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XX217's service history

Hawker Siddeley Hawk T.1 XX217 was first flown from Dunsfold airfield, and was delivered to the Royal Air Force (RAF) on 18th May 1978.
Painted in a wraparound camouflage colour scheme, the airframe was issued to RAF Brawdy to join No.1 Tactical Weapons Unit (1TWU) where it was operated on training duties. It was moved to RAF Chivenor during April 1981 to join 2TWU, initially being issued to its component Squadron (Sqn) RAF 151(R). However, within a matter of months had been moved onto the strength of sister Unit RAF 63(R) Sqn.
During the winter of 1983, XX217 was withdrawn and ferried to British Aerospace (BAe) to undergo modifications that would allow it to carry AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles and be employed as a air defence fighter platform in times of national crisis. It was returned to RAF Chivenor as a Hawk T.1A on 7th April 1984, and remained with 2TWU, gaining the air defence grey paint finish subsequently, for the remainder of the decade.

2TWU was disbanded on 31st August 1992, with its training role passing onto No.7 Flying Training School (7FTS) that had been formed at Chivenor in its place. The airframe was issued to resurrected 'component' Unit RAF 19(R) Sqn, as it continued being operated in the advance weapons training role. Following the announcement of the pending closure of RAF Chivenor, RAF 19(R) Sqn moved to RAF Valley to became an integrated part of 4FTS, and XX217 moved with it to continue its training role, until it was withdrawn and placed in store at RAF Shawbury on 23rd November 1994.

XX217's FRADU career

With no prospect of returning to the RAF in the short-term, XX217 was placed on loan to the Royal Navy. It was ferried to RNAS Culdrose on 16th December 1996, and entered Fleet Air Arm service with the Fleet Requirements & Air Direction Unit (FRADU). Operated in its air defence grey colour scheme, XX217 was operated on FRADU task flights until it was ferried to RAF St Athan in preparation for a spell of maintenance and a refinish in RAF gloss black training livery in February 1998. It returned to Culdrose two months later, but was returned to the RAF at Valley on 29th June 1998.

XX217's second RAF spell

XX217 was returned to service immediately following its arrival from Culdrose, as it rejoined RAF 19(R) Sqn and reprised its advanced flying training role. Aside from the last three digits of its serial number on the tail fin, it was operated without squadron markings applied for the next two years, until it was re-issued to RAF 100 Sqn at Leeming during 2000. It was issued the fleet code 'CC' and was operated on target facilities and air defence training exercises until it was sent to RAF St Athan for a major overhaul during the summer of 2002.

The airframe was returned to service in early 2003, when it was issued to 4FTS RAF Valley and to RAF 208(R) Sqn. It was initially operated in its former RAF 100 Sqn markings, but these had been removed at the end of the year. During early 2005, full RAF 208(R) squadron blue/yellow markings were applied as it became an established training platform within the fleet. Its stint was not without incident however, as it had to make an emergency landing on the Isle of Man in September 2006 following severe engine problems, necessitating in the airframe being moved by road back to the RAF Valley for repair.
Following a year on the ground, XX217 was returned to service in late 2007.

XX217's 'second' FRADU career

Following a decision to action a major reshuffle of Hawk airframes between the RAF and FRADU in mid-2008, XX217 was placed on loan to the Fleet Air Arm and it returned to FRADU in January 2009. All signs of its RAF 208(R) markings were gradually removed as it became an established member of the FRADU fleet, where it remained in use for the next four years.

Following the reformation of 736 Naval Air Squadron (736NAS) at RNAS Culdrose in June 2013, XX217 has been absorbed into its fleet along with the remainder of the FRADU fleet.

[ Kevin Slade]

[ Rich Pittman]

[ author]

[ author]

Post FRADU career

XX217 remained with 736NAS at Culdrose until March 2017, when it was ferried to RAF Shawbury for storage, where it remains today in reserve.

- December 2020

[ Kai Greet]
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