Any landing you can walk away from ……
Twin stick Harrier XW269 has made it’s final touchdown in Wales after its painstaking restoration by the Jet Art Aviation team but not without one final element of drama! You may recall this aircraft is no stranger to controversy as it is THE famous Harrier that was pulled by Ebay for being a dastardly war machine that could have poked someone’s eye out or delivered a full salvo of 68mm SNEB rockets, despite being very much an inert museum piece! This was also THE Harrier purchased in a moment of madness by a 7 year old schoolboy who’d clearly outgrown 1/72nd scale. Like an elderly relative unwilling to enter an Aged Persons Home, XW269 stubbornly decided not to fit through the hangar doors at Caernarfon Airworld Aviation Museum, a hidden gem of aviation goodies in North Wales.
Thankfully we’re no strangers to moving, dismantling and reassembling full scale aircraft and this was just another challenge to get stuck into and find a workaround for. ” Who Dares Wins” is our motto! Oh no, wait, that’s someone else’s. Anyway, faced with being unable to fit the completed aircraft through the doors but also unable to get the crane indoors we settled upon a cunning plan to shove the bits inside and operate the crane from outside. Kind of like building an Airfix kit with pool cues through your lounge windows.
The fuselage was gingerly hoisted in followed by the wings and other bits and pieces that had been removed for the long drive down from Selby North Yorshire, where XW269 had been since September 2009. It took us 16 months to get her back to static display museum standard including the stunning paint job (even if we do say so ourselves!) which has to be seen with the naked Mk.1 eyeball to be fully appreciated. You would not believe how many tins of Humbrol enamel we went through…
Assembling a Harrier is almost second nature to us now!
Danger, FOD! Chris & Naylan pose in front of the finished build.
We’re immensely proud of all our aircraft rebuilds but we reckon the 1000+ hours of work that we put into this Harrier really do shine through, literally. The folks at Airworld Aviation Museum are certainly happy with her and in turn we’re delighted that the only Harrier T2 in the world has stayed in the UK thanks to both them and the XW269 preservation society. The latter was formed in March 2011 specifically to save this piece of aviation history and make it accessible to the public and has spent the last 16 months looking for a suitable home.
Finally, Jet Art Aviation would like to give a big shout out to James Garside and sons Ltd, our haulage contractor and crane operator on this mission. They really went above and beyond on this one and we cannot thank them enough for their hard work to make this happen despite the unexpected challenges encountered.