The Fleet Air Arm Museum is devoted to the history of British naval aviation. It has an extensive collection of military and civilian aircraft, aero engines, models of aircraft and Royal Navy ships (especially aircraft carriers), and paintings and drawings related to naval aviation. It is located on RNAS Yeovilton airfield, and the museum has viewing areas where visitors can watch military aircraft (especially helicopters) take off and land. At the entrance to the museum are anchors from HMS Ark Royal and HMS Eagle, fleet carriers which served the Royal Navy until the 1970s. It is located 7 miles (11 km) north of Yeovil, and 40 miles (64 km) south of Bristol.
The museum's main display is divided into four areas:
This hall contains a display about the development of naval aviation from the early days of airships and fabric-covered wooden biplanes to modern jet aircraft and helicopters, including the front section of the fuselage of Short 184 8359, built locally by Westland Aircraft in Yeovil and flown at the Battle of Jutland in 1916 before being put on display at the Imperial War Museum, where it was damaged during the Second World War when the museum was hit by a bomb. It is displayed in an unrestored condition.
Currently 2021 contains the following aircraft:
- Short S.27 (replica). An aircraft similar to this was used to make the first takeoff from a moving ship in 1912.
- Short 184 8359
- Sopwith Baby N2078
- Supermarine Walrus L2301, one of the aircraft flown by the Irish Air Corps before being bought back by the Fleet Air Arm after the war for use as a training aircraft.
- Westland Dragonfly HR.5 VX595
- Westland Lynx HAS.3 XZ699
- Westland Wessex HU.5 XS508
- Westland Sea King HAS.6 XV663 "Banana split".
Mainly devoted to the Second World War, with a side room containing a Kamikaze exhibit, which contains a Yokosuka MXY7 Ohka II (BAPC 58), models of Japanese aircraft and final letters from Kamikaze pilots. Two aircraft from the Korean War are also displayed. By the entrance to Hall 3 there is a collection of models of British aircraft carriers, illustrating the history of aircraft carrier design.
The aircraft on display include:
- de Havilland Sea Vampire I LZ551 the third prototype
- de Havilland Sea Vampire T.22 XA127 (pod only)
- Fairey Fulmar N1854: Two-seat fighter. This is the Fulmar prototype, the only surviving example out of the 800 built.
- Fairey Swordfish II P4139
- North American Harvard III EX976: American trainer.
- Grumman Hellcat KE209: American single-seat fighter
- Supermarine Seafire F17 SX137: Naval version of the Supermarine Spitfire
- Hawker Sea Fury FB.11 WJ231 :Post-war single-seat piston-engined fighter
- Grumman Avenger ECM.6B XB446: American torpedo bomber/reconnaissance
- Grumman Martlet AL246
- Vought Corsair KD431: this has had subsequent repaints removed to expose the original 1944 finish.
- Yokosuka MXY7 Ohka II BAPC 58: Japanese Kamikaze aircraft designed to be carried to its target by a converted medium bomber.
- MiG 15: Russian jet fighter.
- Westland Dragonfly HR.5 "WN493"
Instead of a traditional museum hall, the whole hall has been converted into a mock-up of the fleet carrier HMS Ark Royal as it would have appeared in the 1970s. The entrance to this hall is by a simulated Wessex helicopter ride from Hall 2. The hall itself is a simulation of a section of the flight deck of HMS Ark Royal and aircraft are displayed as if they are on the deck. Two large screens show the takeoff and landing of aircraft such as Blackburn Buccaneers and McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom IIs. There is also a series of rooms simulating the carrier's island.
The aircraft include:
- Blackburn Buccaneer S.1 XN957
- Fairey Gannet COD.4 XA466
- Supermarine Scimitar F.1 XD317/112/R
- de Havilland Sea Vixen FAW.2 XS590/131/E
- Hawker Siddeley Buccaneer S.2B XV333
- McDonnell Douglas Phantom FG.1 XT596
- Supermarine Attacker F.1 WA473/102/J
- de Havilland Sea Venom FAW.21 WW138
- Hawker Sea Hawk FGA.6 WV856
- Westland Wessex HU.5 XT482
- Westland Wessex HU.5 XT769
The aircraft on display:
- BAC 221 WG774: Also built as part of the Concorde programme, to explore the high-speed characteristics of the ogival delta wing.
- BAC Concorde G-BSST The second Concorde to fly and the first British-built example. It was flown to Yeovilton in March 1976 and opened to the public in July of that year. It has been on display ever since.
- Sea Harrier FRS.1 XZ493
- Bristol Scout D N5419 (reproduction): Displayed without any of the fabric covering, originally powered with a vintage Le Rhone 9C rotary when flown in the USA
- Handley Page HP.115 XP980: built to explore the performance of low a delta wings at low speeds.
- Hawker Siddeley P.1127, built as part of the development process that led to the Hawker Siddeley Harrier and Sea Harrier.
- BAe Harrier GR.9 ZD433
- Westland Sea King HC.4 ZA298
- Westland Lynx HAS.3 XZ720
In addition to the four main exhibition halls, there are a number of smaller displays. These include:
- A section devoted to the Battle of Taranto, the Fleet Air Arm's most celebrated exploit in World War II. The display includes a Fairey Swordfish, which can also be seen from the link between halls 1 and 2.
