Thunder & Lightnings

Blackburn Buccaneer - Survivor XX900

S.2B XX900 - British Aviation Heritage (taxiable), Tatenhill Airport, Staffordshire

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Buccaneer S.2B XX900 at Tatenhill Airport, 24th February 2022; Jake Wallace

Delivered to the RAF in November 1976, XX900 began her career with 208 Squadron at RAF Honington and was one of the few jets to receive desert camouflage for a Red Flag deployment to the USA in 1977. She later went on to serve with 216 and 12 Squadrons, and in 1983 took part in Operation Western Fox over in Florida, firing live Martel missiles against target ships (old hulks, naturally!). And in 1983 she was one of the trials aircraft for the ALE-40 chaff & flare dispensers, fitted in a hurry to support operations over Beirut. In 1984 she returned to 208 Squadron and in 1986 she was upgraded to carry Sea Eagle missiles. By July 1987 was back with the Squadron, going on to serve with 12 Squadron, 237 OCU and 12 once more, being fitted with smaller wingtips at some point after 1989. She finished her career with 208 Squadron and was flown into retirement with 19 MU at RAF St. Athan in 1994.

XX900 was acquired by British Aviation Heritage at Bruntingthorpe and was delivered in 1995 alongside XX894.

Having just been retired from RAF service, little restoration was needed to make the aircraft perform fast taxis down the airfield's 2-mile long runway. During early 1998 its paintwork was given a touch-up too, with its old OCU markings being put back on. Sadly since then the climate and almost permanent outdoors living had made quite a mess of her paint, and to this day looks incredibly faded. However, XX900 has continued to be an active taxi run performer, though from 2008 to early 2012 the aircraft was out of action as work was carried out on her brakes and hydraulic issues. In 2013, a repaint began but was never completed, this resulted in a freshly painted green nose cone. In 2018, XX900's port engine had suffered a failure at the May Cold War Jets Open Day, resulting in replacement. The aircraft thankfully had a spare, although only one, which had been under the care of The Buccaneer Aviation Group in their Buccaneer XW544 for several years, meaning the engine was already in good running condition. After the engine was replaced, XX900 had a few running issues throughout the rest of 2018 and the beginning of 2019, but by Bruntingthorpe's last ever Cold War Jets day, XX900 was back on the runway once more. Unbeknown to everyone at the time, this was to be her last taxi run at Bruntingthorpe.

Sadly due to the airfield being leased to Cox Automotive in March 2020, so the future for all of the aircraft was very much unknown. After many discussions between David Walton and the small dedicated team of volunteers who work on XX900, it was decided that the Buccaneer could be road moved to Tatenhill Airport, Staffordshire where the Chief Engineer of XX900 works. This meant the aircraft could get regular attention and would be able to carry on stretching its legs for years to come. On the 6th November 2020, XX900 was road moved to Tatenhill Airport, and after a year of maintenance, she performed her first static engine run which was a success and carried out her first taxi run since the last Bruntingthorpe Cold War Jets day in April 2022. The team is currently undertaking the large task of repainting her, at long last! The small group announced that she will be going into Red Flag colours, which will certainly make her stand out from all the other Buccaneer survivors.

When visiting XX900 at Tatenhill, please be mindful that she does sit very close to airside, this being marked by the taxiway.

To keep up to date with XX900s preservation at Tatenhill, then please check out their Facebook page Buccaneer XX900

Information on this page current as of 10/05/2022, last updated by Jake

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