Kestrel goes on display at Cosford
The Hawker-Siddeley Kestrel FGA.1 is going on public display at the Royal Air Force Museum at Cosford.
The aircraft was built to evaluate the jump jet concept during the 1960s and visitors are now able to view it within the Museum’s Test Flight collection.
The Kestrel, serial number XS695, is one of only nine built by Hawker-Siddeley and its main role was to evaluate vertical take-off in near service conditions. It was fitted with a single Bristol Siddeley Pegasus engine and single seat cockpit. The success of the Kestrel came little more than a year before its successor, the Harrier, made its first flight.
During the 1950s, Hawker had been privately developing a vertical take-off aircraft under the code of P.1127. The success of this private venture, and the subsequent service interest, led to an announcement in 1962 that a 'Tripartite Evaluation Squadron' (TES), also known as the Kestrel Squadron would be formed. The Kestrel was a developed version of the P.1127 and nine of the type were ordered for use by the TES during its operations in 1965. The TES was based at RAF West Raynham and included pilots and ground crew from the UK, USA and West Germany. They used nearby abandoned airfields for testing the aircraft on semi-prepared runways and on grass to test its capabilities on unprepared sites.
The Kestrel made its maiden flight in February 1965 at Dunsfold. By November that same year XS695 had flown 153 times totalling 70.44 airframe hours of which 51.04 were on trials work including 141 sorties with the TES. During 1966 the aircraft was assessed for its handling characteristics, used for training and even appeared at the Hanover and Farnborough Air Shows. In 1972 it was allocated to the Royal Navy Engineering College at Manadon, Devon and later used for apprentice training and to simulate aircraft handling and flight deck procedures.
After being transported by road to the RAF Museum Cosford in November 2001, the Kestrel remained in storage until late Autumn 2012 when it was moved into the Museum’s award winning Michael Beetham Conservation Centre. After undergoing a full restoration and repaint in its tripartite colours which include tri national roundels and fin flashes, the aircraft has now been placed on display for Museum visitors to enjoy.
The Museum is open daily from 10am and admission is free of charge. For more information on the Museum, visit www.rafmuseum.org or call 01902 376200. Keep up to date with the latest news and event information by following us on Facebook – Royal Air Force Museum Cosford or on Twitter @RAFMUSEUM.
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