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Harrier at RAF West Raynham

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Harrier at RAF West Raynham

Old 1st Apr 2022, 13:27
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Harrier at RAF West Raynham

In 1969 I was riding my scooter home from work and I came upon a sight that I had never seen before. An aircraft was hovering above a cabbage field and suddenly went "up and away". I was so shocked that I fell off into the bushes!
Many years passed then, now living in South Wales, I attended an outside exhibition (can't remember exactly what it was) about 4/5 years ago and there, in the static display was a Harrier. I went up and spoke to the man in flying suit and related my story.
He looked at me and smiled. It was me piloting that he said. He knew the cabbage field well. He told me that in 1969 that Harrier was the only one they had received and when in 1970 they received more, I was married and living in South Wales.
Can anyone tell me more please. I wish I had asked his name.
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Old 1st Apr 2022, 18:29
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Was it this cabbage field ? West Raynham 1969.



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Old 1st Apr 2022, 18:33
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West Raynham was used as the base for the first production Harriers to be delivered and was used for initial famiiliarisation flights with Hunter 2 seaters. Prior to that, I thnk that there were some flights by Kestrels (pre-production examples of Harriers) operated there.
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Old 1st Apr 2022, 18:42
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Photo 2 looks like the cabbage field was amongst the approach lights.`
I make the airframe number XV751, a GR3 version now in the Gatwick Aviation museum.
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Old 1st Apr 2022, 18:53
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There was this decade old thread on XV751: Harrier mishap at West Raynham

My question to anyone in the know: how many Harriers were there in RAF West Raynham in 1969? OP has a statement of only one by the pilot so that would eventually mean the the XV751 would be the one causing the said incident involving the scooter and the bushes.
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Old 1st Apr 2022, 19:00
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Originally Posted by chevvron View Post
Photo 2 looks like the cabbage field was amongst the approach lights.`
I make the airframe number XV751, a GR3 version now in the Gatwick Aviation museum.
Certainly looks like the cabbage field! My ex husband was an instrument mech and worked on the Hunters at W Raynham. They have a 2-seater Hunter in the South Wales Aviation Museum that he probably worked on as it was at WR same time as, him.
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Old 1st Apr 2022, 20:42
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I think some aircraft at West Raynham were P1127 Kestrels flown in the '60s by the Tri-partite Evaluation Squadron (TES) by test pilots from Britain, the United States and West Germany. There were pictures of them in SHQ and in the Officer's Mess when I was there in the '80s.
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Old 1st Apr 2022, 23:42
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Jenny,

I had a similar experience in 1962, although luckily I wasn't riding a scooter at the time!

I was at RAF Upavon, at an air display celebrating "50 years of Military Flying". Two "Hunters" flew over the field, one broke away, came back, slowed down and stopped!

It was a prototype P1127, the forerunner of the Harrier. It was the first public display and I believe it was Bill Bedford flying.

You can see some of the display at 8:10 in this video:

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Old 4th Apr 2022, 20:15
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OUAQUKGF Ops - that looks like Uncle Cid's cabbage planting exercise :-)
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Old 5th Apr 2022, 10:41
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Slight drift here - John Travolta presently filming 'The Shepherd' at Raynham Hangar Studios - local news last night showed exceedingly brief clip of Vampire or Venom over the airfield.........
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Old 5th Apr 2022, 15:34
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QQ thanks for that info, I saw the general public pics of Travolta in pubs supermarket etc and wondered if there was an aviation connection. I enjoyed the book . There is book with a slightly similar theme about a US F86? pilot flying from UK to a USAF base in Germany , he is very much alone with his thoughts as the weather closes in over N W Europe and he starts to wonder if he might not make it
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Old 5th Apr 2022, 16:04
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Two separate outfits are being confused here.

First, the Kestrels at West Raynham were flown by the Tripartite Kestrel Evaluation Squadron, in 1965-66. There were 9 aircraft, 3 each funded by the UK, US, and West Germany. The pilots were not TPs, they were all fighter pilots from the 3 countries involved. The boss was Wg Cdr Dave Scrimgeour, I believe. The intention was to evaluate the aircraft and develop operating methods and tactics for a VSTOL aircraft.

They had all gone by the time I arrived at West Raynham in the Summer of 1966. From then until Spring of 1969, WR hosted 1 & 54 Sqns with Hunter FGA 9, and 41 Sqn on the E side of the field with Bloodhound Mk2.

Then, about May 1969, the first Harrier GR1s arrived, along with the Harrier Conversion Team (3, later 4, RAF pilots) to start the conversion of 1 Sqn from Hunter to Harrier. Some flying was done at West Raynham before the whole Harrier operation moved to Wittering.

