Hawker Sea Fury FB Mk.X

WJ288 Sea Fury

WJ288/G-SALY

With the H.A.M from May 1972 to Jul 1983

Sea Fury WJ288 began her time at Southend several years prior to the H.A.M.’s official opening and was towed in on her main undercarriage with her tail wheel being secured to a makeshift dolly during the British Historic Aircraft Museum’s move to SEN from Biggin Hill. She started life as a former Fleet Air Arm aircraft at RNAS Lossiemouth, before being put into storage after which she was passed on to Hawker Siddeley where she remained until 1966, finally becoming the very first exhibit to be procured by the B.H.A.M. However, by this time she was looking a bit tatty and once the move to the new Aviation Way facility was complete, it was decided that WJ288 would undergo a full restoration with the exception of her engine which had long since seized solid. With the work eventually complete, she would then take a place of pride in the new hangar as one of the H.A.M.’s premier exhibits now displayed resplendently in her former F.A.A. livery.

However, WJ288 was not the only Sea Fury to reside at the museum. WJ244 was also stored on site in a poor, dismantled state, her wings and airframe being secured to the fence behind the Lincoln. Needless to say, this aircraft never went on displayFury WJ288 and was eventually sold to Spencer Flack who restored her to flying condition during the late ’70s as G-FURY. Sadly she would later be destroyed in an accident during 1981 although some of her larger parts are rumoured to still be extant. Ormond Haydon-Baillie’s Fury WH589 (G-AGHB) could also be seen at the site (on-and-off) between 1974 and 1978, although she was never part of the collection. Meanwhile, WJ288 remained with the museum until she was auctioned off in 1983. Even then, she was the star of the show and sold for an impressive £34,000 to Patrick Luscombe of the British Air Reserve. The aircraft almost immediately went on to Duxford where she was put back into the air again, this time ending up in the hands of Doug Arnold’s G.B. Warbirds Collection during 1988.

Unfortunately though, she was destined not to remain in the U.K. and was sold across the Atlantic in 1990 where she is now flies as part of the American Air Power Heritage Flying Museum as N15FS. While the aircraft is mostly authentic, it is currently powered by a Wright Cyclone engine rather than the Centaurus radial that it was originally equipped with, although this has allegedly been retained by the owner and is currently stored in his hangar.

With thanks to Tony Avis for providing extra information for this page.

 

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