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WT510's service history

English Electric Canberra WT510 was built as a PR.7 for the Royal Air Force at Preston.
It was declared ready for collection on 31st December 1954, and entered service with RAF 80 Squadron (Sqn) based at RAF Laarbruch in West Germany. It is not known how long the aeroplane remained with this Unit at the time of writing, but it was later transferred onto the strength of RAF 31 Sqn, also based at Laarbruch. It remained in use until this Squadron was disbanded in 1969, after which the aeroplane was returned to the UK and placed in long-term store at RAF Athan.

WT510 was transferred to the Royal Navy in February 1971, and selected to be converted to T.22 specification. The aeroplane was subsequently selected to be the prototype airframe for this new variant, and after it arrived at the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) Salmesbury plant in July 1971 work was immediately begun to transform the aeroplane. Resplendent in primer, WT510 took its first flight as a T.22 on 28th June 1973, and it was moved to the Aircraft and Arnament Experimental Establishment (A&AEE) for flight trials, in order to get the all important service release approval. This was granted in November 1973, and WT510 was ferried back to Salmesbury for further conversion work, thus bringing it up to full T.22 specification.

In 27th March 1974, WT510 joined the Fleet Requirements and Air Direction Training Unit (FRADTU) at RNAS Yeovilton as aeroplane '854', and was employed on various sorties until it was moved to RNAS Lee-on-Solent for a six month period between November 1975 and March 1976. The aeroplane then returned to FRADU and remained at Yeovilton for fifteen months until it was on the move again, this time to RAF Aldergrove where maintenance was carried out by 23MU (Maintenance Unit). WT510's third spell with FRADU began in January 1978, and lasted until 16th August 1982 when it was grounded for a major inspection and airframe refurbishment at St Athan.
WT510 was re-introduced into Fleet Air Arm service on 25th January 1984, but this stint was not without incident.
During November 1984, at a height of 50ft it suffered a bird strike that caused damage to the airframe. Thankfully it wasn't serious enough to ground the aeroplane, and it was later repaired. WT510 continued in service until July 1985, when it was withdrawn from the FRADU fleet following the establishment of its successor at Yeovilton, civilian owned Dassault Falcon 20 airframes, and it was flown to RAF St Athan for storage.

Six years of inactivity followed, until the aeroplane was placed up for disposal in May 1991.

[ Dave Jones]

[ Mike Freer]

[ Martin Pool]

[ Martin Morley]

[ Rob Schleiffert]

[ Bob Turner]

WT510's civilian life

WT510 was acquired by Hanningfield Metals, and the airframe was sectioned for scrap and removed to their Stock yard for processing in October 1991.
The cockpit section was separated and survived until February 1993, when it was also scrapped. It was ultimately a sad end for the prototype aeroplane.

- December 2020

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