Avro Shackleton WR963 at Coventry Airport

A collection of images of Avro Shackleton WR963 housed at Coventry Airport and maintained by the Shackleton Preservation Trust. For a detailed history of the aircraft please visit the trust’s site at www.avroshackleton.co.uk/

All photos kindly contributed to Defence of the Realm by Ryan Wheatstone.


For more images of British military equipment and museums please visit the Galleries section or follow Defence of the Realm on Instagram

If you have photographs or articles you wish to contribute to Defence of the Realm than you can email them to defencerealmyt@gmail.com. If successful you will of course be given full credit for your contribution and can even promote your own website/blog/social media account.

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RAPTOR pod too big for Typhoon

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RAPTOR pod on centreline (commons.wikimedia)

As the RAF’s plans to finally phase out its Panavia Tornado GR.4 force in favour of the Eurofighter Typhoon progress ahead, details have emerged that one asset the Tornado has that will not be transferred over is the Tornado’s RAPTOR (Reconnaissance Airborne Pod for TORnado) pod. RAPTOR is a stand-off electro-optical and Infrared long-range oblique-photograpic reconnaissance pod which is capable of producing high-resolution images and then transmitting them via a real-time data-link to image analysts at a ground station. The pod entered service in 2001 and has seen valuable use over Iraq during Operation Telic and continues to be used in operations against Daesh-ISIS.

However, the RAPTOR pod has proven too heavy and too large to fit on the optimum centerline station of the Typhoon; the undercarriage doors are in the way. This has meant that the pod will now have to be retired with the Tornado force but the capabilities it offers may not be lost with the Typhoon. UTA Aerospace Systems (UTAS) has proposed adapting the Typhoon’s centerline fuel tank to carry an improved version of the RAPTOR’s camera and datalink equipment. Christened Fast Jet Pod 2 (FJP2), it could alternatively house the tactical synthetic aperture radar (TacSAR) that UTAS announced was being jointly developed with Leonardo (then Selex Galileo) at the 2014 Farnborough airshow.

The question remains however; how important is manned aerial reconnaissance to the British military in the 21st century? The British armed forces have recently made great strides towards increasing their unmanned tactical reconnaissance and strike assets with the Royal Navy having just completed possibly the most comprehensive unmanned systems exercise in the world namely Unmanned Warrior 2016.

Unmanned systems have all the capability advantages of a pod such as RAPTOR carried by a manned aircraft but has the added advantage of eliminating the risk to aircrew. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or drones have proven themselves in the fight against global terrorism but in a modern conflict where there would be hostile air activity they are exceptionally vulnerable to interception. On December 23rd 2002, an Iraqi MiG-25 shot down a US RQ-1 Predator drone which reportedly opened fire on the MiG with a Stinger missile but failed to hit it. Proponents of manned reconnaissance platforms claim that an aircraft such as Typhoon has a greater chance of defending itself in the face of a dense threat environment and can also carry weapons to immediately attack targets of opportunity should they detect them with their reconnaissance equipment.

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UTAS has already produced a downsized version of RAPTOR centered around the pod’s DB-110 system for use on aircraft in the F-16 class and this is also an option for the RAF’s Typhoon.

Hawker Hurricane Mk.IIC PZ865 of the BBMF

A collection of images of Hawker Hurricane PZ865 of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight taken in July 2016. The last Hurricane ever built, PZ865 rolled off the Hawker production line at Langley, Bucks in July 1944 and was given the appropriate inscription The Last of the Many on her port and starboard sides.

All photos kindly contributed to Defence of the Realm by Jim Knowles.


 

Blackburn Buccaneer S.2 High-Speed Ground Run

Thanks to Andy Laing from Aviation Trails for providing the following footage of a Blackburn Buccaneer performing high speed ground runs at Bruntingthorpe last year. Sadly, this is probably the closest we will ever get to seeing this amazing machine come to flying again in the UK. Even so, the raw power of this incredible aircraft can still be appreciated and its good that younger generations who may not remember seeing these aircraft flying can at least experience it running under its own power.

Thanks Andy.

