Arrival of British Aerospace Harrier GR.9A/ZD461/51A/(c.n. P51)

14th March 2012

BAe Harrier ZD461 rolled off the British Aerospace production line at Kingston-upon-Thames on the 10th October 1989 as one of twenty-one GR.5A airframes and was delivered to the Royal Air force on the 16th november 1989. In March 1992, ZD461 was upgraded  to a GR.7 and finally to a GR.9 variant in October 2008. During its life, ZD461 was flown by No.1 Squadron and also the RAF Harrier Operational Conversion Unit/No.20 Squadron and the Royal Navy Naval Strike Wing based at RAF Cottesmore and saw active service in Afghanistan and could be seen flying aound with an impressive tally of mission markings on the nose. While flying on an exercise in January 2010 in the USA at NEllis AFB, Nevada, a fire started while taxiing when hydraulic oil leaked onto the hot disc brakes and caught alight resulting in Cat.3 damage (Repairable on site but beyond the technical resources of the unit). The aircraft was freighted back to RAF Cottesmore arriving on the 19th March 2010. Due to budgetary cuts and the resulting demise of the Harrier fleet, ZD461 was withdrawn from service on the 15th December 2010 and declared Cat.5 (The aircraft is damaged beyond economical repair) and allocated as a museum exhibit and duly delivered to the IWM at Duxford.

It's not the first time that ZD461 has been to Duxford. As a GR.7, it was the reserve aircraft for the RAF HOCU/No.20 Squadron display aircraft from RAF Wittering at the Classic Jet and Flying Display held at the airfield on the 2nd June 1996.


Once rebuilt and conserved, ZD461 will be moved to the Large Objects Atrium at the Imperial War Museum London in about 2014 following the refurbishment of the Central Atrium which is part of the multi million pound decade long regeneration of the former Bedlam Hospital.

Photos of ZD461 in Hangar 5 to follow.

Having travelled down the A1. A14 and M11 motorway from RAF Cottesmore in Rutland(Leicestershire), a pair of low loaders arrived at the Imperial War Museum large exhibits storage facility based at the former RAF Duxford airfield  carrying the dismantled parts of Harrier GR.9A/ZD461 for static dispaly at the museum. Parked outside the AirSpace hangar an RAF Smash & Grab team, with the aid of a crane, lifted the wing to attach it to the fuselage and when secured lifted the tailless fuselage from the low loader to stand the aircraft on the ground. Later it was moved to the area vacated in Hangar 5/North by the Vampire T.11 a couple of days before.

Photographs of ZD461 arriving at Duxford by and used with the permission of David C. Whitworth©