XZ494 Harrier – restoration

Harrier XZ494

The Harrier was purchased about 10 years ago by my friend Neil Banwell. I met him about 3 years ago and said I would be interested in cleaning the Harrier and from there on I have moved to restoring it. I have attached some photos from when Neil first purchased it to how it looks now. There is still more to do, and we are still looking for bits, so if you know of any, I would be very interested in them.    Cris.

XZ494 arriving at its home in Somerset, not far from where it was based at RNAS Yeovilton
XZ494 as purchased from Everett Aero.
XZ494 in its hanger with the Pegasus Engine
XZ494 being sprayed before delivery.
The cockpit after some restoration, still missing items to complete the cockpit

When removing a panel, I found this written on the inside. If you could shed any light on this I would be greatly pleased.

Hunter Production at Dunsfold

A number of interesting images from the early 1950’s has been recovered recently. Many thanks for the contribution by Russell Powell.

Hunter 1. Hunter Erection Line No. 2 Bay Left hand view, neg number H2453 21-06-1954.
Hunter 2. Hunter Erection Line No. 2 Bay Right hand view, neg number H2452 21-06-1954.
Hunter 3. Hunter Erection Line No. 1 Bay, neg number H2451 21-06-1954.
Hunter 4. Hunter Aircraft cleared Flight line preparing for Delivery, neg number H2454 21-06-1954.
Hunter 5. Production Apron aircraft preparation for flight tests, neg number H2450 21-06 -1954.

 

In this last photo it looks like WT591. Aircraft on charge of the RAF DFLS (Day Fighter Leader’s Squadron). It skidded on ice on landing on 24/1/1957 at RAF West Raynham, Norfolk. Aircraft overshot and hit the boundary fence, shearing off the starboard undercarriage leg.

Struck off charge as Cat5(G/I): Allocated to Ground Instructional Airframe use as 7411M at 1 SoTT at RAF Halton on 23/4/1957. Not used as such, instead re-classified as Cat.5(c) at 19 MU RAF St. Athan on 26/4/1957. Re-classified Cat.5(scrap) struck off charge and moved to fire dump 17/5/1957.

WT581 is at the back left. A tragic story is associated with this aircraft. It ran out of fuel at the end of an air test including aerobatics and manual landings. Crashed 1 mile west north west of Leuchars after the engine cut on final approach. Pilot – Flying Officer Alan MacKillop-Watkinson – ejected too low (at 250 – 500 feet) did not separate from the seat, and was killed.

Could Red Arrows ‘come home’ to Dunsfold?

Many will have seen the news last week that the RAF is closing Scampton – the airbase which, among other things, is the home of the iconic Red Arrows display team. Those with an interest in UK aviation history, including neighbours living around Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey, will probably also know that the Hawk trainer jet which is used by the Red Arrows was developed, assembled and first flown at the Dunsfold Aerodrome in 1974.  More than a few people are therefore asking the question – is now the time to consider offering a new base for the Red Arrows, at the historic home of the Hawk, Dunsfold Aerodrome?

Hawk 168 in 1985 over Dunsfold: Image by Andy Lawson/ BAe Systems
Red Arrows and BAe aircraft in 1985 at Dunsfold: Image by Andy Lawson/ BAe Systems
Red Arrows at Dunsfold 2010. Photo courtesy Karen Sutton www.limelight-marketing.co.uk

By coincidence (or may it be providence?), a rare example of a Hawker Hunter fighter jet which has for many years been on public display in a shopping street in Woking, is also looking for a new home. ‘XL623’ was the last Hunter T.7 to be built, and it is believed it first flew at Dunsfold.

T7 Hunter XL 623 as art in Woking
T.7 Hunter XL 623 as art in Woking Photo Courtesy Neil Randell
T.7 Hunter XL 623 being removed from Woking, July 2018 Photo Courtesy Carol Fenton-Balch
XL623. Royal Air Force Hawker Hunter T.7 at RAF Leuchars. Image copyright Jim Cain

Having been donated to Brooklands Museum, and with the help of the Hawker Association, restoration of Hunter T7 XL623  is about to begin – very fittingly at Dunsfold Aerodrome! How good would it be if that aircraft could also find a permanent home at the Dunsfold site?

Dunsfold Aerodrome is also the semi-permanent home of the Brooklands-owned VC10 aircraft, which although not fit to fly, regularly starts up its engines for a short taxi round the runways. In addition, it is a base frequently used by a WW2 Dakota painted in D-Day landing colours.

In the past year, the Aerodrome has benefitted from a flurry of Listings of buildings on the near-intact and still operational airfield.   During 2017, Historic England listed as Grade II;

VSTOL Blast Pads

Engine Running Pens

Royal Observer Corps Monitoring Post

Canadian War Memorial

So are we about to see a resurgence of interest in Dunsfold Aerodrome becoming a living museum as the home of a VC10, Hunter XL623, and – possibly? – a base for the Red Arrows flight of Hawk jets?    Well, while the threat of obliteration of the aerodrome under housing development remains, this would seem a remote dream. But, surely, the site owners, who often cite their interest in the flying history of the airfield, would do well to consider how popular such a proposal might be, and how many tourists the new museum could attract? It may, just, be time for the planes to come home to Dunsfold.

Banner Image: Red Arrows at Dunsfold 2010. Image courtesy of Gareth Stringer

Collection of Photos from heyday of Dunsfold

Eric Hayward had worked at Dunsfold for many years and over that time was able to take photographs of the activities and aircraft that he saw.   His whole collection has been scanned and assembled into an album on Flickr.  Whilst it is a diverse collection, in no particular date order, many images are from Dunsfold, and some are of very significant aircraft.

If you can assist in identifying aircraft and locations, please do add the detail in the comment section.

Eric Hayward. Mainly Dunsfold

Control Tower (1970’s)

The replacement Control Tower installed in the 70’s. Photo taken 1979
Brick built with a concrete slab roof that was asphalted.
Internally the floors were concrete with a tiled finish
It originally had the air traffic equipment, a boiler house (oil fired), radar and radio workshops. All covered an area 2400 sq ft.
The Radar installation was an ex-RAF AR1 system, later removed when BAe left the airfield.

Dunsfold Airfield given approval for 1800 homes.

The Secretary of State has now decided on the fate of the airfield.  After the 3 week long Planning Inquiry on the development plans his Planning Inspector  approved the proposals and the Secretary of State has agreed with that judgement.  The full details of the decision is here.

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/695972/18-03-29_DL_R_Dunsfold_Park_3171287.pdf