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GLOSTER METEOR T7

 VW453 FLIES FROM

IMJIN BARRACKS

 TO THE NEW

JET AGE MUSEUM

ON

MONDAY 22 APRIL 2013

 
 

 

   
 

At 1430 on Monday 22 April 2013 Gloster Meteor T7 VW453 was moved from Imjin Barracks - formerly RAF Innsworth - to the new Jet Age Museum building on the north western side of Gloucestershire Airport at Staverton.

 
 

 

   
  At 1430 on Monday 22 April 2013 Gloster Meteor T7 VW453 was moved from Imjin Barracks - formerly RAF Innsworth - to the new Jet Age Museum building on the north western side of Gloucestershire Airport at Staverton. 

To avoid both damage to the 1949 vintage example of the World's first jet trainer and also the disruption to local traffic inherent in a road movement, VW453 - owned by Jet Age Museum members Martin Clarke and Tony Mackinnon - was airlifted by Boeing Chinook twin rotor helicopter ZA764 as a Royal Air Force training exercise.

Having been cleaned, checked over for structural integrity and attached to suitable rope slings, the tandem seat twin engined jet - minus its outer wings - stood ready for its final flight as dozens of aircraft enthusiasts lined the chain link fence along Frog Furlong Lane: all awaiting the distinctive "wokka wokka" of two  Honeywell T55 turboshafts approaching.

 
 

 

 

 

 
 

On 25 May 1949 VW453 was delivered to RAF Driffield based 203 Advanced Flying School, the first unit to use the Meteor T7 in any numbers.  On 1 September 1949 203 AFS was renamed 226 Operational Conversion Unit at RAF Stradishall and on 1 December 1949 VW453 was transferred to 604 Squadron at North Weald, Kent.  Here it was involved in two separate accidents on 21 October 1950 and 7 July 1952 and in both cases Category 3 damage was repaired on site by Gloster Aircraft technicians.

 
 

 

   
  Although the earliest numbered production Gloster Meteor T7 - VW417  -  is still displayed on a pole at the gate of Leeuwarden AFB in The Netherlands, VW453 was in the first batch of registrations - VW410 to VW459 - allocated to production T7s for the RAF.  Two F4s - EE530 and EE573 - were converted to T.7s while the prototype G-AKPK (first flown on 19 March 1948 at Moreton Valence) was delivered to the Royal Dutch Air Force in November 1948.

On 25 May 1949 VW453 was delivered to RAF Driffield based 203 Advanced Flying School, the first unit to use the Meteor T7 in any numbers.  On 1 September 1949 203 AFS was renamed 226 Operational Conversion Unit at RAF Stradishall and on 1 December 1949 VW453 was transferred to 604 Squadron at North Weald, Kent.  Here it was involved in two separate accidents on 21 October 1950 and 7 July 1952 and in both cases Category 3 damage was repaired on site by Gloster Aircraft technicians.

VW453 was the loaned to RAF Takali (now known as Ta Qali) on Malta on 18 June 1953 but was damaged there on 27 September 1954, necessitating a return to Hucclecote for repairs by Gloster Aircraft.  After a period of storage, the T7 was struck off RAF charge with just 381 hours 25 minutes flying time and was transferred on 13 March 1957 to the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment (A&AEE) at Boscombe Down.

VW453 was used by A&AEE for 'hack' duties such as tasks involving photo-chase, instrumentation and navigational development and last flew on 23 February 1968 with a total airframe time of 2048 hours 5 minutes.

 
 

 

   
 

The Royal Air Force first ordered fifteen Chinook, Helicopter Cargo Mk 1, from Boeing Vertol in March 1967 but the Bristol Belvedere replacements - based on the American CH-47B - were then cancelled in a defence spending review in November that year.

 
 

 

   
 

By April 1971 the T7 was being stored outside at RAF Kemble by 5 Maintenance Unit after which the airframe passed to the CDE (Chemical Defence Establishment) at Porton Down and was used by MRE (Microbacterial Research Establishment) for testing bacterial persistance out in the open on Salisbury Plain. By January 1977 the airframe, (now known to have incorporated the cockpit canopy and frame as well as other parts of fellow T7 WA709 ), moved back into the CDE compound at Porton Down, and was by now decontaminated.

On 11 November 1981 VW453 was transported to RAF Innsworth with the Maintenance Number 8703M and was restored there by CARG (Cotswold Aircraft Restoration Group) over a number of years. 5 March 1994 then saw the T7 unveiled on the gate at RAF Innsworth, replacing Gloster Javelin XH903 which had left the site by October 1993. The Meteor was painted as VW453/Z of 604 Squadron  with yellow & red triangles on either side of the fuselage roundels.

