Visiting military aircraft

The quantity and variety of military aircraft that were based at Khormaksar not only gave it the accolade of busiest RAF airfield in the world but offered an absorbing backdrop for anyone with an interest in aviation. Add to that the regular to-and-fro of aircraft from other RAF establishments, Royal Navy aircraft carriers (see FAA page) and air forces from around the world shows that Khormaksar played host to an amazing variety of aircraft, in many guises. Of these, the Canberra was the most prolific and no less than eleven variations of the aircraft are portrayed on this page.

Although all of the images displayed in the following galleries were taken by the author, unless indicated otherwise, images from contributors are most welcome.

Royal Air Force - Piston and turbo-prop aircraft

TG524, Hastings C.1, from 70 Squadron, Nicosia, 1963

TG571, Hastings C.1, from Colerne, 1963

WJ338, Hastings C.2, from Central Signals Establishment, Watton, 12-62

Bore the name Iris III.

VW181, Valetta C.1, from 52 Squadron, Changi, 1964

WJ908-29, Varsity T.1, from CFS Little Rissington, 1963

WJ946-M, Varsity T.1, from 115 Squadron, Tangmere, 1964

WG525-E, Shackleton MR.1A, from 205 Squadron, Changi, 06-62

WL751-U+WL798-X, Shackleton MR.2, 210 Squadron, Ballykelly, 1962

WL754-F, Shackleton MR.2, 42 Squadron, St Mawgan, 12-62

WL789-A, Shackleton MR.2, 224 Squadron, Gibraltar, 1963

WL795-T, Shackleton MR.2, 38 Squadron, Luqa, 01-64

WL801-B+WL754-F, Shackleton MR.2, 42 Squadron, St Mawgan, 10-62

WV476, Provost T.52, SOAF, late 1963

Armed version of primary trainer having been re-assembled by 131 MU.

XB269-F, Beverley C.1, 47 Squadron, Abingdon, 1963

Lyneham-based Britannias, XL637, XM497 and XM498 on the Visitors pan at Khormaksar, early one morning in 1963 (Mac McLauchlan)

XM498 became the last airworthy Britiannia when it flew into Kemble for preservation.

XL640, Britannia C.1, from 99 Squadron, Lyneham, 1963

Bore the name 'Antares'.

99 Sqn Britannia C1 XL641 is seen parked alongside a pair of 30 Sqn Beverleys (XH119 and XH124) at Khormaksar in 1963 (Mac McLauchlan)

Seen on the Khormaksar pan in 1965, Bristol Britannia C.1, XM496, was the last airworthy example of its type when it landed at Kemble in 1997 and into preservation (Simon Morrison)

Seen during its unsuccessful overseas sales tour, Belfast C.1, XR362 (temporarily registered G-ASKE) at Khormaksar in 1964 (Charlie Donaldson)

One of only ten Short Belfast C.1s, XR369, receives attention to its outer starboard engine in 1967 (Malcolm Stelfox)

Belfast C.1, XR370, of 53 Squadron, Brize Norton, seen during a visit to Khormaksar in 1967 (author's collection)

Another view of XR370 as it prepares to taxi out. Having entered service in August 1966, the Belfast was .....

..... a rare visitor to Khormaksar until the build-up to the withdrawal in 1967. Here, XR370 is seen during its take-off run (both, Malcolm Stelfox)

Throughout the summer of 1967, medium and heavy transport aircraft appeared in increasing numbers to transfer the heavy equipment (Malcolm Stelfox)

Beverley, Hercules and Hastings are visible in this view.

Royal Air Force - Jet powered aircraft

WH548, Meteor FR.9, 8 Squadron, Ksar, 06-62

Not a visitor but 'gate guardian' to 131 MU.

WE122-J, Canberra T.4, from Signals Command, 1967 (author's collection)

WE139, Canberra PR.3, from 39 Squadron. Luqa, 12-62

Winner of New Zealand Air Race, London to Christchurch, in 23 hours 53 mins, in October 1953. Currently on display at RAF Museum Hendon.

WH802, Canberra PR.7, from 58 Squadron, Wyton, 1963

WH885, Canberra U.10, on delivery flight to Woomera, 06-62

WJ780, Canberra B.16, from 6 Squadron, Akrotiri, 1963

WP515, Canberra B.2, School of Air Warfare, Manby, 11-62

WT305, Canberra T.11, from 51 Squadron, Watton, 09-62

WT318, Canberra B(I).6, 213 Squadron, Geilenkirchen, 11-62

WT339, Canberra B(I).8, 14 Squadron, Wildenrath, 1963

WT535, Canberra PR.7, 17 Squadron, Laarbruch. 1963

XH134-A, Canberra PR.9, 39 Squadron, Luqa, 1963

Last Canberra to fly with RAF on 31-07-06.

XH137, Canberra PR.9, 13 Squadron, Akrotiri, 1963

XH228, Canberra B(I).8, 3 Squadron, Geilenkirchen, 06-62

XM267, Canberra (I).8, 16 Squadron, Laarbruch, 1963

XM279, Canberra B(I).8, 3 Squadron, Geilenkirchen, 1964

XH876+XH889+XH890, Javelin FAW.9R, 23 Squadron, 1963

Three 23 Sqn Javelins plus 2 Valiant tankers from 90 and 214 Sqns, flew non-stop from Coltishall to Khormaksar as an exercise to test new inflight refuelling probes fitted to the fighter.

XH889-L, Javelin FAW.9R, from 23 Squadron, Coltishall, 1963

XH849-C plus XH890-M are the other two aircraft.

XH766-E, Javelin FAW.9R, from 64 Squadron, Binbrook, 1963

Both this and following image show 64 Sqn Javelins en-route to their new home at Changi.

