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XX331's initial service history

Hawker-Siddeley built Hawk XX331 as a T.1 for the Royal Air Force (RAF), and it was delivered to it on 18th December 1980. Painted in a wraparound camouflage finish, the airframe was issued to No.2 Tactical Weapons Unit (2TWU) at RAF Chivenor and assigned the identity letter 'E'. Operated on training duties, XX331 was taken out of service and ferried to British Aerospace during late-1983 for airframe upgrades, that would allow it to carry AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, and be redeployed in an air defence role if required. It was returned to Chivenor in December 1983, and was issued to 2TWU's component Unit RAF 151(R) Squadron (Sqn), adopting Unit markings. Three years later during early 1986, the aeroplane was moved onto the strength of RAF 63(R) Sqn within 2TWU, and stayed with the Unit for the next six years.

During early 1992, XX331 became one of the first Hawk airframes transferred to RAF 100 Sqn at RAF Wyton, as a replacement for its retiring English Electric Canberra fleet. It was operated in its air defence grey livery and was issued the fleet code 'CK', and remained based at Wyton until this airfield was closed and Squadron had to move to RAF Finningley in 1993. XX331 was on the move again two years later following yet another airfield closure, going this time to RAF Leeming.
The aeroplane was later refinished in the gloss black training livery during 1997, and although it lost its 'CK' coding it remained with RAF 100 Sqn for the remainder of the decade, adopting the Unit's trademark blue/yellow chequerboard markings on the fuselage and skull/crossbones emblem on the fin.

During mid-2002, XX331 was withdrawn from service and sent to RAF St Athan to take part in the Fuselage Replacement Programme (FRP). Once declared serviceable at the completion of the work, the airframe was re-issued to RAF 208(R) Sqn, a component unit of No.4 Flying Training School (4FTS) at RAF Valley at the turn of 2003. It received its Unit markings both on the rear fuselage and underneath the cockpit, and was operated on advanced flying training duties until June 2005. The airframe then returned to RAF Leeming to begin a second stint with RAF 100 Sqn, this time as aeroplane 'CP'. Full Unit markings were re-applied immediately as it became established within its Hawk fleet.
Prior to the 2009 airshow season, XX331's markings were modified to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the RAF Benevolent Fund; the red circle of the RAF roundel was replaced with a heart, "Royal Air Force" lettering, and the phrase "RAF Benevolent Fund 90th Anniversary" was also applied on the airframe's spine and fuselage respectively.

XX331's FRADU career

During January 2010, XX331 was placed on loan to the Royal Navy, and was ferried to RNAS Culdrose to join the Fleet Requirements & Air Direction Unit (FRADU). Aside from losing its 'CP' code on the fin, it retained the remainder of its RAF anniversary markings, as it was immediately integrated into the FRADU tasking programme. During March 2011, XX331 moved with the FRADU to RNAS Yeovilton for a three-month period whilst the RNAS Culdrose runway was resurfaced, and its heart roundel was reshaped into the standard circular shape during its time in Somerset.

On 29th June 2011, XX331 was ferried to RAF Shawbury for long-term store. At the time of writing it is unknown whether it will return to service in the future. Its place in the FRADU fleet was taken by Hawk T.1 XX165.

- December 2020

[ Rich Pittman]

[ Robert Starling]

[ author]
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