PR.7 - WH773
WH773 - Vallance WH773 at Vallance Byways, Charlwood
(Photo Copyright : Damien Burke)

WH773 Wyton GG WH773 - Gate Guard, RAF Wyton
(Photo : Kev Darling / Big Bird Aviation)

WH773 - 31 Sqd WH773 - Flying with 31 Sqd (Photo : Gp Cpt G. Pitchfork)

WH773 was the first production PR.7 Canberra. Its first flight was on 16th August 1953 and soon after was delivered to RAF charge.

This PR.7 had many owners while in service with the RAF starting with 540 Sqd at RAF Wyton. It was soon transferred to 80 Sqd though, on the same airfield and stayed with them until around 1954 when once again, it was transferred on the same airfield to 82 Sqd charge.

Again on the move, WH773 was flown out to Germany to join 31 Sqd at RAFG Laarbruch. In Germany, WH773 would have been flying low-level tactical recce missions. But not for long with 31 Sqd. It was transferred yet again to the charge of 80 Sqd who flew the PR game from Laarbruch until 1957 and then moved to RAFG Bruggen. Its probable that WH773 moved to Bruggen with them.

Not one to hang around, WH773 next joined 58 Sqd back in the UK at RAF Wyton where it stayed until around 1970 or so, when it was transferred yet again. This time to the Malta to join 13 Sqd who had recently moved to RAF Luqa from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus. WH773 came back to the UK with 13 Sqd when they left RAF Luqa and returned to RAF Wyton. This much-owned and much-travelled PR.7 stayed with 13 Sqd until it was struck off RAF charge in June 1981.

It wasn't finished with its travels however. WH773 was allocated the Ground Instructional Airframe No of 8696M and loaned to 2331 ATC Sqd for a while. However, in the late 80s it was taken back by the RAF and posted as one of three Canberra Gate Guards at RAF Wyton. [One of its companion Guards was XH170 a PR.9 which remains, today, the sole Gate Guard at RAF Wyton.]

WH773 still had some travelling to do though. At the time that the RAF decided that one Gate Guard would be enough per station (1990), this much-travelled PR.7 was dismantled and delivered by road to its final resting place at Vallance Byways, Charlwood.