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Date of visits: October 2020, February 2022.
The Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre which opened in 1992 is located to the north of Montrose, Angus, Scotland. The Heritage Centre is located on the site of the former Montrose Air Station which opened in 1913 being the first military airfield in Great Britain. With a brief closure between the two World Wars the airfield finally closed on 4th June 1952.
The Heritage Centre is an independant fully accredited museum run entirely by volunteers. Being financially independant it relies on income from visitors, shop sales, donations and grants from local government and the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The aim of the Heritage Centre is to tell the history of the airfield and the people who were stationed there through its varied collection of artefacts, memorabillia, models and choice of aircraft on display.
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Aircraft exhibited within the grounds of the Heritage Centre.
Jack Drummond Workshop/Store & Exhibits
Nissen Hut used for restoration projects. Named after LAC Jack Drummond who was posted to Montrose in 1937.
Lt. John Ross Robertson Building & Exhibits
A Nissen Hut (funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund) named in memory of Lt, John Ross Robertson who learned to fly at Montrose. He was killed in action on only his fourth mission in May 1917.
David Butler Building & Exhibits
A Romney Hut (funded by the Lottery Heritage Fund) named after David Butler a founding member of the Heritage Centre.
Romney Huts are a type of prefabricated arch steel building developed by the British Military during WWII to provide an affordable and easy to assemble shelter. They were designed to withstand high wind and snow loads.
Apart from housing the aircraft as shown below, the building also exhibits vehicles, aircraft engines, a Pilot Training Display, computer flight simulator and a Learning Zone for visits from local schools.
Major Burke's Shed 1b & Exhibits
Located adjacent to the Heritage Centre, Shed 1b is one of three aircraft hangars erected in 1913 to house aircraft
of No. 2 Squadron Royal Flying Corps.
The hangars are believed to be the only survivors of their type in the world and are listed as ‘Category A’ buildings by the Historic Environment Scotland.
The design of the hangars was based on Indian Army Sheds which were modified by Major Burke to house aircraft. They were pre‑fabricated in Glasgow before being transported to Montrose.
Latest News (February 2022).
In February 2022 the Heritage Centre received the tail ‘fin’ off Panavia Tornado GR.4, ZA398 (see above) which
was previously operated by RAF No. 2 Squadron (also known as No. II Army Co-operation Squadron) based at Marham.
No. 2 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps was formed at Farnborough in 1912. The following year the squadron moved to Montrose, making it the first operational air station in Great Britain.
The fin donated to the Heritage Centre by RAF No. 2 Squadron was painted by the squadron in 2012 to celebrate their centenary. The livery
depicts a BE2 aircraft, the type of aircraft the squadron flew at Montrose during WW1. The GR.4 from which the fin originates was damaged
by a bird strike in 2014 and subsequently retired from service. The squadron kept the fin and eventually made the decision
to donate it to the museum as they considered Montrose to be their spiritual home.
Appropriately the museum has exhibited the fin in the Burke's Shed 1b, one of the original hangars used by No. 2 Squadron when they first arrived at Montrose in 1913.
I was informed during my visit that the Heritage Centre have sourced a Panavia Tornado GR.4 airframe and are in the process of securing its purchase. If the airframe arrives complete, i personally hope they will replace its fin with the one donated by RAF No. 2 Squadron.
Latest News (October 2020).
During my visit i was informed that the Heritage Centre was trying to acquire a Panavia Tornado GR.4 which would be displayed alongside the Hawker Hunter F.1 in the Burke's Shed. This would be a nice addition for the Heritage Centre as the Tornado used to be stationed nearby at RAF Leuchars and RAF Lossiemouth and graced the skies over Scotland for many years.