Thunder & Lightnings

Hawker Hunter - Survivor XL563

T.7 XL563 - Farnborough Air Sciences Trust, Farnborough, Hampshire

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Hunter T.7 XL563 at Southmoor, July 2010; David Kellen

XL563 was the first production T.7, and first flew on 11th October 1957. She carried out a lot of development flying including hood jettison, air conditioning and various underwing stores carrying trials. She went on to spend time with the Controller (Aircraft) team for trials of the release of the T.7 to RAF service before returning to Hawkers and then allocation to the A&AEE for gun firing trials. By September 1960 she was a support aircraft on the P.1127 VTOL project, and the next year was a chase aircraft for the Bristol T.188 project, remaining on that work until January 1963.

After that she flew with the Institute of Aviation Medicine at Farnborough, flying with them for 30 years until retirement in 1993. Retired to ground instructional use initially and then stripped for spares, she was cosmetically refurbished for display duties, and after much dithering (and storage), she was put on display in June 1995 outside the Officer's Mess at Farnborough.

In late March 1999, the Officers Mess was derelict and due for demolition so XL563 was dismantled and travelled to Kempston (on the edge of Bedford). XL563 was supposedly to be returned to flying trim by the new owner but this clearly didn't happen and she then turned up in a field near Southmoor in Oxfordshire, where she sat in open storage, shoved to the side of a yard with her wings on a trailer nearby, tail missing and slowly becoming at one with the foliage.

Happily, she was put up for sale and 2013 and acquired by the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust, who had also managed to chase up various other parts of the airframe from other locations - including other countries! In March 2014 she was moved back to Farnborough, and since then she has been reassembled, cleaned up and put on display.

Information on this page current as of 15/01/2022, last updated by Damien

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