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XX303's service history

Hawker-Siddeley Hawk T.1 XX303 was first flown from Dunsfold airfield in Surrey, and it was delivered to the Royal Air Force (RAF) on 16th January 1980. Painted in a wraparound camouflage finish with the last three digits of its serial applied on the fin, the airframe was issued to No. 1 Tactical Weapons Unit (1TWU) at RAF Brawdy, and operated on weapons and pilot training duties for the next three years. It was taken out of service in early 1983, and ferried by air to British Aerospace (BAe) for modifications that would allow the airframe to carry AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles and be employed in an air defence capacity should the situation arise. Once completed, XX303 was reclassified as a Hawk T.1A, and on 18th August 1983 was returned to RAF Brawdy, re-entering service with 1TWU almost immediately. The airframe was later issued to 1TWU's component Squadron, RAF 234(R) and refinished in a low visibility air defence grey colour scheme.

In April 1992, 1TWU was disbanded, and its role within the RAF was transferred to No.4 Flying Training School (4FTS) at RAF Valley.
XX303 was ferried to its new home in Wales and was one of the first Hawks to be re-issued to 'component' squadron (Sqn), No.74(R) following its formation at Valley in October 1992. It was assigned the identity 'TH' and utilised in the weapon instruction role. It was later moved on the strength of RAF 19(R) Sqn within 4FTS, and recoded 'PF' as a result, before it was returned to RAF 74(R) Squadron in 1995, where it remained until that Unit was disbanded in September 2000. XX303 was then returned to RAF 19(R) Squadron, remaining in service on weapons training for the next five years.

On 27th February 2006, XX303 was placed on loan to BAE-Systems at its Warton airfield, where it was operated as a chase aeroplane and as a pilot trainer, helping to re-familiarise pilots with flying a fast jet that may have just finished lengthy ground tours. It was operated in RAF black training livery, complete with full RAF 19(R) Sqn unit markings, and was a regular sight above the skies of Warton.
It was returned to the RAF at RAF Valley during April 2007, but was transferred to RAF Leeming the following month to be re-issued to RAF 100 Sqn, where it received the identity 'CM'. Its stay was brief however, as just five months later it was sent on loan to the Royal Navy following an airframe reshuffle between the RAF and Fleet Air Arm.

XX303's FRADU career

XX303 was issued to the Fleet Requirements & Air Direction Unit (FRADU) and it arrived at RNAS Culdrose on 11th October 2007.
All RAF unit markings were removed as the aeroplane adopted basic black training livery and began to be operated on FRADU taskings, and on occasions based at RNAS Yeovilton with Navy Flying Standards Flight (Fixed-Wing) - NFSF(FW) and later with the Yeovilton Hawk detachment.

On 15th May 2013, XX303 left the FRADU and returned to the RAF, in an airframe exchange with Hawk T.1A XX236.

[ Dave Holman]

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Post FRADU career

Following its return to the RAF XX303 joined RAF 208(R) Squadron at RAF Valley, and after receiving full Unit markings it was used on training duties.
However, on 8th October 2013, the airframe had to make an emergency landing at RAF Shawbury due to a possible engine issue, and it ended up being caught by the crash barrier at the end of the runway, thankfully without any injuries being sustained. The airframe was recovered and was eventually repaired and returned to Valley in February 2014.
With the pending disbandment of 208(R) Sqn, the airframe was re-issued to RAF 100 Squadron at Leeming in the latter part of 2015, where it was used until it entered a spell of storage at  RAF Shawbury in April 2016 as aircraft 'CA'. During August 2017, it was reactivated and returned to Leeming for another spell with 100 Squadron, this time as 'CR', an identity it carries today.

- December 2020

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