Alright, it’s clearly not a car but such is the attention to detail of this restoration – well, we just had to check out Harrier GR3 XZ130 restoration. Particularly given that we have a thing for aircraft and that dep-o towers is – or was – within sight and earshot of the vast Filton/Patchway Works and the former Filton Aerodrome.
Jet Art Aviation who specialise in the restoration of ex-military aircraft for museum and display use have completed an 18-month long restoration of 1976 Hawker Harrier GR3 serial number XZ130.
Culminating in a successful ground run and systems check, where the Bristol-Siddeley Pegasus engine was started for the first time in 25 years
XZ130 had a fairly interesting service life: First flown in 1976 she was delivered to 20 Sqn. Later serving with 4 Sqn, 1 Sqn, 3 Sqn, 233 OCU, 1453 Flight in the Falklands in 1982 finally finishing her days at an instructional aircraft at RAF Cosford. A large percentage of the aircraft’s service life was in Germany as part of the RAF cold war deterrent. The aircraft was last flown on: 31/8/90 by Flt Lt Jon Herrod. Total aircraft hrs are: 3336 XZ130’s last flight was in 1990 when the type was retired from RAF Service. The aircraft then spent 15 years as an instructional aircraft at the RAF Number 1 school of Technical Training.
This has been the company’s most in-depth restoration yet and the end result speaks for itself.
More than 2000 man hours have been spent on the transformation and restoration which was split into two key phases.
The aircraft had stood outside for a decade as a gate guardian for a London Air Cadet Squadron
The first phase was spent on mechanical work and sourcing many parts and components culminating in a successful ground run and systems check, where the Bristol-Siddeley Pegasus engine was started for the first time in 25 years in March 2016. At the moment of truth, the engine fired up with a wisp of smoke then ran sweetly for the duration of the four-and-a-half-minute test during which the engine was taken up to 35% thrust and the movement of the variable incidence engine nozzles were tested (which in flight give the harrier its unique ability to hover). The initial smoky start which allowed for a striking photo opportunity was expected as the engine and APU had been inhibited in 1990 with preservative oils.
What makes this achievement even more impressive, is the fact that the aircraft had stood outside for a decade as a gate guardian for a London Air Cadet Squadron – near the site of the Kingston Hawker factory where the Harrier was built. The time outside had not degraded the aircraft and the fact that she started first time is a testament to the British engineering and build quality. The Ministry Of Defence sold the aircraft in November 2014.
The second phase of the restoration was cosmetic, a full repaint in gloss with service markings applied as she last flew including the 4 Sqn special yellow lightning flash red and black fin and pilot’s name on the starboard side of the cockpit. The name reads ‘Capt. L Y Ching’ the ex USAF exchange pilot whose name was on this machine when serving at Gutterslough.
The aircraft is now for sale in what is believed to be the first time anyone has offered a Harrier GR3 of this calibre for sale to the general public. Interested parties should contact Yorkshire-based Jet Art Aviation which unforunately won’t include us. Yes, it would be the ideal way to combat local traffic gridlock, but it’s the old corny adage – if you have to ask, then you can’t afford it.