A WEARSIDE museum is hoping to fire up visitors with its latest attraction.
The North East Land, Sea and Air Museum (Nelsam), in Sunderland, has taken delivery of a Bristol Bloodhound missile launcher as part of its ever-expanding collection.
The British-designed surface-to-air missile system, which has been disarmed, was brought from a museum in Switzerland.
Museum trustee Brian Dixon said: “The Bloodhound was developed during the 1950s as the UK’s main air defence weapon.
“It was in large-scale service with the RAF and the forces of four other countries.
“It entered service in 1958 and the last missile squadron stood down in 1991, when some missiles passed to several UK museums.
“The launchers mostly went to the scrapman due to their 3.5 tonne weight and have become very rare and almost impossible to obtain.
“With a range of 75 miles, the missile itself was almost 28 feet in length and travelled to its target at up to two-and-a-half times the speed of sound.”
Earlier this year, the former North East Aircraft Museum announced it was joining forces with two other collections to create a new organisation.
Linking up with Newcastle’s Military Vehicles Museum and the Gateshead-based North East Electric Traction Trust, the venue now covers the RAF, Army and Royal Navy.
“We are not normally importers of ex-military equipment, so a very quick learning curve was needed with customs when the launcher became available at the BL64 museum in Switzerland,” said Mr Dixon.
“Although Nelsam have two Bloodhound missiles, it did not have a launching pad and there were none to be had in the UK.
“We have been trying to obtain a launcher for over 20 years, so we were delighted to be offered the chance to get one at last.
“Two big problems arose due to Switzerland not being in the EU and the launchers being military equipment.
“Thanks to a lot of help and support from the shipping company, Sealane Freight of Harpenden, which entered into the spirit of organising the transportation, all the problems were overcome and summed up by the Sealane agent – ‘It’s a change from shipping pallet loads of tinned tomatoes’.”