Formerly known as the Mosquito Museum, the D.H.A.H.C is located a stone's throw from the M25, but pleasantly isolated in itself. Dedicated to the preservation of aircraft from the extensive family of De Havilland, there are many gems to be found within its grounds.

History

The Visitors Guide to the museum raises a very good point with regards to history - a first time visitor may potentially be somewhat confused as to the reason for an aviation museum being so far from an airfield.

The reason for the location is firmly rooted in De Havilland history. In 1939, Salisbury Hall (the present location) was taken over by the company for production of their secret new wooden bomber, the De Havilland DH.98 Mosquito (none of the original disguised hangar remains, apart from the runnings for the hangar door). Once built, the prototype (preserved here today!) was disassembled and taken by road to nearby Hatfield airfield, where the first flight was conducted. Four more Mosquitos were assembled at the site, with the final 3 being flown out from adjacent fields - saving almost a month in dismantling!

Later in World War II, the site was also used for development of the Horsa glider (built by Airspeed, which had been acquired by De Havilland). 2 prototypes were built at the site, and first flown from Fairey's Great West Aerodrome.

Preliminary work was also done on the "Spider Crab" aircraft - later to become known as the De Havilland Vampire, and a mockup of the fuselage was built here. After the De Havilland Aeronautical Technical School moved out in 1948, the site was abandoned.

Rediscovered in the 1950s by Walter Goldsmith (who apparently discovered the aviation connection through graffiti in the toilet block!), the prototype Mosquito was soon acquired by the museum. In May 1959, the museum opened its doors - becoming Britains first official aviation museum. Things have only gotten better since then, with the addition of a great number of historical De Havilland designs.

The Museum

Located next to Salisbury Hall, the Museum is in the middle of a quaint countryside hamlet, just off the B556. With one small and one large hangar, as well as a moderate collection of external exhibits, the D.H.A.H.C has enough to keep you busy for a full afternoon (which as it turns out is the only time the museum opens!).

The main highlight of the museum has to be the aircraft at the centre of the original Mosquito Museum - it comes as no surprise that these happen to be De Havilland Mosquitos. Three airframes are currently preserved here, including W4050 - the prototype aircraft. All three are housed in the central hangar, which does make it somewhat cramped! However, this is a small price to pay, as it means that these wooden aircraft are protected from the somewhat unpredictable British weather! One aircraft (TD634) is complete, whilst both the others (W4050 and TJ122) are currently undergoing restoration. Older photos from the museum show that W4050 has been in one piece, but during the visit this review was made from, she was undergoing deep maintenance.

As well as the Mosquitos themselves, there are large selections of models and other paraphenalia relating to the Mosquito. The "Memorabilia" room must surely have one of the largest Mosquito model collections in the country! There is also an  Airfix 1/24 scale Mosquito donated by Military Modelling - the standard of work on this particular kit is exceptional, and really deserves the large space allocated to it!

Of course, De Havilland did not only produce the Mosquito and so there are a wide range of other airframes present here. The second smaller hangar contains a selection of the older De Havilland designs, including a Queen Bee, Tiger Moth, Hornet Moth and Cierva C.24. This room also contains many more artefacts related to the De Havilland Company, including the rear fuselage of a Sea Hornet F.21 - one of the best preserved parts of this sadly extinct airframe.

There is also Halford Hall, containing a walk through History of the De Havilland company, and also many engines related to the company, such as the Gyron (Shorts Sperrin) and Gyron Junior (Buccaneer). Ideally this room should be visited first, to set the background for the rest of your visit around the museum.

Externally there are several more complete airframes, and aircraft parts. Many of the larger airliners are open to the public - including a Dove, Heron, Trident II and Comet Simulator. It also appears as if some other aircraft may be viewable on different days (such as the second Dove and DH.125). Other noteworthy exhibits outside include a De Havilland Vampire T.11, and De Havilland Sea Vixen FAW.2. The eventual aim is to preserve all the aircraft indoors - although extra space will be required for this. For now, several (listed in the exhibits) aircraft live outdoors permanently - and are in very good condition.

If anyone is visiting the museum with the intention of collecting serials, it is worthy of note that although the website lists several aircraft as being in Storage, these are actually held off site at another location. The aircraft in question are Otter VP-FAK, Vampire NF.10 WM729, Venom FB.4 WR539 and Venom FB.3 WX853 (although the wings of the latter were in the main hangar during this visit). There is also a second Chipmunk (WP869) in storage, which was noted at the museum, although not publically viewable.

