– My RAF Journey Part 17
On arriving at RAF Church Fenton from Scotland, I was relieved that this would be a solid base for a full year of jet training: a home and a foundation to settle into, without the pattern of distractions of the many recent relocations. Church Fenton was opened in 1937 as a fighter base to serve the defence network protection of Leeds, Bradford, Sheffield, and Humber estuary industrial regions. Initially home to Canadian 242 Squadron and, shortly thereafter, 306 All-Polish Fighter Squadron, flying Spitfires. An original Spitfire still stood at the entrance of the base as the ‘gate guard’ – subsequently sold off and refurbished to fly once again after my departure.
Jet training at No. 4 Flying Training School comprised two parts: the Jet Provost Mk3 for initial flying training and thereafter – if you were to be streamed into fast jets – the Jet Provost Mk 5. The British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) JP was a jet trainer in use with the RAF from 1955 to 1993. It was originally developed by Hunting Percival from the earlier piston engine-powered Percival Provost basic trainer, and later produced by BAC. In addition to the multiple RAF orders, the Jet Provost, sometimes with light armament, was exported to many air forces worldwide. The design was also further developed into a more heavily armed ground attack variant under the name BAC Strikemaster.