|THE FRADU HUNTERS|
|HAWKER HUNTER T.8C XE665 - '876'|
|XE665's service history
Built by Hawker Aircraft (Blackpool) Ltd as a Hunter F.4 for the Royal Air Force, XE665 entered military service on 24th May 1955 when it was accepted by 5MU (Maintenance Unit) at Kemble. It was prepared for RAF service, and was later issued to RAF 118(F) Sqn at RAF Jever in West Germany, whom operated it as aeroplane 'A'. the Jever Station Flight then employed the aeroplane before it was returned to the UK in 1957.
The aeroplane was rebuilt as a T.8 by Armstrong Whitworth Ltd at Coventry on behalf of Hawker Aircraft Ltd. It was handed over to the Fleet Air Arm at RNAS Lossiemouth on 11th April 1959, and entered service with 764NAS at the same location three months later. Assigned the fleet number '706', XE665's early life was not without incident, encountering engine vibrations, bird-strikes and even an accidental collision with a fuel bowser!
Four years of inactivity ended on 11th February 1975, when it was put back into service with the Fleet Requirements and Air Direction Unit (FRADU) at RNAS Yeovilton, being issued with the fleet number/call-sign '878'.
[© Eric Tammer]
[© Rob Schleiffert]
[© Ed Groenendijk]
XE665's civilian life
Entered into the July 1995 Phillips auction by the MoD, the aeroplane was purchased by Barry Pover and Barry Pearson. It was placed on the civilian register as G-BWGM, and ferried to Exeter Airport where it joined the growing Classic Jet Aircraft Company stable of Hunters. It was then prepared for a career on the airshow circuit, appearing at several events during the 1996, 1997 and 1998 seasons before being placed into storage at Exeter as its flying career gradually wound down.
Ownership of XE665 passed to Barry Pearson outright during 1999, and in 2006 the aeroplane was moved by road to Kemble where Delta Jets began a survey to see if the aeroplane could be returned to flying condition. Two years later XE665 was back in store, with any plans for restoration seemingly on hold for the time as other restoration/maintenance projects take priority at Kemble.
During 2013, XE665 joined the Mid-Air Squadron collection initially as a static exhibit, shedding its FRADU livery in favour of a smart all-silver finish.
- June 2014
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