Air Enthusiast 1995-09
??? - Flixton Pictorial
Donated to N&S in March 1982, VX580 had one more ‘flight’ in her. With outer wings and engines removed and must of the interior fittings taken out, the Valetta was flown as underslung cargo to Flixton on May 27, 1982, care of 7 Squadron and a Chinook HC.1. Restoration has been continuing ever since.
Built as a Javelin FAW.7, XH892 was issued to 5 Maintenance Unit at Kemble in April 1958. It returned to Gloster in July 1959 for conversion to FAW.9R standard, including the ability to carry a prominent in-flight refuelling probe. Work complete, it was on charge with 23 Squadron at Coltishall in May 1960 - it wears these markings today. Early in 1964, 23 Squadron moved to Leuchars, ready to receive Lightnings. XH892 was issued to 64 Squadron at Binbrook in October, but moved to 29 Squadron at Akrotiri in May 1965, helping to supplant Meteor F.8 WF643, also held by N&S. XH892 was one of ten Flat Irons deployed to Ndola in Zambia following the Rhodesian declaration of independence from the Commonwealth. It returned to Cyprus in September 1966. Retired in April 1967, it was stored at Shawbury, before joining the station collection at Colerne in 1973. Disposed of in March 1976, it was acquired by John Jeff Hawke and moved into storage at Duxford. It moved to N&S in 1983.
One of the latest exhibits at N&S is development batch Lightning F.1 XG329. Roland Beamont performed XG329’s first flight, from English Electric’s Samlesbury plant on April 30, 1959. Used essentially by the manufacturer and the Aeroplane & Armament Experimental Establishment (A&AEE) at Boscombe Down, XG329 undertook much development work on the F3 version. It was converted for such work by Boulton Paul at Seighford 1961-1963. Hawker Siddeley Dynamics also used XG329 for Red Top missile development work in 1966. The Lightning was retired to Cranwell in 1969 to act as an instructional airframe, moving to Swinderby in 1986 as a display airframe. Acquired by Ian Hancock, it was moved to N&S for display in 1993.
Established in 1974, the Norfolk & Suffolk (N&S) Aviation Museum can be found at Flixton, Suffolk, near Bungay. It is located but a short distance from the former Bungay (Flixton) aerodrome which was home to the B-24 Liberators of the 446th Bomb Group. Following steady expansion, the museum moved to its present location in 1990. Part of the extensive site includes a Nissen-hut devoted to the life and times of the 446th. A large ‘half-round’ display hangar (centre) has been established and there is a large aircraft park. (The Valetta, right, was undergoing a repaint; the dark colour on the under surfaces being a primer coat.)
Largest exhibit at N&S is Vickers Valetta C2 VX580 which was built at Weybridge and was first flown on February 1, 1950. It worked hard throughout its RAF career serving in turn with: Handling Squadron during 1950; Malta Communications Squadron from 1953; 114 Squadron at Kabrit from 1954; Aden Communications Flight 1955; Middle East Communications Squadron, Nicosia, 1955; Metropolitan Communications Squadron, Northolt, 1961-68. During this period it had a series of spells in storage, plus refits and repairs. Presented to the Norfolk Air Scouts, it was flown from Coltishall to Norwich Airport on December 12, 1968. (Illustrated there in October 1977.)
N&S’s Percival Sea Prince T.1 WF128 has had a varied career, typical of a long-serving crew trainer. It was delivered to Stretton for storage in 1955, joining 750 Squadron at Culdrose by summer 1958, moving with the unit to Hal Far, Malta, in 1959. In 1965 750 relocated to Lossiemouth in Scotland in 1969-70 it was resparred. Returning to Culdrose in 1972, WF128 was coded ‘570-CU’ (as illustrated) at this time. Briefly with A&AEE at Boscombe Down and the Sydenham Station Flight, WF128 was retired to storage in 1976. It was moved to Honington in February 1979 for use by the fire crews but was acquired by N&S in 1981 and moved to Flixton.
Gloster Meteor F.8 WF643 was built by Armstrong Whitworth at Baginton and was issued to 56 Squadron at Waterbeach on July 3, 1951. With the arrival of Supermarine Swifts with No 56, WF643 transferred to 1 Squadron at Tangmere in 1954 and to 611 Squadron at Hooton Park in 1955. Placed in storage in 1957, it joined the Station Flight at Nicosia 1960 until joining up with 29 Squadron at the base in 1963, moving on to Akrotiri. WF643 again wears its markings from its Cyprus days. With replacement by Javelins, retirement came in October 1965, going into storage at Kemble. Moved to Coltishall in 1973, WF643 looked set to end its days on the fire dump until rescued by N&S and moving to Flixton in May 1975.