Thunder & Lightnings

Blackburn Buccaneer - Survivor XW550

S.2B XW550 - Francis Wallace/The Buccaneer Aviation Group, Cotswold Airport, Gloucestershire

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Buccaneer S.2B XW550 at Abingdon, 20th May 2023; Damien Burke

Delivered to 15 Squadron at RAFG Laarbruch in April 1973, XW550 spent her RAF career with 15 and 16 Squadrons at that same station in Germany. In 1980 the Buccaneer fleet was grounded and had their wing spars inspected for cracks. XW550 turned out to have the worst crack in the entire fleet. She was withdrawn from service and was eventually scrapped at St Athan.

The nose section was saved and bought by Ricky Kelley in West Horndon. Ricky intended to restore XW550, but unfortunately, this never happened and so the cockpit stayed locked away.

XW550 was purchased by Francis Wallace with any extra spares being purchased by The Buccaneer Aviation Group (TBAG) in late 2016. It was first planned for XW550 to go to Francis' place for restoration, however, plans changed with the idea of TBAG using the cockpit as a traveling exhibit to help promote the group's activities at Bruntingthorpe with taxiable Buccaneers XX894 and XW544.

The cockpit was moved by road from West Horndon, Essex on 05/11/2016 to her new home at Bruntingthorpe in Leicestershire. During that time she underwent a full restoration, re-spray, and was mounted onto a trailer. In June 2019, XW550 made several outings around the country, and even won the "Spirit of Cockpit-fest" award at Newark Air Museum's 20th such event, for an 18-month restoration project and attention to detail. The next phase of the restoration will see the application of electrical power to illuminate all the instruments. It was hoped that this next phase would have been completed by spring 2020, but due to a new lease agreement being negotiated at Bruntingthorpe, XW550 had to be moved off-site into storage at Bridgnorth, Shropshire.

The cockpit remained in storage until September 2021 when it was towed to TBAG's new home, Cotswold Airport, where she was reunited with her sisters! XW550 will be open to the public at several of TBAG's events - either at G-site or up by the AV8 Cafe for any of the airport's events, or on the road at other shows.

Information on this page current as of 05/06/2023, last updated by Jake

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