Aer Corps Museum
The story of the evolution of Irish military aviation in all its forms holds a special place on the mantle of Irish military history, world aviation history and the Irish state and, as such, resonates through the memories and imaginations of generations of its people.
The history of the Irish Air Corps spans the whole of the 20th century and the dawning of the age of aviation, and is a vital and integral if forgotten part of the narrative of Irish social, military, political, state and family histories. However, much of this history and heritage has been lost over the years, with a small part of its long story ever likely to have been recorded and saved in the fashion of those times. Its personnel have witnessed generations of the same families in its ranks and many historic events in the cultural and political life of the country. Indeed some have made that history themselves but all have been a part of it. It is this history and that rich heritage, which can be found in the artefacts and airframes, that the Air Corps Museum wishes to preserve, document and display for future generations as an educational tool and a way of keeping the history alive. They are evocative of many periods of Irish history.
The Irish Air Corps Museum and Heritage
The Irish Air Corps Museum and Heritage Project, as it now exists, began its journey during the autumn of 2000. It comes under the establishment of No 4 Support Wing (Engineering) and was set up to identify, collect, catalogue and preserve as much of the history and heritage of the Air Corps as possible. The museum itself is housed in a hangar built by the Royal Flying Corps in 1917.
It is manned full time by a single member of staff but has the assistance of retired Air Corps personnel on a part-time basis, as well as serving members who regularly give up their time. All restoration work is carried out by Air Corps staff.
The museum relies heavily on the wealth of experience within the technical staff of the Air Corps, and its local resources and conservation work occurs between maintenance jobs on serviceable aircraft or during volunteers free time periods.
At present the museum has a limited budget in the form of a small museum fund, which comes from donations within the service, but the General Officer Commanding Air Corps and Director of Irish Military Aviation, Brigadier General Ralph James, recognises the importance of the project and has plans for a more formal establishment in the near future.
Today the museum houses and displays the largest collection of military aviation artefacts in the South of Ireland, including almost a dozen historical important vintage aircraft of Air Corps service in various stages of restoration. The museum proudly displays an almost completely restored Avro XIX, or Anson as it is sometimes mistakenly referred to. This aircraft dates from 1946 but the original Anson arrived in Baldonnel in 1937 as the first twin-engine monoplane and first retractable undercarriage types. It also houses a restored De Havilland Vampire, which was one of the original six aircraft to announce the arrival of the jet age into Ireland in the mid 1950s. Many people will remember these jets from their dynamic displays over the Easter parades at the GPO in Dublin City during the 1960s and 1970s. Also on display are two de Havilland Chipmunks and major parts of two others dating from the mid 1950s, a Percival Provost trainer from the same period, an Alouette III instructional helicopter airframe and an Alouette III helicopter currently housed in the Air Corps Apprentice School, both of which date from the early 60s. There are also two Fouga Magisters, which retired in 1999, dating from the early 1970s, and replaced the Vampires as jet trainers. A full size replica of the original Wright Flyer built by the Air Corps in 2003, a Link Trainer (possibly 1930s) and King Air (1970s) simulators, a mobile radar system dating from before WWII and three Bofors anti aircraft guns from the same period are on display. We also have a Rolls Royce Merlin V12 engine and many other parts from Supermarine Spitfires, Seafires as well as other parts from WWII era aircraft that were in Air Corps service or came down in Irish territory. There are also many other types of engines, photography equipment, photographs, charts, uniforms, weapons, propellers, tools, calibration equipment, family heirlooms, logbooks, documentation on personnel and hundreds of other bits and pieces, which help to tell the story, together with a collection of over three hundred model aircraft.
Corporal Michael Whelan M.A.,
Irish Air Corps Museum & Heritage Project
Irish Air Corps Museum & Heritage Project,
Baldonnel Dublin 22, Ireland.
Mon – Fri Working Hours (Access limited)
The museum is accessible by prior arrangement only through Air Corps Headquarters.
The Station Commander Irish Air Corps Headquarters,
Baldonnel Dublin 22, Ireland.
Tel: +353 1 403 7800