Dave Cotton has been in contact with Wings Museum who provided the
Wings Museum, based in West Sussex, has acquired Hawker Siddeley Kestrel XS694 from a private collector in Florida, USA. The aircraft first flew on December 10th 1964 from Dunsfold aerodrome and was the first Kestrel delivered to the Tripartite Kestrel Evaluation Squadron at RAF West Raynham, on February 8th 1965. When the squadron was disbanded XS694 was shipped to the USA on the 11th January 1966 and as XV-6A 64-18268* participated in US Tri-Service trials from Eglin AFB. On the July 23rd 1966 the aircraft was transferred to the NASA Langley Research Center in Virginia as NASA 520. On 27th August 1967 XS694 suffered a crash landing and was subsequently written off and used as a spares source for the other NASA Kestrel. The remains were bought and used in a paintball field, where it suffered most of its current damage, before it was rescued by the private owner who sold it to the Wings Museum.
The Museum has started a full restoration to static display standard and has already acquired an early RR Pegasus engine for the aircraft but many components are still needed. The Gatwick Aviation Museum and the Boscombe Down Aviation Collection are assisting. The museum would like to hear from anyone who may be able to help with the project in anyway or provide sponsorship and funding.
The team would
also like to make contact with anyone who knows more about the
aircraft’s history or indeed worked with XS694 either here in the UK or
in the US.
The restoration team has already made considerable progress
with the project, using the latest CAD drawings packages to have a new
front cockpit bulkhead frame laser cut to replace the damaged one. A
set of cockpit instrument panels has also been produced and progress
has been made collecting the appropriate instruments but there are
still many items needed.
In 2017 the Wings Museum submitted a planning application to erect a new museum building on Dunsfold Aerodrome. The aerodrome has been the subject of much debate for several years regarding the application from developers to build a new garden village, Dunsfold Park. This was finally approved in 2018 by Secretary of State, Sajid Javid. From the outset the Museum has been in regular communication with the property developer with a view to establishing a museum on the site to celebrate Dunsfold Aerodrome’s significant wartime and post-war contribution to the UK’s aviation heritage. Despite a recommendation by planning officers for approval, local councillors refused the application in late 2018, based on incorrect information from a handful of objectors who were opposed to the scheme. Wings Museum filed an appeal early this year which they have now successfully won, so HS Kestrel GRMk1 XS694 will be returning to its home at Dunsfold.
Restoration progress can be followed at <www.facebook.com/wingskestrel>.
Editor’s Note * ‘Prelude to the Harrier’ by HCH Merewether, gives the US serial as 18267. ‘Harrier-The Vertical Reality’ by RM Braybrook states that 18268 was allocated but not taken up, 18267 being applied.