Thunder & Lightnings

Hawker Sea Hawk - Survivor XE489 (composite with WM983)

FB.5 XE489 - Gatwick Aviation Museum, Charlwood, Surrey

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Sea Hawk FB.5 XE489 at Gatwick Aviation Museum, 6th August 2023; Damien Burke

XE489 was built by Armstrong Whitworth at Coventry and delivered to the Royal Navy in 1956. She served with various squadrons and ended up with the Fleet Requirements Unit at Hurn by 1961, wearing an overall black colour scheme and a drop-tank-mounted light. On retirement she was disposed of to the Historic Aircraft Museum at Southend, flying into the airport in May 1967 - her final flight. In due course the Museum painted it as XE364, representing an 899 NAS/HMS Eagle aircraft.

Michael Carlton's Jet Heritage then acquired her in 1983 and registered her as G-JETH, intending to restore her to flight, but with Michael's death the aircraft was sold in 1987 to the then-new Gatwick Aviation Museum and was guarding the gate for many years, still wearing the red colours she wore while with Jet Heritage. In the late 2000s she was looking pretty tired, so a repaint was started, and by 2010 she was once again wearing XE364's scheme (despite finding WM983 on the fuselage while stripping the old layers of paint off - it appears XE498 and WM983 swapped rear fuselages at some point).

In recent years, XE489 has finally been renumbered with her tail now reading 'XE489' instead of 'XE364'. The museum's new hangar was completed around 2017 and the aircraft (along with the majority of the smaller airframes also there) was finally put undercover out of the elements. Apart from it's partly clouded canopy and largely empty cockpit, XE489 doesn't seem to be in a bad shape!

Information on this page current as of 07/08/2023, last updated by Damien

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