Jets on the move
DH Venom FB50 ‘WR470’/ G-DHVM
has joined the Cold War Jets Collection at Bruntingthorpe. Delivered to the Leicestershire airfield in main sections on 3 September, it had been reassembled by the middle of the month and was awaiting the installation of its Ghost engine.
One of 250-plus Venoms built for the Swiss AF by F+W at Emmen, this one was in service as J-1542 for almost thirty years. Initially used for high-altitude photoreconnaissance, it latterly equipped the Swiss AF reserves. Retired on 3 May 1984, it was jointly acquired by John Davies and Philip Meeson at auction later that year, was moved to Cranfield, painted to represent No 208 Squadron’s Venom FB4 WR470 and placed on the UK civil register as G-GONE.
Successively operated by Jet Heritage, De Havilland Aviation and the Classic Air Force (Aviation Heritage Ltd), registered G-DHVM from 2003 when in the latter’s ownership at Newquay and Coventry, it was on the airshow circuit for nearly thirty years. After the CAF close-down in 2015, most of its thirty mainly airworthy postwar aircraft have been dispersed. While very unlikely to fly again, WR470 will at least become one of Bruntingthorpe’s ‘ground-runners’. Current Bruntingthorpe resident
Tornado GR1P ZA326 will shortly be moving to St Athan. The former test aircraft, still in its ‘raspberry ripple’ paint scheme, had spent its first eighteen months there in the site’s historic Hangar 42 but has been displayed outside since May 2015. It will soon be placed under cover once more – much better-suiting its array of electronic components – inside the Wales Aerospace Centre’s conservation hangar for ongoing restoration to live-taxying condition.
First flown on 31 March 1983, ZA326 left BAE Warton for RAE (Royal Aircraft Establishment) Bedford less than two months afterwards. From delivery to retirement some 22 years later, ‘326 was used exclusively for trials work. Equipping the establishment’s Flight Systems Department and, later at Boscombe Down, RAE’S successors DERA (Defence Evaluation and Research Agency) and Qinetiq, it aided the development of numerous systems and weapons, notably the RAPTOR (Reconnaissance Airborne Pod for Tornado). Uniquely the sole ‘P’ model, it was also the only Tornado GR1 of any kind flying upon retirement on 13 December 2005. After nearly eight years’ storage at Boscombe Down, it was ‘rescued’ by Elliott Atkins and transported by road to Bruntingthorpe, arriving on 1 October 2013. Atkins subsequently established the Panavia Tornado Preservation Group that is working to bring ZA326 back to life.
Hawker Hunter Aviation at RAF Scampton has a new addition to its fleet: Hunter T72 PP-XHH. This former Chilean Air Force twoseater was most recently Brazilian manufacturer Embraer’s flighttest chase aircraft. A 1954-built Hunter F4, it equipped No 112 Squadron at RAF Bruggen, then was used for ground instruction by No 1 School of Technical Training at RAF Halton. Hawker Siddeley Aviation recalled it in early 1972 for conversion from the single-seat F4 to the two-seat T72 configuration. A new round of modifications is now in store, HHA’S managing director Mat Potulski told Old Timers. Once overhauled, the Hunter will receive digital cockpit displays and other upgrades that enable it to join HHA’S F58AS ZZ190 and ‘191 on the UK military aircraft register. It will then be ready for the trials support and threat simulation tasks that HHA performs.
There is some debate over this Hunter’s true ‘identity’. Multiple sources give its original UK military serial as XE704 but its data plates provide a second serial: XE688. This suggests that it is a hybrid airframe, possibly as the result of post-accident repairs. XE688 will be its ‘new’ UK military identity.
Canberra PR9 XH134/ G-OMHD
may soon leave the UK for India. It has been offered by Cotswold Airport CEO, Suzannah Harvey (daughter of airport owner and Delta Jets founder Ronan Harvey) to the Indian Air Force Vintage Flight. Based at Hindon Air Force Station, Uttar Pradesh, the flight already comprises a Tiger Moth, Harvard and former Air Atlantique Dakota G-AMSV/‘VP905’ It now has in prospect its first jet: a type the IAF used for fifty years from 1957-2007.
Potentially airworthy but not flown since 2015, XH134 dates from 1959, having been among the 23 Canberras that Shorts Brothers and Harland Ltd built in Belfast. It was operated by Nos 13, 39 and 58 Squadrons, until retired on 31 July 2006. Following intensive restoration by C2 Aviation Ltd, XH134 – now registered G-OMHD – started flying as a civilian jet ‘warbird’ in July 2013. Spearheading the short-lived Midair Squadron’s silver-painted fleet, it made many of 2014’s UK airshows especially memorable. Active for only one complete season, Midair ceased operating after its parent company’s financial down-turn. Stored since 2015, the Canberra remains unsold and has been in the ownership of Kemble Airfield Estates Ltd since September 2016.
ABOVE & BELOW: Venom FB50 WR470, newly arrived at Bruntingthorpe and Tornado GR1P ZA326, soon to leave for St Athan
Used recently by Embraer as a flight test chase plane, Hunter T72 PP-XHH is an exotic addition to HHA’S fleet
Canberra PR9 XH134 has been offered to the IAF Vintage Flight