|THE FRADU HUNTERS|
|HAWKER HUNTER GA.11 XE689 -†'864'|
|XE689's service history
Hawker Hunter XE689 was built at Blackpool by Hawker Aircraft Ltd. as a Mk.4 aeroplane for the Royal Air Force. It was delivered to the RAF on 24th July 1955 at Lyneham, where it was prepared for Squadron service by 33MU (Maintenance Unit). It received its posting shortly afterwards, being issued to RAF 93(F) Sqn at Jever in West Germany, where it was coded 'W'. The aeroplane ended its RAF career with RAF 234(F) Sqn. based at Geilenkirchen, also a part of the RAF West Germany force as aeroplane 'K'.
The Royal Navy acquired the aeroplane from the RAF, and it contracted Hawker Aircraft Ltd. to overhaul and convert the aeroplane to GA.11 specification. It was formally accepted into Fleet Air Arm service at RNAS Lossiemouth on 4th July 1963, and was issued to 764NAS (Navy Air Squadron) as aeroplane '693' on the 30th. It remained based at Lossiemouth for the next eighteen months, until a eight-month spell at RNAY Belfast began in December 1964.
XE689 joined Airwork's Air Direction Training Unit (ADTU) fleet of Hunter GA.11s at RNAS Yeovilton on 25th July 1972, receiving the fleet number '734'.
On 17th October 1978, XE689 suffered an in-flight fire, which caused serious damage to the rear fuselage. The aeroplane was flown back to HyŤres airfield in France with the wheels locked down. As a result of this incident, the rear fuselage of GA.11 XE707, at that time a long-term reserve aeroplane, was fitted the following month, thus allowing XE689 to return to service promptly. A spell of modernisation at Kemble was begun in May 1982, but XE689 was back at FRADU service seven months later. It remained a part of the FRADU fleet, aside from a 1-month spell at RAF St Athan for refinishing in July 1984, until it was ferried to Lovaux Ltd based at Hurn (now Bournemouth Airport) in 1988, for paint re-finishing and overhaul.
[© Richard Vandervord]
[© Eric Tammer]
[© Rob Schleiffert]
XE689's civilian life
The aeroplane was put up for disposal in July 1995, via Phillips auctioneers in London, and it was hammered down for just over £3,000 to Barry Pover of the Classic Jet Aircraft Company. Ferried to Exeter Airport on 15th September 1995, the aeroplane was displayed on the airshow circuit between 1996 and 1998, until it was flown to RAF St Mawgan for storage in early 1999 and offered for sale.
During August 2006, the aeroplane was moved by road to Kemble where was placed in open store and later re-assembled, yet it's flying days were almost certainly over.
- June 2014
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