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:
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:
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:
The aircraft on display:
In addition to the four main exhibition halls, there are a number of smaller displays. These include:
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.
The museum possesses a number of aero engines located throughout the halls.
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.
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