The Blackburn Buccaneer S.2 was a two-seat, low-level, strike and reconnaissance aircraft of all-metal, stressed-skin construction, powered by two Rolls-Royce RB Spey Mk.101 turbofans, delivering 11,100 lb thrust. It had a maximum speed at sea level of 690 mph (Mach 0.92), a tactical radius of 500-600 miles and a range of 2000 miles.
The Buccaneer served in the Fleet Air Arm for a number of years as its major low-level strike aircraft before being enlisted by the Royal Air Force for long-range strike and photo- reconnaissance. About 100 Buccaneers entered Royal Air Force service from February 1969 until their retirement after the Gulf War.
XN974 was the first production S.2 aircraft, making its first flight from the British Aerospace airfield at Holme-on-Spalding Moor on 5 June 1964. It went straight to the Royal Aeronautical Establishment, Bedford, for work trials and then to HMS Eagle for sea trials. In 1965 it went to the USA for hot weather testing and achieved a record on its return flight from Goose Bay to Lossiemouth by becoming the first Fleet Air Arm aircraft to fly the transatlantic route non-stop without refuelling.
After a long and successful career as a trials aircraft, Buccaneer XN974 was flown into retirement at Elvington in 1991. It is maintained in ground operational condition by enthusiastic Museum volunteers. In late 2016 / early 2017 significant engineering and restoration work was undertaken on NX974 including repainting into her original Royal Navy colour scheme.
Below is a video of XN974 on her first public Thunder Day engine run and systems demonstration in June 2017.