Thunder & Lightnings

British Aircraft Corporation TSR2 - Survivor XR222

Type 571 XR222 - Imperial War Museum, Duxford Airfield, Cambridgeshire

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TSR2 Type 571 XR222 at Duxford, 31st May 2006; Damien Burke

XR222 was the fourth development batch airframe and was partially complete when the programme was cancelled. Many of the part built airframes were offered up by the Ministry of Aviation to any organisations that were interested in using them for training or research purposes - RAF stations, universities etc. The College of Aeronautics at Cranfield put in a request for a TSR2 airframe and in October of 1965 XR222 was transported - in bits - to Cranfield.

With all work on the project ceasing, little effort was put into her finishing her off and so she arrived at Cranfield short of many panels and items of equipment. She spent the years until 1977 being used to train students in modern aircraft production techniques and so on before her large size became a nuisance to a rapidly expanding university.

In early 1978 she was therefore transferred to the Imperial War Museum at Duxford and remained incomplete for many years, was mostly kept outside and suffered accordingly. However, TSR2s are tough birds and no major damage occurred. A cosmetic restoration took place in the 1980s, but her home was still outside.

When Duxford got a National Lottery grant to build the new American Air Museum building, this meant more room was freed up and XR222 finally came in from the cold, was cleaned, and put in the queue for a more complete restoration. This happened during 2004/2005 and was an in-depth restoration including a complete strip and repaint. She was rolled out in December 2005 and after this the aircraft was put in storage in the expanded Superhangar - the "Airspace" exhibition - while Airspace was under construction. She briefly went outdoors while building work continued, but is now back on display inside Airspace and permanently undercover at long last.

Information on this page current as of 02/03/2021, last updated by Jake

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