RTAF Museum

BANGKOK: RTAF Museum. If you happen to be in Bangkok and want to have a break from the shopping or partying perhaps you should make your way to the National Aviation Museum of the Royal Thai Air Force located adjacent to Don Muang International airport.

Actually if you fly into Bangkok using the Don Muang (on Air Asia or Malindo) it might be wise to schedule the visit as you arrive or departing the city as the museum is located next door to the airport so you can use the traffic congestion to your benefit. You need to take a cab or Grab car from the international airport as the museum is located on the military side of the airport (just like Subang airbase compared to the Subang airport) though it is a separate building from any RTAF facility so it is accessible even by tourists.

An RF-5A at the front of the museum.

Be prepared to spend at least an hour at the museum as it is arguably one of the best in the region. The museum was opened in 1969 to replace the previous one opened in 1952.
The Neiuport on display at the museum

Among the aircraft displayed are Nieuport and Brequet, pre World War One flying machines, the only examples of both types in the world.
The Curtis 75 which shot down a French fighter in 1940 as Thai try to take back its territory under control by the French.

Also on display are a Saab JAS 39C Gripen, an F-16, a number of F-5s and various helicopters that were used by RTAF since 1950s. A couple of Royal Thai Navy aircraft including an AV-8S Harrier are also displayed at the museum.
A Bronco OV-10 with mission markings for joint operations with Malaysia at the Thai-Malaysia border in the late 70s.

The museum is open on Tuesday to Sunday (closed on Thai public holidays) from 8am to 3pm and admission is free. It is also accessible by public buses,the BTS line and Grab cars or motorcycles.

-Malaysian Defence

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20 Comments

  1. ID and SG have their military aviation museum, not sure for PH and VN. ID museum read somewhere have WWII/ID indepence-era planes.

  2. @ nimitz

    Regarding ID Museum not only WWII era but it is the only museum in ASEAN where you can see close-up a TU-16 Badger bomber on display at the museum.

  3. Indonesian airforce museum in jogja is interesting, with some 58 aircrafts there. If you are a fan of WWII then their collection of former japanese aircraft is unparalleled. The most famous is of course the japanese mitsubishi zero fighter. If the thais have the spitfire, the indonesians have the P-51 mustangs. New aircrafts are always added to the collection and the latest was a C-130 hercules.

    Other than these other good air force museum around here would be the Sri Lankan air force museum
    http://www.airforcemuseum.lk

    and the myanmar defense service museum
    http://www.aviationmuseum.eu/Blogvorm/defence-services-museum/

    Reply
    I am thinking of going to Yogjakarta next year if I go I will do a post about it. I may go to RSAF museum next

  4. Nimitz – ” not sure for PH”

    There is a museum in Metro Manila. Also an outdoor display which includes a Crusader and AA gun near the entrance to the airbase at Clark.

    …. – ”TUDM, what are you doing with your history?”

    Funds, funds, funds and the need to prioritise.

    If procurement and operational funds are an issue; what do you expect the situation will be with regards to a museum. The RMAF can only do so much with the funds it gets. The situation with the RMN is different – for one there’s greater state government support. At present even private funding for a museum is an issue. To be fair to the RMAF it’s not as if it has no interest or plans to preserve its history.

    …. – ” the indonesians have the P-51 mustangs”

    Which flew circuits over Tawau at one point.

  5. @ …
    @ Marhalim

    Rare Japanese WW2 warbird is also on display at the Indonesian Air Force Museum in Yogjakarta.

    Collection of Japanese warbirds at the museum:

    https://acesflyinghigh.wordpress.com/2018/05/12/imperial-japanese-navy-mitsubishi-a6m5-zero-indonesian-air-force-museum-yogyakarta-may-2018/

    Some of the soviet-era aircrafts collection including TU-16 Badger bomber at the museum:

    https://acesflyinghigh.wordpress.com/2018/09/29/the-soviet-era-of-the-indonesian-air-force/

  6. @ azlan

    “To be fair to the RMAF it’s not as if it has no interest or plans to preserve its history”

    Hmm… remember 1MDB takeover of sungei besi air base and the closure of the airforce museum? Did the airforce ask for a replacement museum built? There is not even a plan or request for a new museum from 1mdb to replace the one in sungei besi. I would love to be proven wrong but where is the proof?

