55° 56′ 57″ N / 3° 12′ 06″ W
The National War Museum of Scotland is a multiple threat institutions since visitors also explore Edinburgh Castle as well as other museums (including one with Scotland’s Crown Jewels and the Stone of Destiny.
The National War Museum of Scotland is charming and quaint as well as being a world class facility. Artifacts from on as well as off the battlefield are displayed with art and grace but it is the large paintings which set this museum apart. It’s not that large painting, even murals, cannot be seen in other museum of course—it’s that visitors can stand so near them, near enough to see each brush stroke. It is breathtaking to observe the minute detail in these artworks, the combat illustration of the day, as well as where the artists purposefully obscured detail for effect. Individual facial expressions, odd body posturing, smoke, confusion and emotion are all there to see and get a thing of vicarious experience.
The largest artifact is a field cannon so most artifacts are light weapons, medals and the like—along with a fantastic amount of art. Many of the objects are hundreds of years in age but look absolutely pristine and amazingly so.
Entry is free and children are welcomed with most displays at their sighting level. An immensely enjoyable café is nearby that has a gorgeous vista of Edinburgh as well as the 105mm howitzer used at the 1pm signaling so that ship captains may set their chronometers.
Closing of the Gates at Hougoumont by Scotland’s Robert Gibb shows the closely run moment during the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 when British soldiers rushed to close the gates at the fortified farmhouse occupying a key position protecting Wellington’s right flank and was the first action at Waterloo.
Storming of Tel-el Kebir by Alphonse Marie de Neuville showing the decisive moment when, after a night march, the British forces stormed the Egyptian defenses in 1882. The artist studied the faces of many of the soldiers after the battle so that their faces would be accurately portrayed in this painting.
Warren Moore of the Historic Aviation Memorial Museum shared great news as well as photos with us and that is their completions of their Grumman F9F-8 Cougar restoration (shown above). Historic Aviation Memorial Museum is impressive and full of energy with its flying MiG-17 aircraft and more—it is a rewarding stop to make.
He also shared images of H.A.M.M.’s MiGs—yes, MiGs in the heart of Texas!
51° 29′ 45″ N / 0° 6′ 31″ W
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.
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.
There are web sites that carry museum listings, including this blog (see the page tabs in the menu bar) and some have a unique character to them—and there are hundreds of listings. Finding the large museums is easy but finding the smaller or specialized museums can be challenging. Then there is the URL checking, reverifying the web addresses are viable and for that job we can thank Patrick Carry of the Warbird Alley list. Patrick has been verifying the URLs and we have many thanks for his work.
Recently we heard from Dave Newill who informed us of a handful of Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust museum sites so we thank him as well.
Last but not least we thank the Air Museum Network Directory for also keeping a museum list.
Thanks to everyone, especially to Patrick Carry who systematically reverifies URLs as well as names (as it turns out they can change with more frequency that one might expect).