Mystery Airplane: January 2016
Hawker Siddeley Kestrel FGA. Mk. I (XV-6A)
Evolved from the Hawker P.1127, which made successful use of the Bristol Siddeley Pegasus vectored thrust turbofan, the Kestrel paved the way for the V/STOL combat capable, and later battle tested in the 1982 Falklands War, Harrier, that remains in service with the USMC, Italy, India and Spain. Work began in 1958. The first free flight of P.1127 serial number XP831 took place on 19 November 1960. Another prototype and four development aircraft followed.
Nine more advanced Kestrel FGA. Mk. I versions were delivered beginning in March 1964. These were formed into the Kestrel Evaluation Squadron at West Rayham, England, in October 1964 with 10 pilots from the RAF, Luftwaffe, USAF, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Army. After trails in Britain, six Kestrels were shipped to the U.S. in 1966 and designated VZ-12. This was later changed to XV-6A. These aircraft were tested at Fort Campbell, NAS Patuxent River, NASA at Langley, and Edwards AFB.
The aircraft in this photo, taken in the Research and Development hangar at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, is Kestrel FGA. Ml. I, serial number XS688, later 64-18262. It was tested at NAS Patuxent River beginning in 1966 for the Tri-Service Team, coded "2" then moved to Edwards AFB. During its trials from Pax River, it made takeoffs and landings aboard the USS Raleigh and the USS Independence. It was retired from service in January 1970 and flown in a C-5A from Edwards to Dayton for restoration and display.
Not much of a mystery here! Barb Meyers of Richfield is this month's winner. Regulars Joe Connell, Graydon Carlson, Michael Johnson and Ed Wells also knew the Kestrel. Wally Gallian came close, guessing the Harrier.
Happy New Year! Blue skies and tail winds to all.