 
 

 

   
 

On 10 May 1946, 604 Squadron reformed at Hendon as part of the newly reconstituted Auxiliary Air Force and began recruiting in November. As a fighter squadron, it was initially equipped with Spitfires, the first of which arrived in October 1946. It converted to jet fighters with the arrival of Vampires in November 1949. These were replaced in August 1952 by Meteors which were flown until the Royal Auxiliary Air Force was disbanded on 10 March 1957.

 
 

 

   
  604 ( County of Middlesex) squadron was formed on 17 March 1930 at Hendon as a day bomber unit of the Auxiliary Air Force. On 2 April it received its first DH9As and flew these till the arrival of Westland Wapitis in September 1930. On 23 July 1934, it was redesignated as a fighter squadron and received Harts as an interim type, pending the delivery of Demon two-seat fighters which arrived in June 1935. Shortly before the outbreak of war, it converted to Bristol Blenheims with which it flew defensive patrols and undertook early experiments with airborne radar.

When Germany invaded the Low Countries in May 1940, 604 flew sweeps over the battle areas, but reverted to night patrols in July and became a full-time night fighter squadron, with Beaufighters beginning to arrive in September. By January 1941 the squadron was completely equipped with the type but early in 1943 the decrease in enemy night raids allowed some Beaufighters to be diverted to intruder operations over enemy airfields in northern France. Conversion to Mosquitoes began in February 1944 and 604 Squadron joined Second TAF to help provide cover for the invasion forces during the Normandy landings. In August 1944 it moved to airfields in Normandy, but returned to the UK in September for three months. From January 1945 until it disbanded on 18 April 1945, the squadron was based near Lille to provide night defence for Allied bases in the Low Countries and northern France.

On 10 May 1946, 604 Squadron reformed at Hendon as part of the newly reconstituted Auxiliary Air Force and began recruiting in November. As a fighter squadron, it was initially equipped with Spitfires, the first of which arrived in October 1946. It converted to jet fighters with the arrival of Vampires in November 1949. These were replaced in August 1952 by Meteors which were flown until the Royal Auxiliary Air Force was disbanded on 10 March 1957.

 
 

 

   
 

While ZA764 hovered and made ready to lift the Meteor once flown by Lord Tebbit when he served with 604 Squadron, the aircraft enthusiasts - some of whom had arrived by bike - didn't riot but had a good look at the Odiham based Chinook, of which the Royal Air Force has the largest fleet outside the USA.

 
 

 

   
  While ZA764 hovered and made ready to lift the Meteor once flown by Lord Tebbit when he served with 604 Squadron, the aircraft enthusiasts - some of whom had arrived by bike - didn't riot but had a good look at the Odiham based Chinook, of which the Royal Air Force has the largest fleet outside the USA.

The Royal Air Force first ordered fifteen Chinook, Helicopter Cargo Mk 1, from Boeing Vertol in March 1967 but the Bristol Belvedere replacements - based on the American CH-47B - were then cancelled in a defence spending review in November that year.

However, the 30 CH-47C derivatives ordered in 1978 as a heavy lift Westland Wessex replacement did enter service in December 1980.  Still known as HC1s, these were supplemented by eight more aircraft with the CH-47D's Lycoming T55-L-712 turboshafts delivered from 1984 to 1986.

 
 

 

   
 

The replacement of the HC1's metal rotor blades with aluminium and glass fibre composite rotor blades saw these aircraft designated Chinook HC1B. All surviving aircraft were later returned to Boeing and updated to the Chinook HC2 standard for further service within the RAF.

 
 

 

   
 
The replacement of the HC1's metal rotor blades with aluminium and glass fibre composite rotor blades saw these aircraft designated Chinook HC1B. All surviving aircraft were later returned to Boeing and updated to the Chinook HC2 standard for further service within the RAF.

 

The US Army's next generation Chinook, the CH-47D, entered service in 1982. Improvements from the CH-47C included upgraded engines, composite rotor blades, a redesigned cockpit to reduce pilot workload, redundant and improved electrical systems, an advanced flight control system (FCS) and improved avionics.The RAF returned their original HC1s to Boeing for upgrading to CH-47D standard, the first of which returned to the UK in 1993.
 
 

 

   
 

Three additional HC2 Chinooks were ordered with delivery beginning in 1995. Another six were ordered in 1995 under the Chinook HC2A designation; the main difference between these and the standard HC2 was the strengthening of the front fuselage to allow the fitting of a flight refuelling probe in future.

 
 

 

   
 
Three additional HC2 Chinooks were ordered with delivery beginning in 1995. Another six were ordered in 1995 under the Chinook HC2A designation; the main difference between these and the standard HC2 was the strengthening of the front fuselage to allow the fitting of a flight refuelling probe in future.

