About Kent Battle of Britain Museum
Located in Hawkinge, England, Kent Battle of Britain Museum is a space dedicated to aviation history and as the name suggests, the 1940 Battle of Britain. Today, the museum boasts the world’s largest Battle of Britain collection, including artefacts from over 700 crashed aircrafts.
Kent Battle of Britain Museum history
The Battle of Britain was a military campaign in World War Two during which the Royal Air Force (RAF) defended the UK against Nazi-Germany’s large-scale air attacks. The battle is largely recognised as having lasted between 10 July and 31 October 1940 and overlaps the night bombardments known as the Blitz (lasting 7 September 1940 to 11 May 1941).
From July 1940, the German Luftwaffe aimed to destroy coastal shipping and ports, and later shifted to attacking RAF airfields. Eventually, the Luftwaffe targets shifted from British military supplies to terror bombing politically important areas and civilians.
The museum itself started as a private collection of relics from the Battle of Britain belonging to Mike Llewellyn. As a child, Mike and his brother would play at Gravesend’s old airfield and would collect bits of old planes; his father also found the wreck of an aircraft in the Thames Estuary at Allhallows.
Mike would later travel about Kent finding other wreckages to include in the museum, which opened in 1982 at Hawkinge airfield.
Kent Battle of Britain Museum today
Open from 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Sunday, the Kent Battle of Britain Museum is the largest private museum in the world dedicated to the 1940 Battle of Britain. The largest building is the Stuart-Buttle Hangar, named for RAF pilot Squadron Leader Stuart-Buttle.
The hangar contains full sized replicas of Hurricane and Spitfire planes built for ‘The Battle of Britain’ 1968 film, filmed at Hawkinge. Inside you can also see the iconic 15 Rolls Royce Merlin engines used in the planes, recovered from crash sites, as well as 11 vehicles on display such as a Ford ambulance and armoured cars.
Building 4 is an original 1940 Flight Dispersal Hut, formerly used by active squadrons during the battle. Today, it houses items from Hitler’s ‘Vergeltungswaffen’ or Revenge Programme, such as a replica V-I Flying Bomb known as ‘Doodle Bugs’.
Beyond the replicas and recovered artefacts, there is plenty of information alongside items on display at the Kent Battle of Britain Museum. When you’ve finished looking around, you can also stop at the cafe.
Getting to Kent Battle of Britain Museum
Kent Battle of Britain Museum is found in Hawkinge, Kent, between the coast town of Folkestone and Canterbury, just off the A20. The museum is a 10 minute drive from Folkestone and just under half an hour from Canterbury. There is parking on site.
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