New Spitfire VB model now on display

Master Modeller Kip Watson has recently modelled the Spitfire VB in 1/32nd scale for the Heritage Centre Museum.The aircraft depicted was the mount of Wing Commander Christopher ‘Bunny’ Currant, DSO, DFC & Bar, who commanded the Ibsley Wing in 1942-3, and was seen alongside the actor David Niven, in the 1942 film, ‘The First of the Few’, starring Leslie Howard as Reginald Mitchell, designer of the Spitfire, with David Niven as the Supermarine test pilot.  The pilots at Ibsley, from 501 Squadron, carried out flying and other activities for the film crew, in between offensive missions over France. It is said that David Niven was so impressed by the young pilots that,when filming was finished, he stood them all dinner at the Savoy Hotel, in London, to thank them for their contributions.                                      The detail in this model is outstanding, giving an insight into the cannons, which gave the Mark VB superior fire power, when compared with the Mark Is and IIs of the Battle of Britain, two years earlier, and, of course, the scratch built trestle, use to raise the tail of the aircraft, to zero the cannons and machine guns and for servicing requirements.

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Classic Car Drive-In – Sunday 14th April 2019 – 10 am to 4 pm

Calling all Classic Car owners: The Third Annual Classic Car and Motorcycle Drive-In at the Friends of New Forest Airfields (FONFA) Heritage Centre, Mosquito Way, Bransgore, will be held on Sunday 14th April. (SatNav code is BH23 8AU, for the entrance to the Heatherstone Grange estate, which leads to the Centre). All Classic vehicles are welcome.Entrance to the Drive-In for Classic Car exhibitors is only £7.50 (and this includes up to three passengers) and, for Classic Car Drivers, this will include a guided tour around the Museum to find out more about the history of the New Forest airfields from 1918 and during WW2. If your passengers wish to visit the museum whilst at the show they are of course more than welcome, for a donation. Walking visitors, or non-exhibitors in cars, visiting the Museum: £7.50 for adults (aged over 16), £3 for 10-16 year olds and Pre-1961 Service Veterans (on production of ID), Under 10s are admitted free to the Museum.No donation is required from FONFA Members on production of your Membership card. Light refreshments are available for purchase in the tea bar, attached to the Museum. We hope for fine weather and no ‘April showers’. Map attached below:


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New Forest Airfields Heritage Centre – Inauguration of new display equipment

The ‘Friends of the New Forest Airfields’ Charity held an inauguration event for the new equipment recently installed in the New Forest Airfields Heritage Centre at Bransgore on Saturday 16th March 2019. Fifty invited guests and FONFA Members attended the event.New Forest Airfields Heritage Centre photographThe unveiling of the 55” touch table was carried out by the Minister for Veterans and MP for Bournemouth East, Tobias Ellwood, who attended with his family. Also present were Lord and Lady Montagu, who is the Patron of the Charity, Lesley Dedman, the Mayor of Christchurch and New Forest East MP and Chairman of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee, Dr Julian Lewis. Tobias Ellwood unveiling the touch table with Dr Henry Goodall, Chair of Trustees.       The touch table, two new 55” interactive wall screens and a full projection suite with surround sound will enhance the Friends’ ability to tell the story of the 30,000 airmen, women and civilians who worked on the 12 New Forest Airfields during World War II.The Minister was pleased to meet Staff Sergeant Laurie Weedon, a Horsa glider pilot who landed in Normandy on D-Day and at Arnhem, during WWII, accompanied by his wife and by Jane Barkway Harney, from the Glider Pilot Regiment Society, whose late father piloted the third glider to land at Pegasus Bridge, on D-Day.S/Sgt Laurie Weeden -D-Day and Arnhem Horsa Glider Pilot with Jane Barkway Harney, whose late father flew the third glider on the ‘coup de main’ attack on Pegasus Bridge on D-Day, 6th June 1944.

