PR.9 - XH171
XH171 - side
(Photo : Damien Burke)

This PR.9 entered service with 58 Sqd at RAF Wyton in 1960 during the introductory phase of the PR.9 into the RAF. During its career, XH171 flew with the Ministry of Aircraft, 13 Sqd and 39 Sqd finally ending up as a Ground Instructional airframe at No 2 School of Technical Training, RAF Cosford.

The PR.9 used the more powerful RR Avon 206 engines of 11,250 pounds thrust and could operate at heights in excess of 60,000! It was a source of pride to the PR.9 crews to be able to ring a fighter station, especially a Phantom unit, and offer them a high-level training target. The phone would go quiet when the "9" crews mentioned a figure of 55,000 feet for the sortie.

In the photo, XH171 looks almost ready for flight home after an "away day" at an air-show. You can just imagine it waiting for its crew who are probably in the Mess swapping "war stories" with other visting pilots. The photo shows it on display at RAF Cosford in 39 Sqd colours (pre-"hemp" scheme).

It would be interesting to fill out this aircraft's history. Any further detail would be most welcome.