Thunder & Lightnings

de Havilland Sea Vixen - Survivor XN685

FAW.2 XN685 - Midland Air Museum, Coventry Airport, Warwickshire

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Sea Vixen FAW.2 XN685 at Midland Air Museum, 14th May 2022; Jake Wallace

XN685 is the Midland Air Museum's example and is covered in much detail in the walkaround section.

Originally an FAW.1, she was operated as such by 890 NAS with the nose number of 703. Later she was converted to be the FAW.2 interim prototype at Hatfield - the second such conversion (XN684 being the first). First flown as an FAW.2 on 17 August 1962, from then on used for various development work; e.g. Red Top missile trials at Hatfield, and from April 1964 served with No. 13 JSTU (Joint Service Trials Unit) at Boscombe Down. Trials were completed in February 1966, at which point it was delivered to Chester for conversion to full FAW.2 production standard. She then served with 893 NAS on HMS Hermes in 1968 and later 766 and then 890 NAS, until 890 disbanded in August 1971. At this point the aircraft was passed to RAF Cranwell as an instructional airframe.

Allocated the maintenance number of 8173M (though I don't think this number was ever displayed on the aircraft, or was at least not displayed as prominently as is normal), by 1984 she was with the No. 2 School of Technical Training at RAF Cosford.

By 1991 she had moved to British Aerospace's Hawarden apprentice school and finally, by 1994 she arrived at her current home of the Midland Air Museum, replacing the previous Sea Vixen there (XN691). In the early 2000s some work was done on her hydraulics and her wings were unfolded; the Museum would like to get the hydraulics and other systems brought back to life and exercised regularly so if you can help, please contact them. Unfortunately, XN685 has spent many a year outside in the rain and ended up looking very faded as a result, though structurally she's okay and only minor corrosion is evident. She has recently received a repaint, but the airframe is lacking markings, such as the ejection seat triangles and rescue arrow.

Information on this page current as of 16/05/2022, last updated by Jake

Find other photos of XN685 on the following sites:

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