Red Arrows’ famous Folland Gnat aircraft heading for the Tangmere Military Aviation Museum

The Red Arrow’s star aircraft, the Folland Gnat, is set to become a permanent exhibit of the Military Aviation Museum in Tangmere on March 2. Whilst never flown by the Red Devils, This particular Gnat became famous as the ‘Gate Guardian’ at their base in Scrampton. Now the aircraft will guard the Tangmere Military Aviation Museum’s car park.
The Folland Gnat Tl XR571 is being prepared for its journey to Tangmere.The Folland Gnat Tl XR571 is being prepared for its journey to Tangmere.
The Folland Gnat Tl XR571 is being prepared for its journey to Tangmere.

The Gnat revolutionized NATO warfare during the Cold War when the Subsonic light-fighter first landed on the scene in the 1950s.

Offering a lighter and more versatile fighting machine, the Folland could reach speeds of up to 695 mph, falling just short of its successor's record, 727.63 mph. The calibre of this fighter was extensively put to the test in successive wars between India and Pakistan where it gained a deadly reputation.

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Back in England, soaring into the spotlight for their 1965 debut, the Red Arrows, took their first bold steps into becoming a British household name.

Rather than the killing-capabilities of the plane, they showcased the acrobatic prowess of the Folland, and wouldn't stop pushing it to its limits until 1978 when it was retired.

The stellar reputation of the Arrow’s is owed not only to the skill of the pilots but also the incredible machines they mastered, the Folland Gnat F1 is a great piece of British engineering with a heritage right at the heart of the aerobatic team.

Museum Director, Ed Smith said: "It will be unloaded into its temporary position on Thursday March 2. The aircraft will then be subject to a full assessment and a work program initiated to bring it up to exhibition standard.

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"The eventual aim is to move it into a prominent position in the car park for permanent display."

In a fitting retirement, it shall join the ranks of other Cold War veterans such as the Sea Harrier and Hawker Hunter to provide an exciting education for families around Sussex.