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Old 27th Dec 2003, 14:46   #81 (permalink)
 
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Another exercise comes to mind. This time a high level Vulcan declared an emergency with an engine problem overhead. Clanging of bells and the crash crews were ready in seconds - and then had to wait 20 minutes before the big "Manta Ray" reached ground level!

After repairs the customary farewell pass was requested. As you know the Vulcan had a healthy noise footprint even without afterburners - sorry reheat to you - and as it passed a small village by the fence, the phones started ringing. A woman complained that that DRAKEN! was way too low.

Best regards
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Old 27th Dec 2003, 17:11   #82 (permalink)
 
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I remember reading that our V Bomber Force were all Nuked up and ready for the off during the Cuban Missile crisis, I remember that week very well, one was sat on top of 32,000 tons of Venuzuala crude about eighty miles off the coast of Cuba,we were being constantly buzzed at very low level by the cousins coast guard aircraft, the old man even issued six cans of beer per man,as he like most of us thought the end was nigh.
It very nearly was as well.
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Old 29th Dec 2003, 00:18   #83 (permalink)
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Dark Helmet. Don't I recall that the Stn notice board said (--after the phrase 'prepare for war') AND DON'T YOU FORGET IT! until an HQ staff officer, a rather less red-blooded guy than the STN CDR (Whisky Walker?) insisted that it be toned down?
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Old 29th Dec 2003, 01:14   #84 (permalink)
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Secrecy. As the events are over 30 years ago I got permission to give a public lecture on the holy of holies, Bomber Command's war plans. In the audience was another vault officer who kept nodding his head (he wasn't asleep).

Now for the August panic. It was August 1969 exactly one year after the Czech invasion and I think 2 months after the Royal Navy took over deterent responsiblities. The alert was declared as Selective Generation and not as an Exercise. The number of aircraft ordered to readiness by the Bomber Controller was declared over the bomber box. I remember it virtually word for word.

"This is the Bomber Controller for Bomblist Charlie, Selective Generation. Cottesmore 16 aircraft, Finningley 3 aircraft, Scampton 10 aircraft, Waddington 16 aircraft." It was repeated once followed by Bomber Controller out. I am not sure the exact numbers but it was not a full all out generation.

The time was about 1400 on a Friday and any jets airborne were winging their way back home and crews were well on their way to a good weekend as the bar still had a brisk trade at lunchtimes. Would we, at Waddington, be able to raise 19 crews? Not only that but could we cover the top 19 targets too?

Surprisingly two squadrons, 44 and 50, had ground training days, the squadrons were fully manned, and no crew was drunk. Really!

As it became apparent that this was 'no drill' I asked the Eng Controller about the window loads. Not one aircraft had the proper primary operational fit which included RBW and Type 150 and no aircraft had the alternative load of Type 22 either.

When asked to check they engineers came back with the stripper counter readers that had no relevance to the actual chaff fitted. They then had to prepare 4 hoppers with the right contents and number of bundles, then swop it on an armed aircraft. Each time the crew had to go out as the window was changed over.

Later that afternoon we got a call from Strike asking what the window loads were. I sent back, as instructed by Arthur Griffiths, "All aircraft are fitted in accordance with the Bomber Command War SOP, Vol 1, Chapter 5, para 22." Love - 15. Boots Griffths loved that sort of game. He turned to the engineers and said make it happen. The window bay was working all night repacking 22x4 window packs.

That they worked overnight suggests to alert lasted for at least 20 hours.

Why? Best rumour that we had soon after was that one of the Royal Navy SSBN had gone u/s and we were covering the UK deterrent. An alternative was that contact had been lost with the SSBN. The last rumour was it was simply a precaution as it was the 1st anniversary of the Czech uprising.

The QRA practise alerts were EDOM. Once QRA was finished the USAF Exchange Officer in Exercise Plans created Exercise EDITH, not unlike the selective generation. This exercise had no operational basis, at least initially, and the Ops branch was unaware of it. When I asked him the rationale behind the exercise he said it was a shame to lose the operational edge that we had from QRA.