For more videos visit Defence of the Realm on YouTube

Scottish Aviation Jetstream T.1 XX499 at Brooklands Museum

A collection of pictures of Scottish Aviation Jetstream T.1 XX499 on display at the Brooklands Museum in Surrey.

All photos were taken on April 5th 2016
Photos: Tony Wilkins


The Jetstream was originally conceived by the Handley Page company but in 1970 the company went bankrupt. Production continued however thanks to a consortium being formed out of companies that had been subcontracted to build parts for the Jetstream before Handley Page went bankrupt. Chiefly among these were Scottish Aviation who received an order for 26 Jetstream 201s from the RAF where they were designated Jetstream T.1 (the ‘T’ indicating its training role).

XX499 was delivered to the RAF in 1976 for use as a multi-engine trainer. It was withdrawn and delivered to Brooklands in 2008.

For more images of British military equipment and museums please visit the Galleries section or follow Defence of the Realm on Instagram

If you have photographs or articles you wish to contribute to Defence of the Realm than you can email them to defencerealmyt@gmail.com. If successful you will of course be given full credit for your contribution and can even promote your own website/blog/social media account.

An Interview with Graham Buckle of the Meteor NF.14 WS788 Restoration Project

As long time followers of Defence of the Realm will know I have something of a love affair with the Gloster Meteor. I was therefore thrilled when Graham agreed to speak to me about his team’s work to restore Meteor NF.14 WS788, one of the last nightfighter variants of this iconic British aircraft.

Armstrong Whitworth Gloster Meteor NF.14 WS788 (1)

WS788 in January 2016


Could you tell us a little of the history of the aircraft and its service with the RAF?

The nightfighter version of the famous Gloster Meteor was derived from the 2 seater Meteor T.7 trainer. The Gloster factory was too busy to handle yet another variant of the Meteor though, so they outsourced design, development and production to Armstrong-Whitworth. WS788 is an NF mk.14, the last of the breed. She was built in 1953, and was ready for collection from the factory in February 1954.

In July 1954 she entered operational service, with 152 Squadron at RAF Wattisham. Her time as a front line night fighter was short though, as she was delivered to RAF Kirkbride for conversion to navigation trainer specification in August ’57 after barely 3 years service. In May ‘59 she was issued to 2 Air Navigation School at RAF Thorney Island, moving to 1 ANS at RAF Stradishall in ’62. In their hands she had a Cat.3 accident in 1964 but was repaired, and returned to duty training budding navigators until January 1966, when she was retired and flown to RAF Kemble for storage and eventual disposal.

What has the airframe been doing since being withdrawn from service?

After her flying career came to an end, she was issued the instructional airframe number 7967M, and in 1967 issued to the radar station at RAF Patrington on the East Yorkshire coast for display and gate guard duties. In 1974 she was moved to RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire to guard the gate there, being refurbished in 1982 which led to her masquerading as WS844 for several years. In 1988 she was declared surplus and moved onto the airfield pending disposal, and in 1989 was moved to her new home at the Yorkshire Air Museum.

Where is the aircraft currently located?

At the Yorkshire Air Museum, Elvington.

How did the plan to restore the aircraft come about?

The aircraft had been stood looking unloved for a long time. Last year the outer wings and nose fairing were removed to get the aircraft indoors for restoration to begin in the hands of another group, however not a great deal was achieved before the aircraft had to move outside once more. The aircraft ended up in a corner partially dismantled. I found myself looking for a new project around this time and had wanted to help the poor Meteor for a while so I offered to take the job on!

How many people are currently involved in the project?

Currently three are involved with the aircraft as our main project for the museum. Myself, Richard Woods, who has recently joined the museum after a number of years working with the Shackleton Preservation Trust and Alison Mellor, my better half and fellow Victor XL231 veteran/survivor!

What is the ultimate goal of the restoration? (e.g. display standard, ground running)

Armstrong Whitworth Gloster Meteor NF.14 WS788 Buccaneer B.2We hope to get the aircraft to a point best described as ‘mostly live’. As we have no engines taxying is currently out of the question, but we hope to get the electrics working to at least the point where all internal and external lights will work off either the battery or an external power source. In addition we would like to get the flap and airbrake hydraulic systems operable on the hand pump. As well as being an extra live system on the jet and another thing to catch the public’s attention, this would serve the practical purpose of easing access to some areas of the jet for cleaning and maintenance.

