In recent years the Italian Warbird movement has grown in numbers of flying vintage aircraft, in many cases thanks to the efforts of individual owners. Nowadays it is very common to see Stearmans, T-6 Texan, Yaks and even a P-51 Mustang at local aviation events. And now thanks to the effort of Stefano Landi, a well-experienced and well-known Italian aerobatic and warbird pilot, Italian aviation enthusiasts will be able to enjoy a rare Hawker Sea Fury FB11.
On October 20th, Stefano Landi took off from Bremgarten, Germany, home of the German restoration company MeierMotors GmbH, and flew south to the British-built fighter’s temporary home at Ravenna airport.
The Hawker Sea Fury was a carrier-borne fighter aircraft designed and manufactured by Hawker Aircraft Limited. It was the last propeller-driven fighter to serve with the Royal Navy, and one of the fastest production single reciprocating engine aircraft ever built. Developed during the Second World War, the Sea Fury entered service two years after the war ended. It proved to be a popular aircraft with a number of overseas militaries, and was used during the Korean War in the early 1950s, as well as during the failed 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba.
This the latest restoration by Meier Motors, Hawker Sea Fury FB11 D-CRZY, made its first flight on 21 September 2020. The Sea Fury was allegedly built as WJ298, and then exported to Iraq in 1952, where it flew as 303. These Iraqi aircraft had their wing-fold mechanisms and tail hooks removed, and were known simply as “Furys.” This particular Fury, along with several others, was salvaged from that country by Ed Jurist in 1979 and registered N26SF. He then sold the machine to the famous Italo-Australian collector and pilot Guido Zuccoli. Registered as VH-HFG, the fighter flew for the Zuccoli family from 1983 to 2006, painted in Royal Australian Navy colors as 308/K. It was sold to Walter C. Bowe in Sonoma, California, as N97SF in 2007.
Nowadays there are reasons to believe that D-CRZY is only partly WJ298. But as pointed out by Scramble.nl, it is said to have been exported to Iraq in 1952, however, as noted in Geoff Goodall’s Warbird Directory, the original WJ298 was still operational with the Royal Navy, assigned to No.776 FRU based at Hurn, in the U.K. in September 1958! Iraqi AF 303 was originally quoted as construction number 37522, but paperwork also indicates it is 37727, which makes it the aircraft later flying as N48SF. The aircraft has been returned to original Sea Fury specification with the wing-folding function reincorporated.
Today the Sea Fury is the first aircraft of its kind to fly in Italy, and has temporarily found a home at the Ravenna airport while waiting for the appropriate facilities to be adapted for it at the FlyOzzano (LIKO) airfield in Ozzano Emilia ( near Bologna). For more information visit www.flyozzano.com