On the morning of Tuesday the 13th March 2012, a media event was held in the conservation hall of the AirSpace hangar to officially roll out Vampire T.11/WZ590 after
a four year conservation programme. The airframe had been completely dismantled, components conserved, missing parts replaced and the aircraft completed to as an original and complete condition as possible and finished in the colours and markings it wore when operational with No 5 Flying Training School at RAF Oakington between 1959 and 1962.
WZ590 had been moved from Hangar 5, its home for the past 4 years, down to AirSpace the day before and was position between the Shackleton and Victor behind the low rope crowd barrier. The event was officially started by Steve Woolford, Head of Interpretations and Collections at Duxford, with a welcoming speech not only for the media that were present but also for the Friends of Duxford that had been invited and any members of the public who had wandered in wondering what was going on. The press were then given access to the aircraft and the core team responsible for the restoration for photographs and interviews. The doors to AirSpace were then opened and WZ590 was pulled into the rather gloomy and overcast outside for another session of photographs but this time with the press having access to air stairs for a higher vantage point. This was also an opportunity for large group shots with the aircraft of the IWM conservation staff and volunteers that had worked on WZ590. Following that the aircraft was hooked up to the tractor again, and towed out onto the jet pan for more photographs and interviews out on the airfield. When the press had all the photos and interviews they wanted, WZ590 was returned to AirSpace for an overnight stay before it takes up it place in the north side of Hangar 4 parked next to the MiG 21.
WZ590 was built at Hawarden and delivered to No. 228 Operational Conversion Unit at RAF Leeming in December 1953. In 1954, WZ590 spent 9 months at Marshalls of Cambridge for improvements and upgrade work before returning to RAF Leeming. In November 1959, WZ590 moved south to RAF Oakington and joined No. 5 Flying Training School. In March 1962, it moved north again and joined No. 8 Flying Training School which was then based at RAF Swinderby. In 1963 it was withdrawn from service as the Jet Provost began to take over the training role of the Vampire. WZ590 was one of 77 Vampire T.11’s that were sold back to Hawker Siddeley Aviation between 1963 and 1969, for refurbishment for onward sale to other overseas air forces. WZ590 eventually returned to HAS in 1968 but didn’t find a buyer and remained in storage at Hawarden until 1971 when it was moved to Woodford. WZ590 was gifted to the newly formed IWM outstation at Duxford and arrived in May 1973 without its engine and a lot of its parts and equipment. In the late 70’s it was repainted in a not very accurate No. 8 F.T.S. colour scheme. Major conservation work started on WZ590 in 2008 when the aircraft was stripped down to its component parts. The emphasis has been to keep as many original parts as possible. The wooden fuselage pod had the fabric covering removed and replaced and anything found with corrosion was treated and given a coating of microcrystalline wax.