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XX183's initial service history

Hawk XX183 was built for the Royal Air Force (RAF) by Hawker-Siddeley, and was first flown from its Dunsfold factory. Delivered to the RAF on 7th November 1977, the airframe was issued to Number 4 Flying Training School (4FTS) at RAF Valley, and operated on advance flying training duties. It was painted in an attractive red and white colour scheme, and became a faithful servant to the Unit through the rest of the decade.
During the 1980s, XX183's colour scheme was tweaked, with the addition of blue paint applied on the spine and fin, with a white cheat-line being merged into the overall red finish as it became part of the Central Flying School detachment within 4FTS.

Following the disbandment of 1TWU on 31st August 1992, the RAF's tactical weapons training Squadron, its role was absorbed into 4FTS. XX183 became a part of RAF 234(R) Sqn on 1st September 1992, a 'shadow' unit that was part of the 1TWU just a day earlier. It continued in service with the Squadron until it too was disbanded on 1st April 1994, to be renumbered to No. 208 (Reserve) Squadron.
XX183 was then placed in short term store.

XX183's FRADU career

On 8th April 1994, XX183 arrived at RNAS Yeovilton to join the Fleet Requirements & Air Direction Unit (FRADU) and hence entered service with the Royal Navy, on loan from the RAF. It was operated on Fleet Air Arm sorties in its existing red/white/blue colour scheme until it was ferried to RAF St Athan for a paint refinish on 5th September 1995. Returned to RNAS Yeovilton sporting the new standard black training colours, XX183 only stayed for a further month in Somerset before it was ferried to RNAS Culdrose on 21st November 1995, in preparation for the FRADU's official move to the airfield the following month. It was operated on FRADU taskings until it was withdrawn from the fleet on 10th June 1997, and ferried back to RAF St Athan to take part in the fuselage replacement programme (FRP).

Back to the RAF

Following this process, XX183 was reinstated into RAF service, and returned to 4FTS during 1998. It was issued to the 'shadow' RAF 208(R) Sqn and operated on advanced flying training duties. During the summer of 2002, the aeroplane was sent to St Athan for a major overhaul and was returned to Valley in March 2003.

On 23rd July 2003, XX183 suffered a serious bird-strike whilst operating from RAF Linton-On-Ouse on a training mission with another Hawk. Its engine subsequently failed and the trainee pilot, whom was flying solo had no option but to eject. The Hawk crashed into the ground near Pickering, North Yorkshire, after clipping trees and partially breaking up, the majority of the wreckage came to rest in a disused railing cutting and caught fire. Its pilot landed safely, and although he only suffered minor injuries spent the night in a local hospital under observation.

- December 2020

[ Geoff Wakeham]

[ Brian Johnstone]

[ Richard Parkhurst]
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