On a recent trip through the south London hinterland, we glimpsed a most unusual sight from the train window: a Harrier Jump Jet, parked in what appeared to be a ramshackle yard beside the railway line. What on earth is it doing there?
The truth is actually a little on the mundane side. The jet is a Harrier GR.3, serial number XZ130, and is located at the 1034 (Surbiton) Squadron Air Cadets base in Tolworth. It was one of the first series of jump jets, and was designed and built in the 1960s at the Hawker Siddeley plant in nearby Kingston. The plane was brought to Tolworth in 2005; rather disappointingly, it was lifted into its current position by crane rather than flown in. A newsletter (PDF) from the 1034 Squadron has further information on the aircraft and its reason for being there, while a better photograph of it can be found in the Surrey Comet.
If you want to see it for yourself, the jet can be glimpsed from the train between Tolworth and Chessington North. It can also be spotted on Google Maps. It's also visible on Bing Maps, as our top image shows, although only on the 'Bird's Eye View' setting: if you switch to the Aerial View, it magically disappears.
The Harrier isn't the only piece of military hardware parked on the streets of London. The good burghers of Bermondsey have played host to a Soviet T-34 tank since the mid-1990s; reputedly, the tank's gun is pointed at Southwark Council's head office.
Photo of tank by Eugene Goh, published under a Creative Commons 3.0 License