- The "Merlin Experience", which explains modern anti-submarine techniques.
The museum's collection includes a number of aircraft which are currently being restored and are not on display, although public access is allowed at least once a year. These are housed in Cobham Hall, a climate controlled building across the road from the museum.
- Beech T-34C-1 Turbo-Mentor 0729
- Bell UH1H Iroquois AE-422
- Bell Sioux AH.1 XT176
- Bensen B.8M G-AZAZ
- Blackburn NA.39 XK488
- BAe Sea Harrier FA2 XZ499
- de Havilland Sea Vixen FAW.1 XJ481
- de Havilland Tiger Moth T.2 XL717
- de Havilland Sea Vampire T.22 XA129
- Douglas Skyraider AEW.1 WV106
- Douglas Skyraider AEW.1 WT121
- Fairey Albacore N4389
- Fairey Barracuda II DP872
- Fairey Barracuda II LS931
- Fairey Firefly TT.4 VH127
- Fairey Firefly TT.1 Z2033
- Fairey Flycatcher (replica) S1287
- Fairey Gannet AEW.3 XL503
- Gloster Meteor T.7 WS103
- Gloster Meteor TT.20 WM292
- Hawker P.1052 VX272
- Hawker Hunter T.8M XL580
- Hawker Sea Hawk FGA.6 XE340
- Hawker Siddeley Harrier T.8N ZB604
- Hiller HTE1 XB480
- Hunting Jet Provost T.3A XN462
- Northrop Chukar XW994
- Northrop Shelduck XS574
- Percival Sea Prince T1 WP313
- Saro P.531 XN332
- Saro P.531 XN334
- Sopwith Camel (replica) B6401
- Sopwith Pup (replica) N6452
- Sopwith Triplane (replica) N5459
- Super Eagle Hang Glider G-BGWZ
- Supermarine 510 VV106
- Westland Gazelle HT.2 XW864
- Westland Sea King HAS.5 XZ574
- Westland Wasp HAS.1 XS527
- Westland Wasp HAS.1 XT427
- Westland Wasp HAS.1 XT778
- Westland Wessex HAS.3 XP142
- Westland Wessex HU.5 XT765
- Westland Whirlwind HAR.1 XA864
- Westland Whirlwind HAR.3 XG574
- Westland Whirlwind HAS.7 XG594
- Westland Whirlwind HAS.7 XL853
- Westland Wyvern TF.1 VR137
Engines on display
The museum possesses a number of aero engines located throughout the halls.
- Alvis Leonides
- Armstrong Siddeley Cheetah
- Bristol Centaurus
- Bristol Mercury
- Bristol Siddeley BS100
- Clerget 9B
- Bristol Siddeley Pegasus
- de Havilland Gipsy Major
- de Havilland Gipsy Queen
- Rolls-Royce Avon
- Rolls-Royce Nene
- Rolls-Royce Merlin
- Rolls-Royce/Snecma Olympus 593
- Sunbeam Gurkha
- Wright R-1820
The museum also carries out various restoration projects. the last project was a Corsair KD 431 which in the summer of 2006 was unveiled as it would have appeared in 1944. Presently[when?] the projects underway are for a Fairey Barracuda and a Gloster Sea Gladiator. Visitors can see into (but not enter) the restoration workshop between Hall 3 and Hall 4.
The Fleet Air Arm Museum is the home to an archive of material related to naval aviation.
The museum's shop has the most extensive selection of naval merchandise in the area, including various themed books and documentaries such as Sailor.
There is an outside adventure playground for children in the museum's grounds and two cafés.
- Aeronauticum, German naval aviation museum, Nordholz
- Fleet Air Arm Museum (Australia), Australian museum of naval aviation, Nowra, New South Wales
- National Naval Aviation Museum, United States museum of naval aviation, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida
- Naval Aviation Museum (India), Indian naval aviation museum, Goa, India
- Patuxent River Naval Air Museum, United States museum of naval aviation RDT&E, Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Lexington Park, Maryland
- Shearwater Aviation Museum, Canadian naval aviation museum, Sheerwater, Nova Scotia.
- "Hall 1". Fleet Air Arm Museum. Retrieved 24 September 2015.
- "Hall 2". Fleet Air Arm Museum. Retrieved 24 September 2015.
- Mason, Francis K. The British Bomber Since 1914. London: Putnam Aeronautical Books, 1994. ISBN 0-85177-861-5.
- "Corsair KD 431 - A Ground Breaking Project". Fleet Air Arm Museum. Retrieved 31 December 2008.
- "Hall 4". Fleet Air Arm Museum. Retrieved 24 September 2015.
- "BAC Concorde". Fleet Air Arm Museum. Retrieved 31 December 2008.
- "Sea King ZA298". FAAM. Retrieved 3 August 2016.
- Ellis 2014, p. 210-211.
- Ellis, K (2014). Wrecks & Relics - 24th Edition. Manchester, UK: Crecy Publishing. ISBN 978-085979-1779.