The RAF Museum is looking for sponsors for its collection – from Douglas Bader’s logbook to a Lancaster Bomber
The Royal Air Force Museum has launched an innovative scheme to raise funds for the care of its collection during these uncertain times – by offering members of the public the opportunity to adopt one of over 50 objects.
With more than 1.3 million items, spanning more than a century of RAF history, Adopt an Artefact highlights a selection of iconic objects, each with their own fascinating story to tell.
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And they range from the tiny: an RAF lapel badge reminding us of the contribution of Commonwealth countries during the Second World War, to the colossal: the Sunderland Flying Boat which was the famous coastal command anti-submarine bomber and reconnaissance aircraft, which now resides in its own display hangar at RAF Museum London.
Everything from lapel badges, lucky mascots and a Red Arrows flying suit to aircraft and even a beer mat are included in the haul of items up for adoption – with prices starting at £25 for a year’s custodianship.
And a bit like other adoption schemes, these museum objects have a life within the museum and all adoptees will receive a digital adoption certificate, online recognition, and photo of their adopted artefact, along with exclusive updates and information on the chosen object throughout the year. If purchased as a gift, or in memory of a loved one, there is also the option to include a dedicated message along with the name of adoptee.
There are three tiers (Standard, Enhanced and Exclusive) reflecting various prices with the Standard tier allowing adoption by several people of some unusual items such as a pack of Playing Cards with Hidden Maps used by RAF prisoners of war in Germany, during the Second World War to smuggle maps into prison camps.
Elsewhere the Fordson Balloon Winch is one of three vehicles on offer – this six-wheeled truck used to hoist barrage balloons can be adopted for £300. A special cage on the back protected the operator from cable injury, or even worse, an electric shock from currents building up along the balloon and cable.
As you might expect with the RAF there are several mascots that once belonged to pilots and airmen including Twinkletoes the Cat, the lucky charm of Arthur Whitten Brown who flew alongside Brown and Captain John Alcock on the first ever non-stop transatlantic flight in a Vickers Vimy in 1919.
The Boulton Paul Defiant turreted night fighter. Courtesy RAF Museum
Scotch Jock the Teddy Bear brought luck to Lieutenant William MacLanachan, a fighter pilot in the Royal Flying Corps on the Western Front, and also reminds us of the part Teddy Bear manufacturers played in supporting the war effort by producing pilots’ clothing during the First World War.
But one of the most venturesome mascots was Percy the Penguin, belonging to Flight Lieutenant Stan Chapman who was the bomb aimer in Halifax HX333 ‘J Jane’, which was hit by flak over Berlin on 29 January 1944.
‘J Jane’ was badly damaged and, tucking Percy the Penguin inside his flying jacket, Stan baled out. Percy was confiscated when he was taken prisoner, but was later returned to Stan by his captors. Both Percy and Stan returned home together when the war ended.
The world of RAF 1940/50s sweetheart fashion is reflected in an RAF Evening Bag, with a pair of pilot’s wings stitched onto a sky-themed fabric. Other items in the standard tier include Badges, a Burma Star and even an unopened tin of powdered egg.
Items in the Enhanced tier are exclusive to one adoptee and include the Uniform of Avis Hearn who refused to leave her post at an RAF radar station while under devastating attack by German dive bombers. Her actions saw her awarded one of only six military medals given to WAAFs during the Second World War.
Another iconic item is Group Captain Douglas Bader’s logbook, which belonged to the famous RAF flying ace and recorded his flights in wartime Britain, where as a Hurricane pilot he led No. 242 Squadron.
Other relics include a fragment of the Mohne Dam, which was destroyed during the famous Dambusters Raid on the night of 16-17 May 1943 by Lancaster bombers of 617 Squadron led by Wing Comander Guy Gibson, and a section of the Berlin Wall recovered after its demolition in 1989.
A selection of 13 aircraft, each available to only one adoptee, include the Hawker Siddeley Gnat T1 used by the world-famous Red Arrows, the Westland Sea King HAR3 flown in 2011 by HRH The Duke of Cambridge while serving as a Search and Rescue pilot at RAF Valley, the Panavia Tornado GR1B, Avro Lancaster 1 and the Boulton Paul Defiant I.
The RAF Museum is also offering up to 20 people the chance to adopt the iconic Supermarine Spitfire Mk Vb, for £200 each within the Standard tier.
All of the artefacts are on display at either the Museum’s Cosford or London site, with the exception of Douglas Bader’s Log Book, which is stored in the archives. A private viewing is promised for the adoptee of this particular piece of RAF history.
Edward Sharman, Head of Development RAF Museum, said the scheme will “help the Museum continue sharing the RAF Story, past, present and future, to engage, inspire and encourage learning for current and future generations”.
“Whether you’re adopting an artefact for yourself, as a gift for an aviation fan, or someone currently serving in the armed forces, it may even be a personal tribute to honour and remember a loved one, this is a fantastic opportunity to be part of the RAF’s history and to receive something unique in return for your support.
“Each item tells its own fascinating RAF story, whether it’s a cute stuffed toy with an adventurous past, clothing that tells more than just a fashion statement, from tiny badges with major honours to large iconic Battle of Britain aircraft, there is something to inspire and connect everyone.”
See all the artefacts and adopt one of them at www.rafmuseum.org.uk/support-us/adopt-an-artefact/
The RAF Museum is now open daily with a range of measures in place to ensure a safe day out. While still offering FREE entry to all, visitors are asked to pre-book their arrival time online at rafmuseum.org
Royal Air Force Museum, London
London, Greater London
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