TT.18 - WJ639
WJ639, current
On display at the North East Aircraft Museum (Photo : Garry Lakin)

In service with 7 Sqd (Photo : Mike J Hall)
[ Click pic for larger image of Mike's photo ]

In service with 7 Sqd (Photo : Mike J Hall)

Built by Handley Page at Radlett as a B.2, WJ639 was ready for collection on 31 May 1954. Taken onto RAF charge, it was initially issued 57 Sqd at RAF Conningsby before conversion to TT.18 type. I don't have a date for this conversion but as 57 Sqd was disbanded in December 1957 it may have been after this.

The next event was a sojurn at Warton (BAC) where, in February 1971, WJ639 was used for a trial installation to assess banner towing capabaility. In the July of 1971, it was with the Aircraft & Armament Experimental Establishment and stayed with A&AEE until it was transferred to BAC Samlesbury for mod fits in the September. I don't have any details of its life until the next event when it was sent, in January 1973, to Flight Refueling Ltd for a series of trial installations of modifications.

At some time during the late 70s WJ639, still configured as a TT.18, was transferred back to the charge of the RAF joining 7 Sqd at RAF St Mawgan. There it stayed until 7 Sqd closed down in December 1981 when it, and several other Canberras, were sold to BAe.

WJ639 was acquired from BAe by the North East Aircraft Museum of Sunderland who trucked it by road to their site in June 1988. James Carruthers, who maintains a web site dedicated to Vulcan XL319, has a connection with the North East Aircraft Museum and says :

"We in the process of making some blanking plates for the engine pods. It would have been done earlier but the starter cartridge covers (that stick out of the pod) have had to be fibre glassed (and are in the process of being done) so the blanking plate looks like it is covering a real engine to make it look a little more authentic."

There is another picture of WJ639 in Gallery 2 on this site. It is one I took at a wet and windy open day at RAF Finningly in 1978 (I think).