Designed by O.V.S. Bulleid, C.M.E. of the Southern Railway from 1937 - 1949 whose first new design was the 'Merchant Navy' class in 1941. Later asked to reduce overall weight, the 'lightweight' West Country & Battle of Britain class was of a similar appearance but some 12 tons lighter at 86 tons giving a 90% route availability. Mechanically and externally both classes were very similar. Valve gear was chain driven and located in an oil bath between the chassis members and designed to operate in a similar manner to the sump on a motor car. All 30 Merchant Navies were later rebuilt, together with many West Country/Battle of Britain pacifics, however 34081 was to remain in her original as-built form.

At Southampton, 1948 10th September 1948. 34081 was released to traffic becoming the 101st Bulleid Pacific to be completed, being initially allocated to Ramsgate shed. 

April 1950. 34081 was repainted into Brunswick Green at Brighton Works and had her 92 Squadronname plates fitted for the first time, although she never had an official naming ceremony. Named after the famous Spitfire Squadron that was based at Biggin Hill in Kent during the Battle of Britain with combat mainly fought in the skies above Kent, Surrey and Sussex which is why 43 members of this class of locomotive were dedicated to either RAF airfields, squadrons or personnel. Rendered redundant upon completion of the Kent coast electrification scheme along with many other members of the class, 34081 was sent in.

Arriving at Peterborough 27th September 1973. 34081 was purchased by the The Battle of Britain Locomotive Preservation Society for £3,500. The tender was acquired from 34028 as the original had been despatched to Briton Ferry Steel Works for use as an ingot carrier. 34028 was also subsequently purchased and restored to run on the Swanage Railway, the tender being built at Ashford works circa late 1945.

6th November 1976. 34081 departed Barry scrapyard by low loader and arrived at the Peterborough factory of British Sugar the following day where she was unloaded on 8th November into their St Botolph's sidings, becoming the 86th engine to escape Dai Woodhams yard. It was originally planned to restore 34081 at the Dean Forest Railway, but negotiations broke down and the subsequent request to overhaul her at the Nene Valley was successful. Towed by a Barclay 0-4-0ST along the NVR to Wansford, she had to traverse a short section of the Fletton Loop to access the NVR from St Botolph's Sidings to Orton Mere.

12th September 1998. Officially named 92 Squadron by Pete Waterman and rededicated at 10.00 a.m. with Oliver Bulleid (a grandson of the designer) present. The estimated total cost of restoration was £130,000 - £150,000. If the value of volunteer labour is taken in to account, the total would be in excess of £250,000.

34081 returned to the NNR where she worked until 21 May 2008 when she failed a much-delayed boiler inspection. The Committee decided that it was not worthwhile patching up the boiler only for an extension to possibly be refused and so it was decided a 10-year heavy overhaul would be carried out. Society and NVR volunteers overhauled the tender and locomotive while Chatham Steam overhauled the boiler which returned to the NVR in November 2013, being steam-tested out the frames in June 2015 before being reunited with the frames in the October. With 34081 largely complete, a warming fire was lit in the firebox on 12th December 2016 with a full test the next day including moving under her own steam. 34081 returned to service on the NVR on 25 February 2017.

92 Squadron, Royal Air Force

Formed in September 1917 at London Colney and operated from several airfields in England before departing for France in July 1918 where it again flew from many airfields until being disbanded at Eil on 7th August 1919. The Squadron was reformed at Tangmere on 10th October 1939 and flew from most of the famous airfields in south east England, including Croydon, Hornchurch, Manston, Gravesend and two spells from Biggin Hill during the height of the Battle of Britain. During emergencies their Spitfires called at other Stations such as Detling, West Malling, Hawkinge and Kenley. By April 1942 they were at Fayid in Egypt and changed to many other airfields on an almost monthly basis. As the 2nd WW progressed so they were there in the thick of it moving through Europe. Finally at Zeltweg in Austria, on 30th December 1946, they were disbanded again, having the distinction of being the highest scoring Squadron of all time with 317 enemy aircraft destroyed. It was again reformed at Acklington in January 1947, this time flying Meteor Jets and progressing through F86 Sabres, Hunters, Lightnings and Phantoms until finally the British Aerospace Hawk, whilst at the same time moving to many other airfields such as Duxford, Leconfield, Gutersloh, Akrotiri and finally Chivenor where they were disbanded again on 28th September 1994. Then in June 2009 the Tactics and Training Wing of the Air Warfare Centre at RAF Waddington became 92 Squadron.


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