Buccaneer XW544 roll out
Report by Stuart Freer
Five months of hard work and labour from a dedicated team came to fruition on Saturday 24th March 2012 at Bruntingthorpe airfield, when the Buccaneer Aviation Group unveiled Blackburn Buccaneer S.2B XW544 to a small gathering of aviation enthusiasts, the press and family members from the team.
Early afternoon on a beautiful spring day, the sound of a pair of Spey engines could be heard at the end of Bruntingthorpe’s long runway. As XW544 powered into view to the assembled crowd, looking immaculate in her new coat of paint & 16 Squadron markings she once wore when based at RAF Laarburch in West Germany.
The finish on XW544 is superb, with markings in the right place, including warning stickers in German as befitting an RAF Germany Buccaneer. Talking to the ground crew the attention to detail was second to none, the 16 Squadron cross-keys badge on the fuselage was hand painted using Humbrol paints & took over three hours to complete alone.
XW544 came of the production line in 1972 and was delivered to the Royal Air Force in June of that year, seeing service in West Germany with both XV (15) and 16 Squadrons. Retired at the end of 1983, she eventually ended up being stored at RAF Shawbury.
When the last of the Buccaneers were finally retired from RAF service in 1993, XW544 made its way to a nearby scrap yard and for the next eleven years she slowly rotted away. But in 2004 Robert Goldstone purchased the aircraft and transported her to Bruntingthorpe.
Following a lot of hard work from volunteers XW544 performed her first ground run for nearly twenty five years in 2008. Three years later she made her first taxi run at the Cold War Jets Open Day in May 2011.
The event was extremely well organized by the Buccaneer Aviation Group, with positioning the aircraft superbly for the gathered photographers throughout the day, but the true highlight of the day came when they managed to fire up all three Buccaneers at dusk to taxi down the runway, a scene which could of well have been from an RAF base in the seventies a truly memorable moment.
The author wishes to thank all members of the Buccaneer Aviation Group for their kind hospitality during my visit.