Thunder & Lightnings

Blackburn Buccaneer - Survivor XX894

S.2B XX894 - The Buccaneer Aviation Group, (taxiable), Cotswold Airport, Gloucestershire

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Buccaneer S.2B XX894 at Cotswold Airport, 30th March 2024; Jake Wallace

XX894 started her career with 16 Squadron at RAF Laarbruch in December 1975, she then went on to serve with 15 Squadron being 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). In 1981 the airframe moved to Boscombe Down and was used by the A&AEE for trials but was soon returned to RAF service with 12 Squadron later that year. XX894 then took part in Operation Western Fox in Florida, firing live Martel missiles against old navy ships.

In the late 1980s she went on to serve with 208 Squadron, 237 OCU, and then 12 Squadron, who repainted her in overall grey with a large green and black flash running along the fuselage, celebrating the 75th anniversary on 12 Sqn.

In January 1991, XX894 got repainted into the desert pink colours and was named 'Aberlour' with no nose art, departing for Bahrain on 7th February. XX894 was the only Buccaneer to destroy another aircraft during the Gulf War, bombing a taxiing AN-12. Unfortunately, XX885 took credit for this due to parking in the spot for XX894, resulting in XX885 receiving the AN-12 symbol on the cockpit. By the end of the Gulf War, she was sporting a selection of mission symbols on the nose and kept her desert colours until 1992, with them being removed by October 1993 and was moved to 208 Squadron.

Weeks before retirement, in February 1994 as part of the celebration of the Blackburn Buccaneer's service in both the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, XX894 was repainted into extra dark sea grey with 809 NAS markings along with the deck number '020', representing the Fleet Air Arm Buccaneer XV869.

XX894 made her final flight into St Athan before Gary Spoors moved it to Bruntingthorpe in 1995 alongside XX900. Just a year later, XX894 was on the road to Kemble (now Cotswold Airport) where she was often seen on static display at airshows and events. XX894 carried out several taxi runs whilst at Bruntingthorpe and Kemble, but this was soon stopped when she began her road move to Farnborough. She was seen at one of the Farnborough events and was briefly looked after by the Buccaneer Supporters Club, until Guy Hulme acquired to aircraft and returned her to Bruntingthorpe in 2003, to carry out a restoration project in.

Her restoration began by naming her 'Spirit of Roy Boot' -the Buccaneer's chief designer, which could be seen in yellow text across the nose intermediate section. Guy and his team made fantastic progress towards XX894 becoming taxiable, and by July 2007 she had performed her first tentative slow trundle on the runway. This of course revealed further work that needed doing before her next trundle. During this period of time, Buccaneer groups XW544 and XX894 worked together more and more, since they both had the same aim. After battles with engine and brake repairs, XX894 was finally ready to perform at speed and did so at the May 2010 open day! - A huge success for Guy and his team.

In March 2011, Guy decided to put XX894 up for sale and was brought by her original owner, Gary Spoors, but the guys continued to progress on her restoration. Later in the year, the team of volunteers became who we know today as The Buccaneer Aviation Group (TBAG), restoring XX894 and XW544 to taxiable condition which they soon achieved. A couple of months passed and XX894 was purchased by then-new TBAG member, Colin.

A repaint was started in 2012, with her being revealed in early 2013 at a small event, looking shiny once again! Over the following years, XX894 suffered several brake issues, hence her absence from the Cold War Jet days, until the team finally nailed down the issue and fixed it in 2018.

As Bruntingthorpe's days of being a centre of live aviation came to an end in 2020, TBAG relocated XX894 and XW544 to Cotswold Airport/Kemble, where they can continue performing fast taxi runs to a crowd of people. Unfortunatly, with XX894 being an aircraft that has many quirks, it wasn't until March 2024 that it carried out its first public trundle which consisted of a figure of 8 in front of the crowd as the picture above shows.

Information on this page current as of 31/03/2024, last updated by Jake

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