1954 to 1960: The Hunter Era

On 29th September 1954, 257 Squadron replaced its Meteor F8s with the new Hunter F2 and by February 1955, 263 Squadron had done the same. Due to runway repairs 257 Sqn and 263 Sqn moved out to RAF Wymeswold. In January 1957 152 Squadron moved back to Wattisham. On 31st March 1957, 257 Squadron disbanded and in the April 263 Sqn re-equipped with Hunter F6s and returned to Wattisham. With more improvements being carried out at Wattisham 152 & 263 Squadrons move back to Stradishall in the August never to return.

Led by Squadron Leader Roger Topp June 1958 saw the arrival from North Weald of 111 Squadron with their black-painted Hunter F6s as the Fighter Command aerobatic team. At the Farnborough Air Show of that year the team looped 22 aircraft in one formation – a record that still stands today. Still led by Topp, the leader’s aircraft was XG194, and this is the airframe on display at our museum.

The second day squadron making up the standard fighter level at the Station was 56 Squadron equipped initially with F5 and then F6 Hunters. Night fighter duties were carried out by 41 Squadron with Javelin FAW4s arriving in 1958 but by 1960 the ageing delta-winged all-weather fighters were superseded by Firestreak-missile equipped Javelin FAW8 with up-rated radar and re-heated engines which gave them much-increased performance.