RAF Harrier Farewell part 3 – Harriers through the years.

The imminent retirement of the Harrier had me looking through my old photos for shots of Harriers past. I am fortunate to have not only have my photos, but the slide collection of my (late) good friend David Goodall to call on. My apologies for the quality of some of the images, my ability with the camera and scanner is entirely to blame.

To begin at (almost) the beginning we have the Hawker P.1127

1. 2.

1. XP831 at The Science Museum after many years on display in the Camm hall at the RAF Museum, Hendon.
2. XP984 at RIAT 2003 RAF Fairford in the 100 Years of Aviation display, this is normally to be found at the Brooklands Museum at Weybridge.

Moving onto the operational versions, the GR1 and GR3. These are my favourite variants (particularly the 3). A bit of a pocket rocket.

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5. 6.


1. XV281 GR1/P.1127 taken at Filton on 27th June 1987. Used by Rolls Royce for engine trails but also has the aerodynamic shape of a GR3 nose. It’s actually the 6th re-production aircraft.
2. GR3 ZD996 of 233 OCU on the static at the IAT at RAF Fairford in 1985. It ended its days at Predannack.
3. GR3 ZD670 of 1417 flight at RAF Alconbury 21/8/93. The only time a 1417flt machine appeared in the UK (it was flown by a 233OCU crew)
4. GR3 XZ993 of 4Sqn at RAF Coningsby on 4th April 1989 along with..
5. GR3 XZ997. Both of which had lunch stopped while on exercise. I can remember the ground crew were in full NBC kit while the pilots werent. I am guessing it would have been on an Exercise “Priory”.
6. GR3 XV752 ex 3Sqn seen at RAF Cosford service with the SoTT. Its now on display at Bletchley Park.
7. GR3 XZ129 of 233OCU at RAF Fairford for IAT 89. This was the last GR3 display season.

Along with the GR3 came the T.4 twin stick. I always liked these (as I did the T.10/12 later) the lengthened nose and tall tail made them look a bit different. Add to that the fact they were a lot less common and that did it for me. They were also used by the Royal Navy for training Sea Harrier pilots.

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5. 6. 7. 8.

1. XW175 of RAE Bedford at Cranfield while being modified at the Cranfield institute of Technology, taken on 26th June 1986. This aircraft of course went on to play its part in the development of the FCS for the F-35B.
2. XZ146 of 233OCU at the Last lightning Show at RAF Binbrook on 22nd August 1987 (before the rain came).
3. XZ146 again, this time ex 3Sqn in storage at RAF Shawbury nearly 10 years later on 11 Feb 1997.
4. ZB605 T.4N with 899NAS at RNAS Yeovilton on 3rd August 1985
5. XW268 T4N again with 899NAS and also at Yeovilton but this time on 4th June 1984 on display at the D-Day open day in the rain.
6. an unidentified T.4 after major servicing at RAF StAthan, in natural metal awaiting painting.
7. ZD990 T.8 RNAS Yeovilton
8. ZB603 T.8 RNAS Yeovilton both taken on the day that 800NAS disbanded 31st March 2004

Next we come to the famous Sea Harrier, firstly in its FRS1 guise. Famed of course for its part (alongside the RAF GR3s) in the Falklands War.

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1. XZ493 of 899NAS at RNAS Yeovilton Air Display on 3rd August 1985
2. XZ349 plus one other at Farnborough on 11th September 1982
3. ZD581 of 899NAS at Hurn on 31st May 1986
4. ZD578 of 899NAS goes off the Ski Jump at RNAS Yeovilton on 3rd August 1985
5. XZ459 of 899NAS at RNAS Yeovilton during its display on 4th August 1984

The FA2 or FRS2 or F/A2 or whatever was an altogether different beast, from the cockpit forwards! A new Radar and a slight stretch to keep the CofG legal made for a rather different looking and much more effective aircraft.

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1. ZH807 of 800NAS at RIAT 2001 RAF Cottesmore along with
2. XZ459. The aircraft were part of a display by Joint Force Harrier. Meanwhile
3. ZH808 of 899NAS flew in the flying display
4. ZE796 of 899NAS at Yeovilton on 2nd Feb 2005
5. ZH806 of 801NAS departing RIAT at RAF Fairford in 2004

6. 7. 8. 9.


6. & 7. RIAT 2005 produced a splendid 4 ship from 801NAS seen here on departures and arrivals days respectively
8, 9 & 10 Are of the disbandment day of 800NAS at RNAS Yeovilton in March 2007

The 899NAS Admirals Barge.
Before they disappeared for good, 899NAS too the opportunity to paint ZH809 in an “Admirals Barge” scheme. Seen here firstly at Yeovilton on 800NAS disbandment day then, in its final airshow appearance at RIAT 2007. Sadly the sun didnt shine on its display.

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Finally, on display at the superb Fleet Air Arm Museum

The second generation Harrier arrived in the form of the GR5. A completely new design making extensive use of Carbon Fibre, they first came on the scene in the late 80’s. The original GR5 because the GR5A with the addition of the new GR7 style nose after a change of configuration halfway through the production run.

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1. ZD376 GR5 of 223OCU at RAF Abingdon Battle of Britain display on 15 Sept 1990
2. another OCU machine, this time ZD324 GR5 at RAF Mildenhall Air Fete on 27th May 1989
3. The Harrier formation element of the Battle of Britain 50th Anniversary Flypast on 15th Sept 1990 taken from RAF Abingdon.
4. ZD466 Harrier GR7 of 20Rsqn

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5. ZD318 GR5(mod) at Boscombe Down on 9th June 1990
6. ZG472 GR7 of the SAOEU at RIAT 97
7. ZD461 GR7 at Waddington on 30th June 1995
8. ZD435 GR7 at RIAT 95 in the flying display. It was with 1Sqn at the time.

Continuing on with the GR7 / GR9, covered extensively in my past two posts from RAF Cottesmore, here are a final few previously unpublished shots.
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1. ZG472 in the static at RAF Cottesmore for RIAT 2001 while with 4Sqn
2. Its amazing how bad the traffic gets at RIAT! Following ‘472 along the tayway.
3. ZG858 from the SAOEU also at RIAT 2001
4. ZD464 in the 2002 display colours at Kemble on 15th June. It was subsequently written off during a display at Lowestoft

5. 6. 7. 8.

5. & 6. the RIAT in 1996 was a Harrier fest! A set piece display showcasing Harrier operations
7. Landing in the wet at a Duxford Airshow
8. ZG472 landing in the wet again, this time at Kemble in 2004

9. 10. 11. 12.


9 & 10 20Sqn again provided a specially marked display aircraft in 2005, this time its ZD407 at RIAT

11, 12 & 13 show ZD347 displaying at the Shuttleworth Collection at Old Warden on 1st August 2004. The last time one displayed there.

The twin seat version of the next generation Harrier was the T10/12. These are all the T10 version. All these shots were taken at the RIAT Harrier-fest in 1996 where there were no less than 3 20Sqn T.10s in the flying display.

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It will be sad to see them go. But it was great fun while it lasted.


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