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XX286's initial service history

Hawk XX286 was built for the Royal Air Force, and was delivered to its new owners on 11th April 1979. It was issued to RAF Brawdy and it joined No.1 Tactical Weapons Unit (1TWU) and was operated on weapons training. Brawdy was to remain the home of XX286 until the winter of 1983, when it was withdrawn from service and sent to British Aerospace for modifications that would allow the airframe to carry AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles and be employed in an air defence role in times of crisis. It returned to 1TWU on 25th April 1984, and rejoined its component Squadron; RAF 79(R) Sqn. Subsequently refinished in air defence grey, XX286 remained in use, aside from being grounded for periods of maintenance and short-term store, until 1TWU itself was disbanded in August 1992.

During September 1992, XX286 was moved to RAF Valley to join No.4 Flying Training School (4FTS), which had taken over 1TWU's training responsibilities. retaining its air defence grey colour scheme, it was issued to component squadron RAF 234(R) Sqn and was assigned the identity 'DK'. Following the retirement of the of the Blackburn Buccaneer, RAF 208(R) Sqn became part of 4FTS, replacing RAF 234(R) Sqn in the advanced flying training role. XX286 became a member of this 'new' unit on 1st April 1994, and was kept in service for the next twelve months.

XX286's FRADU career

The airframe was placed on loan to the Royal Navy on 19th May 1995, and it arrived at RNAS Yeovilton still sporting its 'DK' coding and RAF markings. It was operated by the Fleet Requirements & Air Direction Unit (FRADU) on taskings from Somerset for the next six months, until it was ferried to RNAS Culdrose in preparation for the move of FRADU to Cornwall. It kept its grey colour scheme for a further 12 months, before receiving a refinish into the standard RAF gloss black training colours, albeit with full ROYAL NAVY lettering and emblem applied. XX286 was then kept busy with FRADU, aside from the essential periods of maintenance until 29th August 2001, when it was moved to RAF St Athan to take its place in the Fuselage Replacement Programme (FRP). Completed in March 2002, the aeroplane did not re-enter service immediately, but was instead placed in store.

Return to the RAF

XX286 was sent back to RAF Valley and initially allocated to RAF 208(R) Sqn, the Unit responsible for Advanced Flying Training duties. Its period of service with the Unit lasted little over 12 months, as it was re-issued to its the other Hawk Unit at RAF Valley; RAF 19(R) Sqn. Blue/white checkerboard markings were applied on the rear fuselage, as XX286 was employed on the RAF's Tactical Weapons training syllabus.

Following another period of service assigned to RAF 208(R) Sqn, XX286 was ferried to RAF Shawbury during September 2012 for long term store, and this is where it remains today.

- December 2020

[ Dave Burrow]

[ Geoff Wakeham]

[ Robin A. Walker]
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