Jim’s a model of history

Jim Britten and his collection of Airfix models depicting all the aircraft he worked on at BAE Systems Warton
Jim Britten and his collection of Airfix models depicting all the aircraft he worked on at BAE Systems Warton
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Hidden away in a Kirkham attic is an amazing colourful history of military aircraft making on the Fylde.

A collection of more than 300 model jets spanning the decades is proudly on display thanks to the efforts of former safety equipment officer Jim Britten.

Jim spent five years in the RAF before leaving to work at Boscombe Down and then joining BAE at Warton in 1964.

It was then that his hobby began as he began to record the aircraft he worked on and their squadrons’ colours by making Airfix models.

He has converted his attic into what can only be described as the full back catalogue of BAE’s military air business with everything from Hunters, Lightnings, Jet Provosts, Canberras, Bucanners, Jaguars, Hawks and Tornados to Typhoons.

Jim was part of the safety equipment team and up until his retirement in 2001, his job took him around the world ensuring that the pilots were kitted out correctly and the brake chutes for the aircraft were safely packed.

Jim recalls packing over a thousand brake chutes for the Lightning aircraft, kitting out astronaut Tom Stafford to fly in a Tornado and even packing safety shoots for the advanced TSR-2 prototypes which ended up being cancelled controversially by the then Government in 1965.

He also remembers the words of pilot Tim Ferguson who famously landed a Jaguar on the M55 motorway: “Thank goodness your brake chute worked Jim.

“I didn’t fancy hurtling along the motorway at 300mph.”

The aircraft took off from Warton on the afternoon of Saturday, April 26, 1975, and landed on a section of carriageway near Weeton to test its short take off and landing capabilities.

Jim said: “It was supposed to be secret but when it took off again there were thousands of people there watching!

“We used to get all the Lightnings coming to us with their different squadron liveries which were very attractive and that’s what set me off.

“I have a work room where I do a bit ion the models after my wife Sue has gone to bed. I don’t watch TV so it keeps me busy.”

As well as the models Jim also keeps an extensive array of books, photos and artefacts.