In addition to the interactive displays, we are now able to display twenty five upgraded descriptive wall panels at any one time, designed and produced by Graham Thompson of MediaMill, who has upgraded thirty of them to modern single sheet display boards.              These improvements  have all been made possible by grants from the New Forest District Council’s LEADER Programme and the Beaulieu Beaufort Trust.

Our small museum holds a wealth of artefacts, uniforms, models, dioramas and information, telling the story of the airfields, during WWII, most of which had only a short operational life, supporting the D-Day invasion in June 1944.Louie Smith (right), the young software designer from Promultis Ltd. of Lee-On-Solent, who with his colleague Sam Cush designed the layouts of the new touch table and interactive wall screens, demonstrating the versatility and multiple image capability of the new touch table, to Tobias Ellwood, FONFA members and guests.                                (Photos by Wendy Goodall)FONFA Patron, Lady Montagu, in conversation with an SAS Veteran (presently supporting a breast cancer charity)

Staff Sergeant Laurie Weeden, who piloted one of the Horsa gliders in the D-Day attack on Pegasus Bridge, in conversation with an SAS and Parachute Regiment Veteran.

Assembled guests viewing the interactive ‘Welcome’ touch table

Louie Smith, the Promultis software engineer who designed the interactive programmes, demonstrating the capability of the new screens to Staff Sergeant Laurie Weeden and Mr Ellwood’s sons. Behind them, Mr Ellwood chats with Dr Julian Lewis, MP for New Forest East and Chairman of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee.

(Photos – Joe Asquith)

The Heritage Centre, which is located at the western end of the Heatherstone Grange housing estate, on the former RAF Sopley camp site, is well worth a visit. The first public Open Day is this coming Sunday 24th March, 10 am to 4 pm.

Details of the Heritage Centre location and a map, entry donations and Open Days are on the Heritage Centre Open Days, Upcoming Events and What’s New? section of this website.

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The man who built a Spitfire IX, starting with a single rivet.

You may be interested to check out the story of Martin Phillips, a man who built a Spitfire IX, over two decades, starting with a single rivet. The link is at:

IWC credit: James McNaught. “I remember when it taxied out, I looked at it and thought about all those bits. And then I was in bits. I was just crying; I was so ecstatic to see it,” says Martin Phillips of the day his Spitfire first flew.                                                                          IWC credit: James McNaught. Martin Phillips’s Spitfire, wearing temporary silver paint so it can stand in – if needed – for the Silver Spitfire set to circumnavigate the globe this summer; here, it is having its wings reattached after being transported to Geneva for an event with the watch company.

Spitfire IXs were based at Ibsley in 1943-4, with 310, 312, 313 Czech Sqns, the Ibsley Wing, led by Wing Commander Ian Richard ‘Widge’ Gleed DSO, DFC, who had been promoted to the rank, aged 25, at Middle Wallop. He is pictured below in his Spitfire with the “Figaro the Cat” cartoon character, destroying a swastika, with a right hook.                   


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Moving a V-I to the Launch Ramp

A new model diorama has been added to the exhibits in the Heritage Centre, depicting the preparations for launching a V-I Flying Bomb, against England in 1944, “Moving a V-I to the Launch Ramp”. These early pilotless cruise missiles were attacked by Canadian Mosquito FB VIs, based at Holmlsey South, both by day and by night, and by Spitfires and other fast Allied aircraft. The V-1 flying bomb, also known to the Allies as the buzz bomb, or doodlebug, and in Germany as Kirschkern or Maikäfer, was the only production aircraft to use a pulse jet for power. The V-1 was the first of the so-called “Vengeance weapons” series designed for terror bombing of London. The first missiles fell to earth on 13th June 1944, after which up to 100 per day were launched against England, a total of 9,521 between then and October 1944, when the last launch sites, within range of England, were captured by the Allied advance. A further 2,448 were launched against the port of Antwerp and other targets in Belgium, up to March 1945.

