February 2023

RAF Manston History Museum is based alongside what was RAF Manston Airport in Kent. The museum celebrates RAF Manston's aviation heritage dating back to the outset of the Great War, when the Admiralty Aerodrome at Manston was formed and from where, during World War II, it was used as a departure point for airborne forces in Operation Market Garden. However, in 1996, it was decided to close the RAF base and this was signed over to the commercial operator of Kent International Airport, who had been in operation since 1989, operating summer season charter flights. In 2004, development began in an attempt to make Manston a budget airline hub, but some of the budget airlines using the facility unfortunately went into administration and eventually London Manston Airport plc itself went into liquidation. In the decade following, many airlines flew charter flights from Manston, but the Airport could not sustain the daily losses accruing and its closure was announced in 2014. The Museum houses many aircraft and exhibits from both military and civilian life.
We also visited the Spitfire and Hurricane Memorial Museum next door, which is also well worth a visit.

Auster AOP MkV - built in 1944 in invasion livery
then used as a post-WWII observation aircraft
Gloster Meteor T.T.20 - built in 1951 as a night fighter
and converted to a target tug in 1959, flying until 1971
Canadair T.133 Silver Star Mk 3 - 1954-1967 - with the Royal Canadian Air Force training prospective fast jet pilots
Bomb Retarding Parachute - to slow the bomb's descent
to allow the aircraft time to escape the detonation
Handley-Page Victor K.2 - 1962-1998 - converted to a tanker in 1970 flew aerial refuelling missions in the first Gulf War in 1991
Sepecat Jaguar GR.3 - First based in Laarbruch, Germany in 1976, operational tours in the first Gulf War in 1990 and in Bosnia in 1994
Slingsby Kirby Cadet Mk 3 - buit in 1953 to give Air Cadets
their first experience of flight, used at several gliding schools
until it was damaged in an accident in 1968
De Havilland Chipmunk T.10
served with the Army Air Corps to train Army pilots
Hunter Pathfinder 2 Microlight - made in Brighton in 1982,
exported to Indonesia but never assembled, gifted to the Museum
in 2003 where volunteers took 138 man-hours to build it
Westland Wessex Helicopter HU.5 - entered Royal Navy service in 1963, research aircraft at Farnborough, Norway and Canada until 1985, finally an instructional airframe at Farnborough until 1999
Blackburn Buccaneer - 1962-1994
undertook combat operations in the Gulf War in 1991
Supermarine Spitfire MkXVI -saw combat action in WWII in 1945
displayed in the Spitfire & Hurricane Memorial Museum

Hawker Siddeley Buccaneer S. Mk2 Ejection Seat
from the rear navigator seat of an RAF Buccaneer jet