchurch he was commisioned as a pilot officer in 1928. It was at the Central Flying School Wittering, that he conceived the idea of using the gas turbine as a means of power for producing jet thrust. In 1930 he took out his first patent on the turbo-jet engine and during this period he performed with other pilots 'Crazy Flying' at the R.A.F. Pageant at hendon, London. During 1931/1932 he was a floatplane and catapult test pilot based at Felixstow, but also did test work at both Calshot and Farnborough. Due to financial difficulties in 1935 he was unable to renew his patent of 1930 and this allowed his patent to be published worldwide. In 1936, together with two others and a firm of investment bankers, he formed Power Jets Ltd, to develop the turbo-jet engine and was placed on Special Duties list to work on his engine. While still working on his engine, he gained first class honours at Cambridge and took out further patents relating to the turbo-jet, the most important of them being the turbo fan engine and reheat. He ran his engine the Whittle Unit (W.U.) on April 12, 1937, the first liquid fuelled turbo-jet engine, at BTH Works at Rugby. His W1 engine powered the Gloster E28/39 Experimental Aircraft on its first flight at Cranwell in 1941. The W1X engine was shipped to the U.S.A. with 3 engineers form Power Jets with the design drawings of his more advanced W2B engine for the General Electric Company to enter the jet engine business. In 1941/1942 the Rover Company and later Rolls Royce were given the secrets of the Whittle engine. The W2/700 engine fitted with afterburning/reheat was developed during 1944/1945 for the Miles 52 supersonic aircraft experimental project. Frank Whittle remained on Special Duties throughout 1946, as he had been since 1935, when he resigned from the company Power Jets. 

This latter was nationalised and merged with the gas turbine section of the R.A.F. at Farnborough to become the National Gas Turbine Establishment (N.G.T.E.). In 1948, Whittle retired from the R.A.F. and received a knighthood. He joined BOAC as a technical advisor before working as an engineering specialist in one of Shell Oil's subsidiaries followed by a position with Bristol Aero Engines. After emigrating to the U.S.A. in 1976 he accepted the position of NAVAIR Research Professor at the United States Naval Academy from 1977-1979. In August 1996, he died of lung cancer at his home in Columbia, Maryland. A memorial service for Air Commodore Sir Frank Whittle was held at Westminster Abbey.

Frank Whittle, the W2/700 Engine and the Gloster E28/39 (Coll Serge Van Heertum & Coll Sbap)
Midland Air Museum collections
The main hangar
Bleriot XI replica (Serge Van Heertum) (Marc Arys)
  Gloster Meteor F.4 (Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
  (Serge Van Heertum) De Havilland Vampire F.1 (Marc Arys)
  English Electric Canberra T.17 (Marc Arys) Cockpit of the T.17 (Serge Van Heertum)

Bae Harrier Cockpit Mock Up (Marc Arys)

 Rear navigator and armament officer section (Serge Van Heertum)

Gloster Meteor  F.8 nose section (Serge Van Heertum)

   The cockpit of the Meteor F.8 (Serge Van Heertum)
  Saab J-29F Tunan from the Swedish Air Force (Marc Arys) Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star (Serge Van Heertum)
  Slingsby T-38 Grasshopper TX.1  (Marc Arys) (Serge Van Heertum)
  "Pou du Ciel" from Henri Mignet  (Serge Van Heertum) Druine Turbulent D.31  (Marc Arys)
  CMC Leopard  (Serge Van Heertum)

