Thunder & Lightnings

Hawker Hunter - Survivor XE685 (ex G-GAII)

GA.11 XE685 - Wickenby Aerodrome, Langworth, Lincolnshire

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Hunter GA.11 XE685 at RNAS Yeovilton, 9th July 2011; Damien Burke

Built as an F.4 in 1955, XE685 served with 93 and 98 Squadrons at RAF Jever before being bought back by Hawkers in 1960 and converted to a GA.11 for the Fleet Air Arm. Re-entering active service in 1963 with 764 NAS at Lossiemouth, XE685 was used for air warfare instructor training and conversion flights. During 1966 the aircraft was loaned back to Hawkers and was involved in practice bombing trials. It was fitted with four practice bomb carriers under the front fuselage and one under each pylon. This would enable the aircraft to carry eight 25lb bombs. Once the trials were over the jet was returned to service including time with the Yeovilton Station Flight as well as 764 NAS once again. Joining the Air Direction Training Unit (ADTU) in 1973, the aircraft later became part of FRADU (the merger of FRU/ADTU). XE685 then spent most of the next twenty years serving at Yeovilton, as aircraft '861' with FRADU, until 1994 when it was retired from service.

Sold to the Lightning Flying Club and registered as G-GAII, XE685 was seen on the airshow circuit between 1995 and 1998 before being put into storage in 1999. After a period in which she changed hands several times, XE685 took to the air once again in February 2006 and her first public display in more than 10 years was at the 2006 Kemble Air Day. She was later part of Team Viper and is seen here, very appropriately, taking off from RNAS Yeovilton to display at the 2011 Yeovilton Air Day. With Team Viper closing down in 2012 and Hunter Flying Ltd. moving to Wales, XE685 first relocated to St. Athan, and later was acquired by Hawker Hunter Aviation (HHA) based at RAF Scampton at the time.

HHA used the airframe along with several other Hunters for spares, enabling them to keep their current flightworthy Hunters airworthy. For the duration of this time, XE685 could often be seen sitting outside near the HHA hangars alongside two or three other Hunter airframes.

After HHA relocated to RAF Leeming in 2023, XE685 was put up for disposal, and happily was acquired by Wickenbury Aerodrome, arriving in August that year, where she is now carrying out gate guarding duties.

Information on this page current as of 09/08/2023, last updated by Jake

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