The North East Aircraft Museum's exhibit WK198 was the machine in which Commander Mike Lithgow established a new world speed record of 1,186km/h at Castel Idris, Libya on 26. September 1953 (the picture at right shows WK198 in Libya). This beat the record established by a Hawker Hunter three weeks earlier.
After active days, the aircraft went to Kirkham, where it was used as an instructional airframe. Kirkham was closed in 1957 and the aircraft was lost until it was noticed in a scrapyard at Failsworth. It was not NEAM who had originally found it at Failsworth, but a chance visit by a group from the Museum in 1981 found the yard about to be cleared under a compulsory purchase order, and the aircraft about to be scrapped, along with the battered fuselage of the last surviving Brigand, some Firefly components and a cockpit section from a Balliol. It was then that the Museum acted to secure the loan of the remains for the itself.
Originally built as an F1 ( the third true production F1 to be built), it was later converted to serve as the prototype F4, incorporating re-heat and a variable incidence tailplane. In this guise, it was first flown by Mike Lithgow on 2. May 1953.
On 5. July 1953, flown by Mike Lithgow, it broke the London-Paris speed record, averaging 1076.9 km/hr for the 342 kilometer distance.
It took part in the coronation flypast on 15 July 1953, but afterwards suffered engine seizure when (luckily) approaching Chilbolton - it managed to force-land.
It flew at Farnborough in 1953, followed immediately by the World Speed Record (see above). This beat the three-week old record set by Neville Duke in a Hawker Hunter. A further attempt soon after was let down by a re-heat failure on the final run.
Several photos of WK198 are can be seen on pages 290 and 291 of the book Supermarine Aircraft since 1914 by C.F. Andrews, EB Morgan (Putnam)
Small print : On 3. October 1953 JV of the US Navy, flying a Douglas Skyray, was able to achieve a speed of 1,211 km/h.
WK198 at the Farnborough Air Show