Thunder & Lightnings

Blackburn Buccaneer

Survivor XX894

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XX894 - The Buccaneer Aviation Group (taxiable), Bruntingthorpe Aerodrome, Leicestershire

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Buccaneer S.2B XX894 at Bruntingthorpe, 29th March 2014; author

Starting her career with 16 Squadron at RAF Laarbruch in December 1975, XX894 went on to serve with 15 Squadron, was one of the jets that took part in the 1980 Red Flag exercise (where XV345 crashed due to spar failure, causing a temporary grounding of the fleet), and in 1981 moved to Boscombe Down and use by the A&AEE for trials, returning to RAF service with 12 Squadron later in the year. As with her neighbour XX900 at Bruntingthorpe, XX894 took part in Operation Western Fox in Florida, firing live Martel missiles against old navy ships. She went on to serve with 208 Squadron, 237 OCU, 12 Squadron, was repainted in the light grey scheme in the late 1980s and in 1990 was given a special paint scheme to mark the 12 Squadron's 75th anniversary, with a large green and black flash along the fuselage and up the tail. Her hour of glory began in January 1991, when she was painted in desert pink and prepared for war, departing for Bahrain on 7th February. Given the name 'Aberlour' but no nose art, by the end of the Gulf War she was sporting a selection of mission symbols on the nose. She kept her desert colours until 1992 and by October 1993 had been moved to 208 Squadron. In February 1994 as part of the celebrations of the Buccaneer in their last few weeks of service, she was painted to represent a Fleet Air Arm Buccaneer, in extra dark sea grey with 809 NAS markings. Her final flight was on 7th April 1994, being flown to RAF St. Athan for storage and disposal with 19 MU. In 1995 she moved to Bruntingthorpe; a year later she was bought by the Buccaneer Preservation Society and moved to Kemble for restoration. By 2002 she was owned by Gary Spoors and looked after by the Buccaneer Supporters Club, spent some time at Farnborough in storage (and appeared in the static at that year's SBAC display) and in 2003 was bought by Guy Hulme. He returned her to Bruntingthorpe in September 2003 and began a restoration to full taxiing condition, kicking off by naming her 'Spirit of Roy Boot' - the Buccaneer's chief designer. Guy and his team made fantastic progress towards this aim by July 2007 she had performed her first tentative slow speed taxi runs, which of course revealed further work that needed doing, and after battles with engine and brake repairs she was finally ready to perform at speed and did so at the May 2010 open day. In March 2011 XX894 was sold to Gary Spoors and in October 2011 sold on again, to The Buccaneer Aviation Group who are continuing to work on her and keep her in running condition. A repaint was scheduled for winter 2012/13, however the Group's pro-active maintenance efforts including boroscoping of their engines have found fatal damage has been done to the HP nozzle inlet guide vanes, which meant engine runs could no longer be risked. Efforts began to build a pair of good engines from their existing spare and the two installed damaged units, while continuing with the repaint! As of February 2014 the first refurbished engine had been re-installed and the repaint was completed in March, with XX894 being shown off with a slow speed taxi run at an event to mark 20 years since the type retired. Work - as ever - continues to keep this magnificent beast living and breathing.

Information on this page current as of 16/05/2014

Find other photos of XX894 on the following sites:

Air-Britain - Airliners.net - Airplane-Pictures.net - flickr.com - WorldAirPics.com - JetPhotos.net - PlanePictures.net - Blackburn-Buccaneer.co.uk