Warbirds Online hasn’t visited the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Nowra, NSW for some years, in fact 30 years! So we took the opportunity to visit the site on our recent trip to NSW.
Many years ago, the Museum was largely an outdoors display, however over the decades a roof was added and finally a fully enclosed spacious Museum building has been constructed. It is in fact a little reminiscent of the FAA Museum at Yeovilton UK, in ambiance and construction, although on a smaller scale.
I must say we were very impressed with the layout and standard of the aircraft restorations and displays in an area of 6,000 m2. The FAA Museum has a very good collection of types operated by the Royal Australian Navy over the years and a diversity of fixed wing and Helicopters is on display.
Starting with WW1 there is a very nice replica Sopwith Pup which has had various sections of fabric left off to illustrate its internal construction which is beautifully executed in an accurate style.
Also on display are various WWI uniforms and items and they are very interesting. We were particularly taken by the thick “Sidcot” flying suit. It must have been very difficult even getting into an aircraft wearing one of these, let alone flying in it.
WWII and Korea are well represented by the Fairey Firefly and Sea Fury fighters.
The Fairey Firefly AS.5/AS.6 WJ109 is a beautiful example of this large carrier borne aircraft which served from WWII and in Korea with great distinction. The RAN FAAM also has another of these aircraft which is operated by the Historic Flight but hasn’t flown for some years.
The Sea Fury is an FB.11 WG630 and is one of 3 of the type owned by the FAAM, this aircraft is displayed in the Grey and Cream scheme often operated during the Korean War by Australian pilots with great skill in atrocious conditions from frozen carriers decks in huge seas.
A Korean era MiG 15 UTI is on display to illustrate the adversary’s aircraft.
Later types on display include De Havilland Sea Venom F.A.W. Mk 53, Fairey Gannet AS1/4,2 X Bristol Sycamore HR50/51Choppers, Douglas C-47A Dakota, Supermarine Type 309 Sea Otter (Nose section only), CAC CA-22 Winjeel, Westland Dragonfly H.R.3, Grumman S-2E/G Tracker, McDonnell Douglas A4G Skyhawk, Westland Wessex Mk31B, Westland Scout AH-1, GAF Jindivik Pilotless Target Aircraft, Kalkara Target Aircraft, De Havilland Sea Vampire MK T.22, CAC Aermacchi MB-326H (Macchi), Bell UH-1H Iroquois, Bell UH-1B/1C Iroquois, Bell 47G-3B1 Sioux, Westland Sea King Mk 50 and even an RAAF F111 nose section in memory of the types training role with the RAN fleet. There is also a Sikorsky Seahawk S-70B-2 on display as well as a training nose section.
Along with the aircraft there are extensive displays of engines, vehicles and equipment as well as various armament displays.
A feature of the FAA Museum is the ability to view the aircraft from the elevated cat walk. At the time of our visit the Winjeel was undergoing restoration – a great sign of ongoing activity and future expansion.
Upstairs on the mezzanine level there is a good modern Cafeteria with great views of the airfield and activity on the flight line. At the entrance is a well-stocked Museum shop.
We really enjoyed our visit to the FAA Museum and I can highly recommend a visit. A rare feature is that the light levels in the building allow for good photography, a relative rarity in an Aviation Museum.
If you want more information please visit the Museum website.
© John Parker 2015