Thunder & Lightnings

Folland Gnat - Survivor 'PF179' (really XR541)

T.1 PF179 - Bournemouth Aviation Museum, Hurn, Dorset

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Gnat T.1 PF179 at Hurn, 25th September 2023; Garry Lakin

XR541 first flew on 8th July 1963 and served with 4 FTS at RAF Valley initially, bouncing between 4 FTS and CFS over the years. She took part in the Finningley Jubilee flypast 77 until a landing at RAF Mona on 7th February 1978, when her brakes failed and she took the arrester barrier.

With the Gnat scheduled to go out of service shortly, she was stripped for spares and transported to RAF St. Athan for instructional use as 8602M in December 1978. At St Athan she was used by the Civilian Craft Apprentices School, and at some point was painted in camouflage colours with the mock serial of PF179 added, as part of a Painters and Finishers course number. Disposed of in the 1990s, her history becomes a little unclear - possibly residing with Everetts in Ipswich, then reportedly sold to the USA in 2007, but this probably didn't happen as Phoenix Aviation based at Bruntingthorpe acquired her in 2010 from Global Aviation at Binbrook. She was being well looked after with a view to returning her to ground running condition, but before she got anywhere close to becoming live again, she was sold and moved to North Weald.

Whilst at North Weald, she was dumped out of public sight where she was then heavily stripped and dismantled for spares to help keep the Gnat Display Team's aircraft in the air, and looked rather unloved. Happily, in March 2023, she was relocated to the Bournemouth Aviation Museum where steady progress is being made on putting her back together.

Information on this page current as of 28/09/2023, last updated by Damien

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