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WR963 Logo
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.

All of us in the Group are Volunteers and we actively recruit - see Contact Us. Many 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.

Our overheads are significant and income comes entirely from engine-run events, merchandise, donations and Friends of WR963 membership. Please help us keep our Growler growling. Thank you.

WR963 to move to Yorkshire Air Museum! Click "Donate" for more.

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

Restoration is ongoing. it's slow but steady

 and we need your help - but it’s not

just about WR963 you know...

Find out more

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

From outside or on-board, perhaps as our VIP

Feel the growl from 4 Rolls-Royce Griffons

 8 Propellers, 24 Blades, 48 Cylinders

148 Litres and 10,000 Horse Power

Get involved - join us as a "Friend" and

help preserve living aviation history.

Why not gift a membership

as a Birthday Present?

There's Caps, T-shirts, Mugs & More

Or why not Gift an Aircraft Tour?

A Book, a Card or a Whitworth Tool

They all help fund the Spares and Fuel

See historical pictures of WR963 in service

from 1954 through to 1991. There's also

VP293, AKA "Zebedee", when he was

a complete airframe!

We cannot do this alone, so any help you

can provide will be gratefully received

See how you can help and which

organisations are supporting us

A new home has been secured for WR963

at The Yorkshire Air Museum, Elvington.

If you would like to help towards the

cost of the move, click on Donate

WR963 Shackleton Patch
A Brief History
Avro Shackleton WR963 AEW take off
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.

Avro Shackleton WR963 in AEW colours at Coventry under SPT
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.

Avro Shackleton WR963 at Coventry in MR Colours
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.

Avro Shackleton WR963 in MR colours
2016 - present

In late 2016 various factors affected the running of SPT. 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) should 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
Avro Shackleton WR963 1954
Avro Shackleton WR963 North Weald 1991 (Brian Johnstone)

11 Mar ‘54 - First flight

8 Apr ‘54 - 38 MU for storage

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

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

28 Sep ‘56 - 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 mods

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

15 Mar ‘61 - DH Chester for Phase 2 update

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

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

Aug ‘66 – 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 - Bitteswell for AEW 2 conversion

2 Jun ‘72 - Returned to 5 MU for repainting

18 Jul ‘72 – Lossiemouth for AEW radar install

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

16 Aug ‘73 - Lossiemouth. Renamed “Parsley

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

1 Mar ‘76 – HSA Bitteswell. Major service & re-spar

13 May ‘77 - Returned to 8 Sqn

10 Aug ‘79 - Category 3 damage, repaired by HSA

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

Mechanically Silent... but Ready (by Phil Cain)


I wait, suspended in time and alone with my past.

Feeling wind across my skin an’ rain, as it drips off and feeds the dried grass below.

Mechanically silent... but ready.


I wait, propeller blades aligned at ten, two and six.

Wishing them to move by engines bursting into life and fuel, as I feel it flow through my veins.

Mechanically silent... but ready.


I wait, dirty and faded. Smudged by my time outdoors, my constant watch and stationary patrol.

The years of grime to be soon washed away and my colours revived to how they used to be.

Mechanically silent... but ready.


I wait, for people to return. Veterans, visitors and staff to gently place hands on familiar worn surfaces.

Of hearing memories and stories where I or my sisters went over the years; or the secrets that will one day be told.

Mechanically silent... but ready.


I wait, to run and be alive. To prove that my age is not a barrier. There’s life in me that I want to show you.

To make noise and be proud. To move and vibrate; the whistle of airbrakes and the dip of my nose as my speed is controlled.

But mechanically silent... and ready!


(If you have any poetic contributions, please send them to us!)

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


Contact Us

See Events page for more directions. If you wish to visit outside of an Event, please contact us beforehand to agree a suitable time.

Dakota House
Coventry Airport

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