The M. Rahmi Koç Museum is situated on the north side of Haliç (Golden Horn). It includes a new, largely underground, building as well as the historical ‘foundry’ (Lengerhane) on the south-west part of site. The two buildings are connected by a glass – sided ramp. The foundry is listed as a grade II historical building and is thought to have been built on the Byzantine foundations dating from the 12th century. There is documentary evidence that the building was used for casting anchors and their chains during the rule of Ahmet III (1703-1730). It was restored during the reign of Selim III (1789-1807) and was then used by consecutive finance ministries of the Ottoman Empire and of the Turkish Republic until 1951. Then it was handed over to the State Monopoly & Tobacco Factory in Cibali and was used by them for the storage of alcohol. The roof sustained serious fire damage in 1984 and subsequently the building was left derelict. In 1991 it was bought by the Rahmi M. Koç Foundation for Culture and Museums and this was followed by two and a half years of painstaking restoration work. The museum opened on December 13, 1994.
Most of the items exhibited are selected from Mr. Rahmi Koç’s private collection. Other objects are either borrowed from, or donated by, various organisations and individuals. Original machines and their replicas, scientific and mechanical items make up the basis of the museum’s exhibits. In the following description of the suggested route for visiting the museum it is convenient to distinguish between the foundry and the new building. Entry to the foundry is through a narrow tunnel which is situated below the street level. This tunnel also serves as an exhibition space for cannonballs and parts of cannons and anchors discovered on site during restoration. After the tunnel, staircases to left and right lead to the first floor.
The first floor contains steam engines, steam turbines and several types of boilers that powered industrial machines, sea vessels and land vehicles. Some of the most interesting items are replicas of steam engines of side-propelled ships, gas powered internal combustion engines, hot-air powered engines and working replicas of engines used to power light vehicles during the 1900s. The central, and largest, exhibit is a triple-expansion steam engine made in England in 1911. This was the starboard engine of the passenger ferry No.67 Kalendar which served Bosporus commuters for many years. She belonged to a company called Şirket-i Hayriye which ran passenger services in İstanbul and to some Turkish ports between 1850 and 1944. A model of the Kalendar is exhibited alongside the engine.
The locomotive and rolling-stock models exhibited in the large display case are arranged in chronological order and include the famous 1829 steam locomotive ‘Rocket’. Of the many fine locomotive engine models in individual cases, that of the ‘Fire King’ is outstanding. Other cases show the application of steam power to road and agricultural vehicles, and one case is devoted to models by Turkish makers. Several clocks and their mechanisms made between the 17th and 19th centuries are also on display.
Stairs lead up from the first floor to the gallery of the foundry, passing the hypotonic rolling-ball clock on the way. Here will be found measuring devices, astrolabes and quadrants used by Muslim astronomers to measure angles. These could be the angular distances of planets or stars above the horizon, for navigation; the angles to targets, for gunnery; or altitudes of buildings, for surveying.
Many of the astronomical devices to be seen in the gallery are related to navigation, but they also include telescopes and the late 18th century/early 19th century microscopes. The final display case of the scientific instruments section is concerned with mechanical calculating aids, from abacus to Brunswig, and with both static and current electricity.
The first part of the communications section illustrates the progress from the electric telegraph to the telephone system. The case also displays a fine collection of the early gramophones and tape-recorders.
In the adjacent section you will find radios from 1910 to 1945, together with headphones, speakers, tuner and phono-disc player. The woodwork of these is strongly evocative of the past era. The next case contains devices related to visual communication, both static (cameras, stereoscopes and typewriters) and moving (an operating zoetrope, cine cameras, and 1950s black and white televisions).
On the wall next to the ramp from the foundry to the new building you will see some of the early 20th century model yachts, rowing skiffs and oars. Free-standing exhibits include a London tram, cut-away model car and engine, and direction finder aerials.
Proceeding to the next room, a steam-powered machine and an olive press from the Bademli Olive Oil Factory will attract your attention. The machine and the press were in use at the factory from the 1950s until they were donated to our museum.
The aviation section displays aircraft engines (including that of the F- 104 Starfighter on display near the museum car park) as well as the models of early aircrafts. But the most interesting item is the salvaged cockpit of an American B-24 bomber which crashed into the Mediterranean near Antalya while returning from a sortie over Hitler’s refinery in Ploesti (Romania) in 1943. A nearby case contains artefacts found in or near the cockpit.
Across from this section are machines for making coins and printing banknotes, which are on loan from the Ministry of Finance. The 19th century, English-made, coin-stamping machine is still in working order and is used to produce commemorative ‘coins’ for the museum.
The remainder of this area is devoted to bicycles, motorcycles, perambulators and children’s carts. In 1861 the carriage maker P. Michaux and his son attached a pair of metal levers to the front wheel of a trolley, to create the first pedalled wheel and subsequently the first Velocipede. In this section you can follow the progress of two wheeled vehicles from the French Velocipede of 1867 and the English Penny-Farthing of 1870 to the magnificent American 1992 Harley- Davidson motorcycle. In contrast to these, children’s bicycles and baby carriages give a gentler image of technological and industrial progress.
