Hawker Hunter XG194 was delivered to the RAF on October 3rd 1956. Flown by Air Commodore Roger Topp, C.O. of 111 Sqn, she was the lead aircraft in the world-famous Black Arrows Display Team when they performed a 22 aircraft loop at Farnborough Air show in July 1958.
Wattisham Station Heritage Museum has named her “Blackjack” in honour of Air Commodore Topp as “Blackjack Red One” was his call sign whilst performing this record-breaking manoeuvre.
When the aircraft was finally grounded it was modified to resemble a Russian MiG, and put on the edge of RAF North Luffenham runway, now St. George’s Barracks, as a Cold War target.
This aircraft is an important part of Wattisham’s history, and so the Museum members are hoping to restore the Hunter to its former glory with the Black Arrows colour scheme.
Click here to view the official RAF Movement Record Card
Service History of Hunter XG194
06/09/1956 First Flight as an F6
03/10/1956 Delivered to 19 MU at St. Athan
02/11/1956 to 43 Sqn at Leuchars
28/11/1956 to 111 Sqn at North Weald
June 1958 111 Sqn moved to Wattisham
13/10/1960 to 92 Sqn
1965 Converted to FGA9 at 5 MU Kemble
Nov 1965 to 1 Sqn
22/07/1969 to 229 OCU at Brawdy
By mid 1974 to 79 Sqn at Brawdy coded A
By mid 1980 to 79 Sqn at Brawdy coded E
By mid 1981 to 79 Sqn at Brawdy coded 55
25/10/1984 to 2 SoTT Cosford coded 55 as 8839M for Ground Instruction
1988 to North Luffenham for Ground Instruction coded 69
28/11/2009 to Wattisham Station Heritage Museum
Length: 45 ft 11 in (14.00 m)
Wingspan: 33 ft 8 in (10.26 m)
Height: 13 ft 2 in (4.01 m)
Wing area: 349 ft² (32.42 m²)
Empty weight: 14,122 lb (6,405 kg)
Loaded weight: 17,750 lb (8,050 kg)
Max. takeoff weight: 24,600 lb (11,158 kg)
Powerplant: 1 × Rolls Royce Avon 203, developing 10,000 lbs maximum thrust
Maximum speed: Mach 0.94, 620 kn (715 mph, 1,150 km/h) at sea level
Combat range: 385 nmi (445 mi, 715 km)
Range: 1,650 nmi(1,900 mi, 3,060 km)with external fuel
Service ceiling: 50,000 ft (15,240 m)
Rate of climb: 17,200 ft/min (87.4 m/s)
Wing loading: 51.6 lb/ft² (251.9 kg/m²)
Guns: 4× 30 mm (1.18 in) ADEN revolver cannons in a removable gun pack with 150 rpg
On 14th November 2009 three members of Wattisham Station Heritage Museum travelled to former RAF North Luffenham to start dismantling Blackjack.
The first operation was to remove the tail section and bring it back to Wattisham.
On 28th November 2009 the team returned to North Luffenham and with the aid of a forklift the wings were removed and along with the fuselage placed on a lorry.
Members then drove the lorry back to Wattisham and with the help of the Army the wings and fuselage were lifted off ready for reassembly.
On Tuesday 19th January 2010 the Army kindly moved the fuselage from outside into a HAS and set it up onto pallets ready for the wings to be attached, then over the next few days members of the museum re-attached the wings to the fuselage then finally on Saturday 30th January 2010 the tail section was re-attached, then members start the long process of removing the camouflage paint work.
The Final Hurdle
After a lot of hard work by our members putting Blackjack together again by December 2011 Blackjack’s fuselage and wings were ready for undercoating.
Then on the 28th April 2012 Air Commodore Roger Topp AFC** who originally flew XG194 visited the museum and had a nostalgic few moments back in the flying seat, then on the 7th & 14th September 2012 Blackjack was sprayed in the original black of the Black Arrows display aircraft.
At the end of October 2012 members of Wattisham Station Heritage Museum with the help of Chappel Signs put the Roundels and the Fin Flashes on Blackjack.