HAWKER HUNTER GA.11 XF301 -'834'

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XF301's service history

XF301 was built at Blackpool by Hawker Aircraft (Blackpool) Ltd as a Hunter F.4 for the Royal Air Force, and following the mandatory flight tests with the manufacturers was delivered on 30th December 1955. Prepared by 5MU (Maintenance Unit) for service use, XF301 was then issued to RAF 43(F) Sqn at Leuchars, and was assigned the code letter 'L'. This turned out to be its only posting with the RAF, as in 1960 it was placed in long-term store following the arrival of the more-powerful Hunter F.6 variant.

XF301 was then transferred to Royal Navy charge, and Hawker Aircraft Ltd was contracted to overhaul and convert the aeroplane to full GA.11 specification. It was delivered to the to the Fleet Air Arm in October 1962 from Dunsfold, but instead of entering service went into store.
It finally flew with a Fleet Air Arm Squadron in September 1964, when it joined the RNAS Brawdy Station Flight. During January 1965 it spent a short time at Boscombe Down on trials work, but was flown to Belfast for modernisation later that month.

On 17th September 1965, XF301 joined 738NAS (Navy Air Squadron) at Brawdy (BY) as aeroplane '791' and flew with the Unit for the next three years. This spell, besides being used regularly by the Squadron's Hunter display team the 'Rough Diamonds, included suffering two bird-strikes, and a shy undercarriage leg that failed to appear on landing. A period of maintenance at Kemble (August 1968 to February 1969) followed before the aeroplane returned to 738NAS, this time as aeroplane '785'. XF301 was subsequently moved onto the strength of 764NAS at RNAS Lossiemouth as '679' in November 1970, and it remained in active service until July 1972, when it was flown to RAF Kemble for long term store.

Following ten years in reserve during which its condition naturally deteriorated, XF301 was moved by road to RAF Abingdon on 20th December 1982, where modernisation work was begun to allow it to return to active service with the Fleet Requirements and Air Direction Unit (FRADU).
Following ten months of work XF301 exchanged its old 764NAS 679/LM Squadron markings for the FRADU fleet number '834' and VL shore code, and it arrived at Yeovilton on 12th October 1983. For the next eight years the aeroplane was continuously in use, keeping its 1970s extra dark sea grey and white paint finish until a thorough overhaul by Lovaux at Hurn in early 1991.
Returning to Yeovilton in dark sea grey livery on 3rd May the same year, XF301 continued in active service for only another two years, as it was ferried to RAF Shawbury for storage on 12th March 1993. One of the reasons was that the aircraft was limited in terms of endurance, due to the lack of a modification of its wings to carry the big 230 gallon drop-tanks.
With the gradual demise of the FRADU Hunter fleet throughout 1994 and its airframe state reducing the chances of it ever going back into service, XF301 was put for disposal via a Sothebys auction later that year.

[ Peter R. March]

[ Martin Morley]

[ Martin Morley]

[ Kev Slade]

[ Mike Freer]

XF301's civilian life

XF301 was hammered down for 4000.00 to US-based Doctor Garrett Moscos, and in January 1995 the aeroplane was moved by road to Bournemouth Airport where it was placed in the care of Jet Heritage. Several modifications were requested and made to the aeroplane; the fitment of a F.6A tail cone and addition of a braking parachute, an ejector seat rebuild and the Harley light was removed and replaced with a solid nose cone. It was then crated and shipped to the USA in February 1996, arriving at Chino, California shortly afterwards where it was registered as N301XF was regularly taxied.

Unfortunately Garrett Moscos passed away in December 2006, and the future of the aeroplane became uncertain. During 2008 the aeroplane was offered for sale via Barnstormers.com by his estate, and little was been heard of any subsequent sale taking place.

In 2019, the airframe re-appeared online as available for sale for $30,000 USD. It is complete aside from its engine. Shoould a replacement be found, in theory it could be made to fly again as all paperwork is present, and it is a very young aeroplane in terms of airframe hours.

- December 2020


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[ Andre Wadman]
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