Fairey Delta 2

The Fairey Delta 2  was a British supersonic research aircraft produced by the Fairey Aviation Company in response to a specification from the Ministry of Supply for a specialised aircraft for conducting investigations into flight and control at transonic and supersonic speeds. Features included a delta wing and a drooped nose. On 6 October 1954, the Delta 2 made its maiden flight, flown by Fairey test pilot Peter Twiss; two aircraft would be produced. The Delta 2 was the final aircraft to be produced by Fairey as an independent manufacturer.

Fairey Delta 2

The Fairey Delta 2 was the first jet aircraft to exceed 1000 mph in level flight. On 10 March 1956, it set a new world speed record of 1,132 mph. The Delta 2 held the absolute World Air Speed Record for over a year. It continued to be used for flight testing, and was allocated to the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) in 1958.


The TSR-2 was a cancelled Cold War strike and reconnaissance aircraft developed by the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) for the Royal Air Force in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

This is one of the three prototypes, XR220, at RAF Cosford.

The TSR-2 was designed to penetrate a well-defended forward battle area at low altitudes and very high speeds, and then attack high-value targets in the rear with nuclear or conventional weapons.

Although never developed beyond the prototype stage, the British Aircraft Corporation TSR2 was one of the most exciting and controversial British combat aircraft designs of the 1960s.

The cancellation of the project is a subject of great debate to this day.


Short Belfast

The Short Belfast is a heavy lift turboprop freighter that was built by British manufacturer Short Brothers at Belfast. Only 10 aircraft were constructed, all of which entered service with the Royal Air Force.

Short Belfast

There are two left, one in Cairns Australia and the other at RAF Cosford.

Upon its entry into service, the Belfast held the distinction of becoming the largest aircraft that the British military had ever operated up to that time.

Short Belfast

Sikorsky MH-53J Pave Low III

Sikorsky MH-53J Pave Low III

This Sikorsky MH-53J Pave Low III was on display in the Cold War Exhibition at RAF Cosford.

The MH-53J Pave Low III helicopter was the largest, most powerful and technologically advanced transport helicopter in the US Air Force inventory. The terrain-following and terrain-avoidance radar, forward looking infrared sensor, inertial navigation system with Global Positioning System, along with a projected map display enable the crew to follow terrain contours and avoid obstacles, making low-level penetration possible.

Sikorsky MH-53J Pave Low III

The MH-53J’s main mission was to drop off, supply, and pick up special forces behind enemy lines. It also can engage in combat search and rescue missions. Low-level penetration was made possible by a state-of-the-art terrain following radar, as well as infrared sensors that allow the helicopter to operate in bad weather. It was equipped with armor plating.

English Electric P1A

The first flight of P1 WG760 was on 4 August 1954, just 10 years after the RAF’s first jet aircraft, the Meteor, entered squadron service. It was experimental and was the basis for the RAF’s front line fighter, the English Electric (later BAC) Lightning. It was the first and only truly supersonic aircraft developed by Britain on her own.

In 1947 the proverbial back of an envelope design was so novel that the Ministry of Supply and the Royal Aircraft Establishment were deeply concerned as to whether it could succeed. Nevertheless, they placed an order for an experimental study. Two years later they placed a contract for two prototypes and an airframe for static testing.

Primary concern was the 60 degree sweepback of the wing and the low position of the tail plane. To have the concept independently tested they contracted Short Bros. to build the SB5, an aircraft whose wing sweepback could be changed and tail plane raised or lowered. In the event both the P1 and SB5 confirmed the concept.

WG760, the first of the two prototypes, exceeded the speed of sound in level flight, achieving Mach 1.22. The second prototype P1A WG763 reached a maximum of Mach 1.53.

Further developments of the fuselage and the fitting of more powerful engines meant that later aircraft exceeded Mach 2.0. The Lightning stayed in service for nearly three decades.


The BMP-1 is a Soviet amphibious tracked infantry fighting vehicle. This one was on display in the Cold War Exhibition at RAF Cosford.

The BMP-1 was the first mass-produced infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) of the Soviet Union. The Russian BMP-1 went into production in the early 1960’s and marked an important departure from previous armoured personnel carriers. Not just an infantry carrier, it provided a measure of combat capability with the vehicle. Its high mobility, effective anti-tank weapons combined with its armoured protection made it a significant addition to Soviet battlefield forces.

Armament for the time was formidable with a 73mm low-pressure gun, co-axial machine gun and launcher rail for the “Sagger” anti-tank guided weapon with five missiles provided. In addition the infantry section passengers could contribute with their own weapons from within the vehicle. These could typically include a further two machine guns, six assault rifles and a surface to air ‘Grail’ missile.

In addition the vehicle is fully amphibious, being propelled by its tracks. There is also a fully operational NBC system. It is easy to visualise the concern that must have greeted the introduction of this vehicle, with the prospect of large numbers of them combined with the latest Soviet tanks poised to overrun the West.

As is usually the case however, the vehicle had a number of faults and at least initially were only deployed with front line units, the follow up units having to make do with less advanced vehicles.

There was an ex-Iraqi model on display at Duxford.

Handley Page Hastings

The Handley Page HP.67 Hastings was a British troop-carrier and freight transport aircraft designed and manufactured by aviation company Handley Page for the Royal Air Force. Upon its introduction to service during September 1948, the Hastings was the largest transport plane ever designed for the service.

This is TG511 (T5) on display in the National Cold War Exhibition at the RAF Museum Cosford.

Development of the Hastings had been initiated during the Second World War in response to Air Staff Specification C.3/44, which sought a new large four-engined transport aircraft for the RAF.

The type was rushed into service so that it could participate in the Berlin Airlift.

Here you can see the engines, even if this BMP-1 gets in the way…

Another view of the Hastings with the Dakota in the background.

Hastings continued to be heavily used by RAF up until the late 1960s, the fleet being withdrawn in its entirety during 1977. The type was succeeded by various turboprop-powered designs, including the Bristol Britannia and the American-built Lockheed Hercules.

Douglas Dakota

The Douglas C-47 Skytrain or Dakota  is a military transport aircraft developed from the civilian Douglas DC-3 airliner. It was used extensively by the Allies during World War II and remained in front-line service with various military operators for many years. The Douglas C47, known as the Dakota in the Royal Air Force and Commonwealth services, became the world’s best known transport aircraft. The type saw widespread use by the Allies during the Second World War and by Air Forces and airlines post-war.

In the Cold War Exhibition at RAF Cosford, suspended from the ceiling is a Douglas Dakota.

The C47 Skytrain and C53 Skytrooper were military versions of the DC3 airliner. The DC3 first flew in 1935 and was ordered by America’s airlines. With the outbreak of war these aircraft were diverted to the Allied Air Forces, followed by 10000 military variants constructed before production ceased in 1946. Japan and the Soviet Union also built over 2000 unlicensed copies.

The first of over 1900 Dakotas received by the RAF arrived in India in 1942. Dakotas served in every theatre of the war, notably in Burma, during the D-Day landings and the airborne assault on Arnhem in 1944.

Most RAF Dakotas had been retired or sold by 1950, the last active aircraft leaving the service in 1970.

The Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough operated a former Royal Canadian Air Force example (ZA947) from 1971 until 1993, when it joined the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) took their first deliveries of Douglas Dakota C47s in 1943 and the last of approximately 60 aircraft in 1946. During WWII Dakotas were operated by both the RAF and BOAC. After the war, BOAC sold the fleet, fourteen of which went to British European Airways when the airline was formed in 1946.