No. 1 (F) Squadron was of course the world's first operational V/STOL combat aircraft unit when it formed at RAF Wittering on 01 October 1969. Aircraft from the unit flew trials off HMS Ark Royal during 1971. Note the FAA F-4M in the left background of the image below. The F-4 was supposed to be the last fixed-wing type to fly off British carriers, hence the omega symbol painted on the red tail fin, just visible here ..photo also appears in Peter R. March's "The Harrier Story" (The History Press)
More early Harrier photos via Air Britain - in my collection.
Below; GR. 1 XV 744 seen presumably somewhere on the flight line at RAF Wittering in the early 1970s.
Harrier GR. 1 XW 921 of 3 Squadron
XZ 964 a GR. 3 displaying the badge of the OCU on its nose..
Below; two images courtesy of publisher Robert Forsyth from Tim McLelland's superlative " Harrier " (Classic/Ian Allan), at 334 full-colour pages the best single-volume treatment of the type....these two views depict No. 1 Squadron machines early in their careers seen at Wittering circa 1970-71, photographs by Steve Bond. It has to be said though that these first service machines were barely out of the prototype or experimental phase - they were 'product ionised' in the jargon and never designed to withstand the daily grind of operational flying. Or at least in the opinion of the ground crews; Steve Bond was Wittering ground crew and recorded;
"..the early Harrier was a pain for the engineers to work on. Engine life between overhauls was extremely short with only limited time allowed for operations in the hover. Replacing the engine meant taking the wing off completely ..and some of the key connections were actually underneath the engine so access was not easy..."
"....we 'lineys' were perpetually semi-grubby because the back-end of the aircraft was so sooty from the engine exhaust.... "
a few close-ups of the Muckleburgh Collection's GR. 3 depicting the Harrier's jet nozzles and fuselage deflector plate....