|THE FRADU HUNTERS|
|HAWKER HUNTER T.8C XF357 - '871'|
|XF357's service history
Hawker Hunter XF357 began its life as a single seat F.4, built by Hawker Aircraft (Blackpool) Ltd for the Royal Air Force.
Converted to T.8 specification by Armstrong Whitworth at Coventry, XF357 was handed over to the Fleet Air Arm on 2nd June 1959. A brief period with 803NAS (Navy Air Squadron) was followed by an assignment to 764NAS at RNAS Lossiemouth in October 1960 as '696'.
On 8th December 1971, XF357 was assigned to Airwork's Air Direction Training Unit (ADTU) based at RNAS Yeovilton, adopting the fleet number '740'. Ferried to RNAS Lee-on-Solent in June 1972 for the fitment of a Harley light, the aeroplane was returned to service the following month. On 1st December XF357 became a part of the Fleet Requirements and Air Direction Training Unit (FRADTU), a Unit formed following the merger of the ADTU and the Fleet Requirements Unit (FRU). During the following year, the aeroplane was re-assigned the fleet number '870' and remained in service until September 1977, when it was moved to Sydenham for modernisation.
[© Mike Hall]
[© Mick Freer]
[© Hans Rolink]
XF357's civilian life
Sold into private hands at auction in July 1995, XF357 was purchased by Barry Pover and it joined the Classic Jet Aircraft Company based at Exeter Airport arriving in February 1996. An active participant on the UK airshow circuit between 1996-97, it was sold in 1998 to Jet Heritage Ltd, based at Bournemouth Airport. It ferried down to its new home by Keith Hartley, where it was paint stripped and taken apart in preparation for a major overhaul. Midway through the overhaul, the owner put the aircraft up for sale and the Old Flying Machine Company acquired it. The Classic Jet Aircraft Company completed the work, and XF357 was re-finished into an overall-silver colour scheme on completion, representing the prototype Hunter T.7 XJ615. The Duxford-based team flew it regularly until the aeroplane changed hands again, this time to Elvington Events Ltd based in Yorkshire. The aeroplane spent much of its time based at either RAF Cranwell, RAF Leeming or Exeter during this time period.
Early in 2007, Stichting Hawker Hunter Foundation, based in the Netherlands, acquired the aeroplane. Hunter Flying Ltd was employed to apply full Netherlands Air Force markings, which was undertaken by Ray Jeffery. With XF357 having a strong Royal Air Force and Fleet Air Arm pedigree, permission to use and wear the spurious Dutch serial N-321 was sought and granted.
Unfortunately, during June 2008 the aeroplane suffered a bird-strike which caused the aeroplane to be grounded temporarily, but repairs were soon completed and XF357 continues to represent Dutch Air Force Hunter operations alongside ex-RAF F.6A airframe XF515 (G-KAXF).
- January 2015
[© Mick Freer]
[© Karl Drage]
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