THE FRADU HUNTERS

HAWKER HUNTER T.8C WV363 -'872'

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WV363's service history

Hunter WV363 was built by Hawker Aircraft Ltd. at its Kingston-upon-Thames factory, and it took its first flight on 22nd June 1955 flown by David Lockspeiser.
It was delivered to the Royal Air Force on 8th July 1955, and following service preparation was issued to RAF 234(F) Sqn. based at RAF Geilenkirchen in West Germany as aeroplane 'K'. This ultimately proved to be its only Squadron posting as its career was cut short following a flying accident, which resulted in the aeroplane being shipped back to Hawker's Dunsfold airfield for repair. Whilst there, WV363 was transferred to Royal Navy charge and placed in storage.

Now bound for a new career with the Fleet Air Arm on return to service, WV363 was converted to a T.8 two seat trainer by Armstrong-Whitworth.
It was handed over to the Fleet Air Arm on 9th April 1959, and joined 764NAS (Navy Air Squadron) three months later. Its early service days were not without incident, suffering bird-strikes and an engine flameout, but the aeroplane was never out of action for long. A move to Shorts Brothers' base at Belfast for a month in March 1963, and a similar length of time spent at Boscombe Down the following September broke up its spell with 764NAS, and shortly after its return to Lossiemouth it took on a new identity of '678' with the number '687' also issued used later on. The aeroplane suffered yet another bird-strike, and following this incident was moved to 5MU Kemble for conversion to T.8C status in October 1966.
Following two years on the ground. WV363 was back in service with 759NAS at Brawdy during November 1968 as aeroplane '801' with a 'BY' shore code on the tail fin. It was placed on loan to Airwork's FRU (Fleet Requirements Unit) in December 1969 and moved permanently to Airwork's other Unit, the ADTU (Air Direction Training Unit) at RNAS Yeovilton in August 1970. Now coded '747', WV363 was operated on training duties until 30th November 1972, when it was flown to 5MU Kemble for maintenance, refinishing and long-term storage.

WV363 was introduced back into service on 8th April 1981, when it joined the Fleet Requirements and Air Direction Unit (FRADU) for the first time. Retaining its '747' identity on arrival this was quickly changed to '872'. The aeroplane was active for the next eleven years, aside from spells under maintenance at Abingdon (October-December 1984) and two spells with Lovaux at Hurn (June-December 1986) where it was re-finished into dark sea grey. It was sent back at Hurn in May 1990 for a month, and again during the following November but otherwise remained in service until February 1992 when the aeroplane was ditched in the North Sea.
WV363 was taking part in an exercise 70 miles off the Scottish coast, when its pilot Michael Clayton was told that his aeroplane was on fire. He ejected successfully and the aeroplane was destroyed upon impact with the water.

- February 2015


[ Kev Slade]

[ Adrian M Balch]

[ Rob Schleiffert]



[ Rob Schleiffert]

[ Tony Rogers]

[ Rob Schleiffert]

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