T.4 - WJ874
Arriving on Air Atlantique's flight line, Coventry, 9 November 2005 (Photo : Tom Everitt)

Produced by English Electric Co at Preston, Lancs, WJ874 was built as part of a 1950 Contract 6/Acft/5786/CB6(b) for 25 aircraft. Ready for issue on 24 December 1954, this T.4 spent its early service life with various Station Flights - Gaydon, Binbrook, Conningsby. It was next transferred to 231 OCU for a while before going to the RAF's Handling Squadron at RAF Manby. Then a total change. In November 1969, after 25 years of RAF service, WJ874 was transferred to the charge of the Royal Navy's Fleet Requirements Unit (FRADU) to train the TT.18 (Target Tug) pilots in the art of Canberra flying. Seventeen years later, in 1986, WJ874 was returned to RAF charge and issued to 231 OCU at RAF Wyton. Put into open store at RAF Wyton in February 1988, WJ874 languished for a few years until it was re-activated and issued to the charge of the newly formed 1 Photo Reconnaissance Unit. WJ874 moved to RAF Marham when 1 PRU was re-designated as 39 Sqn subsequently flying operationally with the squadron until it was struck off charge on 9 November 2005.

During 1999 as a tribute to the Canberra's 50th Anniversary that year, WJ874 was repainted by the RAF in all-over blue and marked with the identity of the prototype Canberra, VN799. During 1999 and onwards WJ874 took part in many air shows and displays slipping gracefully through the skies resplendent in its blue colours, becoming known as "The Blue One". During the latter half of 2004 WJ874 was sent for a Minor Star maintenance servicing at FRA at Hurn, Bournemouth and returned to service life to continue crew training and currency with 39 Sqn at RAF Marham in January 2005. It was decided to keep it in the prototype colour scheme for the rest of its service life, remaining in the blue livery - the Blue One (aka VN799).

WJ874 made its last operational flight on 1 September 2005 crewed by Sqn Ldr Terry Cairns (Pilot), Wg Cmdr Clive Mitchell (Nav and CO of 39 (1 PRU) Sqn) accompanied by the Air Officer Commanding N0 3 Group, Air Vice Marshall Andy White CB, BTech on his first flight in a Canberra.

On 9 November 2005, WJ874 crewed by Flt Lt Mike Leckey (Pilot) and Wg Cmdr Clive Mitchell (Nav and 39 Sqn CO) took off from RAF Marhan for the last time. It was on its last the ferry flight to Coventry Airport, the base of its new owners Air Atlantique Classic Flight. AACF are keeping this T.4 in its protoype "Petter Blue" colour scheme and intend to fly it at airshows and other events in the future.

Since 1999, when it was painted to represent the prototype, WJ874 must have had thousands, if not millions, of photos taken of it by enthusiasts and others so there seems little point in filling this Surviors Page with such pictures. However, a few "in service" pictures of this T.4 before 1999 are given below.

As this is the oldest Canberra left flying in the UK, the Canberra Tribute web site wishes it clear skies and all the luck at getting air display bookings.

Climbing away from Marham (Photo : Nick Challoner)
With FRADU - No 858 (Photo : Mike J Hall)
On finals at Wyton with 231 OCU (Photo : pacman)
Couldn't resist this one (Photo : Crown Copyright)