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Date of visit: October 2021.
South Wales Aviation Museum (SWAM) is located in Hangar 872, Bro Tathan North, St Athan, Vale of Glamorgan,
South Wales. The museum which is 12 miles (19km) southwest of Cardiff opened in April 2019 on part of the
grounds once owned by the MoD St Athan.
RAF St Athan as it was officially known opened in September 1938 and has been home to the RAF No. 4 School of Technical Training throughout its life, as well as a major aircraft maintenance unit.
In 2019 RAF St Athan was renamed as Ministry of Defence St Athan (MoD St Athan).
In 2019 the airport part of the site became a civilian airport and was taken over by the Welsh Government. The airfield now known as Bro Tathan airfield is also home to Bro Tathan Business Park and where in the north sector is housed the South Wales Aviation Museum. The MoD still occupies land adjacent to the airfield where the RAF's No. 4 School of Technical Training provides training for non‑aircraft ground engineering technicians and continuation training for service personnel from all three services and MoD civilian staff. The site is also home to the University of Wales Air Squadron (RAF).
South Wales Aviation Museum was created by aircraft engineers: Gary Spoors, who runs ‘GJD Services’, an aircraft maintenance and disassembly company and John Sparks of ‘Horizon Aircraft Services’. Their aim was to preserve the rich aviation history of South Wales and inspire the next generation of aviators and engineers.
SWAM is a not‑for‑profit organisation (all proceeds ploughed back into the museum) and a registered charity.
The museum has a varied collection of owned and loaned aircraft on display, some of whose cockpits are open for inspection. There are also exhibition rooms with artefacts and memorabilia, a gift shop and a cafe. All these are manned along with the general running and upkeep of the museum and exhibits by the help of an amazing band of volunteers.
The museum also hosts large group and educational visits and the occasional night photography event.
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Main Hangar Exhibits
Rear of Main Hangar Exhibit
In a compound at the rear of the main hangar was Avro Shackleton MR.3 ‘WR974’. I was not sure if visitors were allowed
access to this area due to health and safety, but I did not enquire as there was no way I was venturing outside in the weather
conditions that prevailed during my visit. I managed to capture the photo of the aircraft through an open door at the rear of the
hangar. The heavy rain is evident in the photo.
With luck, the rain and strong winds did subside just long enough for me to capture photos of the T‑33A at the entrance to the museum.