THE FRADU HUNTERS

HAWKER HUNTER GA.11 WT804 -'831'

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WT804's service history

WT804 is one of the oldest Hunters left in the world today. It was first flown in March 1955 as a Hunter F.4, and was delivered to the RAF on 14th April 1955.
It saw service with just one Unit, RAF 247(F) Sqn, as aircraft 'R' before being withdrawn and placed in store as a reserve airframe, as the Hunter type evolved into more powerful versions.

The airframe was subsequently transferred to the Royal Navy, and was converted by its manufacturers from a F.4 to GA.11 specification at Kingston-upon-Thames, ready for service with the Fleet Air Arm.
It was first flown as such on 28th August 1962 from Dunsfold, and was delivered to RNAS Lossiemouth three weeks later, where it joined 738NAS (Navy Air Squadron) on 29th September as aircraft '651'. Its early service life was not without incident, suffering vibration and engine surge problems within its first three months of service. In May 1963, WT804 was flown to Belfast for long-term storage with Shorts Aerospace, and it moved into the care of 5MU (Maintenance Unit) at Kemble from April 1965. It re-entered Fleet Air Arm service in the summer of 1966, again with 738NAS but this time based at RNAS Brawdy. Issued the call-sign '782', WT804 was in service for the next two years until it was ferried to RAF Kemble to undergo modernisation work by 5MU during August 1968. It was later moved to RNAS Lee-on-Solent in March 1969, where the aeroplane was fitted with a Harley light in the nose.

On 30th July 1969, WT804 joined the Fleet Requirements Unit (FRU) at Hurn as '831'. It suffered a bird-strike in February 1971, but was subsequently repaired at Lee-on-Solent and put back into service in May 1972. The FRU and WT804 moved to RNAS Yeovilton in October 1972 and were based alongside the two seat Hunters of the Air Direction Training Unit (ADTU). Two months later the two units were amalgamated, and WT804 became a member of the new FRADTU fleet (the T was latter dropped, thus the Unit became FRADU). The aircraft was refurbished in September 1974 at Kemble, returning to service two months later. During July 1975, WT804 underwent modernisation at RAF Sydenham, a process that took nine months to complete. It was back in FRADU service in March 1976, and remained in use until being placed in long term store at Kemble in March 1982.

Later moved to Shawbury following the closure of Kemble, WT804 was moved by road to RNAS Culdrose in October 1985, where it was to be used for ground instruction.
It was re-coded '831/DD' for this role, where it was based with the School of Aircraft Handling, and was maintained in taxiable state until it was withdrawn from use in January 1994, and placed in store pending disposal. On 11th May 1994, WT804 left Culdrose on the back of an RAF aircraft transporter, bound for the former RAF Morten-in-Marsh airfield in Gloucestershire. Its new role was to be used as a crash rescue training aid at the Fire Emergency Training Centre.
It remains there today, pole mounted with the nose wheel buried in the ground.

- January 2014



[Mike Hall]

[ Arie van Groen]

[ Arie van Groen]

[ Eric Tammer]

[ Hugh Trevor]

[ unknown]
 

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