Buccaneer XX889

Photo Credit: Chris England – 08/02/1986 – St Mawgan

XX889 was delivered to the Royal Air Force in 1975, and issued to 16 Sqn based at Laarbruch. The airframe took part in the Gulf War in early 1991, being painted in Alkali Removable Temporary Finish (ARTF), known as desert pink. No nose art was applied to XX889, but was named ‘Longmorn’ and had earned 14 mission markings by the end of Operation Grandby, which was more than what any of the other Buccaneers received. XX889 was purchased by Gary Spoors/GJD Servies and made its final flight into St Athan wearing overall grey colours.

The airframe was moved to Enstone and later moved to Staverton where she was repainted into Gulf War colours ready for display at RIAT in 2003. She returned to Staverton, but later moved down the road to Kemble (now Cotswold Airport) for a few years.

In May 2011, XX889 was road moved to Bruntingthorpe and was put under the care of TBAG. The team was excited to have another Buccaneer to work on and had the ambition to get the airframe hydraulic and electrically live again. Due to many reasons at the time, it was very unlikely she would join her sisters on the runway in front of the crowds.

The very first job was to reattach the wings which were held down to the fuselage using jury struts. With XW544s repaint taking place a few months later, not too much happened with XX889 during this space of time.

In the summer of 2012, work picked up again. The front ejection seat upholstery was removed and stored for safekeeping while the seat was removed from the cockpit, this was to allow for more room in the cockpit while the restoration was underway.

The floor panels were removed so the volunteers could gain access to the rudder pedal and flight control linkages which were all ceased. This area was cleaned as it was full of sand and many dead files! Once cleaned, the linkages were greased and freed up so you could move the rudder pedals and stick top again.

retirement, there were plans for her to go on display and so the cockpits were going to be emptied, this resulted in many wires getting chopped! – Thankfully, the Observers cockpit faired a bit better than the front.

The group’s Chief Engineer Francis Wallace took on the task of stripping the front cockpit of instruments and taking them off-site to be cleaned up and rewired.

Over a period of time, Francis managed to rewire all the panels and had put power on them! All panels were given a tidy up, and some were even repainted.

Once all panels were rewired and cleaned up, they were refitted into the cockpit. The seat was and upholstery was refitted at a later date.

In 2013, power was applied to XX889 for the first time since its retirement, the DC contactor was clicking which confirmed she was, somewhat, alive once more! Sadly, the power never reached the cockpit.

Unfortunately, with other group projects taking place, XX889s restoration slowed down, and power was never applied back to her.

During mid-2014, XX889 was fitted with flash and photo crates. This was fitted to Buccaneer XX900 in the final days of service, with the large text ‘BYE!’ painted onto it which still remains on the crate today.

In May 2018, XX889 was road moved to RAF Cosford to be a part of the static display to celebrate 100 years of the RAF with a few other GJD airframes also on display.

XX889 remains at RAF Cosford in storage today and is currently waiting to be moved to the South Wales Aviation Museum (SWAM) for display.

The photo to the left shows XX889 with the wings and photo crate removed, just days before her road move to RAF Cosford.

XX889 on static display at the RAF Cosford Airshow 2018. Photo Credit: Damien Burke / HandmadeByMachine.com