Restoration Beckons for Neglected Collection of Vintage British Jets

This neglected Hawker Sea Hawk is among a corroding collection of vintage British jets that are set to be restored by volunteers. (Image: Dave Harding. Vintage Hawker Sea Hawk and other classic British jets)

Purposely hidden from view behind storage buildings on a remote farm in the UK are a number of vintage British jets. This small, privately-owned collection of classic aircraft, which date back to the 1950s, includes a Gloster Meteor T.7, Hawker Hunter F.6, Hawker Sea Hawk FB.3, Hunting Jet Provost T.3 and two de Havilland Vampire T.11s.

A neglected de Havilland Vampire T.11 (Image: Dave Harding. de Havilland Vampire T.11)

The owner, a lifelong aviation enthusiast, acquired the jets over a period of 20 years, and by doing so undoubtedly saved them from the prospect of ending their days on the fire dump or at the hands of the scrap-man.

A vintage Hawker Hunter F.6 emerges from foliage (Image: Dave Harding. Hawker Hunter F.6)

Unfortunately, however, a lack of cover at the farm resulted in the aircraft being permanently stored outside. More than three decades of neglect and constant exposure to the elements has taken its toll on the condition of the vintage airframes.

Gloster Meteor T.7 preserved on a farm in the UK (Image: Dave Harding. Gloster Meteor T.7)

During this time, the cockpit pod of one Vampire T.11, being of mainly wooden construction, disintegrated to the point where it had to be cut away from the fuselage. It was subsequently moved on for spare parts and eventually scrapped in 2012. The hulk of the jet is still located at the farm.

de Havilland Vampire T.11 hulk

Remains of the abandoned de Havilland Vampire T.11 (Images: Dave Harding. de Havilland Vampire T.11 hulk)

The plight of these historic aircraft has long been the cause of much concern and debate among collectors and preservation groups. But despite the numerous offers to buy and restore the jets, the owner refuses to part with them.

A stripped-out Hawker Sea Hawk cockpit (Image: Dave Harding. Sea Hawk cockpit)

After years languishing outdoors amongst overgrown foliage, rusty machinery and other debris, these images were taken just days before a group of volunteer enthusiasts, by arrangement with the owner, arrived to give the aircraft some much-needed TLC. Since then the entire area has been cleared and work is currently ongoing to clean and restore the airframes to a much-improved condition.

This Hunting Jet Provost could be returned to ground running condition by aviation enthusiasts (Image: Dave Harding. Hunting Jet Provost)

At least two of the jets, the Meteor and the Jet Provost, are complete with their engines still installed. There is now talk of a future project to restore the JP to ground-running condition. It’s also possible that a shelter may be provided once the clean-up is complete.

Vampire T.11 tail booms (Image: Dave Harding. Vampire T.11)

Jet Provost jet pipe (Image: Dave Harding. JP jet pipe)

Gloster Meteor engine (Image: Dave Harding. Meteor engine)

Weeds grow through the wing of the Hunter F.6 (Image: Dave Harding. Weeds sprout through the wing of the Hunter F.6)

Read Next: 21 Abandoned Airplane Graveyards (Where Aviation History Goes to Die)


About the author: Dave Harding




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