XN728 - Mark Rumble, Lincolnshire
Lightning F.2A XN728 at Balderton, 9th September 2011; Duncan Ferguson
XN728 served with 92 Squadron in RAF Germany, returning to the UK in April 1977 to become a ground decoy at RAF Coningsby. Disposed of in October 1983, it was acquired by A1 Commercial Sales and placed in their yard near Balderton to attract customers. Since the yard's collapse in the early 1990s, XN728 was left to rot. Presumably the receiver thought it was an asset which is why it wasn't simply bulldozed away. After retirement from active duty, XN728 was used for battle damage repair training for a while and carried a few patches to prove it, and for transport to the yard the wings and tail were simply cut off - and cut in the wrong places. Reassembly was carried out using large sheets of metal to hold everything together once more, and they rusted badly and warped under the stress. The landing gear was considered too weak to support the airframe (which was complete with engines) and accordingly the belly was supported with a framework of girders. Unfortunately at some point someone nicked the radome, and the change in the center of gravity tipped XN728 on her tail; the belly tank wasn't up to this and the girders cut right through and became firmly embedded in the belly. The cockpit was gutted, the canopy stolen, the glass in the windscreen smashed out of existence, the spine nearly non-existent and the fuselage was badly holed in many places with just about anything nickable long since gone. To finish her off, as you can see the entire aircraft was liberally spattered with graffiti (mostly applied during the late 1990s and early 2000s when the yard was basically an empty plot of land with just the Lightning sat in the middle, and no security or even fencing at all). After years of dereliction the yard was purchased by a new owner in 2005 and it was reported that he was thinking of beginning a restoration effort on the airframe - this was certainly not the case and absolutely no efforts were made towards that end. Given the contact I've received from said owner, I firmly believed the aircraft was doomed to collapse into a pile of rusty metal, if it hadn't disappeared under vegetation and other derelict vehicles first. Predictably, on 9th September 2011 the owner had the aircraft torn apart and disposed of. What was a surprise was the news that Mark Rumble has taken on the cockpit section and is hoping to restore it - a massive task!
Information on this page current as of 09/10/2012
Find other photos of XN728 on the following sites:
Air-Britain - Airliners.net - Airplane-Pictures.net - flickr.com - WorldAirPics.com - JetPhotos.net - PlanePictures.net - Vertical Reality