Museu do Marinha, Lisbon-Belém, Portugal

The third museum that I visited during my stay in Portugal in 2013 was not purely aviation related, but did house a few nice aircraft that I want to share with you.






The 'Museu do Marinha', or Navy Museum, is located at Bélem, on the shores of river Taag and opposite the Torre de Belém (Tower of Belém), which was used to defend Lisbon. It is housed in the west wing of the Mosteiro dos Jéronimos(Jéronimos Monestary).

The aviation section is quite small and only houses three aircraft. The most important one is an aircraft that we already saw in the Museu do Ar at Sintra, a Fairey IIID, which was used to make the first Atlantic Crossing from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro. The biggest difference with the example in Sintra is that the aircraft in Belém is the original aircraft that made this epic trip. The trip was really an epic one, as in fact three attempts were needed to complete the voyage.

A first attempt, starting on March 30th, 1922 at Bom Successo Naval Air Station (translated 'Good Luck' Naval Air Station), was seriously damaged upon landing on April 17th near the Saint Peter and Saint Paul Archipelago, already in Brazilian waters. It lost one of its floats and

sank, so this attempt had to be abandoned. The crew, Gago Coutinho and Sacadura Cabral, was saved by a support ship and transported to the island of Fernando de Noronha.


The crew didn't want to give up, so a second Fairey was ferried to Fernando de Noronha, and on May 11th they took off with the new aircraft with as destination the Saint Peter and Saint Paul Archipelago. Unfortunately an engine problem forced them to ditch in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, where they drifted for nine hours before being picked up by a British cargo ship, which brought them back to Fernando do Noronha.


'Giving up' apparently doesn't appear in the Portuguese dictionary, so a third Fairey IIID, baptized 'Santa Cruz' was transported by a Navy Cruiser to Fernando do Noronha. On June 5th, they left Fernando do Noronha for the third time and they finally arrived at Rio de Janeiro on June 17th, 1922. The two men were greeted by huge crowds and greeted by Brazilian aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont. Their journey had lasted

79 days, although the actual flying time was only 62 hours and 26 minutes. This voyage is considered as one of the greatest in Portuguese aviation history, and is also commemorated by a third Fairey IIID, this time in steel, which is positioned on the shores of the Taag.

The museum houses two additional aircraft. The French-build Schreck FBA flying boat was taken into service in 1917 by the Portuguese Navy, it was flown by a two man crew and a third crew member manned a machine gun in the nose. The third aircraft is a Grumman G44 Widgeon

was used between 1942 and 1968 and used for maritime patrol.

The largest section of the museum is off course to ships and all the voyages of Portuguese discovers. It's a bit out of the scope of this website

to give you an overview of this, but just as an illustration of what can be seen here is one picture. It shows the 'Bergantim Real' or Royal Barge build in 1780. It was last used in 1957 to transport the British Queen Elisabeth II.

The museum is really worth a visit, and you don't have to be an aircraft or naval specialist to enjoy this collection.


Text & Photography : Laurent Heyligen