The Royal Navy Historic Flight (RNHF) maintains and flies a small number of aircraft that are important to British Naval aviation. The organisation is not part of the military establishment; it has charitable status and it is staffed by civilians. It is based at Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton and provides aircraft for air displays; the station is not open to the public.
The RNHF is an educational charity whose mission is to ensure that the unique British Heritage collection of aircraft that is the Royal Navy Historic Flight continues to fly long into the future. Their aim is to preserve the opportunity for future generations to best understand the nature of those who built, maintained, operated and fought in Naval aircraft of the past by experiencing the reality of the sound, smell and the sight of them actually flying. They delight millions with their air displays nation-wide and educate future generations.
The RNHF was established at RNAS Yeovilton in 1972 and became the home for a number of aircraft that had been donated to the Royal Navy over more than a decade. The first aircraft was Fairey Swordfish II LS326, presented in 1960 by Westland Aircraft. In 1971, Hawker Siddeley Aviation presented a Sea Fury FB.11 and in 1972 a Fairey Firefly AS.5 WB271 was donated. The separate units caring for the three aircraft were merged in 1972, forming the Historic Flight.
Over the following years, the RNHF benefitted further from gifts of aircraft from the German Government, Royal Navy and British Aerospace. Technical assistance was also obtained to rebuild and refurbish aircraft. Sadly, three aircraft have been lost in accidents, with two fatalities.
In 1995, the ground staff service personnel were replaced by civilian employees but aircrew remain as serving navy pilots who volunteer to spend free time with the RNHF. Air training uses the Flight's DHC Chipmunk. The Fly Navy Heritage Trust, formerly the Swordfish Heritage Trust, a charitable institution to oversee fund raising, makes grants to fund the RNHF's staff. The Flight's other sources of income are fees from flying displays and donations and sponsorship from the aerospace industry and the general public.
|Aircraft type||Serial||Operational dates||Squadrons||Notes|
|Fairey Swordfish Mk.I||W5856||21 Oct 1941 - 1945|
|Fairey Swordfish Mk.II||LS326||Aug 1943 - 1945||836||War-time service on MAC ships, including MV Rapana and Empire MacCallum. Appeared as aircraft '5A' in the film Sink the Bismarck!. Following discovery of corrosion in 2002 the aircraft was withdrawn from service. New wing spars were manufactured by BAE Systems as part of a complete restoration. As of November 2010, LS326 is airworthy.|
|Fairey Swordfish Mk.III||NF389||Apr 1944||Aircraft Torpedo Development Unit, Torpedo Trials Flight, 781||Under reconstruction (Jan 2009)|
|Fairey Firefly AS.5||WB271||Jun 1949 - 1962||814, RAN service: 816, 724, 723||Destroyed during an air display, July 2003; aircrew (Bill Murton and Neil Rix) killed|
|Hawker Sea Fury FB.11||TF956||Oct 1947 - 1954||805 (RAN), 799, 807, 738||Lost 10 June 1989, due to hydraulic failure in flight; aircrew survived.|
|Hawker Sea Fury T.20||WG655||Oct 1951 - Dec 1955||Destroyed 14 July 1990 after engine failure in flight; aircrew survived.|
|Hawker Sea Fury FB.11||VR930||Mar 1948 - Jan 1961||802|
|Hawker/Armstrong Whitworth Sea Hawk FGA6||WV908||Feb 1955 - Jun 1962||807, 898, 806, 738|
|De Havilland DHC-1 Chipmunk T.10||WK608||June 1966 - 1993 (naval service)||Used as air trainer|
- "Royal Navy Historic Flight". BAe Systems. 2006-2007. http://production.investis.com/heritage/nonflash/partmap/uk/royal_navy_historic_flight/. Retrieved 12 Jan 2009.
- "Royal Navy Historic Flight (RNHF)". RNAS Yeovilton. Royal Navy. 2009. http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/server/show/nav.3252. Retrieved 12 Jan 2009.
- "Royal Navy Historic Flight". P&H Media. 2008. http://www.royalnavyhistoricflight.org.uk/aircraft/. Retrieved 12 Jan 2009.
- Russell, Mark (2004). "The Royal Navy Historic Flight's Aircraft". http://www.stringbag.flyer.co.uk/rnhf/wb271.htm. Retrieved 12 Jan 2009.
- Howard, Lee (2010). "Return of the Stringbag". Kelsey Publishing. pp. 47–48, 53–55.
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