Ive just had the pleasure of spending a wonderful day at the De Havilland museum, this is impressive in itself as I am not actually an aviation aficionado and have no passion for it unless said airplanes have impressive nose or tail art. However the laid back and relaxed atmosphere along with being able to not only go right up and touch the planes but in some actually go in them led to a very different experience than one is usually afforded in such places.
De Havilland Museum at Salisbury Hall, London Colney, Hertfordshire AL2 1BU can impressively boast being not only the oldest aircraft museum in Britain but also the only one dedicated to the De Havilland aircraft.
The De Havilland Aircraft Company established their Mosquito design team at Salisbury Hall in September 1939 with the prototype being built in the buildings now used as the museum. Unfortunately when the De Havillands left the residence in 1947 and moved to Hatfield, the hall slipped in to a neglected and derelict state. In 1955 a man named Walter Goldsmith, an ex Royal Marine Major, took control of the Hall and once he had restored it to its former glory he then opened it up to the public. As one of the attractions Goldsmith bought back the prototype Mosquito in 1959 which led to the start of the Mosquito Aircraft Museum. Although Goldsmith sold the hall in 1981 it continues to privately owned to this day. All the impressive work being undertaken within the museum is done by volunteers who are all very happy to talk to the visitors and answer any questions.
Although De Havilland aircrafts did not have nose or tail art as such there is one example, that of the Jetliner DH 106 Comet 1, if I stretch the definition slightly. The sole surviving Comet fuselage with the original square-shaped windows, part of a Comet 1A registered F-BGNX, is undergoing a very impressive restoration within the hallowed ‘walls’ of the De Havilland Museum and boasts an impressively restored insignia on the right side of the nose.
This was the first of three 1A Comets for Air France which made its first flight on 6th May 1953. The airline opened the Paris-Rome-Beirut services, 3 months later on 26th August 1953. After the Certificate of Airworthiness was withdrawn a year later in April 1954, Air France never again used the Comets. They returned to the United Kingdom in June 1956 and were dismantled at Farmborough.
Within the restoration process the 1960’s paint job has been expertly recreated including the Air France logo of a blue seahorse insignia within a blue circle adorning the nose of the aircraft. This logo was one they had adopted from their predecessors Air Orient, the French carrier which had flown in the French colonies in southeast Asia. The seahorse logo having been born on 21st January 1932. In 1933 when Air Orient merged with a few other French carriers to become Air France they chose to keep the logo which had been nicknamed ”La Crevette” (the shrimp). It appears that the reason behind the seahorse is the direct link between air transport and the sea with a lot of the flights having originally been operated with a seaplane.
The seahorse log was chosen by Air Orient because:
The horse head = Power
The fish tail = Sea plane
The bird wings= Speed
Although not technically nose art as it is not painted on , rather made using vinyl, It is still an impressive adornment.
All photographs provided by anglocreative