Target Drone Losses

These are the known fates of Canberra, Firefly and Meteor target drones. These aircraft were converted into pilotless radio controlled drones in the late 50s early 60s for use in the development of British land and ship launched ground to air and also air to air missiles. The Meteor has continued in this role acting as targets from Llanbedr for air to air missiles. Losses of other drones such as Midget, Shelduck, Chukar, MATS-B, Skeet and Jindivik have not been as well documented and are in any case far too numerous to mention.

The Fairey Firefly U9, Meteor U15 and Canberra U14 losses with 728B NAS occurred when the aircraft operated from Hal Far, Malta. They mainly acted as targets for Sea Slug missiles fired from HMS Girdle Ness in the Mediterranean. The squadron disbanded on 2nd December 1961.

The Canberra U10 was converted for the role as target drone at Shorts of Belfast. They were despatched to Woomera weapons testing range in Australia where they were used as targets for several new British missiles including the English Electric Thunderbird.

The Fairey Firefly U8 was converted for use in conjunction with the Short Brothers drone programme at Llanbedr and Aberporth. Serials WM856 to WP354 were built from new as U8 drones
1956
25th May WM894 Fairey Firefly U8 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr, Merioneth.
21st June WM985 Fairey Firefly U8 RAE Written off at Llanbedr.
27th July WP351 Fairey Firefly U8 RAE Damaged on landing at Llanbedr and later declared a write off.
10th September WP354 Fairey Firefly U8 RAE Crashed during a flight from Llanbedr.
1st October WM860 Fairey Firefly U8 RAE Extensively damaged on landing at Llanbedr.
15th October WM892 Fairey Firefly U8 RAE Suffered engine failure while on approach to Llanbedr due to failure of the supercharger. Force landed 5,000 yards short of the runway and caught fire. Both occupants were badly burnt.
18th October WP352 Fairey Firefly U8 RAE Shot down over Aberporth range.
2nd November WM887 Fairey Firefly U8 RAE Crashed into Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
9th November WM857 Fairey Firefly U8 RAE Lost during a flight from Llanbedr.
13th November WP353 Fairey Firefly U8 RAE Written off in a heavy landing at Llanbedr.
29th November WM880 Fairey Firefly U8 RAE Crashed into Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
19th December WM858 Fairey Firefly U8 RAE Crashed into Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
1957
9th January WM863 Fairey Firefly U8 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
12th February WM896 Fairey Firefly U8 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
15th February WM889 Fairey Firefly U8 RAE Damaged on landing at Llanbedr and later declared a write off.
26th February WM898 Fairey Firefly U8 RAE Lost during a flight from Llanbedr.
12th March WM888 Fairey Firefly U8 RAE Declared a write off after a take off accident from Llanbedr.
25th March WM897 Fairey Firefly U8 RAE Lost during a flight from Llanbedr.
26th March WM883 Fairey Firefly U8 RAE Lost during a flight from Llanbedr.
29th March WM862 Fairey Firefly U8 RAE Crashed into Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
29th March WM881 Fairey Firefly U8 RAE Crashed into Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
3rd May WM859 Fairey Firefly U8 RAE Damaged on landing at Llanbedr and was later declared a write off.
20th June WM823 Fairey Firefly U8 RAE Crash-landed at Llanbedr.
31st October WM890 Fairey Firefly U8 RAE Lost during a sortie from Llanbedr.
26th November WJ149 Fairey Firefly U8 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.

