“The Hunter: RAF’s Iconic Fighter and Display Team Performances”

 

Lancaster Bomber flies in for Armed Forces Day display in Larne this  weekend | BelfastTelegraph.co.uk

In 1948, the British government initiated a tender to find a successor to the Meteor, resulting in Hawker’s P1067 design, known as the Hunter. The Hunter made its maiden flight in July 1951, but it wasn’t until 1954 that the first aircraft entered service with the RAF. The Hunter saw action in various theaters of operation, including domestic missions, deployments in Germany, and engagements in the Far East, with some aircraft even participating in the Suez Crisis.

Hunter Main Pic

An intriguing historical event involving the Hunter occurred on April 5, 1968, when XF442, an F6 variant, was unofficially flown down the River Thames and maneuvered between the spans of Tower Bridge.

Two notable RAF squadrons established renowned display teams using the Hunter. The Blue Diamonds of 92 Squadron flew 16 aircraft painted in royal blue, while the Black Arrows of 111 Squadron flew all-black aircraft and once executed an impressive loop with 22 aircraft in perfect unison.

Display Performers | Australian International Airshow

The Hunter ceased its role as a frontline fighter in the RAF in 1963, but it continued to serve in secondary capacities until the retirement of the last Hunter, a T7 two-seat trainer, in the early 1990s. This versatile aircraft was operated by 20 countries worldwide, and the Lebanese Air Force’s retirement of their Hunter fleet in 2014 marked the end of military service for this remarkable aircraft.

The museum’s Hunter, WT746, is an F.4 variant that conducted its first flight in March 1955. After being initially stationed at 5MU (Maintenance Unit), it was transferred to the Air Fighting Development School for trials at West Raynham. Following a brief assignment with 71 Squadron at RAF Bruggen in Germany, WT746 was retired by 1957. It subsequently served as a ground instructional airframe at RAF St Athan and RAF Halton before being acquired by the museum in 1999.

Recently, the aircraft has undergone repainting, now proudly displaying the colors of the famous Black Arrows.

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