Thunder & Lightnings

English Electric Canberra - Survivor XH134 (ex G-OMHD)

PR.9 XH134 - Cotswold Airport, Kemble, Gloucestershire

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Canberra PR.9 XH134 at Cotswold Airport, 7th May 2023; Jake Wallace

Built in October 1959, XH131 spent her first month or so with the Aircraft and Armament Experimental Establishment and Shorts of Belfast. She was then transferred to RAF charge and joined 58 Sqn at RAF Wyton when they converted to PR.9s in January 1960. In 1962 XH134 would have been transferred to the charge of 39 Sqn who were in Malta (RAF Luqa) and were working up with PR.9s to replace their PR.3s. A trials installations stay with A&AEE lasted from December 1971 until August 1973 when XH134 returned to RAF service with 39 Sqn at RAF Marham.

The airframe retired to Kemble airfield (now Cotswold Airport) alongside XH131 and XH135 on the 31st July 2006. XH134 was kept in good condition and was mainly stored in one of the hangars on-site until she and XH135 were brought by Midair who had the vision to get one of the airframes back airworthy again. XH134 was soon chosen to be the best airframe out of the two to return to flying condition, resulting in XH135 becoming the spares ship. XH134 underwent a major service in 2012 before taking to the skies again in 2013, making her first public appearance at the Goodwood Revival that year.

During the winter of 2013, XH134 was resprayed in an overall silver scheme that was intended to be a blank canvas for sponsors' advertising etc. - however that never materialised, and as a result XH134 only flew for two seasons before Midair ran low on money and grounded her once again.

They managed to keep the airframe in good ground running condition until 2016 before sadly going bust in 2017, leaving their Canberras in the hands of the receivers. The airport towed the now somewhat unwelcome Canberra airframes to G-site in 2018 where they sat, unloved and slowly deteriorating until coming under the airport's ownership in lieu of unpaid parking fees. XH134 was reported to be donated to the Indian Air Force Historic Flight in 2018, but the deal fell through.

However, with The Buccaneer Aviation Group's move from Bruntingthorpe to Cotswold Airport in 2020, it was agreed that the volunteers of TBAG would assist in preserving the Canberra airframes where needs be. This meant keeping them presentable, such as cleaning them and keeping tyres inflated.

Being left out in the elements with no TLC has done XH134 no good - however, she is in better condition than most would think. There are some minor corrosion spots and various missing panels, but overall she is still in good condition, and there is no reason why she couldn't become a ground-running airframe in the future if the airport ever wished to do so. Returning her to the air would be a much more expensive proposition.

Cotswold Airport hopes to move XH134 near to the AV8 café before summer so she can be easily viewed when you take a visit, although this is still undecided. In the meantime, XH134 has since been relocated to the North Apron while a decision is made.

Information on this page current as of 09/06/2023, last updated by Damien

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