|ENGLISH ELECTRIC CANBERRA T.4 WJ874 - '858'|
|WJ874's service history
The English Electric Company built WJ874 as a Mk.4 Canberra for the Royal Air Force. Following the mandatory flight tests, the aeroplane was declared ready for collection 24th December 1954, but it did not immediately enter RAF service. It was instead held in reserve until January 1956 when it was issued to the RAF Binbrook Station Flight. Remaining in use at the Lincolnshire base for the next four years, WJ874 was then issued to the RAF Coningsby Station Flight on 1st January 1960. Unfortunately, at the time of writing it is not known how long it remained in use at Coningsby, but its next recorded Unit was No.231 Operational Conversion Unit (231OCU) at RAF Bassingbourn, where it remained in service until it was withdrawn and placed in store at RAF Shawbury 27 Maintenance Unit (27MU).
On 12th November 1969, WJ874 was officially transferred to Royal Navy charge following its arrival at Hurn airfield (now Bournemouth Airport) in Dorset, where it immediately commenced service with the civilian Fleet Requirements Unit (FRU). As aeroplane '847' WJ874 was operated on training duties for the two years with the FRU, under the care of Airwork Services Ltd until it was moved to RNAS Lee-on-Solent in November 1971 for maintenance. Modifications were then carried out by the Naval Air Radio Installation Unit (NARIU), and the airframe returned to Hurn for a short time before it was sent to RAF St Athan for a major airframe inspection on 3rd February 1972.
On 29th April 1974, WJ874 was re-introduced into Fleet Air Arm service following issue to the Fleet Requirements and Air Direction Training Unit (FRADTU) at RNAS Yeovilton. Still coded '847', the aeroplane remained in use for the rest of the year until it was flown to RAF Kemble for a paint re-finish on 12th December 1974. Three months later in February 1975, it was returned to Yeovilton and re-issued the fleet number '858'.
Back in RAF ownership, WJ874 was promptly re-finished into camouflage and issued the identity code 'BM' which was applied on its tail fin. It re-commenced its all important pilot training role with 231OCU until the Unit was disbanded in April 1993. The aeroplane then passed to the combined RAF/Royal Navy Canberra Unit, RAF 360 Sqn at RAF Wyton, where it remained in use until October 1994 when that too was disbanded. All the Canberra T.4s left in service were then absorbed by RAF 39 (1 PRU) Squadron based at RAF Marham, and rotated between service and storage. WJ874 was re-coded 'AS' and was kept operational until its turn for a 'rest' at RAF Shawbury arrived in October 1995. However, just six months later it was back in service at Marham.
In April 1999, WJ874 was selected to represent the prototype Canberra VN799 to mark 50th Anniversary of the Canberra.
[© Robin A. Walker]
[© Mike Freer]
[© Martin Morley]
WJ874's civilian life
WJ874 was bought by Mike Collett for his Air Atlantique Classic Flight collection. On 9th November 2005, the aeroplane was delivered to its new home at Coventry, with plans to re-introduce the airframe back onto the display circuit. It was registered G-CDSX in March 2006, but is currently in store with work on hold for the time being.
[© Brian Marshall]
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