1958

4th March WM856 Fairey Firefly U8 RAE Crashed into Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
10th March WM899 Fairey Firefly U8 RAE Crashed into Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
4th September VT403 Fairey Firefly U9 Short & Harland Swung on take off from Yeovilton for a ferry flight to Hal Far, Malta due to the tail wheel being unlocked. It became airborne but the pilot had to apply severe rudder to avoid the ATC and several parked Sea Venoms. This resulted in the aircraft stalling and crashing onto the airfield. The two were slightly injured after the aircraft caught fire.
5th September RA415 Meteor D15 RAE Rolled violently to port during a radio controlled approach to Llanbedr. The port wing struck a hangar before crashing into the ground and disintegrating. The major portion of the fuselage forced its way through the side of another hangar 75 yards from the point of impact
11th October WB257 Fairey Firefly U9 728B NAS Shot down off Malta.
31st October VH134 Fairey Firefly U9 728B NAS Ditched on take off from Hal Far, Malta.
3rd November VT370 Fairey Firefly U9 728B NAS Crashed into the Mediterranean off Malta.
3rd November WB394 Fairey Firefly U9 728B NAS Shot down off Malta.
3rd November WM882 Fairey Firefly U8 RAE Written off after suffering damage to the engine and propeller at Llanbedr.
4th November WB373 Fairey Firefly U9 728B NAS Shot down off Malta.
26th November VT441 Fairey Firefly U9 728B NAS Shot down off Malta by HMS Duchess.
1959
9th June WD961 Canberra U10 WRE Destroyed by a missile at Woomera range, Australia. Date also quoted as 20/07/1959.
20th July WD951 Canberra U10 WRE Destroyed by a missile at Woomera range, Australia.
15th October WD929 Canberra U10 WRE Crashed on return to base in Australia.
17th October WJ987 Canberra U10 WRE Destroyed by a missile at Woomera range, Australia.
26th November WM884 Fairey Firefly U8 RAE Lost during a flight from Llanbedr.
26th November WJ152 Fairey Firefly U8 RAE Written off at Llanbedr.
27th November WM810 Fairey Firefly U8 RAE Lost during a flight from Llanbedr.
27th November WJ151 Fairey Firefly U8 RAE Lost during a flight from Llanbedr.
30th November WH733 Canberra U10 WRE Crashed on landing in Australia.
1960
29th March VT104/656 Meteor U15 728B NAS Shot down by a Sea Slug missile off Malta.
6th May RA375/F-658 Meteor U15 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay while on a flight from Llanbedr.
11th May VT243/65- Meteor U15 728B NAS Crashed into the Mediterranean off Malta during a radio controlled flight.
11th May VT110/655 Meteor U15 728B NAS Crashed into the Mediterranean off Malta during a radio controlled flight.
12th May VT310/657 Meteor U15 728B NAS Shot down by a Sea Slug missile off Malta.
25th May WB245/592 Fairey Firefly U9 728B NAS Crashed on take off from Hal Far, Malta.
20th July WJ147 Fairey Firefly U8 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
9th August RA387/658 Meteor U15 728B NAS Crashed into the Mediterranean off Malta during a radio controlled flight.
19th August VT481/59- Fairey Firefly U9 728B NAS Shot down off Malta.
24th August VZ417/65- Meteor U15 728B NAS Shot down off Malta.
25th August WB410/596 Fairey Firefly U9 728B NAS Crashed on landing at Hal Far, Malta.
26th August VT364/593 Fairey Firefly U9 728B NAS Crashed on landing at Hal Far, Malta.
8th September VT282 Meteor U15 728B NAS Shot down off Malta.
26th September WB331 Fairey Firefly U9 728B NAS Crashed on landing at Hal Far, Malta.
6th October WB365 Fairey Firefly U9 728B NAS Shot down off Malta.
6th October WB392 Fairey Firefly U9 728B NAS Shot down off Malta.
7th October WB374 Fairey Firefly U9 728B NAS Shot down off Malta.
14th October VW285 Meteor U15 728B NAS Shot down off Malta.
9th November WH284/65- Meteor U16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
1961
8th March VT268/65- Meteor U15 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
9th June WF707 Meteor D16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
12th June WH506 Meteor D16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
12th June WK717 Meteor D16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
16th June WH500 Meteor D16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
23rd June WA756 Meteor D16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
4th July WH315 Meteor D16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
20th July WH359 Meteor D16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
2nd October WH365 Meteor U16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
6th October WH921/590 Canberra U14 728B NAS Shot down by a Sea Slug missile fired from HMS Girdle Ness off Malta.
12th October WK993 Meteor U16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
26th October WL160 Meteor U16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
