Lord Dowding Memorial Hangar
The Lord Dowding Memorial Hangar was erected by the Museum in tribute to Air-Chief-Marshal Lord Hugh Dowding, C-in-C Fighter Command of the Battle of Britain, when the country stood alone. The hangar contains three full sized replica Messerschmitt Bf 109Es from the epic 1968 film, "The Battle of Britain". The Museum had to make substantial alterations to these three 'planes since they were originally built to match the flying Bf 109Es in the film and, as these were ex-Spanish Air Force Bouchon Messerschmitts, being fitted with Rolls-Royce Merlin engines, it completely altered the shape of the 'plane from the cockpit forward. There is also an original Granau Baby glider, a type on which many Luftwaffe pilots trained, prior to the Second World War. Our visitors will also see 15 Daimler-Benz DB 601aero engines recovered from Luftwaffe aircraft, including the first and last Messerschmitt Bf 109E to crash on British soil in 1940, together with 2 Jumo 211s from Junkers Ju 88s, 2 Dornier Do 17 Bramo-Fafnir engines, a BMW801D radial engine from a Focke-Wulf Fw 190 and the massive Napier-Sabre 24-cylinder engine from a Hawker Tempest.
A large life-sized diorama occupies part of the floor, depicting a crash-landed Messerschmitt Bf 109E. Shot down in September 1940, it was flown by Oberleutnant Franz, Baron von Werra, a holder of the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross and a Luftwaffe ace, who flew with both JG 3 and JG 53. Having fought in Poland, the Low Countries and then in the Battle of Britain, he was the only Luftwaffe pilot to have escaped from captivity (from Canada) and make his way back to Germany, and return to operational flying. (His amazing story is told in full in issue 5 of the Kent Battle of Britain Museum magazine on sale in Museum shop). In 1957 the story of von Werra's escape was made into a film, "The One That Got Away", starring Hardy Kruger in the title role. (Also for sale in the Museum shop).
The substantial remains of the Messerschmitt Bf 109E flown by Oberleutnant Ulrich Steinhilper of JG 52, as well as the wings recovered from Bf 109Es flown by Leutnant Erich Meyer of JG 51, Feldwebel Ernst Hempel of JG 53 and Oberleutnant Kurt Dähne of JG 26 can be seen. There are also some extremely rare parts from two Junkers Ju 87 'Stuka' dive bombers: a large section of the rear fuselage of one shot down at Chidham on the 18th August1940 and a landing wheel spat from the other, shot down by Flt/Lt.Carl Davis on the 16th August (an American pilot, flying in the RAF at a time when the USA was still neutral.)
This hangar also houses a Fokker Triplane and the fuselage of a German Gotha bomber, both from the film of First World War aviation "Flyboys". There are the wings from the Spitfires of Flt/Lt. Ian Gleed of No.266 Squadron and F/O Robin "Bubbles" Waterston of No.603 Squadron, a 3.7" Ack Ack gun (anti-aircraft), a 40mm Bofors gun, two searchlights, three types of wartime air raid shelters, a Link trainer, and a diorama of the hangar line at RAF Hawkinge (including the area where the Museum now stands). Also on the theme of defence, there are several lengths of British pipemines recovered from Hawkinge Airfield in 1999, together with a range of German bombs of the types that were commonly dropped on the airfield and other targets during the Battle of Britain. In the former Link Trainer building that adjoins this hangar, is the Museums extensive collection of Home Front items, covering the Battle of Britain period, including toys and money of the time, uniforms of the police, firemen (and fire women) the Home Guard and also those of the Womens Volunteer Service, and the Womens Land Army, the latter commemorating two of the vital roles performed by women during WWII.
All exhibits include fully detailed research and photographs, to personalise each display.