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XX242's initial service history

Hawker Siddeley Hawk T.1 XX242 took its first flight from its manufacturer's airfield at Dunsfold, and it was delivered to the Royal Air Force (RAF) on 2nd November 1978. It was initially issued to RAF Valley, where it entered service with No.4 Flying Training School (4FTS), and painted in an attractive red and white colour scheme with the last three digits of its serial applied on the nose and tail fin. It was operated on training duties at Valley, aside from the mandatory periods on the ground for maintenance and storage for the next fourteen years.
In 1992, XX242 was transferred to RAF Chivenor to join No.7FTS, which had just been formed to replace the role undertaken previously by No.2 Tactical Weapons Unit (2TWU). The airframe was issued to RAF 92(R) Sqn, one of two 'shadow' Squadrons within 7FTS and was coded 'Y' in preparation for its new role as a tactical weapons trainer. It remained in use at Chivenor for the next two years.

XX242's FRADU career

On 7th April 1994, XX242 was ferried to RNAS Yeovilton where, on loan to the Royal Navy from the RAF, it joined the Fleet Requirements & Air Direction Unit (FRADU). It was allocated the FRADU call-sign '865', but was operated on Unit taskings in its existing RAF style colour scheme and coding until October 1995, where it was ferried to RAF Cranwell for maintenance. By the time it was returned to the Fleet Air Arm some four months later, the FRADU had moved to RNAS Culdrose from Yeovilton. XX242 was reintroduced into the FRADU fleet and kept operational until 8th December 1997, when it was moved to RAF Shawbury for long-term storage.

Return to the RAF

During late 1999, XX242 was ferried to RAF St Athan for an overhaul and upon completion was returned to RAF service with 4FTS at Valley, painted in the 'new' standard training black colour scheme. It was later allocated to RAF 208(R) Sqn and used in the advanced flying phase of the RAF pilot training programme, adopting the Unit's markings on the nose. It remained in use at RAF Valley until February 2003, when it was returned to RAF St Athan for further maintenance and modifications. On 27th August 2003 XX242 left St Athan, and became the last airframe to take part in the fuselage replacement programme (FRP).

Prior to the 2004 airshow season, XX242 was allocated to the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, The Red Arrows, adopting the famous red colour scheme. It has become a regular sight within the team since.

- December 2020

[ Brian Johnstone]

[ Brian Johnstone]

[ Geoff Wakeham]
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