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Scampton Gate Guardian

Red Arrows Hawk that stood as Scampton gate guardian up for auction

THE gate guardian that graced the entrance to RAF Scampton for almost eight years is up for auction, with bids for the former Red Arrows jet already exceeding the £60,000 mark. 

The Hawk T1 comes in the distinctive red livery with a white stripe, a union flag adorning the tail of the aircraft. But anyone expecting to get in and fly the plane home will be disappointed, it comes minus an engine, but it does boast an impressive history with a flying time of around 7,400 hours and having registered more than 13,000 successful landings.

3 RAF Red Arrows XX237, XX264 and XX306.  Departing RIAT Fairford 18 July 2011

(3 RAF Red Arrows XX237, XX264 and XX306. Departing RIAT Fairford 18 July 2011 📸 Alan Wilson)

But it is in the air that the Hawk impressed most, thrilling crowds at airshows and numerous events up and down the UK, XX306 playing its part for 32 years, the jet starting its RAF life at RAF Valley on Anglesey in 1980 before moving to RAF Kemble in Gloucestershire. It was 1983 that Scampton became home to the Red Arrows, the team spending 35 years at the Lincolnshire station with a spell of five years at the nearby RAFC Cranwell between 1995 and 2000; Scampton mothballed for five years as a cost-saving exercise. 

The decision to close Scampton permanently saw the Hawks moving again to RAF Waddington following the conclusion to the UK display season in September 2022. The Hawk jets, technical gear and 146-strong personnel began the relocation, with some 24 tonnes of equipment moved by road, including 13 20ft-shipping containers, ground support apparatus and two full-size static aircraft – one of which is used for engineering training.

But XX306 remained on duty at Scampton’s gate till earlier this year, standing guard till the station that was home to the No. 617 (Dambusters) Squadron shut down for good; the daring WW2 raids on the dams of Germany using bouncing bombs launched from the station in May, 1943.

The auction is being run by GPSV Ltd based in North Yorkshire; presently the Hawk is subject to offers exceeding £60,000, with interested parties keen to get their hands on the jet having until 10am on April 26 to place their own bids.

XX306 at RAF Boscombe Down 9 June 1990

(XX306 at RAF Boscombe Down 9 June 1990 📸 Rob Schleiffert)

An RAF spokesperson said: “The Hawk T1 Gate Guardian is public property. As is standard practice, military equipment which is surplus to requirements is disposed of appropriately to realise the best capital value of the equipment, in this instance by the Defence Equipment Sales Agency.”

The Hawk succeeded the Folland Gnat as the aircraft flown by the Red Arrows in 1979, XX306 one of the models fitted with a smoke and dye pod allowing the jet to produce the red, white and blue smoke trails synonymous with the team – the pod, however, has since been removed.

It was retired on October 20, 2012, its last flight as a Red Arrow in a display on September 26, 2012. Before its selection as gate guardian in 2015 it underwent refurbishment at Cranwell, transported by road to Scampton where it was reassembled.

The aircraft is in storage at GPSV’s Leyburn facility and can be viewed by prior arrangement. Details are available at Live Auctions - Agility (gpsv.co.uk) 

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