BOOM! Here’s a sneak peak at virtual exhibition that takes online visitors through the story of RAF College Cranwell as it celebrates 100 years

Cranwell Aviation Heritage Museum, one of North Kesteven’s visitor attractions, is to launch a virtual version of its new exhibition, Boom.

Early years - Lord Trenchard inspecting cadets at Cranwell. EMN-201004-130637001

Going live from Monday, April 13, the exhibition celebrates the centenary of the opening of RAF College Cranwell and some of the amazing stories behind this historic military organisation and will run until March 31 next year.

Anne Flannery, Visitor Economy Operations Officer, for North Kesteven, explained: “We normally do two exhibitions a year and were due to launch ‘Boom’ on April 1, but we will find other ways of doing that.

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“Normally we would display at Cranwell in a set exhibition space and we would like to hang it as usual, ready for when the centre opens, but we are doing a virtual tour around it for our website in the meantime, uploading the display boards.”

The exhibition tells the story of how and why the college was formed at Cranwell, how much parents were expected to pay, to send their sons to the college and what the accommodation was like. Was there more than wooden huts and water towers?

The highly decorated Air Vice-Marshal Sir Charles Alexander Holcombe Longcroft was the first Commandant of RAF College Cranwell. Anne says: “We look at his life, work and the ethos he used to make Cranwell the first military air academy in the world.”

Asection called Passing Out Term 1922 focuses on the first Cadets to graduate from RAF College Cranwell in 1922, how their RAF careers progressed and what Marshal of the RAF, Lord Trenchard thought of the entry.

‘The Band of the RAF College 1920s and 1930s’ tells the little known history of the bands at the RAF College, its mission statement and the people who were in them.

The Band of the RAF College in the 1920's. EMN-201004-130513001

In Camp Life they investigate the camp and its amenities and if the camp had moved on from the wooden huts and water towers of the 1920’s. She said: “We look at the formation of RAF Cranwell’s fire brigade. What was the hanger church? and why were motorcycles frowned upon?”

‘Passing Out Term 1931’ focuses on the cadets to graduate from RAF College Cranwell in 1931, how their RAF careers progressed and what the then College Commandant, Air Vice-Marshal Longmore thought of the entry.

in ‘New College’ the museum considers the construction, plans and estimated cost for the new building, and looks at the formal opening ceremony in 1934, conducted by HRH The Prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII and some of his thoughts on the building.

The man who designed it, James Grey West was the HM Office of Works Architect tasked with designing RAF College Cranwell. Anne said the exhibition investigates his life and the trials and tribulations he went through to create the magnificent building.

RAF College Cranwell cadet accommodation in the early years. Photo: PA EMN-201004-130524001

‘Cadet Life 1930-1939’ looks in detail at cadet life in the 1930’s, how much it cost to attend the college, what the syllabus was and what the cadets’ likely career path might be.

‘Passing Out Term 1935’ focuses on the aircraft cadets used in their flight training and the cadets who graduated in the summer of that year, how their RAF careers progressed and what the then College Commandant, Air Vice-Marshal Cave-Browne-Cave thought of the entry.

The War Years look at what happened to the college during the Second World War, the planes that flew from RAF Cranwell, if the college was attacked, and if not why not?

Finally the return of a former Cadet, Frank Whittle sees him undertake the test flight of the first British jet plane - the Gloster E.28/39.

An unhappy landing in training - a crashed Avro 504K at RAF Cranwell. EMN-201004-130534001

A final section tells the story of Wing Commander Hugh Malcol, the college’s recipient of the Victoria Cross. It investigates his career and more importantly how and why he was awarded the highest medal for bravery that this country can bestow.

Visit the website here for a tour of the exhibition.

If you have any stories to share, get in touch with the museum via their Twitter page here and you may be part of a new project they have in the works.

The fire engine and crew of RAF Cranwell West Camp around 1927. EMN-201004-130544001
A medal presentation by Air Commodore Longcroft at Cranwell. EMN-201004-130554001
Mike Cross from the museum with its Jet Provost trainer aircraft, like one used to train Prince Charles at the college.. EMN-201004-130604001
The old college buildings. EMN-201004-130615001
Cadets with one of the college's old training aircraft, an Airspeed Oxford. EMN-201004-130626001