Jet Provost retirement

ON JUNE 7, the last Jet Provost pilots with 1 FS at RAF Linton-on-Ouse performed their final flights and the type was officially withdrawn from service with the unit. With its role now largely taken over by the Shorts Tucano T. 1, only a handful of JP T.5s remain in service, all with 6 FTS at Finningley, and these too will have retired by September.

To mark the imminent retirement of the type at Linton, 34 years after the first T.3s arrived at the base, a formation of 14 JP T.5As were put up on May 20 and during the flypast formed the letters JP. This was followed by a solo aerobatic display by one of the two specially-painted 1 FS T.3As which toured the display circuit last year, the aircraft managing a full routine, despite low cloud and pouring rain. A civilian-owned Provost T.1 also flew to show the forerunner of the JP.

Following first flight of the prototype Jet Provost on June 26, 1954, a pre-production batch entered service with Flying Training Command for initial evaluation. Development then led to the T.2, a small number of which also entered service, before the first main production variant, the T.3, came on the scene. First flown on June 22, 1958, the first T.3 deliveries took place on June 26, 1959. Following on from this was the T.4 with a considerably more powerful variant of the Bristol Siddeley Viper turbojet.

First deliveries of the T.4 began in November 1961 and the marked increase in performance over the T.3 led to much heavier utilisation. As a result, the T.4s were withdrawn much earlier than originally planned and many were scrapped or became instructional airframes in the late 1960s. Those which did survive slowly dwindled until the final few T.4s serving with CATCS at Shawbury were retired on July 5, 1989 and put into storage. This left the earlier T.3s, with considerably lower airframe hours, to soldier on together with the definitive RAF variant, the T.5. The latter first entered service, with the CFS at Little Rissington, on September 4, 1969.

Between 1973 and 1976 a total of 85 T.3s and 92 T.5s returned to the factory at Warton for a refurbish and upgrade which including fitting VOR and DME equipment and resulted in redesignation as the T.3A and T.5A.

The first aircraft, XM357 arrived at Warton on June 14, 1973 and just over three years later the 157th and final aircraft, XN510, was redelivered to the RAF on August 6, 1976. The majority of these continued to serve until their progressive retirement over the last four to five years as they have been replaced by Tucanos. Apart from the early prototypes and development aircraft, the main production for the RAF comprised 201 T.3s, 183 T.4s and 112 T.5s.

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