It is a fascinating place packed full of planes of all shapes and sizes, there is almost too much to see. With so much to take in it is a little overwhelming to start but once you get your eye in it becomes easier to focus on the individual planes and even the details and amazing points of interest.
|A view of some of the aircraft on display at Solent Sky.|
The first objects that piqued my plastics spotting interest where some of the smallest objects on display and housed in a small room off the main hall. The room is dedicated to the story of Southampton during the Second World War. Southampton, being a dock and home of the Spitfire was heavily bombed. It was important that people on the home front could recognise the difference between ally planes and those of the enemy; which were a threat and which weren’t.
The objects that really caught my eye were designed to help both pilots and the ground based Observer Corps to identify aircraft. These models, known as recognition models, were made of wood, metal, and later phenol formaldehyde and nylon. The idea is that from a distance the most identifible part of a plane is its silhouette, its shape. The models can be held at any angle a nd be viewed from any direction.
|The nose of this Heinkel had been recovered from the sea. There are some significant stress marks showing on the far side.|
The label adhered to the nose reads:
Nose gun cupola from Heinkel 11[?]
Machine gun was mounted on Ikaria ball-and-socket.
Type of gun mounted wa 7.92mm MG 15 machine gun.
|This image (sourced from Wikipedia) shows just where the section on display would have been mounted on the German aeroplane - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinkel_He_111|
The aircraft on display at Solent Sky are not all related to the military and range from a variety of dates. The largest plane on display is the Beachcomber Flying boat, the hall was built specially to house it. Visitors are able to get inside the vehicle and see the see the luxury and space afforded this giant machine.
|Beachcomber flying boat|
|A bar, removed from the last Aquila flying boat, topped with wipe-clean Formica.|
|Find out more about commercial flying boats on the Solent Sky website.|
The simplest form of aircraft has to be the hang glider consisting of a large polyester sail designed to catch the lifting air currents.
|Hang glider on display at Solent Sky.|
|SUMPAC, Southampton University Man Powered Aircraft.|
Solent Sky really is a must see museum staffed by knowledgeable, enthusiastic staff. There is so much to see, it doesn’t matter how much or little you know about planes, you can’t help but be charmed by the place.
I highly recommend a visit.
Louise Dennis (Assistant Curator)