Thunder & Lightnings

Blackburn Buccaneer - Survivor XX888

S.2B XX888 - Bill Fern, South Yorkshire Air Museum, AeroVenture, Doncaster, South Yorkshire

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Buccaneer S.2B XX888 at South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum, 22nd September 2023; Jake Wallace

XX888 made its first flight on 21st November 1974 and retired to RAF Shawbury for storage in 1991 with 16 Sqn. Just months later the airframe was scrapped, thankfully the cockpit section survived for preservation.

It was then moved to Dundonald where it was on display with Buccaneer cockpits XT280 and XV161 (now believed to be scrapped). The interior cockpits at the time were rather complete except for one or two instruments and the refueling probe. XX888 had lost its canopy when in the scrapping process, the owner managed to find a replacement canopy, albeit an S.1 canopy. Sometime during its time at Dundonald, the cockpit received a half-hearted paint job into a colour that somewhat resembles desert pink, even though this is not an ex-Gulf War airframe! This paint was actually sand textured and looked to have been applied at a very thick consistency.

Around the year 2004, XX888 moved on to a new owner who transported it to a private location in Barnstaple. The then-new owner Tim, intended to carry out a full restoration project on the cockpit, unfortunately, this never happened and instead stayed sat in an unused area where nature claimed it.
In 2009, for some unknown reason the cockpit sadly had the bottom chopped off by an engineer, unfortunately, the cut down on the starboard side didn't seem to have been cut with much care or sympathy. Due to the cockpit being chopped in half meant to nose cone and intermediate section could not be refitted again.

XX888 came up for sale in 2019 but due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, any offers for the cockpit had to wait due to the lockdown restrictions delaying the sale.

By June 2021, the cockpit was sold to Bill Fern who moved it by road to the South Yorkshire Air Museum also known as AeroVenture a few weeks later on the 7th July where it became the third Buccaneer cockpit section on site! - Joining, XZ431 and a Buccaneer test rig once thought to be XN979. The previous owner decided he wanted to keep ahold of the nose cone and intermediate section to make a garden ornament - it's not like these can be fitted back to XX888 now the bottom has been chopped anyways!

XX888 was in quite a sad state once she arrived at AeroVenture, one of the photographs above shows how poorly the bottom of the cockpit was cut (the starboard side was far worse), plus a fist-size hole in the skin behind the navigator's seat on the starboard side. Due to the S.1 canopies being made of magnesium, it had corroded over time very badly and unfortunately is now beyond repairable, Bill would be very grateful if you know of a replacement S.2 canopy! The interior cockpits were about 65% complete, overtime these gaps will be filled if Bill can get his hands on the correct instruments needed. had a few components missing which will hopefully be added over time if they become available. Bill and a small number of other volunteers at AeroVenture cleaned the cockpit and helped tidy up the poor cut underneath the cockpit floors, a skin repair was made to the hole on the starboard side and soon prepping for a repaint began!

After a fortnight in the paint shop, XX888 secretly made its way by road to cockpit-fest held at the Newark Air Museum for its surprise unveiling.
The picture above shows it on the day it was unveiled at cockpit-fest, after just 7 weeks' worth of restoration by a small number of volunteers, and looks remarkable for it!

Information on this page current as of 30/10/2023, last updated by Jake

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