Firefly returns to Duxford after more than 20 years

IWM’s early example of Fairey carrier fighter comes back from Fleet Air Arm Museum loan

The Imperial War Museums’ Fairey Firefly I Z2033 arrived back at IWM Duxford on 17 August, having spent more than two decades on loan to the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton. It has gone on display in Duxford’s Air and Sea hangar.

Z2033 was built at Fairey’s facility in Hayes, Middlesex, and delivered to the Fleet Air Arm in early 1944. As such, it is one of the oldest surviving Fireflies in the world. It saw service in the training role with 731 Naval Air Squadron at RNAS East Haven (HMS Peewit) in Angus, Scotland, and then after the war as part of the development effort for the trainer version of the design, sporting B Conditions identity G-6-3. The Firefly was sold off during 1949 to Swedish target facilities operator Svensk Flygtjänst and registered SE-BRD. A return to Britain occurred in 1964 when it was bought by Peter Thomas for his Skyfame Collection at Staverton, the registration G-ASTL being allocated although the aeroplane was never to be flown. After Skyfame closed, the acquisition of many of its exhibits by the Imperial War Museum saw Z2033 coming to Duxford in 1978. Later it was restored to depict a Firefly I named Evelyn Tentions, serial DK431, which was flown by 1771 Naval Air Squadron commanding officer Lt Cdr Robert MacWhirter off HMS Implacable to conduct ground attack missions over Japan in July 1945.

Loaned to the Fleet Air Arm Museum, the machine departed for Yeovilton during July 2000. It spent various periods on display in the main museum buildings and stored in the Cobham Hall reserve facility. Now that Z2033 is at Duxford once more, the FAAM still has a Firefly, post-war TT4 VH127. Also at Duxford, the Aircraft Restoration Company is returning another ex-Svensk Flygtjänst Firefly I, DT989/G-CGYD, to airworthiness.

Firefly I Z2033 makes its return to Duxford on the morning of 17 August.
Firefly I Z2033 makes its return to Duxford on the morning of 17 August. IWM