Thunder & Lightnings

Folland Gnat - Survivor 'XR993' (G-BVPP, really XP534)

T.1 XR993 - South Wales Aviation Museum, St. Athan, Wales

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Gnat T.1 XR993 at South Wales Aviation Museum, 4th February 2023; Jake Wallace

First flown on 28th March 1963, XP535 served with the CFS initially, transferring to 4 FTS in 1965 and spending time with both Schools until ending her active career with 4 FTS.

Retired to ground instructional duties as 8620M in November 1978, initially at RAF Abingdon, then onward to RAF Halton in 1979, before being disposed of in 1990. The airframe ended up owned by a consortium and maintained by Kennet Aviation, based at Cranfield. In 1994, XP534 gained her civil registration, G-BVPP, and later received a repaint into Red Arrow colours, representing XR993. The aircraft could be seen on the airshow circuit for several years afters.

During this time, XP534 was relocated to North Weald where she continued to operate from. After a few years of operating at North Weald, she suffered a forced landing short of the runway in September 2004 due to a fuel supply failure. The damage she received from the incident meant it was unlikely she would return to the skies, but remained at North Weald for some time yet. In August 2010, XP534 was delivered to Bruntingthorpe where restoration began. Most of the fuselage underside was reshaped with her paintwork getting a touch-up and nose flashes added. After spending some years hidden away in one of Bruntingthorpe rubbs (temporary hangars), XP534 emerged back into the daylight in 2015, which allowed her to be a part of the static display lineup during the open days, giving visitors the opportunity to climb in and see what a Gnat's pilot perspective is like.

Over the course of 2018, the South Wales Aviation Museum (SWAM) in St Athan was beginning to take shape and so XP534 was relocated from Bruntingthorpe to SWAM in early 2019 where she has been on display, undercover in their hangar ever since. The volunteers at the museum have spent quite some time polishing up the paintwork, looking rather shiny as a result, although the paintwork on the rear fuselage is flaking. The aircraft also remains rather complete inside but does lack an engine.

Information on this page current as of 24/02/2023, last updated by Jake

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