Thunder & Lightnings

Hawker Hunter - Survivor WB188

Mk.3 WB188 - Tangmere Military Aviation Museum, Tangmere, West Sussex

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Hunter Mk.3 WB188 at Tangmere, 26th May 2019; Damien Burke

This is where it all began! The very first Hunter, indeed the prototype P.1067, has luckily survived to be preserved, due no doubt to its record-breaking status. First flown on 20th July 1951 at Boscombe Down by Sqn Ldr Neville Duke. This aircraft was a busy one, carrying out a great deal of development work with a break during summer 1953 for an attempt on the World Air Speed Record.

Converted to Mk.3 form with pointed nose, reheat and new airbrakes, on 7th September 1953, Neville Duke broke the world air speed record for jet-powered aircraft, achieving 727.63 mph over a high speed course off the coast at Littlehampton. The aircraft was only to fly for another month or so after that, being retired to ground instructional use at RAF Halton.

She went on to become the gate guardian aircraft at RAF Abingdon and later RAF Melksham between 1961 and 1964 before being allocated for preservation and move to the station museum at RAF Colerne. In 1975 she was moved to the RAF Museum's new site at RAF Cosford, home to several other prototype aircraft. Finally in 1992 the RAFM put her on loan to the museum at Tangmere, a fitting addition as this is where she flew from for the record attempt.

She is in immaculate condition, having been stored indoors for almost her entire life, and long may she stay so!

Information on this page current as of 26/01/2021, last updated by Damien

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