Finally Flat Vet, did you smoke and did you cadge lights from unsuspectng copilots?

WE177B was indeed the first of the new nuclear weapons in RAF service. Its nominal weight was 950lb which was the look-a-like weight of a conventional weapon. It actually weighed about 1007.5 lb but could not be called a 1,000lb bomb because the 950lb of conventional 1,000lber could cause confusion. The WE117A was called a 600lb because the RN had a 540 and the US B57 was a 550. The actual weight of the 177A was nearer 550, I can't recall its actual weight. As for its yield I believe the range was rather larger than that at the usernet site mentioned above.

The yield of the Yellow Sun 2 was less than 1Mt. The bomb was known as Bomb Aircraft HE 7,000lb HC. HC for high capacity suggested it was similar to the 4,000 and 8,000 WW2 blast bombs. It was also nuclear code for a megaton weapon, hence the yield assumption of 1Mt. A megaton range weapon however began at 500kt. The YS2 nominal was about 850kt.

The WE177B, Bomb Aircraft HE 950lb MC, was nominally 450kt.

Flat Vet,

Got you.

The non-exercise QRA alert was not a one off. I was at Cottesmore when one occurred and that time no amount of pleading whatever got the crews to stand-down.

We had met too many USAF missile jocks and crews to fall for that 'trick' just trying to get us to only pay lip service to the rules.

I had a Gp Capt from Bomber trying to inspect the Vault on a pre-AOCs. No dice. His name was not on the list - it was a very short list. When he realised bluff was not going to work he made a note of the authorising officer's name, Norman Howard I think, and went off to get authorisation. He never came back.
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Old 29th Dec 2003, 01:50   #85 (permalink)
 
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So we have an apparent discrepancy in the date of this flap - some say August 1969, some say October - yet the sources all seem reputable.
Were there in fact 2 entirely different incidents?


Drapes: It appears that only Valiants ever dropped live weapons, 6 [7?] in total.

http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/Uk/UKTesting.html

Last edited by Smoketoomuch; 29th Dec 2003 at 03:31.
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Old 29th Dec 2003, 01:58   #86 (permalink)
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At the risk of monopolising this thread this evening - goon suits!

Goon suits were a fairly recent innovation in the Vulcan force around the early 70's I think. At that time I was Cyprus based and thus ineligible.

One of the first V-force training films we saw in the early 60s had a silver Mark 1 Vulcan on an Atlantic navex, so see what it was like over the Atlantic. Its callsign was Pedro Zebra. One thing that was never explained in the script was how it ran out of fuel. It ditched and we were then entertained to a modern version of 'The Sea Shall Not Have Them". The navigator managed to get his nav bag into the dinghy and the captain set up a watch roster with the plotter maintaining a log. The crew had 5 sarah beacons so could radiate for a total of 40 hours. They had to calculate when to switch on the first beacon having allowed about 5 hours for overdue action, the Shackleton SAR launch andc transit. Oh happy days.

When we asked a 10-ton budgie driver how far out he could rescue us we got the good news. Lightning jock 60 miles. Vulcan crew 10 miles.

SmoketooMuch, quite possibly. My logbook is at work but I think that I may have left Waddington by Oct 69.
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Old 29th Dec 2003, 02:26   #87 (permalink)

 
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Pontius Nav. Great post, and information. Smoketoomuch, The Friday afternoon in question was most definitely a one-off. Exercise Micks and Mickey Finns, and Edoms, came and went as fairly routine, but this was different. As I mentioned, the WingCo Tech was a lousy actor. He was completely in the dark as to what was going on, and made his worries obvious! Flat Vet’s description of Strike HQ during the ‘incident’ is undoubtedly the Friday in question.
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Old 29th Dec 2003, 02:40   #88 (permalink)
 
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August 1969 was a busy time - or was there some connection between these events we never saw at the time. Sometime around the 26th of August 1969 an exercise was initiated for the Cyprus based Vulcans during which the aircraft were loaded with 21 x 1,000 pounders. The wing subsequently launched and dropped the bombs on the range at El Adem, Libya.

