Touchdown Aviation
military aviation photography - reports - publications - video
Bruntingthorpe Cold War Jets
 
Blackburn Buccaneer S2B - XX894/R-020 - Absolute Buccaneer - United Kingdom   Blackburn Buccaneer S2B - XX894/R-020 - Absolute Buccaneer - United Kingdom   Blackburn Buccaneer S2B - XX894/R-020 - Absolute Buccaneer - United Kingdom   Blackburn Buccaneer S2B - XX894/R-020 - Absolute Buccaneer - United Kingdom
 
Blackburn Buccaneer S2B - XX894/R-020 - Absolute Buccaneer - United Kingdom   Blackburn Buccaneer S2B - XX894/R-020 - Absolute Buccaneer - United Kingdom   Blackburn Buccaneer S2B - XX894/R-020 - Absolute Buccaneer - United Kingdom   Blackburn Buccaneer S2B - XX894/R-020 - Absolute Buccaneer - United Kingdom
 

Bruntingthorpe

Words and photographs Mike Freer

With the warm smell of burning aviation fuel cutting through the damp atmosphere and the low rumbling of two Rolls Royce Avon 301R engines vibrating through the author’s body, it was time to don the ear defenders in preparation for what was to follow. Not a moment too soon, as an earth rending explosion of energy accompanied by a stream of flame erupted from Lightning F6 XR728 as it cut in its afterburner. This is what Bruntingthorpe is all about. A collection of like minded enthusiasts, not just content to preserve our military aviation heritage as museum exhibits, but to breath life back into them and preserve them in their natural working environment.

I was privileged to be the guest of the Canberra WT333 Operating Team at the Open Day on August 30th and to observe at close hand the high degree of professionalism and dedication that goes into keeping these aircraft in tip top condition and full working order.

WT333 arrived at Bruntingthorpe in 1995 and was later purchased by Roger Wintle and Arthur Perks. Since then a considerable amount of work has gone into bringing her back to life, including fitting new engines and overhauling the electrical and hydraulic systems. The current team consist of Roger Wintle, Stephen Reglar, Andy Bromley (Crew Chief and ex 360 Squadron), Clive Davis and Tim Radford (ex 39(PR) Squadron). Also not forgetting the team mascot, Elwood Bear, who has now flown in over 40 different aircraft. The fast taxi run was conducted by Dennis Brooks (ex Officer Commanding the Lightning Training Flight).

Another immaculate restoration is Buccaneer S2B XX894 owned and operated by Guy Hulme (Absolute Buccaneers). The aircraft is painted in the markings of 809 Naval Air Squadron while embarked onboard HMS Ark Royal. To the delight of the all those present she slowly taxied, lowering the tail hook, operating the bomb bay doors and folding her wings. The local Air Training Corps later got involved by seeing how many of them it would take to tow her down the runway. Most of them collapsed in a rather undignified heap.

She has an interesting history. While taking part in Operation ‘Pulsator’ during 1983, she overflew Beirut, Lebanon, at very low level in a show of strength in support of the British contingent to the Muli-National Force. She later saw service during Operation ‘Granby’ in the Gulf War.

Blackburn Buccaneer S2B - XX894/R-020 - Absolute Buccaneer - United Kingdom
 
English Electric Canberra B(I)8 - WT333 - Canberra WT333 Operating Team - United Kingdom   English Electric Canberra B(I)8 - WT333 - Canberra WT333 Operating Team - United Kingdom   English Electric Canberra B(I)8 - WT333 - Canberra WT333 Operating Team - United Kingdom   English Electric Canberra B(I)8 - WT333 - Canberra WT333 Operating Team - United Kingdom
 
English Electric Canberra B(I)8 - WT333 - Canberra WT333 Operating Team - United Kingdom   Hawker Hunter F58 - J-4091 - Cold War Jets - United Kingdom   Hawker Hunter F58 - J-4091 - Cold War Jets - United Kingdom   Hawker Hunter F58 - J-4091 - Cold War Jets - United Kingdom
 
