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The Singapore Air Force Museum

sunny

As per usual, these kind of places werent the easiest to reach but in spite of sketchy information I eventually sussed how to get there. The previous day had been wasted in an abortive attempt, with even the bus drivers pointing me in the wrong direction, enduring the all too common rigmaroll of walking and standing in the heat for nothing. Almost by chance though I finally saw for myself that I could connect from the Metro onto the one bus running there, and it was an unassuring bus ride with me the only passenger through industrial and residential areas until thankfully the museum appeared big, shiny and obvious. Continuing the theme, it transpired that I was the only soul around bar a guy who I eventually spied towards the end of my tour, sitting incongruously in a booth and not volunteering anything beyond a visitors book. Left to wander the desolate building alone, I could see that the upper floor was actually the Officers Mess for the nearby Air Force Base but it was locked, no takers here either. There was a pretty well presented display upstairs with insights into everything you need to make an air arm, with the ground foyer underneath serving to shelter an array of airframes from the sun.

Aviation didnt arrive in Singapore until 1927 with the Brits introducing Vildebeest torpedo bombers and Hurricanes. They turned out to be no match for the Japanese however, whose first raid fell here in February 1942. After the armistice the Brits built Tengah as a major fighter base and Changi became the largest transport base East of Suez. The Brits pulled out in 1971, leaving newly independent Singapore vulnerable, perversely they now didnt want them to leave! During the 3 years that the withdrawal took, Singapore trained up aircrew with the RAFs help and acquired Strikemasters, Hunters and Skyhawks amongst other types. The Republic of Singapore Air Force was officialy founded 1st April 1975, with its first fighter squadron on Hunters creating the Black Knights display team. Spending over the next 15 years reached a whopping 601 million US dollars, including purchase of F-5s and F-16s. For such a small nation it had 5 bases originally. Changi (now the airport), Seletar (North East), Paya Labar (East), Tengah (West) and Sembawang (North). Flying training is now done in Australia at Pearce AFB, Western Australia, using SIAI-Marchetti S211s, Singapore having been the launch customer for this aircraft.

I didnt really expect any great wonders outside but there was a relatively interesting display of an Alouette III, 2 Hueys, an AS550 Fenec (similar to the Ecurielle), an SF260 prop trainer, then the jets ranged from a T-33, a Hunter, a Strikemaster, then most notably a brace of Skyhawks. One was an improvised 2 seat version with a buddy tanking pod slapped on the centreline for good measure, it was amazing to think they had selected this diminutive aircraft of all to give away fuel. With its tankage already slightly depleted to make space for the second seat it looked like it was short already just for itself.

Posted by andyhay 00:00 Archived in Singapore

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