Jets on the move

Pilot - - OLD TIMERS -

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

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