The Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum is a museum collection of aircraft and aviation-related artefacts, located near the former RAF Bungay airfield on the outskirts of Flixton. First established in 1972 as the Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Society, the museum houses a varied array of over 60 complete or partial aircraft, including rarities such as the only complete de Havilland Sea Vixen FAW.1 in private ownership, a flyable replica of the Colditz Cock escape glider, and an FMA IA 58 Pucará that was captured by British forces during the Falklands War. In addition to the aircraft displayed, the museum also houses thematic collections devoted to subjects including the Royal Observer Corps, RAF Bomber Command, air-sea rescue and RAF Coastal Command. As well as preserving its existing collections, the museum and its members are actively involved in the exploration and study of aircraft crash sites – termed wreckology – in East Anglia.
Air crews from RAF Bomber Command went into action against German warships on 4th September 1939 - the second day of the war. Blenheims and Wellingtons flying from Wattisham and Honington in Suffolk carried out the first RAF offensive action of the conflict at a cost of seven aircraft, from which only two crewmen survived as PoWs. From this first punitive strike, until the last bombing raid in the six-year air war on 2-3 May 1945 against Kiel, RAF Bomber Command fought one of the hardest and bloodiest campaigns in the history of warfare. From start to finish, some 12,330 aircraft were shot down, wrecked in crashes in the UK or written off due to damage, many of them flying from bases in East Anglia. It was felt to be only fitting, therefore, that a museum exhibition building should be added to the Flixton Air Museum's already impressive complex, dedicated to the memory of the men and women who served in RAF Bomber Command in World War 2. In terms of loss of life, RAF Bomber Command's casualties were nothing less than horrific. During the costly Battle of France, in one raid by Blenheims on 17 May 1940, eleven out of twelve aircraft from No. 82 Squadron were shot down in daylight raids on German armoured units. The one Blenheim which survived the debacle crash-landed on return to RAF Watton and was damaged beyond repair. As late as May 1943, the German defences continued to take their toll of locally based RAF bombers in daylight, ten out of twelve Ventura aircraft being destroyed over Holland by a swarm of enemy fighters.
From 1918 to 1986 the Marine Branch of the Royal Air Force supplied waterborne support, rescue facilities and services for the Royal Air Force throughout the world. Inaugurated as the Marine Craft Section just eleven days after the Royal Air Force itself was founded, it initially provided back-up for the flying boats but it also developed a rescue service which during and after the second world war became the largest in the world. During the war years alone over 13,000 lives were saved by the crews of the high speed rescue launches who faced enemy action and all weathers to uphold their pledge of "The Sea Shall Not Have Them". The launches were involved in many major actions; at Dunkirk five seaplane tenders were deployed rescuing 500 troops from the beaches; at Dieppe 14 launches were in action three of which were destroyed by enemy action and 93 launches were involved in the supporting maritime landing operations on D Day. Launches also supported operations in the Middle East, Malta and Italy and also in the Far East, India, Burma, Malaya and Ceylon. The launches also carried out clandestine operations in Greece, Turkey and occupied Europe. Post-war, amongst other duties, the branch was involved in secret submarine location work, surveys and anti-terrorist patrols. By 1986 the more versatile helicopter had taken over the rescue work and finally the branch was privatized its few remaining maritime activities being taken over by civilian contractors. A Museum dedicated to Air Sea Rescue and Coastal Command was officially opened on April 23rd 2000 at Flixton.
The museum exhibits are arranged in a number of sections. These can be visited in any order as desired. The 446 BG building contains memorabilia from the longest-term resident of the Flixton airfield close by, including aircraft components and equipment, uniforms, personal effects and digitised images. A recent addition is a collection of U.S. personnel-inscribed bricks from a wall of the old Ditchingham Maltings (recently demolished), which was the base (Q104) of 2212 Quartermaster Truck Company Aviation USAAF in 1944. The Bpmber Command building contains large components from a 9 Squadron Wellington bomber, recovered from its crash site, a mock-up Lancaster forward fuselage used in the film "Dambusters", plus numerous and impressive displays of aircraft instruments and equipment, uniforms, personal effects, and model aircraft. RAF Coastal Command & Air-Sea Rescue building contains pictures and models of aircraft that served in Coastal Command, plus a large collection of high-speed launch models, uniforms and equipment used by the RAF Air-Sea Rescue service, along with a large display of photographic images. Most of the larger aircraft are displayed outdoors, and include several early RAF and Royal Navy jets, V-Bomber cockpits, and foreign aircraft (such as MiG-15 and Pucara), plus relics recovered from the sea and “digs”.
