A GREAT new attraction at Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre arrived on Wednesday, dismantled and on a low-loader trailer.
It is a de Havilland Sea Vampire training aircraft, which has been donated to Montrose by Scotland’s principal air museum at East Fortune.
Dating from the 1940/50s, although the precise date of manufacture is not (yet!) known, the type formed the RAF’s first advanced jet trainer.
Curator Dr Dan Paton told the Review that the gift had been made on condition that the Vampire be kept under cover.
And this will be achieved to perfection in the recently completed display hall, built with the help of the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
He added that although the type had not been based at Montrose, Vampires flew from Edzell, Leuchars and the Fleet Air Arm base at HMS Condor, Arbroath.
Pilots liked the Vampire, because trainer and trainee were able to sit side-by-side, giving both the same view through the windscreen.
The new acquisition will form the centrepiece of an exhibition based on the theme of training pilots.
Dr Paton said that it will be an interactive display, and that people will actually be able to get into the cockpit of the trainer.
He is clearly looking forward to researching the history of this particular Vampire, to add to the display.
Many local schools already visit the heritage centre on a regular basis, and Dr Paton hopes that the new attraction, which will include a special children’s area, will encourage visitors from further afield.
One group who will definitely visit will be the Air Cadets from Auchtermuchty who have been involved with dismantling and looking after the plane.
Regarding a timetable for re-assembling the Vampire, Dr Paton said it should be in viewable condition by early September.
Transport from Leuchars was provided free of charge by Raeburn Plant Hire, Blantyre.