IT was 80 years ago yesterday that Hitler’s deputy Rudolf Hess parachuted down to Renfrewshire from a crashing German aircraft and caused one of the great mysteries of the Second World War.

Even now, the Hess affair still seems to be causing embarrassment in government circles as some of the records in the National Archives are sealed and will remain so until 2041.

What is open for all to view, however, is one of the two engines of the Messerschmitt Bf 110 that Hess flew that fateful night. The engine is on display in the National Museum of Flight’s (NMF) Military Aviation hangar at East Fortune in East Lothian, on loan from the board of trustees of RAF Museum.

Ian Brown, assistant curator of Aviation at the NMF, commented yesterday: “Some 80 years ago to this day, Rudolf Hess’s aircraft appeared in the skies above Scotland, before crash-landing in the East Renfrewshire countryside.

"Rumours suggest that Hess hoped the Duke of Hamilton would help him achieve peace between Germany and Britain, and some believe that more secrets may come to light on the 100th anniversary of the incident, when official files are no longer closed. However, what we can be certain of is that we are fortunate to display an object from one of the most unusual events of the Second World War.”

The National:

Whether Hess was trying to get peace between Britain and Germany or not, the fact is that he was one of the few people in Hitler’s inner circle who knew that the dictator was about to invade the Soviet Union, the move which arguably cost Germany the war. Was he trying to get peace in the West to allow greater forces on the Eastern Front?

Hitler portrayed Hess as a renegade who had gone mad, and prime minister Winston Churchill was deeply suspicious of Hess’s motives. He was locked up for the duration of the war, found guilty of crimes against peace at the Nuremberg war trials and imprisoned for life in Spandau Prison in Berlin.

Hess died there at the age of 93 in 1987, apparently having committed suicide. DNA tests later proved that the prisoner of Spandau was Hess and not the double that some had suggested.

Steve McLean, general manager at the NMF, added: “The engine belonging to the aircraft carrying Rudolf Hess is one of the most thought-provoking items on display at the museum. It is a popular object due to its rich history and we love sharing with our visitors details of the mysterious events that unfolded that day 80 years ago.”

In line with Scottish Government guidance, tickets to visit the museum must be pre-booked. For more information visit