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Sea Harrier FRS.1 (XZ493)

Sea Harrier FRS.1 (XZ493)

Falklands War History

On the 4th April this aircraft embarked from RNAS Yeovilton, with the rest of 801 Naval Air Squadron, aboard HMS Invincible.  Invincible sailed for Ascension Island on the 5th April.

During the passage XZ493 was re-sprayed in an overall extra dark sea grey low-visibility colour scheme.  After the conflict this was thought to be more effective than the medium-grey scheme and reports suggested Argentinean pilots referred to Sea Harriers painted in the dark grey scheme as “La Muerta Negra” or “The Black Death”.

Throughout the conflict 801 Naval Air Squadron was commanded by Lt Cdr ND “Sharky” Ward.  The aircraft of the squadron, XZ493 amongst them, provided Combat Air Patrol Missions (CAP), to protect the ships of the Task Force, Helicopters and the ground troops, after they had landed.  801 Naval Air Squadron scored the first air-to-air victory of the conflict when, on the 1st May, Flt Lt Paul Barton (RAF) shot down an Argentinean Mirage with a Sidewinder missile.  CAP missions also included the bombing of Argentinian positions.

On the 28th August 1982 XZ493 sailed home aboard HMS Invincible, transferring to Yeovilton on the 17th September.

The Sea Harrier FRS.1 (XZ493) first flew in 1980 and joined 801 Naval Air Squadron at RNAS Yeovilton in January 1981.  It served with 801 during the Falklands Conflict.  In 1994 the aircraft ditched in the Adriatic, whilst in a hover manoeuvre alongside HMS Invincible.  The pilot, Lt Kistruck, ejected safely.  The airframe was recovered from a depth of 720 metres and after reconstruction work was handed to the Fleet Air Arm Museum in 2000.  XZ493 is displayed in its High Visibility paint scheme applied in peace-time before the Falklands Conflict.  It was not reapplied to Sea Harriers after the conflict ended.

Statistics

Type: Carrier-Based Strike Fighter

Crew: 1

Length: 14.5 metres (47ft 7ins)

Wing Span: 7.7 metres (25ft 3ins)

Engine: Rolls-Royce Pegasus Mk104

Speed: 737mph (0.97 Mach)

Dates Service - 1979 – 200?


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  • Bristol Scout D Bristol Scout D
  • de Havilland Vampire T22 de Havilland Vampire T22
  • Westland Wyvern TF1 Westland Wyvern TF1
  • Handley Page HP115 Handley Page HP115
  • British Aircraft Corporation 221 British Aircraft Corporation 221
  • Hawker Hunter T8M Hawker Hunter T8M

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