TT.18 - WJ680

WJ680 Paint 2002 Being re-painted at Albury, NSW, 2002 (Photo : via Ron Mitchell) Paint 2002
Albury, 2002(Photo : via Ron Mitchell)

Delivered to the RAF in 1955 as a B.2, this Canberra went first to 104 Sqd at RAFG Gutersloh. 104 Sqd shut down in July 1956 and WJ680 was transferred briefly to 103 Sqd before going to 59 Sqd at RAFG Bruggen.

Its difficut to determine what happened to WJ680 then as 59 Sqd converted to B(I)8s in Feb 1957 having moved to RAFG Geilenkirchen in the November of that year. Its possible that 59 Sqd operated B.2s and B(I)8s side by side for a while - at least util December 1957. As an aside, 59 Sqd was renumbered to 3 Sqd in January 1961 at RAFG Geilenkirchen operating B(I)8s and two T.4s only, where WJ680 went is a mystery.

It crops up again in 1968 however, after seven years in someplace, when it was converted into TT.18 Target Tug role. WJ680 then again drops out of sight for another couple of years until it joined 7 Sqd at RAF St Mawgan - this must have been after May 1970 when 7 Sqd re-formed at RAF St Mawgan. WJ680 was the aircraft involved in the famous incident in 1972 when the rudder top hinge sheared on an air test. The navigator on that flight, Plt Off Geoff Burns, ejected safely and the pilot brought the TT.18 into a wheels-up landing. WJ680 took two and a half years to rebuild. Geoff Burns now flies as one of the navigators for WK163.

Following the sojurn on 7 Sqd, WJ680, in the sparse record available to me, is given as being on the strength of 100 Sqd with the identification of "CT" (which it retains to this day). 100 Sqd was at RAF Wyton and operated TT.18s from Dec 1981, coincidental with 7 Sqd shutting down at St Mawgan. Record says that WJ680 went into open storage at RAF Wyton and was seen in this condition in 1992.

In 1996 it was flown into Kemble where it stood in the open until mid-1999 when it was moved into the DevonAir hangar.

Ron Mitchell, the owner, got a servicing team together in 1999 and began working on the Canberra. After months of servicing and a succesful engine runs, David Piper (ex-45 Sqd and WK163 pilot) flew WJ680 out of Kemble on 7 January 2000 bound for RAF Marham.

During 2000 WJ680 resided in a hangar at Marham with work being carried out to bring the aircraft back into flying trim while Ron's the search for sponsors went on. It wasn't to be though. Ron says, "We are working very hard on CT to get her ready for a ferry to Bournemouth late July - we are aiming for the week of 23-27th. She will only be there for a few weeks being readied for a new Permit to Fly. With that Permit, she will then fly to the Temora Aviation Museum, 125mls from Canberra, Aus., where she will be operated as part of the collection - often as a "Vintage Pair" with their F8 Meteor ("Winston"), something I had always wanted to do in the UK."

On August 10 2001, WJ680, "CT" departed RAF Marham for Bournemouth.

Sold! (by Ron Mitchell)
WJ680 will be in de Havilland Aviation's hangar 600 at Bournemouth (the Bournemouth Aviation Museum) where Jim Goodwin's team will complete the Minor servicing and apply for her Permit to Fly. This is expected to take 4 to 6 weeks, during which time she will be readied for an epic flight.

Charlie Tango is going to Australia.

She will become a central part of David Lowy's Temora Aviation Museum, where she will regularly fly in the "Vintage pair of all Time", a Canberra and a Meteor. Winston, the F8 Meteor from Tim Manna's collection at Kennett Aviation is now in Australia and should be test flying as this is being written.
Temora is just 125miles from Canberra and CT will often figure in events around the Capital as the only airworthy Canberra in Australia. The museum has a website - if you are interested in Charlie Tango's and Winston's future operations, join their e-mail news service.
I am very pleased that, after several years of limbo, CT is going to a secure home and one that will operate her with professionalism for as long as her Fatigue Index allows. It's a pity she's so far from home but Australia is only a day away!
If Les will allow me, I would like to thank all those who have helped and contributed to Charlie Tango's well-being in the eight years since she left the Air Force. Without you, she would have been consigned to a skip in 20 minutes, just like her neighbours in the sad line-up at Wyton.
Ron Mitchell, August 2001

WJ680, "Charlie Tango", departed UK airspace for the last time on Friday 10 May 2002. At 14:00 CT started her take-off run with a full load of fuel on the first leg of her flight to Temora Aviation Museum, Australia. It was WJ680's first full-load take-off for some years and the Avons really crackled as she climbed quickly on her way to Genoa, hoping to be just behind the front carrying thunder storms.

Geof Delmege kindly sent a couple of photos, for the site, of the departure :
"Ready for engine start" and
"Last take-off from UK soil."

Charlie Tango arrived at Temora at 15:30 on Friday 17 May, 2002.
Picture of happy looking long-distance crew here.

Two hi-resolution pictures for you to download. WJ680 during its engine run and an excellent air-to-air by the famous John Dibbs.
WJ680 - 7Sqd
In RAF service with 7 Sqd, RAF St Mawgan (Photo : Mike J Hall)
WJ680 - Arrv Kemble
Arriving at Kemble, December 1996 (Photo : Glen Moreman)
WJ680  - At Kemble
In open storage at Kemble - 1997 (Photo : Glen Moreman)
WJ680 - Aug 2000
At RAF Marham, August 2000 (Photo : Les Bywaters)
WJ680 - Aug 2000
RAF Marham Aug 2000 (Photo : Les Bywaters)
WJ680 - Flight
In flight - date unknown. (Photo : John Dibbs)
WJ680 - Duxford
At Duxford, 1994 (Photo : Les Bywaters)
WJ680 - Duxford 2002 In the air at Duxford, 2002 (Photo : Damien Burke) Duxford 2002
Duxford, 2002, CT's final UK show.(Photo : Damien Burke)