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WJ636's service history

Canberra WJ636 was built by English Electric Aircraft Ltd as a B.2 bomber for the Royal Air Force. It was awaiting collection on 31st May 1954, and it was subsequently posted to RAF 104 Squadron (Sqn) based at RAF Gutersloh in West Germany. This Unit was part of No.551 Wing, a task group made up of four Canberra Squadrons. Unfortunately the aeroplane's further history, in terms of dates and times served is unconfirmed at the time of writing, but it was later moved onto the strength of firstly RAF 61 Sqn and then RAF 35 Sqn. Both of these Units were based at RAF Upwood in Cambridgeshire.
WJ636 was subsequently ferried to British Aircraft Corporation (BAC)'s Warton airfield for refurbishment and conversion to TT.18 standard on 31st October 1967. With the necessary work completed, it arrived back with the RAF at Shawbury on 6th March 1969, where it was placed into store with 27MU (Maintenance Unit) pending a transfer to an RAF Squadron.

Following a transfer to the Royal Navy the aeroplane was taken out of store in October 1969. It arrived at Hurn on 3rd October, entering service with the Fleet Requirements Unit (FRU), a civilian Unit run under contract to the Royal Navy by Airwork Services Ltd. WJ636 was employed on numerous target towing duties on behalf of the Fleet Air Arm as aeroplane '842' until it was moved to RAF St Athan for an overhaul on 27th January 1972.
Three months later, WJ636 was back in service and operating from Hurn, but relocated to RNAS Yeovilton in November 1972, following the FRU's move to the Somerset airfield. On 1st December 1972, the FRU merged with the Air Direction Training Unit (ADTU) at Yeovilton, forming the Fleet Requirements and Air Direction Training Unit (FRADTU).

Retaining its '842' identity, WJ636 remained in service until January 1975, when it was flown to RAF Aldergrove to enable necessary repair work to its main spar to be carried out. This kept it on the ground for the next four months. Re-introduced into service at Yeovilton on 12th May 1975, WJ636 was a fixture in the FRADU fleet (the word Training was dropped the previous year) until it was grounded again for a complete refurbishment in September 1977 at BAC Warton. It was returned for its third spell with FRADU in January 1980, and remained in use until it was moved to RAF St Athan for maintenance in April 1983. WJ636 subsequently went back to Salmesbury in October 1984, for a major inspection before eventually being issued back to FRADU on 25th January 1985. On 27th February 1987, WJ636 was withdrawn from service and placed in storage at RAF St Athan.

In February 1988, WJ636 was transferred back to the Royal Air Force and joined RAF 100 Sqn at Wyton in Cambridgeshire. Assigned the codes 'CX' the aeroplane retained a toned-down Fleet Air Arm scheme until it was permanently withdrawn from use in January 1992, when it was placed in open store on the airfield.
Later dismantled and moved out of sight, it was eventually placed up for disposal via tender in May 1995 and was scrapped three months later.

- December 2020

[ Lindsay Peacock]

[ Mick Bajcar]

[ Kev Slade]

[ Bob Turner]

[ Derek Ferguson]

[ Lieuwe Hofstra]
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