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Imperial War Museum–London

13 March 2017

51° 29′ 45″ N / 0° 6′ 31″ W


The Imperial War Museum–London’s front entry is hosted by a pair of 15-inch battleship guns vintage early 1900s with the HMS Ramillies gun on the left and the HMS Resolution’s on the right—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft

The Imperial War Museum of London, IWM–London, is the preeminent museum for British military history. The newly revamped building is modern and sophisticated with several floors creatively exhibiting historical artifacts from the unique to the ordinary. Visitors can see the hardships of civilians, the desperation of a country set back on its heels, the creativity and initiative of a world power—all in a delightful visit which is free of charge, a well stocked café and in central London just a stone’s throw from the former apartment of Capt. Bligh that is still in use as an abode today. Walk in from historic Lambeth Street, purchase the excellent guidebook for £5 and proceed to experience as well as enjoy.


Imperial War Museum–London has this outstanding entry hall with an emphasis on WW II—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft


Imperial War Museum–London’s main hall with a V-1 as well as a V-2 with a Spitfire and a Harrier as well as land based exhibits—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft


The Imperial War Museum–London’s Supermarine Spitfire Mk Ia flew 57 combat missions in WW II with 13 pilots of which only 6 survived to see the end of the war—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft


Imperial War Museum–London’s Spitfire’s characteristic elliptical wings—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft


Spitfire of the Imperial War Museum–London—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft

The main entry is meant to wow and it succeeds with displays of WW I and WW II and modern day war artifacts. The V-1 (the “Buzz Bomb”) is there looking brand new and one can see the basic construction techniques used to manufacture this ancestor to today’s cruise missiles. The V-2 (the world’s first ballistic missile weapon) is present with the added bonus of one side being cutaway to better study the engine as well as propellant tanks.

There are also two combat veteran aircraft—a Supermarine Spitfire and a Hawker Siddeley Harrier suspended from the ceiling.

Not to be missed are the WW I gun carriage, news vehicle from use in Gaza as well as a car absolutely crushed by a car bomb in Baghdad and a Russian T-34 tank.

This space can be viewed from several stairway landings as well as floors which all open to this space. One never feels cramped while moving from one inviting display to the next.

This hall is only the start as there are  five floors to explore with the uppermost visitor’s floor dedicated to those awarded the Victoria Cross—its is both a somber as well as an inspirational presence.

The gift shop is on this floor as is the café and each is a well done affair. The café especially is a welcome place to rest for a bit and let the brain catch up before exploring more of this fantastic museum. Although there are more than enough restrooms the ones this floor have more capacity and are the recommended ones to utilize.

The welcome desk is also located here, once well into the museum, and is more than handy for assistance as well as tickets to special displays. The museum entry is gratis but special exhibitions may have a fee.


V-2 cutaway emphasizing the engine as well as propellent tanks in the Imperial War Museum–London—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft

Imperial War Museum–London—Joseph May: MayTravel for Aircraft

Hawker Siddeley Harrier at the Imperial War Museum–London—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft


Imperial War Museum–London’s V-1 and gift shop—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft


Imperial War Museum–London oil painting by Walter Bayes depicting Londoners in a tube station seeking safety (not during during WW II’s London Blitz as one might expect) from some of the world’s earliest strategic bombing which occurred during World War I—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft


The firm Luftschiffbau Schütte-Lanz was innovative in airship design and the SL 11 with other airships were used for strategic bombing missions by Germany against Great Britain during WW I. Although ineffective militarily these missions havoc with the civilian population handing the British government an immense debacle to resolve. Airships were not as easy to shoot down as, perhaps, originally presumed until the invention of incendiary ammunition (the airships used hydrogen back in this day). Lt. William Leefe Robinson shot down the SL 11 in a BE 2C using tracer ammunition while braving defensive machine fire from the ship. The SL 11 went down in Cuffley with the loss of her entire crew.  Schütte-Lanz SL 11 airship model of the Imperial War Museum–London—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft



