Length: 48ft 10in
Wing Span: 33ft 8in
Service Ceiling: 47,000ft
Max Speed: 603kts/ Mach 0.92
Max Weight: 13,482 lbs
Seating Capacity: 2
Engines: 1 x Rolls Royce Avon 122
Hawker Hunter F4 – WT722
WT722 was originally built as a type F4 and first flew on 4th February 1955. She was delivered to the RAF on 25th May 1955 and served with 54(F) and 26(F) Squadrons. In 1957 she was sold back to Hawkers who then converted the aircraft to a type T.8 before she was delivered to the Royal Navy in April 1959. This made her one of the first Hunters to be converted to the T.8 specification.
WT722 then served with 703 and 764 Naval Air Squadrons at RNAS Lossiemouth, and 759 NAS at Brawdy. In 1970, she was moved to RNAS Yeovilton and into service with the Air Direction Training Unit (ADTU). In 1972 the aircraft was transferred into the newly formed Fleet Requirements and Air Direction Unit (FRADU) and she became part of their fleet of aircraft. The numbers 873 on the nose of the aircraft was a fleet code given by FRADU to that aircraft. By 1983 she was the oldest Hunter in airworthy condition.
The aircraft was eventually retired from flying in 1994 after accumulating a total of 9,500 flying hours and 12,500 landings. She was initially moved to RAF Shawbury for storage awaiting a buyer. One year later, she was sold to Classic Jets based at Exeter and after being re-registered as G-BWGN she was flown to Exeter. Unfortunately, in 1997 her Certificate of Airworthiness expired and given the substantial costs of keeping her in flying condition it was decided to that she would remain as a static exhibit only.
In 2006 she ended up in storage with Delta Jets at Kemble until May 2010 when she was moved to Coventry as part of the Air Atlantique aircraft collection. However, she didn’t stay long before she was on the road again, this time to Newquay where she became a part of the collection at the Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre in 2015. Shortly afterwards she was returned back into the colours she wore when with FRADU. Sadly in 2023 the CAHC was forced to close its doors leaving all the aircraft in their collection with an uncertain future.
Thankfully, WT722 was bought by Bournemouth Aviation Museum where she arrived in early August 2023 and is now on display at the front entrance. In due course we hope to restore the aircraft to her former glory with a refurbishment and new paint job – watch this space.
*The Air Direction Training Unit (ADTU) was based at RNAS Yeovilton. In 1972 it was merged with the Fleet Requirements Unit to become the Fleet Requirements and Air Direction Unit (FRADU) which continued in operation until 2013, when their task were subsumed into the Royal Navy 736 NAS.