Thetwo de Havilland Canada Chipmunks held on charge by the RAF Memorial Flight arethe last in RAF service and are probably the least-seen aircraft of theMemorial Flight fleet. They are usedyear-round, primarily for the conversion and continuation training of theFlight’s pilots on tail-wheel aircraft. Other functions of the ‘Chippies’ include the reconnaissance of newvenues, the delivery or collection of pilots and, occasionally, the delivery ofsmall spare parts.
WG486 was delivered to the RAF in January 1952 and served with No 5 BasicFlying Training School, No 9 Refresher Flying School and No2 Flying Training School (FTS) before being used by the Army Air Corps with 651and 657 Squadrons. In December 1958, theaircraft was issued to 114 Squadron in Cyprus, where it was used in operationsagainst the EOKA terrorists, flying low-level reconnaissance patrols and convoyescort missions from Famagusta, Xeros and Akrotiri airfields, with British Armyofficers in the rear seat. The crisisended in March 1959 and WG486 was brought back to the UK in 1961.
The aircraft returned to training flying for16 years, with units that included the RAF College at Cranwell, InitialTraining School at South Cerney and Church Fenton, No 1 FTS,Liverpool and Bristol UASs and No 3 AEF. In 1987, WG486 moved to Germany to operate aspart of the Gatow Station Flight in Berlin, which was then surrounded by SovietCommunist Block territory, where it embarked on a second phase of operationalflying. For the next 2 years it wasflown on what were then highly secret ‘Cold War’ covert photographicreconnaissance ‘spying’ flights in and around Berlin. When RAF Gatow closed, the aircraft spent ayear at Laarbruch before joining the Memorial Flight in 1995.
WK518 has beenwith the Flight the longer of the two Chipmunks; it was delivered from No1 Air Experience Flight (AEF) at Manston in April 1983. This aircraft first entered RAF service inJanuary 1952, being allocated to the RAF College at Cranwell for elementaryflying training of student pilots. Otherunits which have operated WK518 include the University Air Squadrons (UASs) forLiverpool, Manchester, Cambridge, Hull, Leeds and London Universities. WK518 is now painted in the colours itactually wore when it served with Hull UAS in 1961.
Header Image: Chippy WK518, 2012 (Richard Paver)
Image 1: Both Chippies, 2012 (Richard Paver)
Image 2: Chipmunk WG486
Image 3: Chipmunk WK518 Sep 1961 at Waddington in Hull UAS colours (Ken Elliott via abpic.co.uk)