A new and much anticipated aircraft arrival at Caboolture airfield on 2 September 2014 was Hawker Hunter S4/U/3308 XF432 FR74B, G-9-363, and G-BABM, Singapore “526”.
The aircraft is the last of 21 ex-Singapore Air Force Hunters that Geoff Moesker acquired in 1995 and is still owned by him.
Geoff has placed the aircraft at Caboolture Qld for display in the hangar where Beaufort A8-141 is being restored. It is intended to restore the aircraft to non-flying but operational status with a working engine and systems. The aircraft is highly historic and significant in that it was at one time the famous Hawker Siddeley demonstrator G-BABM which toured the world and was featured in many magazines in the 1970’s.
Geoff is intending to completely restore the aircraft in its demonstrator colors of Sand and Brown upper surfaces and azure blue lower surfaces along with civil registration markings G-BABM. He has a supply of spares and equipment for the aircraft which is already very complete and “untouched” with its engine still fitted. An additional Rolls Royce Avon 207C engine with be displayed alongside the aircraft along with other equipment.
The Hunter arrived from open storage at Brisbane Airport, on a flatbed semi-trailer and was rapidly unpacked by Geoff’s specialist team and a host of eager volunteers from the Beaufort restoration group. Although it has spent years in storage everybody was very impressed with the condition and completeness of the aircraft and the restoration should prove fairly straightforward especially with Geoff’s unique knowledge of the Hunter.
Hawker Hunter 526 History
Constructed as part of a 100 aircraft batch as an F Mk.6 by Armstrong Witworth Aircraft in 1955. Centre Fuselage Number S4/U/3308 delivered to No5 Maintenance Unit RAF at Kemble and then served with RAF No 208 Squadron from 5/3/1958 until 6/4/1959 and then to Horsham St Faith. On 14/10/1959 the Hunter was returned to Hawker Siddley for conversion to a Fighter Reconnaissance FR.Mk.10 and flew again in November 1960 in the hands of Pilot Don Lucey. On 21/12/1960 the Hunter was again delivered to the RAF and passed to No2 Sqn 9/2/1961, coded as “S” on then passed on to No 4 Sqn as “K” on 29/1/1970. The Hunter was purchased back by HAS on 17/5/1971 and given the company code G-9-363. “G-9-363” was then selected by the company for preparation as a company demonstrator and was rebuilt to FR Mk.74B standard and fitted with a standard fighter nose then placed on the UK civil register as G-BABM.
In this guise the aircraft was painted in a “Middle East” color scheme of Sand, Brown upper surfaces and azure blue lower surfaces and carried the flags of the 18 countries which operated the type at the time. The aircraft was utilized to demonstrate the aircrafts capabilities culminating in its famous and exciting display at the 1976 Farnborough Airshow UK. The aircraft was then transferred to the Singaporean Air Force coded as 526 and again fitted with the characteristic “FR” nose which is still fitted. Over the years of service the aircraft was extensively upgraded and modified in Singapore and was eventually retired and sold to Geoff Moesker along with another 20 remaining Hunters in 1995. The Hunter has spent many years since then in storage.
The Singaporeans had the most advanced, if not complicated of the Hunters, with Sidewinder and centreline pylon. Instrument and avionics were upgraded by Lockheed in the eighties. Also they converted the gun packs to camera packs as well as the nose cameras. One of which will be on display.
This Hawker Hunter is one of the most famous and significant of these cold war fighters and was operated in Australia several times as part of a Singaporean training exercise from RAAF Williamtown, NSW.
It’s a great addition to the somewhat sparse numbers of Cold War jets on display in Australia!
© John Parker 2014