Jet Provost T.3 XN637 was built by Hunting-Percival at Luton, and after flight tests was declared ready for collection on 31st August 1961. It was ferried from Luton to RAF Shawbury a week later (7th September) where it went to 27MU, for final preparations for RAF service began.
On 5th October 1961, XN637 was issued to No 3 Flying Training School (3FTS), based at RAF Leeming in Yorkshire. This Unit had reformed the previous month as a Jet Provost squadron. XN637 remained in service, latterly as aircraft number ’13’, until January 1963 when it returned to RAF Shawbury for storage. It stayed mothballed with 27MU for nearly ten years until November 11th 1972, when it was moved to RAF Kemble for further storage, this time with 5MU.
On 14th February 1973 XN637 was officially declared a NEA – Non Effective Airframe, and within a month it had been struck off charge.
Originally destined for fire fighting practice, the jet moved instead to Winterbourne Gunner where it became part of the Nuclear Bacteriological and Chemical Defence Centre fleet of instructional airframes.
During 1978 aircraft collector Sandy Topen acquired XN637, in a swap deal involving a DH Vampire. The aircraft was subsequently moved by road to Duxford, and a restoration was begun by the Vintage Aircraft Team to put the jet back in the air. The project continued slowly at Duxford, and the aircraft was placed on the civilian register as G-BKOU in February 1983.
The Vintage Aircraft Team moved its aircraft out of Duxford to Bushey in Hertfordshire in December 1983, but within 18 months the organisation had re-located to Cranfield in Bedfordshire. Restoration work was re-started and progress was steady throughout the mid-1980s.
During the summer of 1988, XN637 made her first post restoration flight, with Dizzy Addicott at the controls. It was painted in a camouflaged scheme and made its UK display debut on September 4th 1989 at the Biggin Hill Air Fair, displayed by Bob Thompson. The aircraft became a regular feature on the UK airshow circuit. During 1993 the aircraft was re-painted into a new colour scheme, representing Jet Provost number ‘3’ of the Tactical Weapons Unit based at Brawdy.
In July 1995 XN637 moved to North Weald and into new ownership, with the Seagull formation group, and it became a regular sight in the Essex skies. Six years later the aircraft moved to Cranfield where it was maintained on Seagull’s behalf, by the resident Kennet Aviation. In the winter of 2002 Kennet Aviation and XN637 relocated to North Weald, joining numerous other examples of warbirds and classic jets based on the airfield. During March and April 2004 XN637 was re-sprayed by Area 51 into a new red/blue/white colour scheme, with her CAA registration applied.
During 2008, XN637’s ownership syndicate, Where Eagles Share, was dissolved and the aeroplane was then acquired by a new group of owners. Titled “The Classic Jet Preservation Group”, the team has replaced the G-BKOU with its military serial XN637 and fly the aeroplane regularly.
It remains the last genuine Jet Provost T.3 flying anywhere, and the lowest houred with only 1600 hours and 9 F.I.
Thanks to www.jetprovostheaven.com for the history.
XW324 was built at Warton as the 38th Jet Provost T.5. She was accepted by the RAF in September 1970 entering service with 3FTS at RAF Leeming and coded ’38’. During her tenure at Leeming she was used for basic pilot training and was also used by the School’s aerobatics team ‘The Gemini Pair’ during 1973.
In 1974 she was transferred onto the strength of 1 FTS at RAF Linton-on-Ouse and again used for basic pilot training. 324 only remained at Linton for approximately one year as she was not selected for upgrade to T5a status.
In late 1975 she was again transferred, this time onto the strength of 6FTS at RAF Finningley as ‘aircraft U’ where she was used for both navigation and low level air defence (LLAD) training tasks. Whilst at Finningley she had tip tanks fitted to facilitate the longer sortie profiles needed by the navigation unit for their extended cross country navigation exercises. XW324 remained at RAF Finningley for the rest of her service career and was eventually retired and ferried to RAF Shawbury on the 21st July 1993.
In February 1994, XW324 was one of 65 Jet Provost aircraft acquired by Global Aviation. They were slowly ferried to their new home & 324 arrived on 23rd April 1995 & was allocated the civil registration G-BWSG. Following restoration to flying condition she was moved to Humberside & was put up for sale, She was subsequently purchased and relocated to Southend where she operated until resold in 2000.
In August 2000, 324 was purchased by Richard Kay and subsequently moved temporarily to North Weald, finally making Jersey her new home, she did however remain a regular attendee at UK air shows. At the end of the 2006 air show season XW324 moved back in to the hangar at Hawarden where she remained for over a year becoming a ‘Hangar Queen’. She was notably absent throughout the 2007 season and was eventually put up for sale. Negotiations for her sale began in September 2007 and an agreement was soon reached, 324 was purchased by the current owner Jeff Bell on the 16th September 2007.
Following her sale, negotiations began to bring XW324 back to an airworthy status and a scope of work was agreed with North Wales Military Aviation Services to carry out the necessary work. In addition to the servicing requirements XW324’s brakes were upgraded to those used on the Strikemaster, here wings were removed and the upper lug attachments were non-destructively tested (NDT’d) in accordance with the outstanding mandatory permit directive (MPD). Testing was completed successfully and the non-aerobatic flight and G restrictions were lifted effectively allowing 324 to fly to the limits as advertised in the RAF JP Mk5 pilots notes.
Since late 2007, XW324 has received continuous refurbishment work to bring her to a condition as close as possible (without a total rebuild) to that when she rolled off the production line in 1970.
Externally, attention has been paid to areas of the airframe which required only very minor cosmetic paint repair, all decals and placards have been replaced and we have returned 324’s decals/livery accurate to her time with 6FTS at RAF Finningley.
324’s canopy has recently been replaced and the plexi-glass is now crystal clear and adds further to her overall pristine appearance.
The ejector seats in XW324 are kept serviceable and these too have been refurbished to an “as new” condition. However this year in conjunction with her annual maintenance input the soon to be time expired parachutes will be replaced. The 2 ejector seat lumbar support back pads to complete the seats restoration still however are proving difficult to find.
Jet Provost T5 XW325 spent the majority of her service career at RAF Finningley as a NavEx trainer. After sale by the RAF XW325 was purchased by Global Aviation and transferred to Humberside Airport, where she was civilianised and issued with a CAA Permit to Fly.
After several owners XW325 was purchased by NEWMAC and hangared and is now maintained by Horizon Aircraft Services at MoD St Athan.
XW325 has recently been repainted into her original 6FTS markings.