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WJ869's service history

English Electric Canberra T.4 WJ869 was built by the English Electric Company at its Preston factory. Following the necessary flight testing programme carried out by its manufacturers, it was declared ready for collection on 27th October 1954. Entering RAF service the following year, WJ869 was first issued and used by the RAF Gaydon Station Flight in Warwickshire before later passing onto the strength of No.232 Operational Conversion Unit (OCU), which although was primarily a Vickers Valiant unit used several Canberra Mk.4s for training purposes. WJ869 was then transferred, although it is unconfirmed exactly when at the time of writing, to the primary Canberra training Unit, No.231OCU at RAF Bassingbourn. It is believed that the aeroplane moved with the Unit to RAF Cottesmore in May 1969, before it was withdrawn and flown to RAF Aldergrove for maintenance by 23MU (Maintenance Unit).

On 19th March 1973, WJ869 was transferred to Royal Navy charge at Aldergrove, and three months later it was issued to the Fleet Requirements and Air Direction Unit (FRADTU) at RNAS Yeovilton. Issued the fleet number '848', WJ869 was operated from Somerset for the next eight months until it was returned to the RAF, with 231OCU at RAF Cottesmore on 22nd February 1974.

WJ869 was operated from Cottesmore until 231OCU moved to RAF Marham in February 1976, and five years of steady service followed until the aeroplane was transferred to the Air Force of Zimbabwe by the British Government.
WJ869 became aeroplane '2215' and was flown out to New Sarum Airbase at Salisbury Airport. It was withdrawn from use on 5th December 1983 and placed in open store. It is not known if it still survives today.

- December 2020

[ Lindsay Peacock]
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