PR.7 - WH779
WH779 Cockpit at the East Midlands Aeropark in 2007
(Photo : Darren Green)

This PR.7 was ready for collection in March 1954, taken on to RAF charge and delivered brand new to 542 Sqn at RAF Wyton. (A friend of mine, ex-Crew Chief Tony Reagan, was the Engine man for WH779 when it first joined 542 Sqn in 1954. He tells me the Airframe man was Joe Chamberlin, pilot was Andy Heyns (a South African) and navigator was Jock McFarlane.) WH779 soon moved on being transferred to 13 Sqn, then 80 Sqn and finally 31 Sqn. Eventually this PR.7 was allocated a Ground Instructional number (8129M) at RAFG Bruggen for G/I at RAFG Wildenrath in March 1971.

Moved to storage at St Athan, it was later given an overhaul at 19 MU, and reinstated with its old number of WH779. Issued again to 13 Sqn it soon moved onto Holding Flight before being transferred to 100 Sqn in 1991 where it was given the squadron code of "CK". It was transferred again to 1 PRU in 1992 and moved with them when they took their PR.9s to RAF Marham. I don't think it flew again but was used for ready spares.

Damien Burke took the following photo of WH779 in the hangar at RAF Marham in 2000.

WH779, hangar

WH779 was broken down at RAF Marham in 2004 with the front fuselage (transportation joint forwards) and the starboard wing being shipped to DERA at Boscombe Down. The structure was to be used as part of a 'structural teardown' programme to assist in ensuring that the structural integrity of the Canberra can be maintained safely for some years into the future. The remainder of the airframe going to NDT development, inspection training, etc.

The cockpit section was purchased by Darren Green who has been working on it at East Midlands Aeropark. He reports . . .
Bit of an up-date for you on WH779 since she as been at the Aeropark. As you can see from the photo she is looking much better now that she has had a good clean up. Inside the cockpit both ejector seats are now fitted also not many instruments missing now. An ex-RAF electrician who worked on Canberras for five years is working on her now so shouldn't be to long now before we have the cockpit back to life again. Also I hope to fit the nose wheel this year. Good times ahead for WH779.

Below is a mid-fifty's, in-service photo showing WH799 in all-over silver with 542 Sqn (denoted by the black diagonal bars on white painted nose wheel doors).

WH779, 542 Sqn