   (Serge Van Heertum)
  Some  CMC company models, clearly modern aircraft design  (Serge Van Heertum)
  (Marc Arys) (Serge Van Heertum)
  The cockpit  (Marc Arys) Passengers seats  (Serge Van Heertum)
  Link trainer from the 1950's 
(Serge Van Heertum)
More modern a link trainer designed by Singer (Yes, like sewing machines)
(Marc Arys)
  The AWA (Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft) gallery  (Serge Van Heertum)
  Some amazing projects: 
Armstrong Whitworth AW.680 Argosy double deck design
 (Serge Van Heertum)
Armstrong Whitworth AW.681  and the Armstrong Whitworth AW.52
(Serge Van Heertum)
  Plenty of models  (Serge Van Heertum) RAF prototypes, the relation between the models and the magazines
(Serge Van Heertum)
The Withley Gallery
(Serge Van Heertum)
German Luftwaffe wrecks from different Coventry airfield attacks
(Serge Van Heertum)
  Revolutionary wheel design  (Serge Van Heertum)
  8" Canberra flares carrier
(Serge Van Heertum)
Hawker Siddeley Red Top and Fairey Fireflash missiles
(Serge Van Heertum)
  Westinghouse J-30  (Serge Van Heertum) Evergreen Viper  (Serge Van Heertum)
  Armstrong Whitworth Safire  (Serge Van Heertum) Rolls Royce Avon  (Serge Van Heertum)
  Rolls Royce RB162-25R Spey  (Serge Van Heertum) Rolls Royce Griffon (Marc Arys)
  Some wonderful paintings are also exhibited  (Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
Outside exhibition
(Serge Van Heertum)
English Electric Canberra P.R.3
(Serge Van Heertum)
Nose art of the Canberra from 67 sqn period (RAF Laarbruch)
(Serge Van Heertum)
English Electric Lightning T-55  (Marc Arys) English Electric Lightning F.6  (Serge Van Heertum)
North American F-100D Super Sabre  (Serge Van Heertum) Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star  (Serge Van Heertum)
Percival Prentice  (Marc Arys) De Havilland Dove II in Dunlop colours  (Serge Van Heertum)
De Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver  (Serge Van Heertum) Dassault Mystère IV A  (Serge Van Heertum)
Mc Donnell F-101B Voodoo  (Serge Van Heertum) Vickers Viscount type 708  (Serge Van Heertum)
Lockheed F-104G Starfighter  (Serge Van Heertum) Mikoyan Gurevich Mig 21 SPS "Fishbed D"  (Serge Van Heertum)
Mil Mi-24D Hind in old Farnborough presentation colours
(Serge Van Heertum)
The cockpit
(Serge Van Heertum)
Other view  (Serge Van Heertum) The cabin  (Serge Van Heertum)
North American F-86A (fitted with F model wings)  (Serge Van Heertum) Mc Donnell-Douglas F-4C Phantom II  (Serge Van Heertum)
TS-11 Iska  (Marc Arys) Armstrong Whitworth Meteor NF-14  (Marc Arys)
Panavia Tornado GR.4  (Serge Van Heertum) Exercise bomb of Tornado GR.4  (Serge Van Heertum)
Fairey Gannet T-2  (Serge Van Heertum) De Havilland Sea Vixen F.A.W.2  (Serge Van Heertum)
British Aerospace Sea Harrier FA 2  (Serge Van Heertum) Armstrong Whitworth Sea Hawk FGA 6  (Serge Van Heertum)
Gloster Javelin F.A.W.5  (Serge Van Heertum) Hawker Hunter F.6A  (Marc Arys)
Boulton Paul P.111A  1950's jet prototype  (Serge Van Heertum) Folland Gnat F.1, the museum is looking for wings to complete the aircraft
(Marc Arys)
Hawker Siddeley HS.125 second prototype  (Serge Van Heertum) Westland Wirlwind series 3  (Serge Van Heertum)
Some nose sections: Lockheed Electra, Sea Vixen and Blackburn Buccaneer (Serge Van Heertum)

The museum's G-APRL in action during its career  (Coll SBAP)

(Marc Arys) Some details  (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
The cockpit  (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
Overhead panel  (Serge Van Heertum) Rolls Royce Dart engines  (Serge Van Heertum)
The nose section cargo area just under the cockpit  (Serge Van Heertum) Some structure details  (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) Passengers compartiment  (Serge Van Heertum)
Avro Vulcan B.2  XL360
(Marc Arys)
Close up of the nose with the City of Coventry Coat of Arms badge 
(Serge Van Heertum)
XL360 at the beginning in white colour scheme  (Archives RAF) In the 1970's with the two tone camoflage  (Archives RAF)
Artist view of the XL360 and a Blue Steel missile
(Artwork noname)
The last operational years before retirement at Midland museum
(Archives RAF)-
Entering the cockpit through an underneath access door  (Serge Van Heertum) The intermediate ladder to access the cockpit   (Serge Van Heertum)
Rear view of the cockpit and ejection seats (only for the pilots)
(Serge Van Heertum)
Detail of the scramble start up buttons
(Serge Van Heertum)
General view of the dashboard  (Serge Van Heertum)
Details of the throttles
(Serge Van Heertum)
Other side, the navigator and bomber officer office
(Serge Van Heertum)
Details of a scope screen  (Serge Van Heertum) The radar screen  (Serge Van Heertum)
Wrecks, Reserve and Workshop
Mc Donnell Douglas F-4C Phantom II  (Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
Grunau Baby glider  (Marc Arys)
Beagle 206 Basset  (Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
(Marc Arys) Westland Scout AH.1  (Serge Van Heertum)
The Sea Slug missile   (Serge Van Heertum)

  (Serge Van Heertum)
Fairey Ultra-Light prototype helicopter  (Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
There are only two survivors in the world of this helicopter  (Serge Van Heertum)
Cockpit  (Serge Van Heertum) Dashboard  (Serge Van Heertum)

Flettner Fl-282 V21 Kolibri  (Serge Van Heertum) Unique and authentic  (Serge Van Heertum)
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