Three Nimrods were adapted for the SIGINT role replacing earlier Comets (the spiritual ancestor to the Nimrod airframe) and Canberras of No. 51 Squadron in May 1974. The R.1 can be distinguished from its maritime reconnaissance variants by the lack of a MAD boom protruding from the tail. It was fitted with an array of rotating dish aerials in the aircraft’s bomb-bay, with further dish aerials in the tail cone and at the front of the wing-mounted fuel tanks. It had a flight crew of four (two pilots, a flight engineer and one navigator) and up to 25 crew operating the SIGINT equipment.
The last flight of the type was on 28th June 2011 from RAF Waddington and shortly after, XW664 was transferred to East Midlands Aeropark on 12 July 2011 to go on public display after the removal of classified systems. XW664 was chosen to be reserved because it was the first Nimrod to be converted to R.1 status. One Nimrod R.1, XW666, was lost in an accident in 1995 and to demonstrate just how important the type was a maritime reconnaissance variant was rebuilt as an R.1 to make up the shortfall.
All photos were taken on a rather frosty 18th January 2015. Internal photos are credited to Tim Morley.