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GREENHAM COMMON TOWER
A relic of the Cold War has been given a new lease of life, twenty-six years after its official use came to an end. On 8th September 2018 the Control Tower at former RAF Greenham Common in Berkshire was opened to the public as a museum and café. With help from the Heritage Lottery Fund, this monument to the Cold War now has a secure future and will give visitors an insight into the airfield’s role during both the Second World War and the long stand-off with the Warsaw Pact.
Richard has included this commentary as an explanation for these Lightning photos
Sometimes circumstances align to make unlikely scenarios become reality, which in turn allow something a little bit unusual and out of the ordinary to occur. When the Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre (CAHC), based at Newquay, were asked if they would allow their former Saudi Air Force BAC F.53 Lightning 53-672 to take part in the 2018 RAF Cosford Airshow as a static exhibit, their answer was an unequivocal yes. The deal was the Lightning would be transported by road to St Athan in the hands of GJD Services for restoration, painting and marking to represent the first full production F.6 variant of the type, XR768. The F.53 was in need of a lot of work to bring it to display standard having been out in the elements for many years. CAHC had the restoration planned so the offer of third party intervention was one that was too good to be missed.
Previously 53-672 had been mounted on a pole outside of BAe Salmesbury before moving to Gate Guards UK Newquay in 2014 where it acted as a pattern to create a replica Lightning, which was then used to once again grace the BAe gate. Following this the F.53 was passed to the Classic Air Force (CAF), who at the time were residing in the former Nimrod hangar located on the airfield, where a visitor attraction had been created which featured airworthy and static aircraft. When the CAF departed Newquay to return to Coventry they left the non-flying airframes behind, which in turn were saved by a group of former CAF volunteers and the Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre was born.
Lightning F.6 XR768 was allocated to No 74 Squadron in August 1966 and became the personal mount of Wing Commander Ken Goodwin, before being lost off Mablethorpe in October 1974 following a reheat fire whilst flying with No 5 Squadron, thankfully pilot Flt Lt Tex Jones safely ejected.
After its restoration at St Athan 53-672 (XR768) moved to RAF Cosford where it appeared in the static as planned. The F.53 was placed in a line up which featured other classic Cold War era aircraft that were used for Quick Reaction Alert duties, its inclusion drawing much appreciation from the attending masses. However, this was not to be the end of the Lightning’s travels and adventures, sensing a unique photographic opportunity in the making, The Lightning Preservation Group (LPG) asked if the F.53 could make a detour via Bruntingthorpe on the return journey to Newquay.
Over the weekend of 16th & 17th June 2018, 53-672 visited the LPG and appeared outside the former RAF Wattisham QRA shed alongside the Group’s Lightning F.3 XR713 together with F.6s XR728 and XS904. This was the first time four Lightnings had appeared together in the UK since the early nineteen nineties, when a quartet of aircraft were briefly to be found at BAe Warton, where the aircraft were being used for trials work following retirement from RAF service in 1988. 53-672 will now be heading home to Newquay where it will become one of the star attractions at the CAHC and a safe secure future is assured.
And now for something different!
On 1st July 2018 Richard attended the flying display of aircraft
from the Shuttleworth Collection.....including some familiar visitors!
This time at Biggin Hill on 18th.August
PAGE UPDATED : 04.11.18.