I visited the NATIONAL COLD WAR EXHIBITION during the week of 12th February this year, only one week after the official opening by HRH The Princess Royal and attended by The Rt Hon Baroness Thatcher. During the first week alone the new exhibition welcomed over 20,000 to view its 20 aircraft and associated Cold War memorabilia, including weaponry, missiles, military vehicles and several interactive displays.
The aircraft on show are:Avro Vulcan B2 - XM598Avro York C1 - TS798Blackburn Buccaneer (nose section) - XN972Douglas Dakota KN645English Electric Lightning F1 - XG337English Electric Canberra PR9 - XH171General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark - 74-0177Gloster Javelin FAW1 - XA564Gloster Meteor NF14 - WS843Hawker Hunter T7A - XL568Handley Page Hastings T5 - TG511Handley Page Jetstream T1 - XX946Handley Page Victor K2 - XH672McDonnell Douglas Phantom-II FG1 (nose section) - XV591Mikoyan Gurevich Mig-15 - 01120Mikoyan Gurevich Mig-21 - 503North American Sabre F4 - XB-812Scottish Aviation Twin Pioneer CC1 - XL-993Short Belfast C1 - XR731Vickers Valiant - XD818
The exhibition is housed in a stunning purpose built structure, which cost a little under £12.5 million. If this seems like a lot of money it is soon dwarfed by the cavernous 80,000sqft building. The austere and functionalist feel of the building sets the scene for the Cold War and you instantly feel as though you could almost be in a military bunker. To add to this, it is probably the first (and only) time that all three V-bombers have been displayed under one roof! There is a shop, and even a purpose built classroom to accommodate school groups.
In short this is a great facility which easily falls into the top three aviation museums in the UK. The only real omission to the exhibition is a major Russian airframe. While the Mig-15 and Mig-21 are worth inclusions to the exhibit, it would be a real bonus to acquire say the nose section of a Tupolev Bear or Myasischev Bison. After all, the wall "Iron Curtain" is open, the "Wall" is down and Bears are being broken up like there is no tomorrow, where has all the "Glasnost" gone?