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AVRO SHACKLETON WR963
Return to Flight

The Shackleton Aviation Group was formed around core members of the old Shackleton Preservation Trust which owned WR963 after its sale by Air Atlantique.

The aim remains the preservation, maintenance and operation of Avro Shackleton WR963 in taxying condition with the intent to return it to flight.

We actively recruit Volunteers. Many in the Group are from military backgrounds, indeed some still serve. 

We've signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant and hold the Armed Forces Employer Recognition Scheme Bronze Award.

WR963 is one of two with the potential to

fly again. Preserving her promotes the 

legacy of those who designed, built

and operated 185 Shackletons

Experience the raw power of WR963 

Four Rolls-Royce Griffon Engines,

 8 Propellers, 24 Blades, 48 Cylinders,

148 Litres - and 10,000 HP

Get involved. Join us as a "Friend" and

help preserve living aviation history

in the form of our Avro Shackleton

MR.2 WR963. See the Benefits

Restoration is ongoing, slow but steady

 and we need your help. However it’s

not all about WR963 you know...

Find out more

Browse our online shop for Merchandise, 

Event Tickets or to make a Donation. All profits to preserving, maintaining

and operating WR963

As well as WR963, the Ground Support Equipment, Airborne Lifeboat and

 Zebedee's MR.1 Cockpit Section

need some TLC ("Friends" only)

The last time WR963 got airborne was 9

July 1991. The most recent Shackleton

flight was December 2009, in the USA.

Help us ensure it's not the last

We cannot do this alone, so any help you

can provide will be most gratefully

received. See which organisations

are already supporting us

Where's '963's merchandise being worn

or used? Share your scenic snaps

showing off the logo or image

out and about

A Brief History
RAF Service
1954 - 1991

WR963 was part of the second - and last - batch of Avro Shackleton MR.2 built by Avro; the famous company that built the legendary Lancaster. Racking up an impressive 15,483 flying hours over a 37 year period spanning the globe; WR963 was rebuilt no less than three times.

Serving with 224, 210, 38 and 205 Sqn, the later and larger part of service was as an Airborne Early Warning (AEW) platform with 8 Sqn, operating out of RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland.

Air Atlantique
1991 - 2012

In 1991 David Liddell-Grainger, under the name of the 'Shackleton Preservation Trust', purchased two Shackletons at a Sotheby's Defence Auction and had them delivered to Coventry Airport where ownership, maintenance and operation was taken on by Air Atlantique.

​Air Atlantique was the perfect choice - a company legendary in the UK for operation of the fleet of DC3 and DC6 aircraft as well as the Classic Flight which comprised several smaller piston types and Cold War jets.

Air Atlantique tried hard to return a Shackleton to the UK skies but were foiled at every try, eventually resorting to sending one aircraft (WL790) out to the USA, where it flew until 2009 and remains to this day. WR963 remained at Coventry.

SPT
1997 - 2016

The Shackleton Preservation Trust (SPT) was a Charity created by David Liddell-Grainger, to operate the two Shackletons he purchased under this name. Although there are several references to the Trust in 1990/91 it wasn't actually an entity or charity until 1993. It maintained close links with Air Atlantique and supported their work but by the late 1990 after WL790 had departed to the USA it had become virtually dormant.

The SPT enjoyed a revival when Sqn Ldr (ret) John Cubberley formed a new group to take care of the Shackleton, initially as the 'Atlantique Avro Shackleton Support Group', then later as the renewed SPT.

WR963 went from strength to strength and over a period of time enjoyed a brief outing on Coventry's runway which had her fast taxying to the point of flight; and then a few years later out on the taxiway in front of several thousand people for a farewell event to Vulcan XH558.

SAG
2016 - present

In late 2016 various factors affected the running of SPT, and it rapidly became unviable for it to operate WR963 and to meet charitable objectives. A new way was needed.

Long-time volunteer and SPT Trustee David Woods had acquired WR963 from Air Atlantique in 2009 and after a period of consultation with other volunteers and with some other Shackleton groups it was decided a Community Interest Company (CIC) needed to be formed to continue the work.

The Shackleton Aviation Group (SAG) was formed, and while business as usual seems to be the way with the aircraft, in that running and taxying are the plan - a ground up approach has been taken with regards to the support structure, paving a way to returning a Shackleton to UK skies once more.

However, it soon became clear that the CIC was not the best way to ensure WR963’s future, so in early 2020, SAG ceased to be a CIC and became an “Unincorporated Association”.

Service Timeline

11 Mar ‘54 - First flight

8 Apr ‘54 - To 38 MU for storage

5 Oct ‘54 - To 224 Sqn Gibraltar. Coded “B

Feb, Jun & Jul ‘55 – Installation of special fitments

28 Sep ‘56 - To 49 MU Colerne for additional mods

11 Oct ‘56 - Returned to Gibraltar. Coded “M

19 Oct ‘57 - Further modifications, till 11 Nov

9 Mar ‘59 - Returned to Avro for Phase 1 modification

23 Feb ‘60 - To 210 Sqn Ballykelly. Coded “Z

15 Mar ‘61 - To DH Chester (Hawarden) for Phase 2 update

23 Nov ‘61 - To 38 Sqn Hal Far, Malta. Coded “X

14 Jan ‘66 - To 205 Sqn Changi, Singapore. Coded “A

Aug ‘66 – To HS Aviation Langar for Phase 3 mods

1 Aug ‘67 - Returned to 205 Sqn. Coded “H

17 Dec ‘70 - Returned to UK, 5 MU for storage

30 Jun ‘71 - To Bitteswell for AEW 2 conversion

2 Jun ‘72 - Returned to 5 MU for repainting

18 Jul ‘72 – To Lossiemouth for AEW radar installation

1 Aug ‘72 - To 8 Sqn Kinloss. Named “Ermintrude

16 Aug ‘73 - Returned to Lossiemouth. Renamed “Parsley

10 Mar ‘75 – To 60 MU for modification, till 19 Mar ‘75

1 Mar ‘76 – To HS Aviation Bitteswell for major service and re-spar

13 May ‘77 - Returned to 8 Sqn

10 Aug ‘79 - Category 3 damage, repaired by HS Aviation

29 Oct ‘79 - Returned to 8 Sqn

9 Mar ‘89 - Flown a total of 14,957 hours

9 Jul ‘91 - End of service. Flown into Coventry Airport

Photo Credits: Pete Curran, Phil Cain, Mark Ward, Richard Woods, Jamie Strachan, Cameron Sys, David Kavanagh (if we've missed you, please let us know)

 

Contact Us

See Events page for on-site directions. If you would like to visit us other than for an Event, please contact us first, so we can arrange a suitable time.

Dakota House
Coventry Airport
Baginton
Warwickshire
CV8 3AZ

 

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