Thunder & Lightnings

de Havilland Sea Vixen - Survivor XJ481

FAW.1 XJ481 - Fleet Air Arm Museum (stored), RNAS Yeovilton, Somerset

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Sea Vixen FAW.1 XJ481 at Yeovilton, 8th June 2017; Richard E Flagg

XJ481 is an FAW.1 that spent most of its career as a trials aircraft, first on night flying and deck landing trials, then onwards to various missile programs (including Red Top and Martel). She gained a striking black and white 'half and half' paint scheme in 1968 for Martel trials which she wore until her retirement in 1974.

She was exhibited outside at the Fleet Air Arm Museum until 1981, when she moved to Portland to be repainted in a standard grey and white paint scheme, returning to Yeovilton for display. She then moved to Ilkeston in 1985 and to Southampton in 1986, intended for display at the Southampton Hall of Aviation. After being stored outside for 3 years, she then moved to RNAY Fleetlands where she was restored once more (with a normal FAW.1 nose in place of the camera nose she wore for much of her active life). The wings were regularly folded and unfolded and the aircraft was moved from time to time (partly to stop it from sinking into the concrete - Sea Vixens are heavy!). Sadly the small museum at Fleetlands was forced to close and XJ481 had to move once more in 2001.

She is now in the FAA Museum store (Cobham Hall) at Yeovilton. In 2002 she could be seen stored outside with her wings next to her - but was later moved indoors, but was hemmed in by other exhibits to such an extent that pictures weren't possible. Thankfully at the 2010 airshow, her paintwork had been given another spruce-up and she was on show in the static display. XJ481 continues to stay hidden in storage, hemmed in on all sides.

Information on this page current as of 09/05/2022, last updated by Jake

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