Both the electrics and the hydraulics will need some splicing in the looms and plumbing, as the looms and pipework were cut at the transport joints many years ago. The first priority has to be resolving the corrosion the aircraft is suffering, specifically the lower surfaces of the inner wings. But as we work our way through the jet’s systems and components, our intention is if we can return it to working order we will do.

How is the project being funded?

The museum pays for most things we require. I have bought a few small items for the aircraft myself though out of my own pocket. And we have been extremely lucky in that we have received two substantial donations of very useful parts.

If anyone does want to push some funds towards the restoration, the museum does have a ‘Sponsor a Plane’ initiative running. The details can be found on the YAM website.

What has been the biggest challenge so far?

Ask me that again in six months time when we are really on with the project! The biggest problem we have faced so far is freeing the airbrakes off. They have been shut for probably 50 years! To get to them and clean out the accumulated crap and service the workings they have to be open. It is going to be a long drawn out process I think…! Also the badly dented ventral tank will have to come off for skin repairs. To say it is less than eager to come off would definitely qualify as an understatement…

Have you made contact with any air or ground crew who may have operated the aircraft in service? What have they said about the project?

Only one at this time, a chap by the name of Peter Verney, who was a Meteor NF navigator. He flew in 788 several times, and has supplied me with an air to air photo he took of the jet over Lowestoft. It would appear that former NF Meteor drivers thin on the ground though. I suspect this is partly due to the vintage of the jet, and partly down to the type’s comparatively short service career. It would be nice to hear from others who remember 788 in service though.

Are you working with any other project team or organisation to help complete the project?

Armstrong Whitworth Gloster Meteor NF.14 WS788 cockpitWe have received a lot of information and parts from Sandy Mullen of Meteor Flight, who are responsible for the restorations of the immaculate Meteor NF.14 now residing in Malta and the Meteor T.7 now flying in the UK. In addition the chaps looking after the ATC NF.14 at Royton have been and continue to be helpful and supportive, having provided us with a copy of the Vol.1 which is basically everything you ever needed to know about the workings of the Meteor NF. Before we had that, Martin Garrett of RAM Models had got us started by providing electronic copies of the Meteor T.7 and F.8 manuals to be going on with.

What parts/documents are you still looking for to help complete the project?

Anything is welcomed! A nice shiny new canopy, full set of weather covers and two Rolls Royce Derwent IX engines would be nice. But we are always interested if anyone has useful Meteor bits they wish to pass on.

How can people interested in the project keep abreast of the latest developments?

Either via the Key Publishing forum where we run a restoration thread, or Facebook where WS788 has her very own page (Click here to view).


Graham has agreed to keep me in the loop regarding the project so expect regular updates on Defence of the Realm in the future.

– Tony Wilkins

 

BAC Jet Provost T.3A XN586/91 at Brooklands Museum

A collection of pictures of Jet Provost T.3A XN586 (91) on display at the Brooklands Museum in Surrey.

All photos were taken on April 5th 2016
Photos: Tony Wilkins


This Jet Provost was built in 1961 and was delivered to the RAF in May of that year. It served at RAF Cranwell through the first half of the 1960s before being bounced back and fore various training units until its flying career came to an end in 1990 and was then used as a ground instructional airframe at RAF Cosford. It was sold to Global Aviation in 1993 before being used by Brooklands College again as a ground instructional airframe. In 2014 it went on display at the Brooklands Museum.

For a more detailed look at the aircraft’s history as well as pictures of it in service visit Jetprovostfile.org 

For more images of British military equipment and museums please visit the Galleries section or follow Defence of the Realm on Instagram

If you have photographs or articles you wish to contribute to Defence of the Realm than you can email them to defencerealmyt@gmail.com. If successful you will of course be given full credit for your contribution and can even promote your own website/blog/social media account.