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Man snaps up Sea Harrier on eBay

A piece of Falklands history for £10k

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A Somerset man has picked up a Falklands war vintage Sea Harrier for a bargain £10,000, the Mirror reports.

Neil Banwell, 39, said: "I was 14 when the war broke out and used to watch them flying out on the news every night. I was so disappointed when they stopped flying them last year - but I couldn't believe it when I saw one on eBay so I jumped at the chance.

"It was my daughter Jess's 14th birthday and she put the bid on for me. We then went out to a barbecue and the next morning we found out we owned a Sea Harrier."

Banwell has taken delivery of ZX494 - which on 1 May 1982 with Lt Cmdr Andy Auld at the controls deposited cluster bombs on Port Stanley airfield - complete with two 30mm cannon but missing its Pegasus power plant and computer systems "due to regulations which prevent it being flown in the UK".

ZX494 is now sitting in a hangar near Banwell's home in Wedmore. He hopes to restore the aircraft, and is looking to get a second-hand engine from BAE Systems. He won't, however, have to scour car boot sales for the original ejector seat: it's still in place, minus its explosive charge.

Twenty-nine Sea Harriers served in the Falklands, with two lost to ground fire and four in accidents. They were last year taken out of service by the navy, superceded by the GR7 and GR9 (an upgraded model of the GR7) ground attack versions. Ultimately, the Harrier will be replaced by the Future Joint Combat Aircraft (aka the Joint Strike Fighter), due to enter service in 2012. ®

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