Danske Teknisk Museum – Helsingør
A few months ago I had the possibility to visit the Danske Teknisk Museum in Helsingør, which is about 50 km north of the Danish capital Copenhagen.
The Danish Technology Museum is not exclusively dedicated to aviation, but one has to admit that the aviation department is quite well equipped as it by far covers the largest surface in the museum.
Denmark is not very well known for its aviation pioneers, but after visiting the museum it becomes clear that the ‘dream of flight’ was also present in this country.
The earliest pioneer covered in the museum is Jacob Ellehammer. This Danish watchmaker and inventor developed an interest in aviation and build a series of
aircraft and helicopter prototypes in which he made a series of successful hops and flights. Visible in the museum are a replica of 1906 Monoplane, a helicopter designed in 1911 and a large number of models.
Another interesting aircraft is the Svendsen ‘Glenten’ a modified Voisin in which Danish pilot Robert Svendsen made a number of flights in Scandinavia. Later Svendsen donated the aircraft to the Danish Navy, this was actually the very first aircraft for the Navy. Other aircraft developed in Denmark include the Larsen glider, the Brædstrup Ultralet Fly BUF-1 and a Polliwagen. A Danish inventor from more recent times was Vincent Seremet, who developed between 1957 and 1996 more than 30 single-person flying devices including a number of autogiros and jetpacks. And for some people in Denmark every project is possible, which is witnessed by the ‘Kraka’ a 12-meter long midget submarine which was constructed by Peter Madsen and Claus Norregaard in 2005.
Another interesting project currently underway at Helsingør is the construction of a Friedrichshafen FF49C replica, a German reconnaissance floatplane from the World War One period. The Danish Navy operated 7 examples between 1919 and 1927. Looking at progress it will take some considerable time to finish the project, but when finished it will be quite unique as to my knowledge none of the 200 original aircraft build survived.
From the Second World War another German floatplane is preserved. The remains of a Blöhm & Voss Bv138C thas was recovered from the Oresund Sound in
2000. It had been sunk during a British airshow just after the war.
Aircraft production in Denmark on a larger scale was done SAI (Skandinavisk Aero Industri), a company that existed from 1937 until 1954. Over the years they developed a number of light aircraft and ambulance planes. The two complete aircraft preserved at Helsingør are a Swedish registered KZ.III and the larger KZ.IV, both types were developed for patient transport. Patient transport has always been considered an important task in Denmark as also a couple British aircraft used for this role are currently preserved at Helsingør, a rare General Aircraft ST-25 Monospar and more common De Havilland DH89A Dragon Rapide. Finally for the civilian section a Douglas C47A Skytrain and a Sud-Est SE210 Caravalle III are visible.
Also military aviation is nicely covered at Helsingør. Oldest aircraft on display are a couple Donnet-Lévêque floatplanes, named ‘Maagen 2’ and ‘Maagen 3’, that can be considered the founding fathers of Danish Naval Aviation, as these were the first aircraft equipping the ‘Naval Air School’ when it was created in 1913.
The only aircraft from the World War 2 period is a Saab B17C. In 1943, the Danish Brigade, comprising a group of 15 Danish pilots who had escaped to Sweden, was formed in Sweden. They were allowed to take part in Swedish air force training and exercises. In 1945 15 Saab B17 aircraft were loaned to the Danish Brigade. Just prior to the liberation of Denmark they were painted in Danish colors on May 4th. On May 5th they were ready for take off, but never received permission to take off in order to arrive in Denmark together with the rest of the Danish Brigade, as the Germans already had surrendered in the evening of the 4th. The aircraft were offered to Denmark, but 7 days after the ceasefire the pilots and mechanics were ordered to return to Denmark by train and the Danish government said they weren’t interested in the B17s themselves.
After the war the Danish military starting acquiring military from Britain and the United States. Starting with the De Havilland DH98A Tiger Moth and Percival Proctor III training aircraft. An aircraft from the same period is the Fairchild PT26A Cornell, which previously served in the Royal Norwegian Air Force.
In 1949 the Danish Air Force took delivery of the first Gloster Meteor F.4 delivered new from the production lines in the United Kingdom. This was the start of the jet era for the young air force. As with most countries Denmark took delivery of new aircraft types in a very short space of time. In 1951 the first examples of the US-build Republic F84 Thunderjet arrived in the form of the F84E-version, followed one year later by the F84G variant. An example of this later version is on display in the museum. Over the years the Danish Air Force took delivery of many examples of the F84G, including a number of examples that were surplus for the Belgian Air Force. To provide pilot training for the new jets a number of Lockheed T33A T-Birds were received from the United States. Two examples of the T33A are on display at Helsingør, one acts as an eye-catcher on the road towards the museum and one is kept inside.
In 1964 the first examples of the Lockheed F104G Starfighter entered service with the Royal Danish Air Force as a replacement for the F86 Sabre, whose Danish career was very short. These aircraft were US-build examples, which was quite unique as most F104Gs for Europe were license-build in either Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany or Italy. In late 1971 the first example of the Canadair CF104 Starfighter was delivered. These secondhand aircraft, originally build for the Canadian Air Force, were modified to F104G standard in Aalborg. Denmark had also a number of North American F100 Super Sabre in use, who were replaced in the early seventies by a number of Saab F35 Draken, a type that was bought in three variants, fighter, reconnaissance and the two-seater trainer. In Helsingør the first example of the fighter variant is preserved, serialled A-001.
Apart from the Ellehammer prototype two additional types are on view in the museum. First a civilian registered Westland-Bell 47G-3B-1, which in a previous career served in the British military as XV317, the second one is a Sikorsky S55C that once was part of the Royal Danish Air Force.
The Danske Teknisk Museum is certainly worth a visit when you are in the neighborhood. The collection is very diverse and contains some aircraft that are quite rare outside Denmark. The complete collection is kept inside (apart from the T33A-eyecatcher). Photography is allowed without problems in the museum and when you are hungry it's possible to have a snack in the small restaurant. It can easily be reached from Copenhagen, simply take the E47 motorway direction Helsingør until the motorway turns into a normal road, continue until the first roundabout and take the exit to the left. After a few hundred meters you will see a pole-mounted T33A on your right, follow the road until the next turn and go right again, follow this road for a few hundred meters and you will see entrance at your right.
When you are Helsingør, also don't forget to pay a visit to castle Kronborg, the location where Shakespeare's Hamlet is set, it is really wonderful.
I want to thank the museum staff for their kind reception and their help during my visit, I will certainly return at a next occasion !
Text & Photography : Laurent Heyligen