One of the most famous allied sounds of WW2, the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine was used in the Spitfire and Hurricane fighter planes and the Lancaster bomber, and this weekend you can hear one up close. The RAF Museum in North London are bringing a working engine to their front field and will switch it on for people to hear that famous roar.

(c) RAF Museum

The demonstration will last about 10-15 minutes, and will take place at 10.30am, 12.30pm, 2.30pm and 4.30pm this weekend (6th & 7th August).

As it’s very loud, the Merlin engine will be within a fenced area and you will be at least 10 meters away from it at all times. It’ll take time to get to full power and will be at peak for about 20 seconds, so people worried about being deafened for the full 15 minutes need not be.

During the demonstrations you will need to stay behind the barrier, but after the engine has cooled down you will be able to go into the arena and get up close. Historic Aero Engines will be on hand to answer any questions.

The demonstration and the museum are both free, but the museum recommends booking a ticket in advance for this weekend from here. In addition to the Merlin demonstration, you can easily spend at least half a day or more at the museum as it’s very large and has a lot to see in its hangers.

The Merlin remains most closely associated with the Spitfire and Hurricane, although the majority of the production run was for the four-engined Avro Lancaster heavy bomber. Initially known as the PV-12, it was later called Merlin following the company convention of naming its four-stroke piston aero engines after birds of prey.

The museum is about a 10 minute walk from Colindale tube station on the Northern line. There are no planned closures on the Northern line this weekend.

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