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Developed by Hunting Percival who also developed the Piston Provost during the early 1950s, the Jet Provost was initially designed in anticipation of the RAF requiring a jet trainer. The RAF eventually supported the project in 1953 and in order to rapidly produce a working prototype many parts from the Piston Provost were re-used resulting in a first flight occuring during June 1954. Featuring performance close to jet fighters of the time but with more forgiving handling characteristics, the Jet Provost was updated throughout its production life, this including armed versions being produced for a number of export customers which were capable of light combat duties alongside their trainer role. A more powerful and heavily armed dedicated combat version of the Jet Provost was also eventually produced named the Strikemaster. The Strikemaster was ordered by eleven nations including New Zealand.
The Jet Provost T1 formally entered service with the RAF at RAF Hullavington in 1957, with the main production T3 version entering service in 1959. Utilised as the Basic Jet Trainer for all RAF pilots, the type received numerous updates until the Jet Provost T5 entered service in 1969 with a more powerful engine and a pressurised cockpit. This more powerful variant allowed the RAF to use the Jet Provost for other duties including aerobatic displays, tactical weapons training and some advanced flight training. The Jet Provost was eventually retired from RAF service in 1993 when it was replaced by the Short Tucano.
The Jet Provost appearing on static display at this years Air Tattoo is T3A XM479/G-BVEZ which is now operated by the Newcastle Jet Provost Group, a consortium of private pilot owners based at Durham Tees Valley Airport. The aircraft was built in Luton in 1961 as a T3 and flew from the RAF College, Cranwell until it was stored in 1966. The aircraft was upgraded to T3A status in 1976 after which it was based at RAF Linton-on-Ouse until retirement in 1993.