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23 May 2005 - Foxy Lady is Fifty - Was Hunter F.4 WV318 on 93 Sqn.
Delta Jets had a 50th birthday party for their Black Hunter T7, WV318 (G-FFOX).   Having had its first flight by Flt. Lt. N.J. Carver exactly fifty years ago to the day, it was a fitting tribute to the aircraft that has been the mainstay of the Delta fleet at Kemble since 1996.   Originally built as a F.4 at Hawker's Kingston plant, WV318 was delivered to 5 MU Kemble on 16 June 1955 and issued to 33 MU Lyneham a month later.   Its long operational career began with 14 Squadron, based at Oldenburg in Germany, transferring to 93 Squadron at Jever on 27 March 1956.   Whilst with this unit she suffered a flying accident on 4 Jan 1957 - F/O Johnston was performing some aerobatics when the gear box panel came adrift, damaging the port wing fillet and the starboard fuselage to such an extent that it was Cat 3 and shipped back to the manufacturer in England for repairs.   The panel hinge points were torn off and although the panel was not found it was considered that the toggle fasteners failed.   Air Ministry were asked for STI/Hunter/88, which provides a locking plate for the gun and radio access panel fasteners, to be extended to all panels fitted with toggle fasteners.
Back in UK, instead of repairing the aircraft, it was converted to a T.7 two seat training aircraft.   WV318 was back with 5 MU at Kemble again on 1 June 1959 for storage pending reissue and returned to operational status with 111 Squadron in March 1960, ending the year on the strength of the CFS.   In October 1964 it was converted to a T.7A and passed to the soon-to-be-equipped Lightning Squadrons of 5 and 74.   After 5 Squadron had reformed WV318 became its first operational aircraft for the first ten days until the Lightnings arrived.
In February 1970 WV318 started its long association with the Buccaneer force when it was issued to 12 Squadron, which had just reformed with the type at Honington.   WV318 was employed with training new Buccaneer crew and keeping present crews current on type with check flights.   It also operated the same role in Germany with 15 and 16 Squadrons.   It eventually ended up a RAF Lossiemouth with 208 Squadron, where it saw out its service career.   When put up for disposal, '318 was one of the last Hunters to serve with the RAF.   Just before it was retired it was painted black along with the other three Hunters at Lossiemouth to commemorate forty years of the type and carried the 111 Squadron (Black Arrows) crest.
Purchased in early 1996 by Delta Jets, WV318 was subsequently flown to its new home in March to Kemble, a place it had been based at some eight times throughout its long RAF career.   After a complete overhaul back to airworthiness its first post-restoration flight took place at Kemble on 2 May 1996.   Since then it has, and still does, regularly appear at airshows the length and breadth of the country.   Text by Glen Moreman, photo by Alan Fowles.   (Thanks to Ken Sambrooks.)
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