|XL584's service history
Hawker Hunter XL584 was built as a T.8 for the Royal Navy at Kingston-upon-Thames and it took its first flight on 8th September 1958, flown by David Lockspeiser.
Entering Fleet Air Arm service on 6th October, it was prepared for service at RNAS Lossiemouth prior to receiving its first posting, to 764NAS (Navy Air Squadron) at the base a month later. Operated as '702' with a 'LM' shore code on the tail fin, XL584 was employed on training duties until a move to RNAS Yeovilton occurred in September 1961, when it was issued to its Station Flight.
The aeroplane was sent to RNAY Belfast for maintenance in May 1962 and did not return to service, for a prolonged spell at least, until April 1963 when it was back in use with 764NAS.
XL584 was then transferred back to Yeovilton in August 1965, and adopted the identity '18' at first, but it was later re-finished as a Admirals Barge and used as the personal aeroplane of Flag Officer of Flying Training Admiral Gick. Retained in service until a period of maintenance, taking place between March and July 1967, XL584 was moved onto the strength of Heron Flight and adopted the call-sign '718'.
Two years of steady service was broken when it was flown to 5MU (maintenance Unit) Kemble for extensive maintenance in October 1969, and on its return to Yeovilton nine months later the aeroplane was re-issued to the Air Direction Training Unit (ADTU) as '744'.
On 1st December 1972, the ADTU merged with the Fleet Requirements Unit (FRU), with all of the aeroplanes becoming part of the FRADTU (the 'T' was later dropped from its title). XL584 was operated as '744' until June 1974 when it was flown to RAF Kemble for a re-finish, and was re-assigned the fleet number '874' on its return to service. Once more, another enforced grounding due to an overhaul interrupted a period of steady service, this time at Sydenham between September 1976 and March 1977. XL584 was given its third FRADU identity in mid-1977, when it was issued the number '871', and it remained in service until being placed in long-term store at Kemble in September 1981.
The aeroplane was moved onto RAF Abingdon, via RAF Shawbury on 29th September 1983 for another overhaul prior to it being returned to service. Re-finished in the new standard dark sea grey colours, XL584 made its flying return to the FRADU on 6th April 1984.
Tragically, XL584 and its pilot Ted Clowes were lost in a flying accident on 31st October 1984, when the aeroplane hit the sea off the coast of Portland.
The cause of this incident has never been conclusively proved. XL584 was replaced in the FRADU fleet, but the loss of Ted Clowes was felt very deeply at FRADU and at Yeovilton.
- January 2015
[© Lindsay Peacock]
[© Robin A. Walker]
[© Eric Tammer]