Photography at the Museum

Photography at D.H.A.H.C is very pleasant. The museum opening hours mean that the sun is beneficial to photographs for all of the afternoon (assuming, of course, that the sun is out!). There are no barriers around any of the aircraft. This is a bonus in enabling clean photographs, but at the same time can cause issues with people in backgrounds. Wait a few minutes, and you'll get the angle you want. Some of the photographs in this review seem to be taken from height - the reviewer simply held a tripod above his head with a timer delay on the camera. It takes a few attempts to get right sometimes, but you come away with a different angle.

Photography inside the main hangar is slightly difficult, due to the cramped surroundings. As the hangar is very much alive, in so much as it is being used continually for restoring the aircraft, there is understandably a lot of equipment around. That added to the large number of exhibits here makes photography slightly tricky. The Mosquito aircraft are the hardest to photograph, although it is by no means impossible!

Transport and Location

The De Havilland Aircraft Restoration Centre is located, as previously mentioned, right alongside the M25. To find the museum, exit the M25 at Junction 22 and head towards South Mimms on the B556. The museum will be on your right hand side, and has road signs denoting its location (although these still refer to it as the Mosquito Aircraft Museum). A Coach park is also provided 100 yards further along the B556.

For public transport, the easiest method is by bus. The No.84 bus between St Albans and Potters Bar station stops right outside the museum (on both sides of the road), and costs a mere £3.30 for a return to Potters Bar. Buses are roughly every 25 minutes, and it is about 10 minutes from the station to the museum. The bus stop you want is "Salisbury Hall" - the bus does not stop at every stop unless requested, so make sure to let the driver know! Once at the bus stop, just walk down the drive (200m) and you'll find the museum.

Exhibit List

Exhibits are ordered by location, within which sets they are ordered by serial. Click on the aircraft type for further information about that airframe, and an image (where possible).

Serial/Registration/ID Code

Aircraft Type + Manufacturer

Operator

 

 

 

External Exhibits

 

 

 

 

 

British Military

 

 

 

 

 

XJ565 [127/E]

De Havilland DH.110 Sea Vixen FAW.2

Royal Navy

XJ722 [H]

De Havilland DH.115 Vampire T.11

Royal Air Force

XK695 - Nose Section

De Havilland DH.106 Comet 2.R

Royal Air Force

 

 

 

Other Military

 

 

 

 

 

J-1790 - Real ID J-1632

De Havilland DH.112 Venom FB.50

Swiss Air Force

 

 

 

Civilian

 

 

 

 

 

D-IFSB

De Havilland DH.104 Dove 6

Civil

F-BGNX - Fuselage Section Rebuild

De Havilland DH.106 Comet 1.A

Civil

G-AOTI

De Havilland DH.114 Heron 2.D

Civil

G-ACSS - Parts

De Havilland DH.88 Comet

Civil

G-AREA

De Havilland DH.104 Dove 8

Civil

G-ARYC

De Havilland DH.125

Civil

G-AVFH - Nose Section

Hawker Siddeley HS.121 Trident II

Civil

G-JEAO - Fuselage Section

British Aerospace BAe.146-100

Civil

Unregistered - Full Scale Simulator

De Havilland DH.106 Comet 4

Civil

 

 

 

Internal Exhibits

 

 

 

 

 

British Military

 

 

 

 

 

BAPC232 - Fuselage Section

Airspeed AS.58 Horsa I/II

Royal Air Force

J7326

De Havilland DH.53 Hummingbird

Royal Air Force

W4050

De Havilland DH.98 Mosquito - Prototype

Royal Air Force

LF789 [R2-K]

De Havilland DH.82b Queen Bee

Royal Air Force

TA122 [UP-G]

De Havilland DH.98 Mosquito FB.VI

Royal Air Force

TA634 [8K-K]

De Havilland DH.98 Mosquito B.35

Royal Air Force

VX250 [48] - Rear Fuselage Section

De Havilland DH.103 Sea Hornet F.21

Royal Navy

WP790 [T]

De Havilland Canada DHC.1 Chipmunk T.10

Royal Air Force

WP869 - Stored Fuselage Section

De Havilland Canada DHC.1 Chipmunk T.10

Royal Air Force

XG730 - Parts in Restoration

De Havilland DH.112 Sea Venom FAW.22

Royal Navy

 

 

 

Other Military

 

 

 

 

 

J-1008

De Havilland DH.100 Vampire FB.6

Swiss Air Force

 

 

 

Civilian

 

 

 

 

 

G-ABLM

De Havilland/Cierve C.24 Autogyro

Civil

G-ADOT

De Havilland DH.87b Hornet Moth

Civil

G-AKDW - Under Restoration

De Havilland DH.89 Dragon Rapide

Civil

G-ANRX

De Havilland DH.82A Tiger Moth

Civil

 

 

Details were correct at the time of review (25th August 2011) - all comments and opinions are solely those of the reviewing team, and do not necessarily represent the official opinion of AeroResource.

Reviewer: Ben Montgomery