XH876-N, Javelin FAW.9R, 64 Squadron, Binbrook, 1963

WP223, Valiant B.1, from 18 Squadron, Marham, 1964

WZ390, Valiant B(K).1, 214 Squadron, Marham,1964

XD815, Valiant B(K).1, 90 Squadron, Honington, 1964

XD870, Valiant B(K).1, 214 Squadron, Marham, 1964

XH615, Victor B.1A, 15 Squadron, Cottesmore, 1964

XH651, Victor B.1A, 15 Squadron, Cottesmore, 1964

XH675, Victor B.2, 11-62

XM715, Victor B.2, 100 Squadron, Wittering, 03-64

Currently preserved in taxiable condition at Bruntingthorpe.

XA895, Vulcan B.1A, Bomber Command Developemt Unit, Finningley, 1963

XA898, Vulcan B.1, from 230 OCU, Waddington, 1963

XH560, Vulcan B.2, 12 Squadron, Coningsby, 1964

XM570, Vulcan B.2, 44 Squadron, Waddington, 1964

XM570 leaves a trail of 'soot' as it departs Khormaksar (author)

XK659, Comet C.2R, 51 Squadron, Watton, 06-62

A striking image of Comet C.2, XK715, of 216 Sqn Lyneham blowing up sand as it accelerates away from the Transport Wing pan in 1962 (Keith Webster)

XN453, Comet C.2E, Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough, 1963

Ordered by BOAC and purchased by MoS, XN453 entered RAE service in 1959 and was used for trials into radio propogation,various navigation systems, DME, Tacan, infra-red jammers, countermeasures and satellite communications over the ensuing 14 years.

216 Sqn Comet 4C XR396 on the pan at Khormaksar in 1963 (Mac McLauchlan)

XR399, Comet C.4C, 216 Squadron, Lyneham, 06-62

Lightning Hot Weather Trials

To assess the suitability of the supersonic Lightning fighter for operation in hot weather climates, two pre-production F.1 aircraft (XG311 and XG333) were shipped out to Aden in July 1961. On arrival, they were towed along the main road leading from the ASR Marina to Khormaksar airfield and prepared for the trials in the eastern end of the Hunter hangar. Only one of the two aircraft are believed to have participated and no records of the outcome have been forthcoming. As soon as the trials were completed they were returned to the UK by ship. The series of black and white images in the gallery below were contributed by the BAE Heritage Centre at Warton.

Three views of the pilot climbing .....

..... into XG311 for a test flight .....

..... from Khormaksar

The groundcrew assist the pilot on his return to base .....

..... and gather round to listen to what he has to say.

After flight complete, engine blank fitted.

Tut! Tut! Smoking on the pan Sir; the ultimate sin. 8 Squadron Meteor T.7 WL347 can be seen in the background.

XG311 or XG333 being towed along the Hunter pan at the completion of the trails (Alan Lowe)

Other air forces - Miscellaneous

Its polished metal gleaming under a bright Aden sun, US Navy VC118B, 128426, awaits its VIP passengers on the Transport Wing apron in 1962 (Keith Webster)

A97-211, C-130E, from Royal Australian Air Force, 1963

10304, C-130B, RCAF, 1963

In April 1966, a gear-up emergency landing was carried out in a wheat field after the forward cargo door opened in flight. The No.1 engine could not be shut down after the emergency landing and the Hercules described a semi-circle before coming to rest.

15827, CC-106 Yukon (CL-44), RCAF, 1964

5322, DHC Caribou, RCAF/UNO, 1963

Operated by 115 ATU in Egypt.

125718-LH, Skyraider AD-4N, French Air Force, from Djibouti, 1967 (author's collection)

704, C-47, Ethiopian Air Force, 06-62

726, C-54, Ethiopian Air Force, 1963

801, DH Dove, Ethiopian Air Force, 1963

A rare visitor to Khormaksar in 1962 was this French Air Force Ju52 which had flown in from Djibouti (Keith Webster)

C48994-C, C-47, from Djibouti, French Air Force, 12-62

IF898, Canberra B(I).58, Indian Air Force, 1962

Carries the 'Tuskers' emblem on the nose. Built as XK959 for RAF but diverted to Indian order. One of at least 3 IAF B(I).58s to pass through Ksar en-route home from the Congo. Of interest is the belly-mounted gun pack.

IF908, Canberra B(I).58, from 5 Squadron, IAF, 1962

Standing alongside IF907, these B.(I).58s were on there way home from a six-month detachment to the Congo. Built as XH238 for RAF but diverted to Indian order.

FM1023, HP Herald 400, Royal Malaysian Air Force, 1964

NZ5802, Hastings C.3, Royal New Zealand Air Force, 1963

RRAF 707, C-47, Royal Rhodesian Air Force, 12-62

0-10155, C-124 Globemaster II, from USAF, 1963

0-72521, HC-54G Rescuemaster, from USAF, 1963

41628, YC-130A, from, USAF, 1963

Believed to be the solitary YC-130A built.

70456, C-130E, from 322 Air Division, USAF, 1963

Delivered US Army Bell 47 helicopter.

62004, C-133A, from 1607 ATW, USAF, 1963

N79988, C-47, from USAF, 06-62

Air Attache's aircraft.

85375, Bell 47, US Army, 1963

308, DHC-3 Otter, UNO, 1964

In all, 3 Otters and an S-55 helicopter were uncrated and re-assembled on the tarmac at Ksar for UN operations.

8680, C-47, UNO, 1962

Bore the name 'Scarlet'.

N69865, C-46, UNO, 1964

1148, IL-14, Yemen Air Force, 1963

Captured on 2 December 1963, by British Army Captain by blocking the runway after aircraft landed at a remote WAP airfield (Lawdar) by mistake. Flown on to Khormaksar by team from Boscombe Down.