The inverted Harrier in the cabbage field was indeed Syd.
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Old 5th Apr 2022, 16:59
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There is book with a slightly similar theme about a US F86? pilot flying from UK to a USAF base in Germany , he is very much alone with his thoughts as the weather closes in over N W Europe and he starts to wonder if he might not make it
"Stranger to the Ground" by Richard Bach. Departs Wetherfield in a T33 I think, headed for France (if it's the same book).
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Old 5th Apr 2022, 22:16
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Originally Posted by pax britanica View Post
QQ thanks for that info, I saw the general public pics of Travolta in pubs supermarket etc and wondered if there was an aviation connection. I enjoyed the book . There is book with a slightly similar theme about a US F86? pilot flying from UK to a USAF base in Germany , he is very much alone with his thoughts as the weather closes in over N W Europe and he starts to wonder if he might not make it
I know that John tried to buy an F5B from my brother, but the deal fell through. Does anybody know if he managed to find a fighter somewhere to own?
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Old 5th Apr 2022, 22:35
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Originally Posted by Herod View Post
"Stranger to the Ground" by Richard Bach. Departs Wetherfield in a T33 I think, headed for France (if it's the same book).
FromChapter 1:
" Form signed, gun bay door locked over the mysterious canvas bag, I climb the narrow yellow ladder to my dark cockpit, like a high-booted mountain climber pulling himself to a peak from whose snows he can stand and look down upon the world. My peak is the small cockpit of a Republic F-84F Thunderstreak."
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Old 5th Apr 2022, 22:56
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Originally Posted by Herod View Post
"Stranger to the Ground" by Richard Bach. Departs Wethersfield in a T33 I think, headed for France (if it's the same book).
IIRC, it was an F-84.
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Old 6th Apr 2022, 08:04
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ve3id and DRUK. Yes gentlemen, you are both right. I while since I read it, and my copy has "disappeared"
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Old 6th Apr 2022, 18:54
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Originally Posted by kenparry View Post
First, the Kestrels at West Raynham were flown by the Tripartite Kestrel Evaluation Squadron, in 1965-66. There were 9 aircraft, 3 each funded by the UK, US, and West Germany. The pilots were not TPs, they were all fighter pilots from the 3 countries involved. The boss was Wg Cdr Dave Scrimgeour, I believe. The intention was to evaluate the aircraft and develop operating methods and tactics for a VSTOL aircraft.
The Commander of the German contingent at West Raynham for 12 months in 64/65, was none other than Oberst Gerhard Barkhorn, the second highest scoring fighter pilot in history.



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Old 7th Apr 2022, 10:01
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Yes, that's right. I was told that he demolished one of the Kestrels in a landing accident, from which he escaped intact. On leaving the wreck he was alleged to have said "Three hundred and two".

"What do you mean, Colonel?"

"In World War 2 I shot down three hundred and one allied aircraft. So this makes 302 for me."

He spent most of his war on the Eastern Front, where the pickings were allegedly easy at times.
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Old 7th Apr 2022, 18:06
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Originally Posted by kenparry View Post
Yes, that's right. I was told that he demolished one of the Kestrels in a landing accident, from which he escaped intact. On leaving the wreck he was alleged to have said "Three hundred and two".

"What do you mean, Colonel?"

"In World War 2 I shot down three hundred and one allied aircraft. So this makes 302 for me."

He spent most of his war on the Eastern Front, where the pickings were allegedly easy at times.
Yep, he did prang a Kestrel and utter that comment after being helped out of the damaged aircraft.
Yes, all of his 301 victories were achieved on the Eastern Front, but he wasn't that prolific a scorer in the early days of invasion of USSR, when pickings were easy. Although he flew as a junior pilot for a while during the Battle of Britain, he did not score his first victory until July 1941, a month after Barbarossa started. Unlike some of his fellow pilots, he'd only raised his score to 10 by the end of November '41....others had chalked up 7 or 8 times that amount in the same time.
It was more the fact that he flew combat pretty much non-stop up and survived that long, that the slow steady score added up to a lot. He was the first German pilot to fly 1000 combat missions. He managed to survive being shot down 9 times, although not without major injury in May '44.
He was one of the first 6 pilots of the new West German Airforce to be retrained when it was formed in the mid 50's, 3 being trained in the USA by the USAF, and 3 (incl Barkhorn) by the RAF in the UK.
He retired from the airforce in 1976, and died along with his wife of 40 years, as a result of a car crash in Germany in 1983.
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