We were told later that the exercise was connected with the Russians helping Gaddafi take control in Libya.

Odd thing about this was the live bombs and the fact that we were issued pistols. The only time is saw a firearm issued to aircrew.
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Old 29th Dec 2003, 02:43   #89 (permalink)
 
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Pontius

I note that both of your recent posts bare an almost verbatim resemblance to the KGB London station operational log of the same dates !

Happy new year and thanks for the fascinating read

FEBA
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Old 29th Dec 2003, 03:21   #90 (permalink)
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Brain fade. It was Mike d'Arcy who was the stn cdr in Aug 69. He tried to kill me in the Lanc on his first take-off as he careened down the runway. We needed two new main wheel tyre as the treads were so badly worn - sideways. He had not been briefed that the throttles were not synchronised.

FEBA,

You've got me. Our car was a C-reg Hillman Minx, pale green. Once a month it was necessary to visit the consulate in Hull. Roads were not very good then and we had to use the A134 through Thetford to visit the consulate in Kings Lynn and then go via Boston, then a back road on the B1192 to the A153 until we found it quicker to use the A17 as far as the A607 to Leadenham. Nice pubs along the Lincoln Edge, especially the George at Leadenham for an evening meal or the Horse and Jockey at Waddington. Met lots of interesting people, Prager, Britain, etc. Then A15 A631 to Doncaster, take in Goole, and then across to Hull. Boring bit that A63 winding all that way through industrial sites. Getting home was much quicker, down hill all the way, Woolfox Lodge, Cottesmore, Wittering, sorry I meant Stamford, Huntingdon and home via Bentley Priory, oops I mean Bushey and Stanmore.
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Old 29th Dec 2003, 03:22   #91 (permalink)
 
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Just realised there is something wrong with the dates here. Some of the Cottesmore Vulcans left for Akrotiri, with a Scramble take-off, on the 19th of March 1969. I was in XM572 (my favourite aeroplane). Obviously, since it was a Scramble, several aircraft left at this time. PNav remembers that Cottesmore was required to generate 16 aircraft for the August 1969 exercise. Did Cottesmore still have 16 usable Vulcans at that time?

Being very busy exploring the kebab houses and the Kokinelli in downtown Limassol I rather lost track of events in the real World!
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Old 29th Dec 2003, 03:28   #92 (permalink)
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Boing, was the Cyprus incident anything to do with Stacey the stn cdr. A right one he was.

After each NEAF nuclear exercise he would order a re-generation in the conventional role. It would take about 5 hours to remove all the nuclear gear and rearm with 1,000lb. The black-hand gang had to work like the proverbial stowing away 16 by 950s and loading 16x21 x 1,000lb. command used to watch with glee waiting for him to fall flat on his face. He never did.

His favourite trick was to treat VIPs to a sunrise silver service breakfast on the cliffs as the dawn broke.

Kept the Ladies Room bar fully stocked and out of bounds. Similar bar down the air terminal. After a flight we were invited into the bar at the air terminal for a debrief. There was a steward from the mess and Stacey had one beer with us before departing. Ask the barman for whatever you want he said. Generous to a fault.

We found out later that he ran both bars on mess guests.

Boing,

OK more brain fade. You are probably right and it may have been Wittering who certainly would not have been able to generate 16 Blue Steel.

I know the generation was not limited to Waddington and Finningley. I guess you are right about Cottesmore though. 9 or 35? I was 35.
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Old 29th Dec 2003, 03:44   #93 (permalink)
 
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Stacey was the Station Commander. Certainly an impressive looking individual. Never had any "social" interaction with him. I remember he used to drive a white painted Land Rover as his service vehicle. Now, you would think a white Land Rover would be fairly noticeable. Unfortunately, Bill Southcombe failed to notice this conspicuous machine as he burned down the long straight to the beach clubs at warp speed in his new mini. Bill got the honour of a private interview with the Station Commander.

