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Blackburn Buccaneer

Survivor XX894

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

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Buccaneer S.2B XX894 at Cotswold Airport, 17th October 2020; Jake Wallace

XX894 starting her career with 16 Squadron at RAF Laarbruch in December 1975, she 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 use 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, 12 Squadron and was repainted in to the light grey scheme in the late 1980s.
In 1990, XX894 was given a special paint scheme to mark the 12 Squadron's 75th anniversary, with a large green and black flash which went along the fuselage and up the tail, this was much a love or hate livery.

In January 1991, when she was prepared, painted in desert pink and was named 'Aberlour' with no nose art, departing for Bahrain on 7th February. It's not offten a Buccaneer dropped a bomb in anger but on the 27th February 1991, XX894s hour of glory began! When coming back from a mission XX894 dropped bomb on a taxiing AN-12 completely destroying the aircraft, she was the only Buccaneer in the fleet to destroy another airframe during the war! Sadly she never got the credit she deserved as after landing Buccaneer XX885 taxied into her spot resulting in her receiving the An-12 mark which can still be seen on XX885 today. 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 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 repainted to represent the Fleet Air Arm Buccaneer XV869 in extra dark sea grey with 809 NAS markings.

XX894 made her final flight into St Athan for storage and disposal on the 7th April 1994.
In 1995 XX894 and XX900 were moved to Bruntingthorpe by Gary Spoors side by side. This visit was very short as later that year she was road moved to Kemble leaving XX900 at Bruntingthorpe. The airframe was mainly used as a spaceship for XW986 (ZU-NIP) which flew down to Thunder City in Cape Town to be reunited with her sisters - XW987 (ZU-BCR) and XW988 (ZU-AVI) in 2002, this being the last Buccaneer flight in the UK.

A few year later XX894 was then road moved once more to Farnborough for storage and was briefly looked after by the Buccaneers Supports Club, she was seen on static at that years SBAC display.

In 2003 the airframe was bought by Guy Hulme with the vision to go in his garden as a memorial to is father who worked on the tyoe. However, Gary persuaded Guy that XX894 could potentially be a runner and so she was road moved to Bruntingthorpe for a second time in September 2003

Her restoration to full taxiing condition began, kicking off by naming her 'Spirit of Roy Boot' - the Buccaneer's chief designer. Guy and his team made fantastic progress towards this aim and by July 2007 she had performed her first tentative slow speed taxi run, which of course revealed further work that needed doing. By this time, Buccaneers XW544 and XX894 were blending together with the groups working side by side. 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, Guy decided to put XX894 up for sale and was brought by her original owner, Gary Spoors, but in October 2011 sold on again, to The Buccaneer Aviation Group who continued 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 - continued to keep this magnificent beast living and breathing.

Sadly, in 2020, the days of Bruntingthorpe being a centre of live aviation are over, so after a lot of discussions TBAG moved their two Buccaneers to Cotswold Airport (former RAF Kemble), as this allows the aircraft to continuing blasting down the runway in front of the public. XX894 and XW544 will become apart of a growing collection of privately owned aircraft at the airport with Boeing 747 G-CIVB Negus being the centre piece!

Information on this page current as of 06/03/2021

Find other photos of XX894 on the following sites:

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