Cutaway Merlin V-12 engine (Is there an engine more famous than the Merlin?) showing part of the valve train and cam shafts in the Imperial War Museum–London—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft


Imperial War Museum–London has the nose section of this Avro Lancaster Mk I “Old Fred” at a level more easy to see than on a Lanc sitting in a hangar—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft


Imperial War Museum–London’s detailed view of the nose turret and bombardier’s position of their Lancaster Mk I—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft


Imperial War Museum–London’s detail of Old Fred’s artwork —Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft


Imperial War Museum–London’s German 88 antiaircraft gun, antitank gun, anti everything gun—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft


Imperial War Museum–London’s Mitsubishi Zero conserved wreck—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft


Imperial War Museum–London’s Mitsubishi Zero conserved wreck—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft


Imperial War Museum–London’s Mitsubishi Zero conserved wreck—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft


One of the tail fins from Luftwaffe Major Heinz Schnaufer’s Bf 110 fighter showing his 121 aerial victories displayed in the Imperial War Museum–London—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft


Imperial War Museum–London’s French designed and manufactured Exocet missile display as this weapon dramatically affected the UK’s casualties in the Falkland’s War when used by the Argentine military forces—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft


The Australian Ikara missile “Throwing stick” in Australia’s aboriginal language was a ship launched antisubmarine torpedo which used a booster rocket as well as a sustainer rocket in the Imperial War Museum–London—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft


Imperial War Museum–London Ikara rear aspect view—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft


The Imperial War Museum–London has General Montgomery’s Humber staff car which was used in Egypt during WW II—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft


The ahead-of-its-time WW II Kriegsmarine G7e T3 torpedo which was electrically powered (leaving no warning wake) as well as accurate in the Imperial War Museum–London—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft


Imperial War Museum–London has this classic WW II 3-man Wehrmacht BMW R75 motorcycle with sidecar which was useful on poor roads, for messaging and mobility for a machine gun team—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft


Reuter’s armored Land Rover used by the press in Gaza (note the battle damage, especially the rocket or shrapnel hit to the upper right of the roof) in the main hall of the Imperial War Museum–London—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft


Imperial War Museum–London’s Ferret Armoured Scout Car Mk II (which is a 4×4)—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Richard permalink
    3 June 2018 13:56

    The painting of civilians sheltering in the London Ungerground is in fact an oil painting on canvas called ‘The Underworld’ by Walter Bayes,

    It shows people from wealthy and working classes seeking seeking shelter (notice the woman in the fur coat with the evening bag sitting next to a baby having its nappy changed and the soldier enjoying a song with the accordian players while others try and sleep) not from WW2 air attacks but from German airships and Gotha bombers in WW1.

    It is generally described as his most famous work and was produced in 1918 and shows the See and for more details.

    • travelforaircraft permalink
      3 June 2018 17:38


      Again, thanks so much for your explanations and citations. It is more than helpful and serves to bring the history across in a better fashion. The painting is emotive and what you’ve provided so informative we’ll do a proper post about the painting. I also amended the caption to reflect the proper war (my apologies).

      My thanks,


  2. Richard permalink
    3 June 2018 14:14

    You may also like to know that the vehicle you describe as a ‘Alvis Saladin Mk 2 armored car’ is in fact a ‘Ferret Armoured Car’ (also called a ‘Ferret Armoured Scout Car’) and as your photo shows is a 4×4 drive vehicle. On its journey to the Museum collection in 1984 it raised money for a UK children’s charity.

    See for full details.

    • Joe May permalink
      3 June 2018 15:32


      Thanks so much. I’ll amend the caption when I get back to my computer today. Very helpful of you to provide the citation as well.

      Thanks again, Joe

  3. Richard permalink
    4 June 2018 09:55

    Hi Joe.

    You are most welcome. We all do it – as they say someone who never made a mistake never made anything!

    The painting is a very easy to get confused as people mostly think of the bombing of London as a Second World War thing.

    Regarding the Ferret… well, I knew it wasn’t a 6×6 but I had to rank my brains (and that search engine) to come up with the right name!

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