Stacey did seem to be a very "cool" individual. One evening Akrotiri was "attacked" by a Marine unit. The Officer's Mess bar was crowded when the Marines entered with dummy grenades and weapons. They were, of course, in camo. gear with blackened faces. After their attack, which would have wiped out a large proportion of the Akrotiri aircrew, Stacey calmly identified the officer in charge and brought the Marines a drink!

Were you there when the Canberra, returning to the field with a hang-up, tossed a 25 pounder into the NAAFI car park? Somebody should have told the pilot that you do not break into the circuit with a hung up bomb on board.

9 sqdn. First out, short tour.
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Old 29th Dec 2003, 04:15   #94 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
OK more brain fade. You are probably right and it may have been Wittering who certainly would not have been able to generate 16 Blue Steel.
IIRC Wittering ceased Victor ops in 1968. early '69 at the latest. I know that Scampton was involved as I discussed the event with a couple of mates on 27 & 617. Finningley?, OCU was just wrapping up there, first Scampton course was in Jan 1970. Did they have any weapons at Finningley when the OCU was there?

The 25lb PB in the NAAFI car park had a V-Force dimension. The pilot was an ex Vulcan copilot (the name can be forced out of me by the judicious application of pints of Bass). He and I did a bit of QFI'ing together in later years.

YS
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Old 29th Dec 2003, 04:58   #95 (permalink)
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Yellow Sun
Yes, Finningley had nukes. Waddington had to provide 4 crews for Finningley. Always gave them a head start over Cottesmore as both had to generate 24 aircraft. One exercise though the engineers excelled themselves. The total generation for Waddington was 31 and we were thus short of 7 target packs.

I think we were given some uncovered targets from the other wings but as it was only a Mickey Finn no real material was involved. On that exercise we sent crews to Finningley to man their 4. Then we had to send 3 more as they generated another 3. We now had some 27 crews committed and Finningley had to send OCU crews to Waddington to cover later generations. This was towards the end of the Mk 1 era and the final build up of the Mk 2. It was probably mid-67.

Boing,

Bill was my next door neighbour.
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Old 30th Dec 2003, 01:01   #96 (permalink)
 
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Vulcan diversion to Denmark

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Another exercise comes to mind. This time a high level Vulcan declared an emergency with an engine problem overhead. Clanging of bells and the crash crews were ready in seconds - and then had to wait 20 minutes before the big "Manta Ray" reached ground level!
That wouldn't have been Karup in June 1972 would it?

Rgds
YS
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Old 30th Dec 2003, 17:46   #97 (permalink)

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BEags

You really started something important here. One day -which is coming at a lick - there will be the same number of Cold War guys left as there are today from the BofB. We need to get their stories before it is too late. Why don’t you press for this to become a sticky? Did I dream that four QRA Victors were launched and moved out for two hours before they turned round? As one of the co-pilots concerned said to me ‘You go a long way in two hours’. The SAC and the Blinder mates must have some tales to tell as well, but that may be a dream too far.

Happy New Year

John
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Old 30th Dec 2003, 18:35   #98 (permalink)
 
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I totally agree with you John, however if this thread is awarded 'sticky' status then it should be moved to Aviation history and nostalgia.
Happy new year to you
FEBA
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Old 30th Dec 2003, 18:40   #99 (permalink)

 
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Thanks to a Mickey Finn my first ever flight was in a Handley Page Hastings from Cottesmore to Leuchars. On the same day, 6th July 1965, Hastings TG557 lost an elevator and fell out the sky killing 41 crew and army parachutists. The problem was found to be fatigue in the elevator hinge bolt brackets. Both aircraft were from the same squadron (RAF Colerne??) and I did sometimes wonder how close the squadron tasking might have come to swapping the two aircraft. There but for the swipe of a chinagraph………
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Old 30th Dec 2003, 20:03   #100 (permalink)
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John Farley,

One of the stories I heard involved the Victor Training Flight. Not the final conversion unit but the initial one in the mid-50s.

Apparently they used to do long range radar recce sorties to the east. Flying on a western heading at 45,000 feet and 0.9 mach nothing could catch them. The jets from 2ATAF would be launched to delouse them as they came streaming over the border.
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