A ‘Blue Diamond’ in the Trenchard Museum

In May 1961, Number 92 Squadron’s Hunter aircraft moved to RAF Leconfield from RAF Middleton St George. At this time the Squadron were searching for a title and several alternatives were offered including ‘The Falcons’ and ‘The Flying Cobras’.

The Squadron contacted a national newspaper to find the nickname with a competition but it was only after a spectacular and thrilling display in front of a vast crowd at Monchengladbach, West Germany, that the local press christened the Squadron, ‘Die Blauen Diamenten’ or ‘The Blue Diamonds”. The name was immediately adopted. The Squadron signature flying manouvere became writing ‘92’ in the sky with smoke for the crowd and television cameras.

Built by Armstrong Whitworth at Coventry, Hunter F Mk6 Serial number XF522 (D) saw many years of service before being involved in a landing mishap in January 1962 and deemed to be beyond economical repair. The Cockpit section was saved and originally allocated to 1365 Aylesbury Squadron ATC. It then moved on loan to 2532 Squadron ATC, Wolverton, Milton Keynes before moving onto 2336 Bletchley Park ATC. The cockpit was donated to the Trenchard Museum at RAF Halton in 2014, and in recent weeks volunteers have been working on its refurbishment with a view to making it a working exhibit. The aircraft came to the Trenchard Museum in 2014.

The refurbishment team led by the museum Curator, Francis Hanford included Graham Clarke, Les Garden, Phil Humphrey and Flt Lt Andy Claesens. Graham, who was a navigational aid fitter in the RAF has been stripping out all the instrumentation prior to the re-fit said: “A lot of the preparation had already been done and the restoration is well under way. So far it has been a labour of love, blood and swearing mixed in with a lot of common sense.”

The badge of the Blue Diamonds is a cobra entwining a sprig of maple leaf. The maple leaf signifies the Squadron’s association as a Canadian unit in World War One whilst the cobra represents the fact that No 92 Squadron was one of the East India gift squadrons in World War Two.

John Glasser supplied the funding for the refurbishment, after visiting the museum. He and and his brother are trustees of a charity so donated £500. Their donation enabled the museum to purchase spare parts.

John said: “The reason I wanted to help was that I am keen to support things that encourage youngsters, both boys and girls, to get involved in engineering. When I visited the museum last year I started talking Tom Costello and was impressed by the emphasis that was being placed on youth education and decided to make a donation. I then met Francis Hanford who asked if the donation could be used for the refurbishment of the cockpit as it would have more impact if it was properly fitted out. I agreed.

With regard to the plane itself I have vivid memories, as a young boy of 7 on holiday in Worthing in the summer of 1953, of seeing Neville Duke attempting to break the world air speed record in a bright red Hawker Hunter which he flew very low above the beach and parallel to the sea. I saw him do this several times and I believe he broke the record a few days after I went home.”

If you are interested in volunteering at the Trenchard Museum or the James McCudden Flight Heritage Centre, or if you would like to visit them, you can call the Curator, Mr Francis Hanford on 01296 656481.