English Electric Canberra B(I)8 - WT333 - Canberra WT333 Operating Team - United Kingdom
 
BAC Jet Provost T3 - XN584/E - Phoenix Aviation - United Kingdom   Handley Page Victor K2 - XM715 - Cold War Jets - United Kingdom   BAC Lightning F6 - XR728/JS - Lightning Preservation Group - United Kingdom   BAC Lightning F6 - XR728/JS - Lightning Preservation Group - United Kingdom
 
BAC Lightning F6 - XR728/JS - Lightning Preservation Group - United Kingdom

The Lightning Preservation Group was proud to exhibit their two immaculate aircraft. English Electric Lightning F6 XR728 took the honour of blasting off down the runway in the capable hands of Dennis Brooks. This really must be a labour of love for Dennis, being able to get his hands on a “live” Lightning after so many years. XR728 is still in her original colour scheme and markings of Group Captain John Spencer. Her stable-mate, XS904,was also on view but did not run on this occasion. In the words of  Andy Bonsell (18 years with the LPG), “Our top priority is to finish off the ‘Q’ shed to keep both aircraft under cover”. The ‘Q’ shed was once used at RAF Wattisham during the Cold War years. A Twilight run is scheduled for November 26th. 

The fast run by Handley Page Victor K2 XM715 ‘Teasing Tina’ of the Cold War Jets collection was eagerly awaited, but there was no repeat performance of the last run when the aircraft got airborne. This was caused by a strong cross-wind, but with skilled airmanship, the aircraft was landed safely and with no damage. ‘Teasing Tina’ is another Gulf War veteran that partook in Operation ‘Granby’.

The other Cold War Jets “heavy” – de Havilland Comet XS235/G-CPDA – unfortunately, developed a technical problem and was unable to perform. This aircraft served at the Aircraft & Armament Experimental Establishment at Boscombe Down in Wiltshire before arriving at Bruntingthorpe. Work has started on re-painting her.

On a lighter note, Hawker Hunter F.58 J-4091 (ex Swiss Air Force) of the Cold War Jets collection showed off her classic lines. Also of note was another classic British aviation design in the form of Jet Provost T3A XN582. Probably, the most unusual aircraft to display was the ex Polish Air Force PZL Milec Iskra 1018.

While walking around Bruntingthorpe in the late afternoon drizzle, I came across work being conducted on de Havilland Sea Vixen FAW.2 XJ494, resplendent in the markings of 899 Naval Air Squadron, HMS Eagle. Maybe one day we may see her run alongside another famous Fleet Air Arm type, the HS Buccaneer S2B.

A visit to the Beech Restoration facility revealed the superb Beech 18 G-BKRN (ex RCAF 1500) which is being restored to flying condition in the markings of ‘Naval Encounter’, a US Navy JRB-3 Expeditor once based at Dunkeswell in Devon. Also present under restoration was North American T-6G Texan G-TOMC and Harvard G-CPPM.

The author wishes to thank Philip Turland, Andy Bromley, Clive Davis, Tim Radford, Stephen Reglar, Roger Wintle, Andy Bonsell, Dennis Brooks, Norman Roberson, Francis Wallace (plus others I may have forgot) for their kind hospitality during my visit.

 
De Havilland Comet C4 - G-CPDA - Cold War Jets - United Kingdom   De Havilland Sea Vixen FAW2 - XJ494/E-121 - Phoenix Aviation - United Kingdom   Lockheed F-104G Starfighter - 22+57 - United Kingdom - Privately Owned - United Kingdom   SEPECAT Jaguar GR1 - XZ382 - Cold War Jets - United Kingdom
 
Dassault Mystère IV - 85/8-MV - Cold War Jets - United Kingdom   Hawker Hunter T7 - XL565/Y - United Kingdom - Privately Owned - United Kingdom   Beech D18S - G-BKRN - Beech Restorations - United Kingdom   North American AT-6D Harvard - G-TOMC - Beech Restorations - United Kingdom
 
Bookmark and Share