‘Omega’ jet leaves Yeovilton bound for new home
Former Royal Navy McDonnell Douglas F-4K Phantom FG1 XV586 left RNAS Yeovilton, Somerset on 10 February for the long journey to its new home at the Morayvia aerospace centre at Kinloss in Moray, northern Scotland, following its recent sale by the Fly Navy Heritage Trust. The potent naval fighter will go on display when Morayvia reopens for the new season on 1 April.
This Phantom is no stranger to display duties in Scotland. It was the gate guardian for No 43(F) Squadron at RAF Leuchars from October 1989 until May 2012, when 43’s Tornado F3s were retired and the unit disbanded, XV586 heading south to Yeovilton. It was then painted in the 892 Naval Air Squadron colours in which it served with the Fleet Air Arm from 1969-77. The machine had made its maiden flight at St Louis, Missouri on 11 April 1969 and was delivered to Yeovilton on 25 June that year. 892’s Phantoms had a red, white and black Omega badge painted on the fin, the black Omega letter being chosen because it is the last letter of the Greek alphabet, and when the unit took delivery of its Phantoms it was thought 892 would be the final fixed-wing Fleet Air Arm unit. When embarked the unit flew from HMS Ark Royal. XV586 left Ark Royal on 5 April 1977 to join No 43(F) Squadron at RAF Leuchars, but soon went back to 892 NAS on the carrier, serving at sea until November 1978. Ark Royal arrived at Devonport on 4 December before being decommissioned on 14 February 1979, this after a 24-year operational life.
The Phantom went through major servicing at St Athan, returning to 43 at Leuchars on 19 October 1979 and flying on for a further decade until September 1989. For some reason, XV586 was briefly transferred to the A&AEE at Boscombe Down, before flying back to Leuchars on 27 October 1989 for display on the gate, with a total of 3,770 hours on the clock.