|THE FRADU HUNTERS|
|HAWKER HUNTER GA.11 WT744 - '868'|
|WT744's service history
Hawker Aircraft Ltd. built WT744 as a Hunter Mk.4 for the Royal Air Force at its Kingston-upon-Thames factory, and it took its first flight on 28th February 1955 at the hands of Duncan Simpson.
One of 40 Hunter F.4s transferred to the Royal Navy from the RAF, WT744 was converted to GA.11 specification by Hawker Aircraft Ltd at Kingston-upon-Thames. Following flight tests from Dunsfold, the aeroplane was handed over to the Fleet Air Arm on 14th February 1963 at RNAS Lossiemouth, and a week later it entered Squadron service with 738NAS (Navy Air Squadron). Assigned the identity '641', WT744 was employed on training duties and it moved to RNAS Brawdy in December 1963 with the Unit, where it was later re-coded '781'. The aeroplane was transferred to 764NAS at RNAS Lossiemouth on 17th February 1966, but was placed in store at Kemble with 5MU six months later. During March 1967, WT744 was put back into service as '691', which began an eventful second spell with 764NAS when it suffered damage caused by GA.11 XF300 during a landing incident.
The aeroplane was held in reserve, aside from a brief period with Hawker Siddeley at Bitteswell (March-August 1976) until February 1977, when it was issued to the Fleet Requirements and Air Direction Unit (FRADU) fleet at RNAS Yeovilton as '692' but this was promptly changed to '868'. Later that year it suffered a multiple bird-strike, but continued in service until May 1984, aside from spells at Kemble (April-June 1980) for re-finishing, and RAF Abingdon for modernisation (April-August 1982).
[© Chris England]
[© Eric Tammer]
[© Hans Rolink]
WT744's civilian life
WT744 was acquired by the South West Aviation Heritage group, and was moved by road from Yeovilton to its new home at Eaglescott Aerodrome in Devon where it remained for the next fifteen years in open store.
During 2009, it was acquired by a private owner based in Ilfracombe, Devon and has been moved to a new location within that location. Plans for restoration have been drawn up but it appears have yet to begin.
- June 2014
[© Paul Fiddian]
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