Thunder & Lightnings

de Havilland Sea Vixen - Survivor XJ560

FAW.2 XJ560 - Newark Air Museum, Winthorpe, Nottinghamshire

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Sea Vixen FAW.2 XJ560 at Newark Air Museum, 31st March 2021; Damien Burke

XJ560 was delivered to RNAY Sydenham on 24th November 1959 and entered service with 890 NAS at RNAS Yeovilton in February 1960 (coded 247/H). She went back for modernisation and transfer to the Controller (aircraft) fleet, trialling a towed target pod at Hatfield before moving to RAE Bedford and then the RAF Handling Squadron at Boscombe Down. She was returned to Belfast in 1964 for conversion to FAW.2 and when that was complete, delivered to RNAS Brawdy in May 1966.

She then re-entered FAA service with 892 Squadron at RNAS Yeovilton in July 1966 (coded 302/H) and had the usual drama-filled life of a carrier-based Sea Vixen, spending most of the next year onboard HMS Hermes. After one bit of inflight drama she was lightered ashore at RAF Changi in June 1967, and thence returned to the UK onboard HMS Bulwark, arriving back at Yeovilton by road in May 1968.

She did not return to Hermes until June 1969, this time with 893 Squadron (coded 243/H) as 892 had disbanded (to be reformed as an F-4K Phantom squadron). In May 1970 she was found to have damage to her air intakes on landing from a sortie, potentially deliberate malicious damage. She was transferred to long term storage at RNAY Belfast in July of that year, then struck off RN charge in April 1971, moving to ground instructional use at RAF Abingdon in June 1971. She swiftly moved to Halton later in the month and given a small additional '35' code. By March 1977 her instructional day were over and she was transferred to storage at Farnborough, before moving to RAE Bedford in February 1979 for some arrestor barrier trials. In November 1979 she was withdrawn from use once again.

Acquired by the Newark Air Museum in 1968, she was roaded to their site in August 1986. Her paint suffered somewhat over the years and so she was repainted over the course of 1997 and 1998. Since then she has been repainted once more, with the paint still in relatively good condition. Sadly she has had decidedly inaccurate vinyl markings applied - the squadron badge is far too small and the stencils too large. This is a great shame given the obvious effort that's gone into the paintwork. Hopefully this can be corrected this year, pandemic permitting!

Information on this page current as of 11/04/2021, last updated by Damien

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