Prague Aviation Museum, Kbely
|Prague Aviation Museum
Letecké Muzeum Kbely
Visitors looking at the aircraft and helicopters on display at the Kbely Museum in May 2008
|Location||Kbely, Czech Republic|
History of Kbely Airfield
Kbely was the first Czechoslovak military airfield, and during the inter-war period was the venue for several major public air shows. The first scheduled flight operated by CSA Czechoslovak Airlines (now CSA Czech Airlines) departed from Kbely for Bratislava in October 1923. Kbely airfield is not now used as a front line Czech Air Force base, but it is utilised by military transport aircraft of the Czech Air Force, and the VIP aircraft which transport Czech politicians.
Creation of the museum
During the mid 1960s, the Prague Military Museum commenced a programme to recover, restore and preserve historic aircraft from around the country for eventual display at Kbely. Initially, one hangar was used, and about fifty aircraft were placed on public display. The aircraft collection continued to grow, and one of the original Wagner type hangars on the airfield was brought into use, and now contains the earliest aircraft types on display. Another Picha-type hangar has also been added to bring the number of hangars housing the large and varied collection to four.
The aircraft collection
The collection at Kbely now includes 275 aircraft, of which approximately 110 are on public display at any given time. The museum contains many Czech designed and Czech built aircraft dating from World War I through World War II and up to 1960s supersonic jet fighters. Several unique types are on display, including the early 1920s-built Avia BH-11C L-BONK. Aircraft from World War II include a Soviet-built Ilyushin Il-2 Shturmovik. The formerly displayed fully authentic Supermarine Spitfire LF.IX flown by a Czech squadron of the Royal Air Force was transferred to its owner, the National Technical Museum in Prague in 2008.
In addition to the many military aircraft and helicopters on display, there are several Soviet-designed airliners, some of which were built under licence in Czechoslovakia. Airliners displayed include the Avia 14M (Ilyushin Il-14), an Avia 14T, an ex-CSA Ilyushin Il-18 and a CSA Tupolev Tu-104. Light aircraft exhibited include the Czech-built Praga E-114 Air Baby of 1936, a Mraz Sokol, an Aero 45, an Orlican L-40 Meta Sokol and a Zlin 22 Junak. Helicopters on display include a HC-2 Heli-Baby designed by VZLU (Výzkumný a zkušební letecký ústav).
After 1 January 1993, when Czechoslovakia was divided, a few aircraft were transferred from the collection to the Slovak Republic for its museums. Also, in recent years, the museum has exchanged several Czech- and Soviet-designed aircraft for military aircraft from the USA, UK, Sweden, Switzerland and other countries.
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