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XX311's initial service history

Hawker Siddeley Hawk T.1 was delivered to the Royal Air Force (RAF) on 29th April 1980. It was issued to No 4 Flying Training School (4FTS) at RAF Valley and painted in RAF red and white training colours, complete with the last three digits of its serial number applied on its nose section and tail fin. It became a regular fixture in the training fleet for the next ten years. During the winter of 1989, XX311 underwent a refinish, and emerged from the paint-shop sporting a red scheme with blue spine and fin, but retaining '311' on its nose and tail.
During the autumn of 1992, following the disbandment of the Tactical Weapons Unit (TWU), XX311 was transferred to its successor - 7FTS at RAF Chivenor. It was issued to its 'shadow' Squadron RAF 92(R), and was coded 'T' and flew on training missions for the next eighteen months.

XX311's FRADU career

XX311 was ferried to RNAS Yeovilton on 6th April 1994 to join the Fleet Requirements & Air Direction Unit (FRADU). Officially on loan to the Royal Navy from the RAF, the aeroplane was operated in its former Chivenor colour scheme, but was issued the FRADU call-sign '867' for taskings. It remained based at Yeovilton until 23rd November 1995, when it was ferried to RNAS Culdrose prior to the FRADU's move there the following month.
Its FRADU career in Cornwall was broken in July 1997, when it was moved to RAF St Athan for some Cat.3 airframe repairs and a refinish into the RAF black training colours. It returned to Culdrose on 19th February 1998, and was put back to work almost immediately.

On 10th March 1999, XX311 lost 2ft of its starboard wing when it hit the sea off the coast of Gibraltar, during a simulated missile attack. The pilot made a safe landing at Gibraltar, and XX311 was flown back to the UK in May inside the hold of an RAF Hercules. It was sent to RAF St Athan for repairs and returned to FRADU on 11th November 1999, where it remained in service for the next ten months. The airframe made the move back to RAF St Athan on 20th September 2000, to take its place in the Hawk Fuselage Replacement Programme (FRP).
The work was completed during March 2001, and XX311 was placed in short term store pending a decision on its next Unit allocation.

Return to the RAF

XX311 was placed back to RAF service with RAF 19(R) Squadron at Valley. Part of 4FTS, this 'shadow' squadron was responsible for providing tactical weapons training for the RAF's next generation of pilots. It was later moved onto the strength of RAF 208(R) Squadron at Valley, and adopted the yellow and blue striped Unit markings on the rear fuselage and emblem under the cockpit. The aeroplane was employed on advanced flying training duties from Valley until the winter of 2007, when it was ferried to RAF Shawbury for long-term store.

During November 2011, XX311 was noted undergoing preparation work for a return to service, and just under a year later flew out of Shawbury, ultimately bound for RAF Scampton. The aeroplane is one of several being integrated into the Royal Air Force Aerobatics Team (RAFAT), the Red Arrows, and subsequently lost its black training livery in favour of the traditional red.
It is now a core airframe within the Red Arrows fleet.

- December 2020

[ Brian Johnstone]

[ Dave Burrow]

[ Geoff Wakeham]
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