This new diorama compliments the Holmsley South Mosquito FB VI model already on display in the Centre. It is interesting to note that full credit for shooting down a V-I was only given to pilots who destroyed a V-I over the English Channel. Those confirmed as destroyed over land only gained the pilot half a ‘kill’.

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New Milton Junior School Visits – January 10th and February 14th

On Thursday 14th February, Former FONFA Chairman and current Hon. Treasurer, John Brooks, and current Chairman of the FONFA Trustee Board, Dr Henry Goodall, attended New Milton Junior School, for the second time in 2019, as in previous years. The first visit was on 10th January, when Henry gave a PowerPoint presentation to the ninety children in Year 6, about the New Forest Airfields in WWII, and John described his experiences of being a young boy in London during the German V-I flying bomb blitz campaign, in 1944.  Working in groups of three or four, the children had produced their own mini-museum exhibits, depicting life in WWII, which they had researched via the Internet and through their family histories, with original identity cards, ration books, photographs, medals and uniforms, which their great grandfathers and great grandmothers had used and worn. The displays were extremely innovative and varied, from air raid shelters, to recruiting and propaganda posters, cooking and recipes, ‘dig for victory’ with vegetables, ‘make do and mend’, music, toys and entertainment, the evacuation programme for children, an audio visual presentation on Allied and Axis aircraft, and even an original clothing ration book. We value our association with New Milton Junior School highly and are privileged to be able to tell the story of their local heritage, to these children, year on year.  It saddens us that, in spite of invitations to other local schools, none has accepted our offer to visit them or for their pupils to visit our Heritage Centre.                                                                          This is these children’s history and heritage, but we need the co-operation of other Head Teachers to be allowed to add this important historical dimension and knowledge to their education. Our hope is that by showcasing the strong leadership and what is being achieved locally at New Milton Junior School, other schools will follow in their footsteps.

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Holmsley South Mosquito FB VI model diorama on display for 2019, in the Heritage Centre

A new diorama, depicting the de Havilland Mosquito FB VI of Wing Commander Russell “Russ” Bannock OOnt, DSO, DFC and bar, will be on display in the FONFA Heritage Centre, for the 2019 Open Day season. Modelled in 1/32 scale by Henry Goodall, the aircraft is mounted on a mirror base, to enable visitors to see the details of the underside bomb and cannon bays, as well as Rolls-Royce Merlin engine detail. Photo above: “Russ” Bannock (left) with his Observer/Navigator, Robert Bruce.             Russ Bannock was Canada’s second highest scoring ace of WWII, destroying 19 V1 rockets and 11 German night fighters for a total of 25.5 aircraft (N.B. V1 ‘Flying bombs’ shot down over the English Channel counted as a full ‘kill’, whereas those shot down over England were only awarded as a ‘half kill’). In June 1944, “Russ” Bannock was transferred to 418 Squadron RCAF, based at Holmsley South. The squadron flew day and night intruder missions over Europe with the Mosquito FB VI fighter-bomber. Although they had the latest radio navigation equipment, they flew night missions over enemy territory without any RADAR, relying solely on the “Mk.1 Eyeball” to find and shoot down enemy aircraft, in the dark. He quickly became successful at this type of operation and achieved early victories, in his Mosquito, named ‘Hairless Joe’ after the well-known cartoon character of the time. The figures depict Russ Bannock showing colleagues the best way to attack V-1 flying bombs, diving on them from 10,000 feet and from one side, because attacking from directly astern, and therefore flying into an exploding debris, was not to be recommended. In October 1944, he was promoted to Wing Commander and took command of 418 Squadron. Bannock also flew ‘Diver’ operations against the German V-1 ‘Flying Bombs’ launched against London and southern England. On one mission he shot down four V-1s in the space of one hour. A bar to his Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) was added for his missions against the V-1 ‘Flying Bombs.                                                                                       The Mosquito will be displayed alongside a model of a V1, being prepared by its ground crew, for a June 1944 launch towards London.“Russ” Bannock (left) with Robert Bruce, both in flying gear, in front of “Hairless Joe”.

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