Paul Filmer reflects on the RAF Brawdy Open Day 1981, an event which enjoyed some mouth-watering NATO participation.
I honestly can’t remember how I got to this airshow, but most probably drove my 1970 Cortina Mk2 during my second year of driving cars. That would have been a long drive for the cars of that era, always overheating and barely able to do 60mph on the motorway!
This was my only visit to RAF Brawdy during the film era; in fact, my only visit to the airfield, period.
Two of the most interesting aircraft on display were the resident Meteors, which at the time were based here with 1 Tactical Weapons Unit (1 TWU).
Meteor F(TT).8 VZ467 was used as a target tug during its service life, and is seen here one year before retirement from the RAF. The aircraft was later sold to the Temora Aviation Museum in Australia, and still flies as VH-MBX. It is the only F.8 flying in the world.
Meteor T.7 WA669 was flown for some years after its RAF service as part of the ‘Vintage Pair’ with Vampire XH304. They were seen all over the UK at many airshows, until they suffered a mid-air collision whilst performing at RAF Mildenhall Air Fete 1986.
I feel I’m lucky to have caught these two before they were retired from military service.
1 TWU Hunter T.7 XL578 later went to Kemble as a gate guard near Delta Jets’ facility, and even later the rear fuselage was mated with the front fuselage and wings from XL586, and is now at Action Park in Wickford, Essex. The front fuselage of XL578 was mated with XG290 and was last at Kirkstead in Lincolnshire.
F-111F 70-2412 of the 494TFS out of RAF Lakenheath was later transferred to the 522TFS at Cannon AFB, NM. In September 1993 this aircraft suffered an engine failure followed by a fire; the crew ejected safely and the aircraft crashed in the Melrose Range.
F-111F 71-0892 also went to Cannon AFB, after which it ended up at AMARG and was scrapped.
226OCU Jaguar GR.1 XX753 ended up as an RAF Marketing and Recruitment Unit exhibit on a trailer. It was later acquired by the Newark Air Museum.
43 Squadron Phantom FG.1 XV57, pictured in the era’s newer grey colours, was one of many that were scrapped at RAF Wattisham in 1991.
Another 43 Squadron Phantom FG.1 XV590, in the the more familiar camouflaged scheme, was scrapped at RAF Leuchars in around 1992.
Royal Danish Air Force F-35 Drakens were always regulars at UK airshows, and this particular example, A-007, is preserved at the Alholm Automobile Museum, Denmark.
15 Squadron Buccaneer S.2B XN977 was damaged beyond repair in 1982 after suffering an engine explosion over the Nordhorn Ranges in Germany, a year after this photo was taken. It was nursed back to RAF Laarbruch by the pilot and placed in storage at RAF Shawbury, until being scrapped in situ in 1991.
1 TWU Hunter FGA.9 XJ683 was sold to the Zimbabwean Air Force in 1988 as 8112. Its current status is ‘stored’.
The only aircraft still flying as it was in 1981 is German Air Force C-160D 50+82, which of course was then known as the West German Air Force.
A fine selection of aircraft, then – regular visitors to British airshows at the time, yes, but we’d give an awful lot to see some of those machines flying in the UK 30 years on!