Flight Training area. This contains two working Link Trainers, a static example and another modified to take a computer based MS Flight Simulator system, plus a wheelchair-accessible flightdeck with MS Flight Simulator system. Also in the area is a large collection of valves, gun sights, models, two target drones, cut-away components, pictures and signs from RAF Coltishall and RAF Marham, plus a Virtual Radar system. The extended Blister Hangar 1 is home to fighter aircraft such as the EE Lightning, Sea Harrier, and Spitfire, plus Piston Provost and Vampire training aircraft, early gliders, several microlights, a large amount of Luftwaffe “wreckology”, ejector seat and aircraft engine displays, several model aircraft collections, and our popular “NAAFI” for light refreshments. There are numerous station boards to be seen, plus a gallery of oil paintings of aircraft by local member John Constable Reeve. Boulton & Paul hangar (Hangar 2) of 1937 includes examples of Whirlwind, Widgeon and Sycamore helicopters, a U.S. Civil Air Patrol Fairchild F.24 of WWII, the nose of a WWI Felixstowe F5 flying boat and a 5/8ths scale replica Fokker D.VIII German WWI fighter, several early gliders including a replica Colditz Cock, an Avro Anson, Luton Major and Flying Flea, the unique Goldfinch Amphibian, a large collection of radio equipment, plus photographs of Boulton & Paul aircraft. There are extensive cabinet displays, including Civil Air Patrol, Berlin Airlift, Airborne Forces and other uniforms and equipment. An extension forms a workshop, with restoration projects on view.
The Ken Wallis Hall contains a Stearman, two autogyros and more microlights, an RAF Airborne Lifeboat, plus several military vehicles including a 1942 Morris Armoured Reconnaissance Car in a RAF Regiment markings. A Redifon Simulator is under restoration. Memorials : - Near to the 446 BG building there are three memorials: one to 446 BG personnel, another to 2nd Air Division USAAF personnel, and a metal statue in memory of British and Allied pilots lost in WWII. The area is fronted by a small memorial garden. A marble memorial dedicated to 446 BG personnel is also to be found on the edge of the airfield beyond Flixton village - very little survives of the airfield infrastructure, which was also home to units of the Fleet Air Arm (briefly) and RAF. There are five display areas behind the well-stocked shop which contain a very wide variety of exhibits including an Anderson Shelter, 1940s cottage interior, a 1960s modeller’s room, exhibitions on RAF Decoy Crews and sites used in World War II, Civil Defence and the Home Front, plus WWI exhibits, airborne weapons, model aircraft, a display of airscrews (propellers), uniforms and personal effects. The Royal Observer Corps building contains a mock-up underground control room/bunker, examples of ROC equipment and uniforms, and other memorabilia.
All of the hangars and display buildings are on one level so do not present an entry problem. They have some wheelchairs available to borrow if you do not want to bring your own. Car parking spaces are indicated and disabled bays are close to the Shop and hangars. The three main hangars, including the NAAFI, are under cover and interlink. The Shop is next door and several display rooms featuring local aviation can be reached this way. The NAAFI has only light refreshments for sale, such as cakes, scones, crisps, hot/cold drinks but the Buck Inn near the front gate can provide hot meals. Around a mile either side of the museum along the B1062 there are other venues that also provide hot meals. Toilets (one disabled) are next to the first hangar and NAAFI. The buildings for RAF Bomber Command, RAF Coastal Command & Air-Sea Rescue, Royal Observer Corps, and 446th Bomb Group USAAF, are within a short walk. The Adair Walk, a raised boardwalk to the river, is to the rear of the site and stretches some 350 yards. Assistance dogs are welcome. There are some "hands-on" activities in the hangars for children, and a small sit-in fun aircraft and boat outdoors. When members are present in the Link Trainer Room it might be possible to have a "flight" in a WWII simulator for a donation.
Location : The Street, Flixton, Bungay, NR35 1NZ
Transport: Halesworth (National Rail) then bus. Bus Routes : 1 stops nearby.
Opening Times : Sunday to Thursday 10:00 to 17:00
Tel: 01986 896644