Thunder & Lightnings

de Havilland Sea Vixen - Survivor XJ494

FAW.2 XJ494 - Classic British Jets Collection, Bruntingthorpe Aerodrome, Leicestershire

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Sea Vixen FAW.2 XJ494 at Bruntingthorpe, 9th January 2022; Damien Burke

XJ494 was used as a trials aircraft and was equipped with an under-nose camera mounting and a cable running down the port boom, leading to what may be a transponder or beacon fairing of some kind on the tailfin. She took part in Red Beard and Martel missile trials, some details of which are still classified.

After retirement, she survived many years out in the open (formerly with the 'Trout Lake Air Force' at Kings Langley) with minimal deterioration. In 1999, XJ494 was purchased by Dave Thomas who moved the aircraft to Bruntingthorpe with a vision to get her in a taxiable condition so she could take part in the Cold War Jets' open days.

The cockpits are in excellent condition, with the non-standard instrument fit also indicating her use as a trials aircraft. XJ494 had her starboard engine replaced with a 'new' one as the old one had suffered FOD damage of the first stage compressor blades and has very occasionally run on both engines. In 2018, she even took a very small trundle down the taxiway, however, this trundle highlighted more issues that needed looking into. Over the past few years, the small team known as the Classic British Jets Collection had been focused on getting their new residents (Venom WR470 and Meteor WM167) up and running, leaving the Sea Vixen project aside for the time being.

In early 2020, Bruntingthorpe was leased to Cox Automotive who wanted all the airframes removed from the site. After lots of effort of putting down some hardcore around the LPG QRA shed the smaller airframes like the Sea Vixen were moved to this new site, where they can continue to run engines, but will no longer be able to taxi.

With most of the aircraft that CBJC looks after now running smoothly, the focus can now turn back to the Sea Vixen with the hope of getting her to perform engine runs this year.

Although she is in a good condition overall, her paintwork has really started to go, with some markings starting to come away and the paint fading and peeling off in places - she'll no doubt get some new paint in the near future too.

To keep up with the team's progress, check out the Classic British Jet Collections Facebook Page.

Information on this page current as of 09/01/2022, last updated by Damien

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