As a result of a cancelled order for Buccaneers for the subsequently scrapped HMS Victorious, this cockpit was built in 1969 at Brough. It came off the production line at an early stage of development to become an S.2 systems test rig and simulator for development use at Brough.
The history of this cockpit is rather sketchy and not a lot is currently known about its life as a test rig or the intervening years after it became surplus. It was sold from Brough in the late 1980s and appeared in 1995 at an ATC Squadron in Mitcham. The paperwork started that it was airframe XN979 which had unfortunately crashed into the sea when stalling after a carrier takeoff in 1966.
The cockpit was eventually transported to South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum in Doncaster. The cockpit has been on display there ever since, although looking somewhat unloved.
In October 2020, Carolyn and her son Marcus purchased the cockpit section as Marcus was keen to restore it back to its former glory – “I want to give her some life and bring her back into the state she deserves to be in. I’m learning lots of engineering skills to keep working with Buccaneers and other aircraft. I love working on my dream aircraft”.
At the beginning of 2021, due to COVID-19 lockdowns and Marcus having online school lessons, Carolyn and Marcus decided to research their cockpit a bit more. Unfortunately, researching was not as easy as once thought due to information obtained not lining up. After looking at the data plates on the airframe and extensive liaison with former Brough employees, it was confirmed that it was not the cockpit from XN979, but in fact a test-rig built at Brough. The cockpit of XN979 which had been used at Cranfield Institute of Technology for research was probably scrapped back in 1992. So, with XN979s cockpit disappearing, and then a misidentified test-rig cockpit making an appearance, there’s no surprise why people believed that it was the nose section of XN979.
After learning this news, both Marcus and Carolyn were still keen to crack on with the restoration! The front cockpit will be made as complete as is possible, but the rear cockpit is more of a challenge due to the difficulties with finding parts and in gaining access to the rear cockpit due to the shortened canopy rails. The cockpit is planned to be painted in 1966 FAA colours as if it was XN979.
Marcus and Carolyn intend to share the restoration progress with their test-rig and will hopefully uncover more of its history along with the story of XN979.
Please check out their Facebook page for regular updates on its restoration: Blackburn Buccaneer S2 Cockpit Rig – XN979