The most well known exhibit is the Lancaster Bomber NX611 which is situated in the main hanger. As you walk in through the hanger doors you come in just under it's nose and the sheer size of the aircraft takes your breath away.
Having been bought by the French Government she was used in maritime patrols and in Air Sea Rescue until 1964. She spent a year in Sydney and then returned to England in 1965. The Panton brothers were able to buy her in 1983 to become part of their museum built on part of what was RAF Kirkby. She has been restored to taxiing standard so she doesn't fly but you can sit in her and have a taxi run. Unfortunately this wasn't possible on the day we visited so I will have to return; only 3 Lancasters in the world can still move under their own power.
I did get to sit in another aircraft though and gosh it was a tight squeeze. From nearly taking a slice off the top of my head on the door frame to squeezing into the pilot's chair it was all a bit tricky. I am only 5'4" so I have no idea how grown men manage!
The main hanger is huge and also houses displays of many RAF artefacts and tells the stories of the squadrons of Bomber Command. There are many personal possessions on display and I found theses little rodent crew mascots to be particularly poignant. I hope that they worked.
One of the stories is that of the Dambusters and one of the bouncing bombs is displayed.
There were also lots of vehicles that would have been used either on the airfield or as transport to leave the base. These are a few of my favourites, chosen not because of their function but for their shape and shininess of course!
An Austin K2 NAAFI wagon which was used to take tea and refreshments to the ground crew when they were dispersed around the airfield. This one still works and is often used when the museum puts on special events.
Bedford WLG coach 1931. This was used by airmen at all the local bases to travel around the area. It was owned by a local garage and was used regularly until it crashed into a ditch in 1947. Whoops!
The final thing about the main hanger is something that struck me as soon as I walked in and that was the smell. It smelt exactly like my Grandad's shed used to do. Grandad's shed was the place where he did wood and metal turning, making bits and pieces, pottering about and entertaining us with science magic when we were children. I suppose it is some mix of metal, grease and who knows what lingering in the air. I mentioned it to my parents and they told me of the time a few years ago when they took Grandad to the Centre. His short term memory was going and he was often confused but they said that as soon as he walked in and saw the various pieces of aircraft he knew exactly what everything was used for and how to fix it. He was RAF ground crew during the war so it must all have struck a cord somewhere inside him. I was pleased to have that little link to him.
For some reason I didn't take many more photos. I didn't get any inside the control tower for two reasons. It was set up as it would have been when it was operational but some areas were behind glass and I couldn't get good pictures. Also, there were lots of mannequins dressed in RAF and WRAF uniforms but their faces and synthetic hair freaked me out and I didn't want to look too closely at them!
We also visited the memorial chapel, the escape museum and the Home Front exhibition. My favourite thing in the latter exhibition was a sewing machine!
I definitely recommend it as an interesting place to visit and it is worth looking out for the events that are held there.
As an aside, I am having a May sale in my Etsy shop if you fancy taking a look. All items have been marked down by 20% to celebrate Spring!