  7. The navy is buying things from suppliers, who might make a contribution to the museum. The air force hasn’t bought anything for a while, so no one will.

  8. @ AM

    Taking over a strategic piece of land in the middle of the capital city is a big deal, if TUDM is serious with its history a replacement museum should be a non negotiable item in the deal.

  9. ….. – ”I would love to be proven wrong but where is the proof?”

    Fine but do you have ”proof”?

    Can you say with absolute certainty that the RMAF did not ask for a ”replacement museum built”? Can you say with absolute certainty that ”there is not even a plan or request for a new museum from 1mdb to replace the one in sungei besi” or are you merely basing your conclusions on what does or doesn’t get mentioned publicly? Have you considered the possibility that the RMAF wasn’t given any say in the matter and was just told to keep quiet and later be given replacement land for a museum?

    You keep mention/questioning the RMAF’s plans or lack of plans to preserve it’s history; citing other arms who have done so. It’s not as if the RMAF has no plans or interest but it all depends on funding being made available to put such plans in motion. In the past when funding was there and when companies [such as British Aerospace] provided funding the RMAF did all it could [and still does] to preserve its history. If anything, given the list of retired aircraft that have been preserved [starting from the 1970’s] the RMAF does make an effort to preserve its history.

    …. – ” if TUDM is serious with its history a replacement museum should be a non negotiable item in the deal.”

    In principle or on paper yes but in reality what went on behind the scenes? How much say did the RMAF have and how much support did it get? What was it promised? Find answers to these questions before concluding whether ”TUDM is serious with its history” …….

    AM – ”The navy is buying things from suppliers, who might make a contribution to the museum”

    Even then officers and other ranks who are posted to the RMN’s historical/archival department at Pulau Indah are more often than not those whose careers have reached a dead end.

  10. @ azlan

    Did I conclude anything. What part of ” I would love to be proven wrong ” is a conclusion to you?

    Anyway what do you want me to do? Congratulate TUDM for shutting down its museum and letting its collection rot away without any care? Great planning of wanting MRCAs that cannot be afforded by the countries budget? I don’t want to tell my grandchildrens about a past TUDM that is better than the present that they live in 20-30 years from now.

  11. “given the list of retired aircraft that have been preserved [starting from the 1970’s] the RMAF does make an effort to preserve its history. ”

    An effort though one can’t say a good one. When the Sungai Besi museum was open, gun and rocket pods were scattered on open ground and aircraft that at one point were pristine were left to rust- the saddest being the Skyhawk with the cockpit left open.

  12. …. – ”Anyway what do you want me to do?”

    Who am I to tell you what to do?

    If you insist on making unsubstantiated claims because of a lack of facts and based on personal opinions, as well as neglecting to take into account that there may be various factors at play, factors that may not be so readily apparent to those not in the know [me included naturally] and also give the impression that you know best : please by all mean do continue.

    …. – ”Congratulate TUDM for shutting down its museum and letting its collection rot away without any care?”

    First of all, even though I’ve mentioned it before : the RMAF had no say in the matter. It’s leadership did voice concern but was told to keep quiet and accept was is later offered. This happens to its sister services as well BTW.

    …. – ”Great planning of wanting MRCAs that cannot be afforded by the countries budget?”

    Again, in case you still haven’t grasped it or won’t accept it : it’s the job of the armed services to lay out their needs based on their requirements and other factors and the job of the government to inform the armed services not only what can be afforded and what can’t. It’s the government’s duty of care. It is not a case of a deluded irrational RMAF that can’t think ”out of the box” or that can’t plan realistically or wants to have fancy expensive toys or nothing at all [in case on overlooks it the RMAF has gone public in the past saying it might have no choice but get a lease option], the impression you keep giving.

    The problem is that the government has not cancelled but deferred the requirement without giving any idea as to a possible time frame, whether in 5 or 10 years. This leaves the RMAF in a shite position [to put it mildly]. Also [as pointed out before on numerous occasions] even if the RMAF announced it wanted 30 odd year old pre owned air frames; the government might not agree.