Agricultural machinery used to depend on horse power for transporting it to its place of work. With the introduction of steam – power technology, the machines could both transport and power themselves. Two of the more important items in the museum are in the lower level of the new building. They are a traction engine and a steam – powered engine, made in England in the 1880 s.
Also in this section are some fine models of the early 20th century cars and steam locomotives, as well as toys and train sets (including a working layout). These are usually found to be of particular interest to our younger visitors.
The maritime section makes up a significant part of the museum’s collection. As well as models of whole ships it includes many half-hulls, which were used by designers to show their customers what they were buying the complete hull can be seen by placing the half-hulls against a mirror. There is also a wealth of artefacts associated with the sea and ships, from diving equipment and binnacles to lanterns, telegraphs and fog-horns.
The late 19th century, double-oared, Thames pleasure boat is evocative of warm, lazy summer days and picnics under the willows with the lady of one’s choice. The navigational equipment in the surrounding cases paints a less romantic picture.
The principal exhibit in the maritime section is a ship’s bridge reconstructed from the ‘John Mc Kay’ built in England in 1922. Here, surrounded with functioning equipment and communication devices, we aim to create an environment which makes visitors feel they are aboard a real ship.
A short passageway leads from the new building to a brick vaulted cellar under the foundry. The enclosed atmosphere is not unlike that of a ship’s engine room, so here are displayed many of the things that would be found there: steam gauges pumps and engines, as well as related objects like propellers and shafts. This is the final indoor display and brings you back to the entrance and souvenir shop.
In the outdoor exhibition area you will find a narrow-gauge railway engine from the 1930s, once used in transporting timber to the Ayancık Timber Factory. A route 20 tramcar ran between Kadıköy and Moda from 1934 until 1966, when the service was discontinued. It now takes its place in the museum as an object of nostalgia. A 1951 English-made lifeboat that could sail in the worst weather conditions adds variety to the outdoor exhibition area.
On the other side of the foundry you will find a collection of anchors, a buoy, the boiler section of a floating dock and the torpedo tube from the destroyer “Zafer”. Don’t miss the sundial that gives date and time (to within a few minutes) providing the Sun is shining. Across the road an ex-Turkish Air force F-104 Star fighter aircraft stands next to the car park.
A Tragic Story from Aviation History…
B – 24 D Liberator Hadley’s Harem
PLOESTI RAID “1st of August 1943”
B – 24 D Liberator “Hadley’s Harem” serial no. 41 – 24311 – L, was produced by Consolidated in 1941.
In August 1943, during the raid on the petroleum refineries in Ploesti, Romania, “Hadley’s Harem” was part of the U.S. Air Force 98th Bomber Group “Pyramiders”.
During this historical operation, “Hadley’s Harem” was the first aircraft on the left flank of Col. John R. “Killer” Kane who was heading “Flight One” as group leader.
The crew of ten were on board:
Captain Gilbert B. Hadley
Co – Pilot James R. Lindsay
Navigator Harold Tabacoff
Engineer Russell Page
Bombardier Leon Storms
Radio – operator William Leonard
Gunner Christopher Holweger
Gunner Pershing W. Waples
Gunner Leroy Newton
Gunner Frank Nemeth
The target for the 98th Bomber Group was the Astro Romano refinery, the largest petroleum refining facility in Ploesti, code name “White Four”.
The refinery was armed and protected by quite a few stationary anti – aircraft guns with an additional mobile anti – aircraft gun mounted on a train that went back and forth over the tracks around the refinery.
According to the flight plan, they would fly at high altitude in two groups until Romania and on approaching the refinery they would rapidly lose altitude and execute the raid as previously practiced on mock up models set up in the desert.
Since the two groups had become separated due to adverse weather conditions over the Adriatic, they had to break radio silence thus the Germans were prepared and inflicted heavy losses.
While “Hadley’s Harem” was on its approach to the target, an anti – aircraft shell went through the nose section of the fuselage and exploded causing great damage. Bombardier Storms died instantly as a result of chest injuries received from shrapnel fragments Navigator Tabacoff was also wounded and engine no: 2 had also stopped. Engineer Page manually operated the bomb – bay and released the bombs.
The aircraft was seriously damaged. They set off on their return journey towards Benghazi. However after a while they realised this was not possible and changed their heading towards the British Air Base in Cyprus via Turkey.
Engine no: 3 stopped over Anatolia. At a position past the Taurus Mountains the oil pressure for engine no: 1 began to decrease rapidly. As it was clear that they were not going to reach Cyprus, they decided to land on Turkey’s Mediterranean Coast. The aircraft lost its last two engines near Manavgat while trying to land. One of its wings touched the water causing the aircraft to crash and sink rapidly. The pilot and co – pilot could not come out of the aircraft.
The crew who survived, reached the coast by swimming. Their first medical aid came from the Turkish villagers who rescued them. The wounded were then transferred to the American Hospital (Admiral Bristol) in İstanbul. The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared these people “shipwrecked mariners” thus allowing them to leave freely once their treatment was completed.