Current images: 18 Current estimated download time: 25 seconds

"In January 2001 I managed to acquire the following images taken by John Smith of FRADU aircraft via Rob Braithwaite's excellent site, that during its existance contained 100's of aircraft images.
With their permission the photos now appear on this site. All the photos were taken between 1975 and 1980 so show the aircraft in the older style schemes."

[ John Smith]
[ John Smith]
[ John Smith]
[ John Smith]
[ John Smith]
[ John Smith]
Here are some six FRADU Hunter and Canberra pix taken from John's archives, all taken at a sunny RNAS Yeovilton in August 1975. The aircraft are as follows: -
(1) The first shot included in this page pictures GA.11 WW654/833 with Derek Morter at the controls.
For further information on this aeroplane, click here.
(2) Next comes an early shot of one of the FRADU's Canberra TT.18 aircraft, WH887/847. This aeroplane was scrapped during 2005, but the nose section was preserved and survives with a private owner.
(3) This shows PR.11 XF977/865 coming in to land at Yeovilton. During September 1975 at the Yeovilton Air Day the FRADU Hunter team the Blue Herons made their debut, with XF977 the lead aircraft.
(4) A rare shot of Hunter WT799 with the '839/VL' coding. Prior to FRADU, this aircraft was often loaned to the Fleet Requirements Unit (FRU) as the Unit had no two-seat trainers at the time. However, following the FRU's merger with the Yeovilton based Air Direction Training Unit (ADTU) WT799 became a permanent fixture in FRADU's inventory.
(5) A Canberra variant that sadly doesn't exist as a complete airframe today, the Buccaneer-radar equipped T.22. This aircraft is WT525/855, now only a nose section with a private owner in Cambridgeshire.
(6) T.8C XF985 is the last of the six images. For further information on this aeroplane, click here.

[ John Smith]
[ John Smith]
[ John Smith]
[ John Smith]
[ John Smith]
[ John Smith]
[ John Smith]
[ John Smith]
[ John Smith]
The next nine shots from John's archives show some of the FRADU activity from 9th March 1976.
It looks again as if the weather has been kind to him. The aircraft are as follows: -
(7) This aircraft is WT722/873 and is today the oldest surviving FRADU Hunter, and is still airworthy! This aircraft upon retirement had complete over 9,500 flying hours and 12,500 landings during its service career!
(8) Next comes a shot of T.8C XE665 when it was wearing its early '878' number coding. It went on loan to the RAF for three years in 1980, before returning in late 1983 where it was re-coded '876'.
(9) A regular aircraft for the FRADU was T.8C XL598, and during its career it was issued with a number of different identities from '870' and '871' through to its last code as the all-grey '880/VL'. The photo here shows it as '871' and it boasts a replacement RAF-liveried tail-fin.
(10) Now come a trio of Canberra representing all three variants that served with the FRADU. This shot shows T.22 WT535/852 coming into land at Yeovilton.
(11) A very rare shot of one of the two Canberra T.4's that served with the FRADU during the 1970's and early 1980's. This aircraft, WJ874/858 is currently being restored to fly on the civilian airshow circuit by the Air Atlantic Classic Flight at Coventry. It is painted to represent the prototype Canberra VN799.
(12) A shot of TT.18 WJ636/842 concludes the trio of images. This aircraft with the reduction of the FRADU Canberra fleet in the mid-1980's was transferred to the RAF, where it served out its military life before meeting the scrap man's axe in 1992.
(13) Back to Hunters now, and the first shot pictures GA.11 WW654/833, who was also out-and-about the last time John visited Yeovilton.
(14) A rare pic of T.8C WT772/875 taken before departure from Yeovilton's 09 runway. This aircraft crashed six months after this photo was taken, suffering engine failure just after take-off from Yeovilton. It ended its life on the station's fire dump.
(15) A shot of PR.11 XF977 concludes his photographic record of this visit to Yeovilton.

[ John Smith]
(16) John found himself back at Yeovilton on 12th July 1978 and managed to capture this Canberra TT.18 on the FRADU ramp. This aircraft, WJ717/841 still survives today, albeit only its forward fuselage, the remainder being scrapped a few years ago.

[ John Smith]
[ John Smith]
(17) These shots show all the aircraft that the FRADU took to USAF Mildenhall's Air Show in 1980 in preparation for a Blue Herons appearance at the show. Firstly is a shot taken whilst the team were participating in the flying display. The pilots and aircraft that made up the team were Derek Morter leading in WT806/838, Mike Sharp and Brian Grant as Nos.2 and 3 in XE668/832 and XF368/863 respectively, with Martin Holloway completing the quartet as No.4 in WV267/836.
(18) The fifth Blue Herons aircraft at the show, brought along as a spare aircraft in case one of the others went unserviceable.

[Return to top of page]

All these photographs that appear on this page are John Smith.

Mark Russell, 1998-2020