St Athan museum rescues Varsity and buys Provost

Post-war RAF trainers to find new home in south Wales

The South Wales Aviation Museum at St Athan has confirmed the acquisition of two classic RAF trainers. On 15 December, it is scheduled to receive Percival Provost T1 XF690/G-MOOS, formerly owned by the RNAS Yeovilton-based Yeo Pro Group. This aircraft was active for many years on the UK airshow circuit, having been returned to flight by Kennet Aviation in the early 1990s, though its most recent permit to fly expired in September 2019. XF690 will be kept in running condition at St Athan. Its grounding means only one piston Provost is now airworthy and flown regularly in the UK, its former Kennet stablemate XF603/G-KAPW at the Shuttleworth Collection.

Provost XF690 on its take-off roll prior to displaying at Abingdon's 2016 show.
Provost XF690 on its take-off roll prior to displaying at Abingdon's 2016 show. BEN DUNNELL

Next year, Vickers Varsity T1 WJ945 will also make the road move to the SWAM facility. The multi-engine crew trainer is among the airframes for which new homes have been sought following the closure of the Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre at Newquay, which was forced to shut in October 2022 and then received notice to clear its site this past April. Registered as G-BEDV, WJ945 had been the world’s last flyable Varsity, in the ownership of the Duxford Aviation Society during the 1970s and ’80s. It later passed to the Imperial War Museum, only to be disposed of by the IWM in 2012.

Varsity WJ945 during its days on display at the Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre.
Varsity WJ945 during its days on display at the Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre. CAHC