I recently had the chance to see the RAF museum in London. If you are into history or airplanes and ever find yourself in the neighborhood, I highly recommend you stop by for a look. They have flying machines from all eras but the ones I really wanted to see were those from the Second Great War. Here are some of my favorites.
Perched on a turntable in a prominent spot is this beautiful P-51. The turntable allows a photographer to shoot from all angles without moving. What will they think of next!
One of the aircraft which would have gotten the attention of the P-51 pilot is this Me-262. We could debate for days on how effective it was in combat but that's not the point. It's just a really cool plane.
The British response to the German jet: The Gloster Meteor. The two planes are parked tail-to-tail.
Here's a shot with a high coolness-quotient. The Mosquito is nice but notice the Storm Shadow missile flying over its wing, and the Merlin V-12 on a stand at its side. And that's the Me-262 wing in the foreground. One wouldn't be blamed for weeping tears of joy at this spot.
In a museum, the Me-109 can sit peacefully side-by-side with a B-17. In the old days, these two would have been bent on destroying each other. (Although I suspect the bulk of the Me-109s which encountered B-17s weren't sporting these colors.)
He 162 "People's Fighter." As in, "Let's strap a jet engine to a wooden airframe and find some people to fly it." It was also known as the "Salamander." I don't care what anyone says; it's not a great idea to name your experimental aircraft after an amphibian.
There were a few Spitfires on display, for those who enjoy the British fighters.
My what big teeth the Curtiss Kitty Hawk has. This is one of the many things we gave to the Brits to help them with their war effort. You may recall that after a few years of that, we decided to head on over and help out (i.e., soldiers).
What self-respecting tourist can leave without taking the obligatory selfie? The museum is just a short walk from a Tube station and the admission was nominal. If anyone has specific questions about the planes here or wants to see more specific closeups etc, let me know. I shot 500 pics, give or take.
Steve Lehto is an attorney and writer. He wrote Chrysler's Turbine Car: The Rise and Fall of Detroit's Coolest Creation and The Great American Jet Pack: The Quest for the Ultimate Individual Lift Device both published by Chicago Review Press. Follow him on Twitter: @stevelehto