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The military aviation museum 
 
by: Ron Kraan
Located at the cradle of aviation in the Netherlands, Soesterberg, is the Military Aviation Museum. A wide range of aeroplanes, helicopters and artefacts are on display. This ranges from documents, photographs to Spitfire and F-16. Of interested to the collector of flight gear is the clothing and equipment shown. From the early days until the modern day fighter pilot. The exhibitions are located in two large halls, one showing equipment from 1900 until 1945, and the other one the post-war years. 

Flying clothing
The clothing on display is also divided in to the two halls. The gear starts with the leather (Roold) hard hat and long leather (biker type) coats. The Second World War display shows us that the Netherlands depended on the RAF for their equipment. During the first days of the War it became clear that the Netherlands Airforce could not make a fist to the invaders. While flying their Fokker D-21 and Fokker G-1 aircraft, the pilots were wearing the same steel helmets as the ground forces. After the outbreak of the War, a lot of pilots escaped to the UK and formed Spitfire squadrons under RAF supervision. This is seen on the Spitfire pilot, wearing the C-type leather helmet and G or H type oxygen mask. Also the famous leather-flying jacket was worn together with the grey/blue battle dress. 

Post-war years
The gear from post-war to present is displayed in a separate exhibition area. The mannequins are fitted out with gear representing most of the changes. In between are the matching ejection seats. Missing is the Thunderstreak/Thunderjet flight gear (P series helmet with A-13A mask and B-5 life preserver) which were on display several years ago.

After the War the Netherlands Airforce received their first Meteor jet planes. Still wearing the C-type helmet and G-type oxygen mask, the gear on display also has the RAF style coverall with woolen cuffs. A typical Mae West life preserver finishes the set-up. 

Next on the line up is the Hunter pilot. Wearing a Mk-1A helmet and G inner helmet the mask is of the A-13A type with bracket. The visor is modified to fit the mask. The coverall is probably of RAF origin as is the life preserver. (Also used during this time were the H type mask and the Frankenstein type life preserver).

Then a big gap is present, as the next one is an F-104 pilot in EFA high altitude gear.
(For more information on this set see our separate article on this web site)

The exhibition also has a cockpit section of an F-84F with a pilot with Gueneau 316 helmet (this helmet was not flown in the Netherlands, only used for the hypo baric chamber). A mannequin with EFA parachute harness and HGU-26/P is hanging from the ceiling like an ejected NF-5 pilot. On the other side is a display with a pilot between his survival items, dingy and parachute. This mannequin is dressed in present day flight gear. HGU-55/P helmet, MBU-12/P mask and CSU-13B/P-NL. 

Collection overview

Of the flying equipment from 1913-1920 (LVA, Aviation Department) the museum has 6 sets in their collection. (Leather coat, pants and helmet). From the 1920-1940 period, 8 sets are available (jacket, pants, helmet/cap, boots). The WW II RAF gear consists of 5 sets (battle dress, C-cap, oxygen mask, Mae West, boots, Irving-jack). Besides these items the MLM has also the following special items, an Irving-jack with yellow hood (Coastal Command) and a Flak-vest as worn by 320 Squadron members.
The after war gear is fairly complete. Two Meteor sets and coveralls, helmets, boots, G-pants, immersion suits all from the 1950's until the late 1980's. Two sets of EFA high altitude gear are present. Missing is the most recent flight gear. Specific Naval Aviation items are rare, only a few post war orange "Carrot Suits" some helmets and survival items. The ML-KNIL (Military Aviation-Royal Netherlands Indies Army) collection is very small, only a few pre war items. One coverall (1939-1941) and some items from the 1942-1950 period (coveralls, flying caps, life preservers and boots). Most of these items are not on display.

Museum information
The museum has a technical library and a unique photo-archive. Visits only by appointment. Guided tours are also possible, as are children parties. 

The museum can be reached by national highway A-28 Utrecht-Zwolle, exit number 4 "Soesterberg/Soest". Follow the signs that read "Militaire Luchtvaart Museum". Or from Utrecht Railway Station, using regular bus service number 53 (bus stop "Kampweg" or Amersfoort Railway Station, using regular bus service number 56 (also bus stop "Kampweg"). 

Opening hours: Tuesday to Friday 10.00h-16.30h. Sunday 12.00h-16.30. On Easter monday, Ascension Day and Whit-Monday, 11.00h-16.30h.

The Internet URL of the Museum is:

http://www.militaireluchtvaartmuseum.nl

 

"Venz" /  "Hud"  flightgear on-line 2002/2003