To mark its half century, the RAF Museum has made several items available for ‘adoption’ – including its Boulton Paul Defiant
In celebration of the Royal Air Force Museum’s 50th Anniversary, five artefacts spanning five decades have been made available for adoption. Each has been chosen by a curator to tell the story of the museum and its early years, including two objects with a special Royal connection.
The attraction’s Bouton Paul Defiant, the sole surviving example of its type, is among the artefacts. The aircraft was part of the original displays at the RAF Museum London when it opened in 1972. It has since moved to the museum’s Midlands site, which is a fitting home for an aircraft manufactured in Wolverhampton. The Defiant was a two-seat turret fighter which operated with mixed fortunes during the Battle of Britain period. It found its niche as a night fighter in the 1940-42 period, as well as extensive use later in the war for air-sea rescue and target tug roles in the UK and Middle and Far East.
A remarkable piece of footage showing Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II officially opening the museum is also among the five new artefacts in the adoptable collection. Filmed by one of the museum’s first curators in November 1972, the footage shows Her Majesty arriving, signing the guest book, and unveiling a commemorate plaque. The plaque remains on display at the museum’s London site to this day and the film of the Royal visit is part of the museum’s digital collection.
The pen used by Her Majesty to sign the visitor book on that opening day is also available for adoption. The inconspicuous pen, never used again, is kept in the reserve collection, at Stafford.
Found in the archive collection is a photograph album complied by RAF personnel showing the last days of RAF Hendon and the beginnings of the RAF Museum London. The photographs capture the station’s role changing, including the removal of the original entrance to RAF Hendon, and a visit from the Duke of Edinburgh. This unusual adoption provides a photographic account of the landscape changing into what we recognise today.
To mark the museum’s 50th anniversary a new art exhibition ‘To the Stars’ opened in London. Included in this is Cyril Power’s Lino Cut ‘Air Raid’, a visual representation of a dogfight, and of Power’s service in the Royal Flying Corps during World War One. This adoptable artefact is one of the first artworks acquired by the museum’s inaugural director, John Tanner, in the mid-70s.
Ella Hewitt, RAF Museum Individual Giving Manager said: “There are so many wonderful objects that could have told the story of the museum, it was difficult to choose five. The artefacts we selected show a really nice cross section of our story and the breadth of our collection. We have something from our archives, an item from our store in Stafford, a digitised piece of film, something from our new art exhibition and an aircraft that has been on display at both sites.”
Adoptees will receive a 50th anniversary edition digital photo, certificate, online recognition with a personalised message, and exclusive updates throughout the year. Starting at £25, adoptions last 12 months from the date they are adopted. People can browse the items and adopt online at rafmuseum.org