Meteor WD686 returns to Croome

Tuesday, 28 August 2018, a section of the partly restored Meteor WD686 returns to Croome.

METEOR WD686 – The last plane to fly out of Defford Airfield

In the Second World War, Defford Airfield was built in the grounds of Croome Park and the Croome estate. Croome was the ancestral seat of the Earls of Coventry. The Park was landscaped by the legendary ‘Capability’ Brown.

Defford Airfield was one of the most secret places in the country, during the Second World War and the Cold War years which followed. For it was at Defford that war-winning airborne radar was developed, tested and proven.

But by the mid-1950s the main runway was no longer long enough or strong enough to take the new V-bombers then coming into service. Airborne radar and other vital research moved to Pershore airfield and Defford airfield finally closed for flying in April 1958.

Meteor WD686 in 1990
 Meteor WD686 in 1990
Meteor WD686 in 1990

The last ‘plane to fly out of Defford before the airfield finally, officially, closed for flying was a Meteor NF11 night fighter, WD686, the last of a large and varied fleet of aircraft which had served at Defford.

Now a section of the Meteor WD686 is returning to the Defford Airfield site, on land now owned by the National Trust. Incredibly Meteor WD686 has survived, although it was uncared for and at risk, deteriorating from exposure to the elements.

The Defford Airfield Heritage Group, a group of volunteers working in partnership with the National Trust, determined to rescue and restore the Meteor, and raised the funds to do so.

Meteor WD686 under restoration
 Meteor WD686 restoration
Meteor WD686 under restoration

The Boscombe Down Aviation Collection with workshops and a wealth of experience in restoration of aircraft to ground display standards, were entrusted with the highly skilled task of restoration and preservation of Meteor WD686. So far, they have meticulously restored the forward fuselage with nose, cockpit and canopy.

It is this section of the ‘Last Plane to Fly Out of Defford’ which will be returning for display at the RAF Defford Museum at National Trust Croome, arriving on Tuesday 28 August.

The iconic aircraft will stay for around two months before returning to the workshop. It is hoped the whole aircraft will be restored and return to Croome for display at some point next year.

Meteor identified as WD686
black and white image of Meteor WD686
Meteor identified as WD686