Nose of RAF Lyneham's Comet Mk2 saved by volunteers

Comet C Mk 2 Sagittarius The De Havilland Comet C2 XK699, named Sagittarius, was unveiled outside the Wiltshire airbase in June 1987 by HRH Princess Anne
Comet C Mk 2 Sagittarius According to the Boscombe Down Aviation Collection, it is the only Comet MK2 left in the world
Comet C Mk 2 Sagittarius To fund the dismantling and removal of the front end of the Comet, the BDAC had to use the "scrap value" of the back end of the jet

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The front 10m (32ft) of a jet that stood outside the former RAF Lyneham airbase in Wiltshire for more than 25 years, has been rescued by volunteers.

The nose of the Comet Mk2 was saved by the Boscombe Down Aviation Collection (BDAC) by using the "scrap value" of the back end to fund its removal.

According to former Sqn Ldr John Sharpe, BDAC's project director, it is the only Comet MK2 left in the world.

He said: "To get something like this to add to our collection is fantastic."

'Corrosion'

The De Havilland Comet C2 XK699, named Sagittarius, was unveiled outside the Wiltshire airbase in June 1987 by HRH Princess Anne.

But, unlike many of the aircraft used by the Royal Air force as gate guardians, the postwar 'Saggie' aircraft was the real thing.

After the Ministry of Defence closed RAF Lyneham last December, the 30m (98ft) airliner was destined for RAF Museum Cosford in Shropshire.

But, according to an RAF spokesman, the tender to dismantle and relocate the jet was cancelled in 2012 as the "level of corrosion" in the fuselage would have made it too expensive.

"It had to be moved by the 17 November," said Mr Sharpe.

"But with the corrosion problem at the back - it would have been very, very unlikely to have saved the whole airframe. So, we saved as much as we could."

'Recycled'

It took museum volunteers just two days to dismantle the historic aircraft and load its front section on to a lorry.

But for the "job to be done" Mr Sharpe said part of the plane has "had to be recycled" to pay for the cost of taking it apart and transporting it to Old Sarum.

Now the nose section of the jet can be seen outside the aviation collection near Salisbury and, following "some internal work", will be opened to visitors.

"It's such a big lump, it's sitting outside looking out over the airfield," said Mr Sharpe.

"But it is in a relatively good condition - a bit dirty, dusty and mucky but the inside will not give us too many problems. We'll refurbish it in the coming months so visitors can get back in the cockpit."

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