Eight Chinook HC3s were ordered in 1995 as dedicated special forces helicopters, effectively low-cost variants of the US Army's MH-47E. The HC3s include improved range, night vision sensors and navigation capability. Although delivered in 2001, the HC3 could not receive airworthiness certificates as it was not possible to certify the avionics software.  However, on 6 July 2009 the first of the eight modified Chinook HC3s made its first test flight at Boscombe Down.

 
 

 

   
 

A programme to upgrade 46 Chinook HC2, HC2A and HC3 helicopters was initiated in December 2008. Called Project Julius, it includes new digital flight deck avionics based on the Thales TopDeck avionics suite, comprising new multifunction displays, a digital moving map display and an electronic flight bag, installation of a nose-mounted Forward Looking Infra Red detector, and upgrading the engines to the more powerful T55-714 standard. Upgraded HC2, HC2A and HC3 aircraft will be redesignated HC4, HC4A and HC5 respectively. The first conversion, a Chinook HC4, first flew on 9 December 2010 and  initial operating capability status was reached in June 2012 with seven aircraft delivered.

 
 

 

   
 
A programme to upgrade 46 Chinook HC2, HC2A and HC3 helicopters was initiated in December 2008. Called Project Julius, it includes new digital flight deck avionics based on the Thales TopDeck avionics suite, comprising new multifunction displays, a digital moving map display and an electronic flight bag, installation of a nose-mounted Forward Looking Infra Red detector, and upgrading the engines to the more powerful T55-714 standard. Upgraded HC2, HC2A and HC3 aircraft will be redesignated HC4, HC4A and HC5 respectively. The first conversion, a Chinook HC4, first flew on 9 December 2010 and  initial operating capability status was reached in June 2012 with seven aircraft delivered.

The Chinook HC6 designation has been assigned to the 24 (later reduced to 14) CH-47F Chinooks ordered in 2009. These will have Boeing digital flight-control systems and are expected to be delivered during 2012 and 2013.

One Chinook in particular, ZA718 known by its original squadron code Bravo November has come to widespread public recognition due to its remarkable service record.It has seen action in every major operation involving the RAF in the helicopter's 25-year service life,including the Falkland Islands, Lebanon, Germany, Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan.

 
 

 

   
 

One Chinook in particular, ZA718 known by its original squadron code Bravo November has come to widespread public recognition due to its remarkable service record.It has seen action in every major operation involving the RAF in the helicopter's 25-year service life,including the Falkland Islands, Lebanon, Germany, Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan.

 
 

 

   
  With its lifting rig tensioned as the Chinook rose high above, Meteor VW453 was ready for its final flight, first over Frog Furlong Lane and then wheeling to starboard, back over Imjin Barracks with handling ropes dangling below, and across Brickhampton Golf Course to a safe landing at Gloucestershire Airport, Staverton.  
 

 

   
 

With its lifting rig tensioned as the Chinook rose high above, Meteor VW453 was ready for its final flight, first over Frog Furlong Lane and then wheeling to starboard, back over Imjin Barracks with handling ropes dangling below, and across Brickhampton Golf Course to a safe landing at Gloucestershire Airport, Staverton.

 
 

 

   
 

With its lifting rig tensioned as the Chinook rose high above, Meteor VW453 was ready for its final flight, first over Frog Furlong Lane and then wheeling to starboard, back over Imjin Barracks with handling ropes dangling below, and across Brickhampton Golf Course to a safe landing at Gloucestershire Airport, Staverton.

 
 

 

   
 

With its lifting rig tensioned as the Chinook rose high above, Meteor VW453 was ready for its final flight, first over Frog Furlong Lane and then wheeling to starboard, back over Imjin Barracks with handling ropes dangling below, and across Brickhampton Golf Course to a safe landing at Gloucestershire Airport, Staverton.

 
 

 

   
 

With its lifting rig tensioned as the Chinook rose high above, Meteor VW453 was ready for its final flight, first over Frog Furlong Lane and then wheeling to starboard, back over Imjin Barracks with handling ropes dangling below, and across Brickhampton Golf Course to a safe landing at Gloucestershire Airport, Staverton.

 
 

 

   
 

With its lifting rig tensioned as the Chinook rose high above, Meteor VW453 was ready for its final flight, first over Frog Furlong Lane and then wheeling to starboard, back over Imjin Barracks with handling ropes dangling below, and across Brickhampton Golf Course to a safe landing at Gloucestershire Airport, Staverton.

 
 

 

   
 

With its lifting rig tensioned as the Chinook rose high above, Meteor VW453 was ready for its final flight, first over Frog Furlong Lane and then wheeling to starboard, back over Imjin Barracks with handling ropes dangling below, and across Brickhampton Golf Course to a safe landing at Gloucestershire Airport, Staverton.