Rod Chinn, from High Hurstwood, who is a volunteer at Wings Museum.

Museum tells story of aircraft that came down in World War 2

Rod Chinn has been interested in old aircraft since he built Airfix plastic model kits as a youngster, so a new role at an aviation museum is perfect for him.

Rod, aged 61, from High Hurstwood, got involved with Wings Museum at Balcombe after his father died and he took a collection of wartime souvenirs there for public display.

He is now a volunteer at the museum on Sundays. He works on the entrance desk and gives guided tours of the exhibits, many of which tell the story of aircraft that came down locally during the war.

Rod shares information here about some of the things he has learned since starting work at the museum.


A Douglas DC-3/C47 Dakota on display at Wings Museum. This restored cockpit and fuselage is often used as a film/tv prop, including on the set of Band of Brothers Normandy para drop scene.

Rod writes:

With Uckfield being in the centre of Sussex, and the county being in the south east of England, on the coast so close to France, many air battles were fought above the skies of the town and surrounding villages back in the dark days of World War 2, when we were fighting for our freedom.

Aircraft that were shot down from both British and German sides would often hit the ground at great speed and bury themselves in the earth of the Sussex countryside, remaining hidden for many years.

Many have since been dug up from the ground and are now on display at the Wings Museum in Balcombe so make for interesting exhibits on local history.


An unrestored Bell P63 King Cobra at Wings Museum. It is still in its original World War 2 patina and display exactly as it was found, forgotten on an isolated Russian airfield since the end of the war.

An abundance of original memorabilia is on display representing a wealth of display themes including: The Home Front, RAF Fighter Command, The Blitz, Battle of Britain, Bomb Disposal, Home Guard, Air Raid Shelters, Aircraft Turrets, RAF Bomber Command, US 8th Air Force, Luftwaffe, Russian Front, D-Day and Beyond, and much more.

Items also include aero engines, airframes, cockpits, uniforms/medals, flying equipment, hundreds of personal stories of war, sacrifice and courage of people from this area.

It is a growing and active museum. Through the use of informative displays, it aims to educate future generations of the sacrifices made during World War 2 in order to preserve the peace we all benefit from today.


The goal is to ensure that the memory is not lost through the passages of time and that their courage and spirit lives on to inspire us all.

The museum is open on Saturdays and Sundays from March 2, through to November 11, so why not pay them a visit and discover real history set among the sounds of the 1940s.

Every artefact has its own unique story to tell. Whatever your interest or background you are bound to find something of interest at the Wings Aviation Museum.

The museum buildings are at Brantridge Lane, Balcombe, RH17 6JT. There is plenty of parking and opening hours are 10am to 5pm.

More local World War 2 history

The night incendiary bombs and high explosives lit up Uckfield  

Doodlebug explodes near Uckfield 

Uckfield history: hidden story of World War 2 heroism becomes clearer 

Eugene Seghers – unveiling of memorial in Uckfield

Hawker Typhoon being brought back to life in Uckfield

See also:

A look inside the new Horam crematorium

Easter workshops include Mary Poppins and Harry Potter themes

Baby bank moves to village near Uckfield

Find local organisations in our Uckfield Directory

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