  13. I can only speculate why the museum was not moved to Sendayan with the rest of the units formerly based at Sungai Besi.

    I suspect a factor was the cost and difficulty of moving the larger aircraft by road. Maybe the air force was not confident of their ability to dis- and re-assemble them, considering the aircraft have sat and rusted in open storage for years. Since a nearer site for the museum would not have been provided, the can was kicked down the road.

    In the navy’s case there will be fewer outsized items to move.

    Reply
    There was no provisions for the museum at Sendayan that was the reason it was not moved there

  14. Wow…..indonesia can preserve their history since decades ago even when money is problem for them back then.

    Meanwhile in here….

    Who is going to preserve your history? How much you appreciate and pride to your history?

  15. Great! Lets tell everyone that the airforce has done its best when the museum is in tatters and other capabilities (MPA, AEW, maintenance, upgrades) put aside for a good part of 10 years for its want for MRCAs. Grill me as much as you want, but what i contribute here, my TUDM 2020 plan etc etc is all because of my concern and care about the airforce.

    @ AM

    Caribous have been moved to port dickson, twin pins to melaka. It can be done. But for the airforce museum, to move it where? Were do they want to build the new airforce museum? You cannot move something you dont know the destination in the 1st place.

  16. AM – ”An effort though one can’t say a good one. ”

    Yes but this is not due to a lack of interest or desire as some would claim but the issue of funding. First we have to ask how much was actually allocated for the museum over the years [not only for expansion but also for upkeep] and then we have to ask how long and tedious was the process faced when the RMAF kept requesting the needed funds. Granted the various out door exhibits were in poor shape but this also applies to certain RMN and army exhibits and the RMAF’s gate guards re placed outdoor. At Subang there is an A-4 placed on a plinth, within the grounds.

    I can’t comment on the various museums in SEA [as such I will not make direct comparisons or used other museums as a yard stick] but I do know that the bulk of funding for military museums in the U.K [including the RAF and National Army Museum] come from private funding.

    AM – ”I suspect a factor was the cost and difficulty of moving the larger aircraft by road.”

    From what I was told the RMAF was simply told to accept what was offered, keep quiet and later receive something in return.They did ask though and press the issue. Priority for the RMAF [it can’t be faulted] was to first ensure that there was enough space at Sendayan [or wherever else it had to relocate to] to relocate the various units/facilities at Sungei Besi. Even then, although it would have wanted a runway, it didn’t get one. We can argue that the RMAF should have pressed its case [no certainty it didn’t and the government and private sector should have been more supportive.

    Note that I’m not suggesting the RMAF is blameless or couldn’t have done more but there were factors beyond its control. It’s easy to put blame and form conclusions but there was only so much the RMAF could have done given the circumstances it found itself in.

    AM – ”In the navy’s case there will be fewer outsized items to move.”

    In the RMN’s case there was also greater support from the state government and the private sector.

    Romeo – ”Meanwhile in here….

    What are you on about? The RMAF has been preserving aircraft for decades. Don’t make it sound as if the RMAF has zero interest in doing so. Before making direct comparisons look first at the circumstances faced by each air arm; not only the funds available but also the support it receives from above/elsewhere, whether the leadership, private sector or government.

  17. off topic

    Saw this picture online of a SME Aero MD-3 Aerotiga that was sold by TUDM as scrap at one of the scrapyard dealers in Sungai Petani, Kedah. This is the cockpit of M42-20, the last of the 20 Aerotigas built for TUDM.

    You can see that the interior is mostly complete except some covers in the center console, all the flight instruments are intact, the keys are in the ignition, all the nav/comm radios are still there, indicating that there is no attempt whatsoever to cannibalise the aircraft before being sold as scrap. There is also no tell-tale signs of heavy use, like scuff/scratch marks in the cockpit. The clearest sign of low usage is the Hobbs/hour meter that calculates the life of the aircraft, it clocks only 51 hours!

    https://cdn.jetphotos.com/full/6/88871_1507556450.jpg

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