THE FRADU HUNTERS

HAWKER HUNTER GA.11 WV267 - '836'

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WV267's service history

Hawker Hunter WV267 was built at Kingston-upon-Thames as a Hunter F.4 for the Royal Air Force, and it took its first flight on 5th May 1955 in the hands of Duncan Simpson. Delivered to the RAF a few weeks later, WV267 entered service with RAF 93(F) Sqn. based at Jever airfield in West Germany as aeroplane 'R'. It later had spells with RAF 247(F) Sqn based at Odiham and 98(F) Sqn at RAF Jever, before it was withdrawn from service and subsequently placed in store back in the UK.

Transferred to the Royal Navy, and refurbished as a GA.11 by Hawker Aircraft Ltd under contract to the Fleet Air Arm, WV267 flew in its new guise for the first time on 14th March 1963. It was delivered to Short Brothers' Belfast base on 1st April the same year, and remained in Northern Ireland aside from a short spell at RNAS Brawdy, until August 1964. The aeroplane was then sent to join 738NAS (Navy Air Squadron) as aeroplane '788' complete with 'BY' shore code lettering on the tail fin, and it remained in use until September 1967 when it was moved to 5MU (Maintenance Unit) for maintenance. It returned to Brawdy in September 1968, and was operated briefly without squadron markings, but a month later was moved on once more, this time bound for RNAS Lee-on-Solent to be fitted with a Harley light in the nose.

WV267 joined RNAS Yeovilton's Station Flight on 18th February 1969, but once more its stay was brief, as it became the first Hunter to join Airwork's Fleet Requirements Unit (FRU) at Hurn (now Bournemouth Airport) on 28th March. The call-sign '833' was used by the aeroplane throughout the remainder of the year, until WV267 moved to 5MU Kemble for further modernisation on 9th December 1969. It returned to Hurn as aeroplane '836' on 14th May 1971, and moved with the FRU to RNAS Yeovilton in October 1972, where it was operated alongside the Hunters of Airwork's Air Direction Training Unit (ADTU).
On 1st December 1972 the FRU and ADTU merged, and WV267 became aeroplane '836' of the newly formed FRADTU fleet, though the 'T' was later dropped from its title.
It remained in service for the next ten years, aside from spells at Sydenham for modernisation (October 1976-March 1977) and 5MU for refinishing and maintenance (June-July 1975 and February 1979). During August 1982, WV267 suffered a bird-strike on take-off at Yeovilton, which subsequently necessitated a move to RAF Abingdon for repairs and further modernisation work to be carried out. It was returned to Yeovilton on 9th October 1984, but suffered a further bird-strike on 29th November 1985 that resulted in Cat.3 damage (repairable). At a time when FRADU was consolidating its Hunter fleet, this damage status was increased to Cat.5(GI), thus curtailing its flying career with FRADU but allowed the possibility of a ground instructional role.

Now permanently grounded, WV267 was issued with the Fleet Air Arm maintenance serial A2737 and moved by road to RNAS Culdrose, where it joined the SAH (School of Aircraft Handling). Employed as a live training aid and maintained in taxiable condition, WV267 gained the SAH's 'DD' tail fin markings during 1987 and remained in use until being withdrawn from use in June 1993.



[ Mike Hall]

[ Mike Hall]

[ Stephen Boreham]

[ Rob Schleiffert]

[ Rob Schleiffert]
 
 
 

WV267's civilian life

Put up for disposal, US-based George Lazik acquired WV267. Plans were put in place for the aircraft to be exported, and on 13th January 1994 the aircraft left by road going to Aces High at North Weald for onward shipment to the USA. It actually remained in the UK until February 1996, and on arrival it was initially used as spares for George's two airworthy ex-FRADU Hunters, GA.11 XE707 and T.8C XF289.
During 1998, the aeroplane changed hands and a decision was reached to restore WV267 back to flying condition as N267WV. David Ridsdale, operator of the European Warbird Organisation based in California began work on the airframe, and the project moved on to AeroGroup at its facility in Tulsa, Oklahoma and continued. There are reports that the aeroplane first flew after restoration during 2002, but I have not managed to find out any further information confirming this took place. The airframe was subsequently refinished in a light grey colour scheme and placed in open storage at Tulsa Airport.

Early in 2011, ownership of WV267 was transferred to Jaime Pinto, founder of Camelot Aviation based at Bonifay, Florida USA.
The airframe was spares recovered and had its wings removed, with the intention to fit them onto Hawker Hunter FR.74 512 (N81846) which is under restoration at Boise, Idaho USA.
The front fuselage and cockpit remain in open store at a location close to Tulsa and were reportedly place up for sale.

- January 2014


[ Robert Guilford (1933-2006)]

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