Thunder & Lightnings

Hawker Hunter - Survivor WN904 ('WN921')

F.2 WN904 - Sywell Aviation Museum, Sywell Aerodrome, Northamptonshire

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Hunter F.2 WN904 at Sywell, 19th June 2024; Damien Burke

WN904 first flew in 1953 and entered service with 257 Squadron at RAF Wattisham. She had a short service life in common with the other F.2s produced, albeit even shorter than the others due to a landing mishap at RAF Kenley in 1955 which saw her running off the end of the runway, over a road and through a hedge. She was repaired but never flew again and spent much of her subsequent life as an instructional or display airframe as a result, spending the last 20 years or so prior to 2012 on display at the former RAF Waterbeach (Waterbeach Barracks), in memory of the long-gone Hunter squadrons of the 1950s that operated from there.

WN904 wore dual 1 and 56 Squadron colours whilst there (though never flew with either squadron). Owned by the IWM, the Army apparently chose to have WN904 on display at Waterbeach both because of their own RAF links (39 Engineers Regt. have preparation of airfields as one of their tasks) and because of its historical significance to the area - well done lads. It's years in the open had left it a bit the worse for wear, and it moved to Duxford for a respray in late 1998 before returning to Waterbeach.

By 2012 she was looking rather faded again and with the army vacating the barracks, her time on the gate was at an end. Happily, WN904 found a new home at the Sywell Aviation Museum - their first complete airframe - and was moved there on 2nd August 2012.

Your webmaster now leads the team looking after her, and she has received several years of restoration work including a cockpit rebuild and topside repaint during 2018. She now wears, for the first time since 1956, the 'Q' code on the fin and nose gear door that she wore in service, and as a tribute to 257 Squadron and one of their pilots (Squadron Leader 'Dickie' Millward AFC), 257 Squadron bars and Chinthe on the nose (though she never actually wore these in service due to her early retirement).

On her starboard side she is marked up in 263 Squadron colours as WN921 / 'S', to represent the only other Hunter F.2. squadron and in memory of a 263 Squadron pilot who lost his life in the real WN921 (Flying Officer Dennis Whiteman).

By 2024 the 2018 repaint was beginning to look a little faded but a good polish has brought her up nicely - the Museum is planning to paint the silver underside in the near future.

Information on this page current as of 20/06/2024, last updated by Damien

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