XL426

XL426

Few airports can lay claim to their very own, nuclear weapon capable V-Bomber, let alone any other military aircraft come to that. Yet, through a twist of fate, SEN ended up with its very own, Avro Vulcan B2 in the shape of XL426 – an aircraft that had had a rather long and interesting service career. Starting life with 83 squadron, she was quickly adapted to carry Britain’s ‘Blue Steel’ missile and later in 1969, she went on to serve with the well renowned 617 ‘Dambusters’ Squadron. Finally, she was transferred to 50 Squadron in 1981 and spent the rest of her RAF career flying as a training aircraft up until 1984 and as such, she would take no part in the Falklands War. However, far from being mothballed and then scrapped as many of her brethren had been, she was retained by the RAF for air shows and displays until finally being put up for sale in 1986.

It was in the same year that XL426 arrived at the airport, having been one of two Vulcans purchased from the RAF by Roy Jacobsen who intended to Open Day 91keep them both in the air as flying exhibits to commemorate those Cold War years when the Vulcan along with its stable mates the Victor and Valiant, became the first line of offence against Warsaw Pact forces. However, with all the best intentions in the world, XL426 (registered as G-VJET) was destined never to fly again (well almost, but the less said about that the better!) and she remained where she had been parked on the north side of the apron, before eventually being pushed back onto the grass where she stood for several years. Meanwhile, the parking fees began to mount up until eventually, it got to a point where this debt was increasing faster than the funding for the aircraft itself.

Eventually, plans were put into action to save the aircraft and a group of volunteers came together under the name of the Vulcan Memorial Flight Supporters Club who at the time, still held high hopes of returning her to the air. She later underwent some light restoration work and was subsequently moved to the end of the old 15/33 runway, before eventually being relocated to a more permanent, hardvulcan xl426 standing location on the Eastern Perimeter. In 1993, the group reformed as the Vulcan Restoration Trust with the more realistic goal of keeping her preserved as a live, taxiable aircraft that would do the occasional fast run down SEN’s runway. With the raising and subsequent payment of £8000 in parking fees by the VRT, Roy Jacobsen handed the aircraft over to the trust which continues to care for and maintain her to this very day. During 2015, she had much of her paintwork refreshed, while a good deal of engineering work went on behind the scenes. However, as of 2017 and in agreement with airport owners Stobart’s, the Vulcan now has a home of her own and has been moved to Hangar 6 on the southern boundary of the airport. The VRT is registered as a charitable organisation and asides from donations which are always gratefully received, her upkeep is partially funded by open days and cockpit visits which take place, several times a year.

To see Phil Whalley’s video of XL426 doing a fast run at Southend then please click on the link below…

XL426 at the Southend Airshow – 26th May 1997

To visit the VRT website, please click on the link below…

Vulcan Restoration Trust – XL426

 

Do you have any other, interesting snippets of information about this aircraft or indeed any pictures that you would like to share? If so, then please contact us on saadinfomail@gmail.com

Many thanks from the SAAD Admin Team.