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WH856's service history

English Electric Canberra WH856 was built as a B.2 by Short Brothers at Belfast, for the Royal Air Force.
It was declared ready for collection by the RAF on 26th February 1953, and was subsequently issued to RAF 44 Squadron (Sqn) based at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire. It remained with the Unit throughout its moves to RAF Marham (April 1953), RAF Cottesmore (May 1954) and finally RAF Honington (1955). Following the disbandment of the Unit in 1957 WH856 was passed to the Honington Station Flight, although it is not known at the time of writing how long it stayed in service, or whether it was posted elsewhere subsequently. WH856's next confirmed movement is a ferry flight to Salmesbury for conversion to TT.18 specification for the Royal Air Force in 1967.

The aeroplane was returned to the RAF in its new guise in February 1969, but was placed in store at RAF Shawbury with 27MU (Maintenance Unit) at RAF Shawbury.
Two years of inactivity followed until February 1971, when it was moved to Flight Refuelling Ltd's Tarrant Rushton airfield in Dorset for a short period, and then onto RAF St Mawgan for re-introduction into RAF service with RAF 7 Sqn. Aside from a period of maintenance with 23MU at RAF Aldergrove (April 1975-October 1976), WH856 remained in service for the rest of the decade, eventually being issued the fleet code '56'.
On 3rd June 1980, the aeroplane was sent to RAF ST Athan for a major inspection, returning to RAF St Mawgan in January 1981.

On 2nd March 1981, WH856 arrived at RNAS Yeovilton and became a part of the Fleet Requirements and Air Direction Unit (FRADU) fleet. It retained its RAF camouflage, but received the FRADU fleet number '849' on the nose. It remained operational for the next eleven months, until it was relegated to Cat 5(GI) status on 19th February 1982, bringing the curtain down on its flying career. Its final flight took place on 2nd March 1982, when it was ferried to RAF Abingdon to begin its life as an instructional airframe, under its RAF maintenance identity 8742M.

WH856 was issued to the Station fire dump, and was used as a Battle Damage Repair Training (BDRT) airframe until it was offered for tender during 1985.
It was acquired by Park Aviation Supply based at Faygate, and the airframe were initially sectioned, and later scrapped at Abingdon in November 1986.

- December 2020

[ John Hale]

[ unknown]
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