343 - Los Cerrillos Airport
At the National Air & Space Museum, Los Cerrillos, Chile (Photo : Alvaro Romero Perez)
343 -In flight
In service with the Chilean Air Force (Photo : Unknown)

This PR.9 was built in 1960 and delivered, as XH173, to 58 Sqn at RAF Wyton. 58 Sqn's PR.9s were left in natural metal finish - just about the only operational RAF aircraft that flew this way. Around December 1962, 58 Sqn lost its PR.9s (retaining the PR.7s however) and XH173 was transferred to 13 Sqn (at RAF Akrotiri?) and probably went with them when they moved to RAF Luqa (Malta).

Over the next few years, XH173 followed its sister aircraft XH166 and moved between 13 Sqn and 39 Sqn a few times ending up on 39 Sqn. XH173 was given the PR.9 modifications upgrade as indicated by the aerial housing on the fin for the Radar Warning Receiver. When 39 Sqn was disbanded in May 1982 [to reform as 1 PRU], XH173 went into store at RAF St Athan - but not for long.

On 15 October 1982 XH173 was flown out of RAF Wyton, as Chilean Air Force No 343, by a Chilean Air Force crew. The other two PR.9s were XH167 [342] and XH166 [341] which flew out on the same day. Sadly CAF PR.9 -342 [XH167] was lost in a flying accident on 25 May 1983 near Punta Arenas (Chilean Patagonia) whilst on a reccon mission near the Argentinian frontier.

The "survivor" photo was taken in 1997 by Alvaro Romero Perez who reports that in late 1998 this aircraft had been re-built and was ready for painting. Hopefully this PR.9, and its sister ship 341, will soon be on display at the Chilean National Air and Space Museum at Los Cerrillos airport.