27th October WH505 Meteor U16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
30th October VZ415/65- Meteor U16 728B NAS Shot down off Malta
9th November WK812 Meteor D16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr. Date also quoted as 23/02/1962
17th November WH349 Meteor D16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
23rd November ----- Fairey Firefly U9 728B NAS Shot down off Malta by a Scimitar which was operating off HMS Centaur.
23rd November ----- Fairey Firefly U9 728B NAS Shot down off Malta by a Sea Vixen which was operating off HMS Ark Royal.
27th November ----- Fairey Firefly U9 728B NAS Shot down off Malta by the guns of HMS Duchess. This was the last Firefly U9 loss in Navy service as the unit disbanded six days later.
1962
17th January WF729 Meteor D16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
21st February WF741 Meteor D16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
27th March WK949 Meteor D16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
18th April WE962 Meteor D16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
12th July WK743 Meteor D16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
17th July WH742 Canberra U10 WRE Destroyed by a missile at Woomera range, Australia. Nose section allocated to Shawbury fire dump.
2nd August WK790 Meteor D16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
3rd August WH509 Meteor D16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
27th September WK784 Meteor D16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
10th October WK980 Meteor D16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
9th November WH736 Meteor D16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
15th November WK793 Meteor D16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
15th November WL163 Meteor D16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
19th November WL110 Meteor D16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
23rd November WK110 Canberra U10 WRE Destroyed by a missile at Woomera range, Australia.
1963
7th February WK799 Meteor D16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
9th February WL127 Meteor D16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
9th February VT196 Meteor U15 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
9th March WK744 Meteor D16 RAE Touched down heavily on the nose and starboard wheels during an unmanned cross wind landing at Llanbedr. The starboard oleo sheared off and the aircraft ran off the runway
30th March WK709 Meteor D16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
19th April WH363 Meteor D16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
3rd July WK675 Meteor D16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
22nd August WK911 Meteor D16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
22nd August WL124 Meteor D16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
29th August WK885 Meteor D16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
6th September WK855 Meteor D16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
1st October WK648 Meteor D16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
16th October WK859 Meteor D16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
1st November WK721 Meteor D16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
1964
29th January WL111 Meteor D16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
12th February WH652 Canberra U10 1 ATU Destroyed by a missile at Woomera range, Australia.
18th February WJ604 Canberra U10 1 ATU Crashed after control failure at Woomera, Australia.
13th March WF681 Meteor D16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
1st April WH885 Canberra U10 1 ATU Destroyed in an accident at Woomera, Australia.
14th April WH729 Canberra U10 1 ATU Destroyed by a missile at Woomera range, Australia.
24th May WH860 Canberra U10 1 ATU Destroyed by a missile at Woomera range, Australia.
27th May WK716 Meteor D16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
28th May WK932 Meteor D16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
13th July WK737 Meteor D16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
6th November WK783 Meteor D16 RAE Shot down over Cardigan Bay during a flight from Llanbedr.
17th December WJ621 Canberra U10 1 ATU Destroyed by a missile at Woomera range, Australia.
1965
28th April WH705 Canberra U10 1 ATU Destroyed by a missile at Woomera range, Australia.
26th May WH710 Canberra U10 1 ATU Crashed on return to base in Australia. Date also quoted as 14/04/1964.
17th November WK107 Canberra U10 1 ATU Destroyed by a missile at Woomera range, Australia.
1979
15th August WH320 Meteor D16 RAE Shot down over the Aberporth range by a Sky Flash missile fired from a 29 Squadron Phantom FGR2.

Wolverhampton Aviation Group