The last North American Harvard on British military strength has been retired and sold into civilian hands. Harvard IIb KF183, which had been on the strength of the QinetiQ test organisation at Boscombe Down, flew out of the famous Ministry of Defence airfield in Wiltshire on 24 November and was delivered by Martin Overall to the Aircraft Restoration Company at IWM Duxford. They have registered the aircraft as G-CORS.
Built inMontréal, Canada by the Noorduyn company during 1944, KF183 was shipped across the Atlantic to Liverpool and delivered to the RAF that May. From December 1944 it served with No 7 (Pilots) Advanced Flying Unit, which soon became No 7 Service Flying Training School, at Peterborough. It passed to No 3 Flying Training School at Feltwell and the Gosport-based Air Torpedo Development Unit, prior to assignment in January 1953 to the then Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment (A&AEE) at Boscombe Down. Remarkably, KF183 was to remain there for the rest of its service career, through all the changes of the establishment’s name that ended up with the privatised QinetiQ.
For many years it was one of three Harvards on strength, but sister ship KF314 suffered a fatal accident during February 1982, and FT375 was sold into private hands in Italy with the UK registration G-BWUL in 1995. Among the type’s roles at Boscombe Down were as a low-speed camera platform supporting trials work, and use on Empire Test Pilots’ School courses. In the past, the aircraft also saw employment as taildragger trainers for the Battle of BritainMemorial Flight and Royal Navy Historic Flight. All three were painted bright yellow, and hence nicknamed the ‘Yellow Perils’.
Upon retirement, KF183 was Britain’s longest-serving military aircraft, and the oldest still in use outside those on strength with the service historic flights. Over the coming winter, ARC will put the aeroplane onto a certificate of airworthiness. It is the second Harvard in the ARC fleet, the other one being ex-Portuguese Air Force MkIV 1747/G-BGPB.