THE FRADU CANBERRAS

ENGLISH ELECTRIC CANBERRA TT.18 WE122 -'845'

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WE122's service history

The English Electric Company, at its Preston factory built WE122 as a Canberra B.2 for the Royal Air Force. It was declared ready for collection on 13th June 1952, and began its military service with a posting to 231OCU (Operational Conversion Unit) at RAF Bassingbourn. The aeroplane was used extensively in the training programme of the new generation of RAF jet bomber pilots, but at the time of writing information on how it was used for is unavailable. WE122 also later saw service with RAF 245 Sqn based at Tangmere and then with RAF 98 Sqn, after this Unit was stood up the day after 245 Sqn's disbandment! The aeroplane may have also served with RAF 7 Sqn, but this is unconfirmed.

Following a spell in storage at RAF Wroughton with 15MU (Maintenance Unit), WE122 was transferred to Royal Navy charge in July 1971. It was moved to the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) factory, via RAF St Athan in December that year for conversion to TT.18 specification.
The aeroplane entered Fleet Air Arm service in its new guise on 14th June 1974, when it joined the Fleet Requirements and Air Direction Unit (FRADU) at RNAS Yeovilton. Assigned the fleet code '845' WE122 remained in service, aside from a major inspection at St Athan (Jan-June 1977) until April 1981, when it was ferried to BAC Salmesbury for a refurbishment. The airframe was subsequently moved to RAF St Athan for long-term storage in December 1982, but just three months later it was reintroduced into service at Yeovilton.
A further four years of flying followed until WE122 was withdrawn from the FRADU fleet in February 1987, following the establishment of the Canberra's successor in its FRADU role, the Dassault Falcon 20 business jets.

Ferried to RAF St Athan and intended for long-term storage, WE122 was instead posted to the MoD(PE) Llanbedr establishment. At the time of writing it is not known if the aeroplane was used for trials, or just as a spares airframe.
During 1990, WE122 was moved back to RAF St Athan and offered for disposal.



[ Robin A. Walker]

[ Mike Freer]

[ Kev Slade]

[ Derek Heley]

[ Bob Turner]
 
 
 

WE122's civilian life

Hanningfield Metals, a scrap merchant based at Stock in Essex acquired WE122, and it was subsequently broken up at St Athan.
The cockpit section was saved and travelled to its yard for onward sale, arriving there in November 1991, whereas the remnants of the airframe passed to RAF St Athan's fire section. WE122's cockpit was later sold to a private owner and was moved to North Weald in April 1992.

WE122's cockpit was sold again in June 1994, and became part of the Blyth Valley Aviation Collection at Walpole in Suffolk.
As of January 2011, it is still reportedly to be the same ownership, although the collection is not currently open to the public.


[ Tom McGhee]

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