UK Aviation News

MAR 16 2012
Aviation News >> Harrier ZD461 Arrives at IWM Duxford

Admittedly, I hadn’t known about the arrival of Duxford’s latest exhibit, so it was a pleasant surprise to find a hive of activity outside the massive AirSpace hangar. It wasn’t long before a crane was in place and a convoy of low-loaders came into view, snaking past the American Air Museum before easing to a halt beside AirSpace, where a number of curious on-lookers had congregated, just before two o’clock.

After a few minutes of weighing up, the tarpaulin was wrestled from over the aircraft’s fuselage and work began, fastening the wing landing gear in to position in preparation for the re-attachment of wings to fuselage.

With outriggers attached and the wings now resembling a peculiar UAV, the fuselage was reversed into place for the next part of the jigsaw, the delicate task of mating the wings to the fuselage.

After some minor adjustments, the wings were lowered into place and attached before the airframe took flight for a final time, making the short hop from the back of a low-loader to terra firma, just after 4pm – impressive work after just a shade over two hours.

ZD461 has currently taken up residence in Hangar 5 where it will be completely re-assembled and given some TLC before being put on display later in the year.

The aircraft had been deployed on several tours of duty with IV(AC) Squadron, most notably Operations TELIC (Iraq) in 2003 and HERRICK (Afghanistan) in 2004 and again during 2006.

In early 2010, ZD461 suffered a brake failure, the resultant fire causing CAT.3 damage, whilst taking part in Red Flag 2010-2 at Nellis AFB, Nevada. This incident meant that the airframe wasn't included in the batch of Harriers sold to the United States Marine Corps, hence it was made available for display at IWM Duxford.

It is the intention of the Imperial War Museum to preserve the aircraft in its current state; as it was during its time in service with IV(AC) Squadron and Joint Force Harrier at RAF Cottesmore.

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