Military AircrewA forum for the professionals who fly the non-civilian hardware, and the backroom boys and girls without whom nothing would leave the ground. Army, Navy and Airforces of the World, all equally welcome here.
Did the much heraled recce flight along the length argentine coast actually happen. It seems that in FAA circles this event did not happen as advertised. Sharkey Ward seems pretty adamant that the Nimrod never got closer than 500 miles. I'm sure the answer is somewhere between the two. Hopefully someone can shed more light on this?
"On 15th May it took-off at 0805Z with Flt Lt Cowan and 201 Sqn Crew 7 (AARI Sqn Ldr Rudin & Wg Cdr Emmerson aboard) for a long range reconnaissance mission which lasted 19hrs 5mins, extensive cloud cover having prevented the use of satellite derived information.
The Nimrod was flown south to a point 150 miles north of Stanley and then west until approximately 60 miles of the Argentine coast. XV232 then tracked north-east at between 7,000ft and 12,000ft parallel with the coast and it's Searchwater radar was used to survey a strip 400 miles wide and 1,000 miles long, confirming that all Argentine warships were still fully blockaded in port by the threat of British nuclear-powered submarines. It was a fine day and the aircraft was vulnerable during some segments of that flight, but XV232 was successfully recovered to Wideawake without incident after a total of three AARs and having travelled 8,300 miles.
Similar extended range reconnaissance flights were tasked regularly during the next few days, culminating in the second record breaking flight by XV232 during the night of 20/21 May just prior to the landings at San Carlos. Flt Lt Ford and 206 Sqn Crew 5 (AARI Sqn Ldr Wingate & Wg Cdr Emmerson aboard again) departed Wideawake at 1715Z in the aircraft and followed a similar course to the one that had been flown on 15 May".......
If you believe all that Sharkey wrote in his book, you would believe that the Fleet Air Arm won the Falklands war with no assisstance from the RAF. If fact, I think the RAF were fighting on the side of the Argentines - according to him! I may be wrong as I had to put the book down before I got half way through.
If you believed everything in Cdr Ward's Book, everyone bar his own 801 Sqn were fighting for the Argentines, let alone just the RAF! He was particularly critical of the other SHAR unit, 800 NAS on Invincible, and its commanding officer Lt Cdr Andy Auld.
I know several of the aircrew involved in the Nimrod sorties down the Argentine coast from their subsequent AWACS postings. They recall seeing the lights of Buenos Aries and on one occasion having to retrograde from a Mirage III.
Possibly more interesting however were RAF and RN ops from more unusual locations! It'll be interesting if such aspects of Corporate become public in 2013 when the 1982 govt papers are released.
"Apparently" on board Endurance around late 81/early 82 was a young RAF photographer along for the wildlife and occasional grip'n'grins with the Capt. Around late March, with the atmosphere turning distinctly murky in the South Atlantic, said photog was one of those shipped home. Endurance returned to Stanley, from where our unlikely 007 (ooh, did I say that?) boarded a flight for the UK, which at the time went via a military/civvy airfield on the eastern Argie coast. Now, being an eager aviation-orientated snapper, this chap took photos everywhere, more so if aircraft were around and at that Argie airfield there were lots. Sprog returns to UK for a thorough pumping from the Int people who are also overjoyed that he took plenty of holiday snaps during the 24 hour stop-over. In the blurry background of innocent looking pictures of shiny fixed wing holiday jets on the Argie mainland, were rows and rows of crates...later indentified as Exets in transit, thus confirming their existence in the Argie inventory.
Well, no, not strictly speaking. But it is my understanding that plans to fit PR9s with a probe for Corporate (to allow them to operate from Ascension and, if memory serves, South Africa) reached a VERY advanced stage, with full engineering drawings etc. and a robust conversion programme planned. In the event an 'alternative' solution was found for that op.
I believe that the drawings were dusted off more recently, not in order to extend PR9 range, but to allow two equivalent sorties (in terms of film footage/tape/targets) to be flown on one pressurisation cycle.
Pressurisation cycles are, I believe, a limiting factor in how long the PR9s can last. What a shame more aircraft were not kept in store when 39 down-sized to Flight strength (as 1 PRU) after Corporate....... Instead three went to Chile (back to Chile?) and several were scrapped.
it is a shame that canberra will soon disappear. whilst traveling on the train from Belfast to bangor one afternoon i wittness a canberra doing a low pass over Belfast harbour air port very impressive.
In 1954/55, a Canberra was the first British jet to be fitted with AAR equipment as a tanker. This was B.2 WH734 on loan to FLR by MoS. With a hose drum unit fitted in the bomb bay, initial trials were carried out with a Meteor F8 as the receiver. WH734 later had a nose probe fitted to test a "buddy-buddy" AAR system with another Canberra, WK143. This Canberra trialed a pod-fitted HDU as well as one in the bomb bay. Both aircraft were eventually converted to TT.18 target tug configuration.
Shame the trials were discontinued though as the Canberras would have made an excellent tactical tanker and the RAF/MoD could have then used all those redundant B.2 airframes that were then becoming available.
Think the 'probed' FRL B2s may have had non-functional probes, being used for 'dry' prods only.
The Canberras at Punta Arenas during Corporate were seen by a UK journo (Jon Snow if memory serves) who was familiar with the type from reporting on South Africa and Rhodesia. The Herc was 'spotted' according to legend because, though it wore full Chilean markings, someone had mis-spelt the air force's name as 'Fuerza Area Chile' instead of 'Fuerza Aerea Chile'....
So far, however, I haven't seen sufficient evidence to prove the stories of RAF aircraft (whether Nimrod R, Canberra PR or C-130) in Chile are any more than rumour or wishful thinking.
Instead three went to Chile (back to Chile?) and several were scrapped.
The three PR.9s that went to Chile in late 1982 were three airframes that had been in store at St Athan since the disbanding of 39 Sqn in May that year. They were XH166, XH167 ans XH173. It's said they were in "payment" for services rendered during the Falklands trouble.
WK143's probe could have been dry, but WH734 conducted trials as a "receiver" from WK143.
Beags - I think the B-something-or-other [probably a hybrid] belonged to Boscombe. In Gib, whilst on a T17 det, a Canberra arrived fitted with a refuelling probe. Needless to say, it caused quite a stir! Anyway, a Gp Capt appeared in our det office and asked some very pertinent handling questions. I took him round the T17 and discussed flying the jet. Turns out he was head tp and was due to fly the Boscombe Canberra later, to/from Gib, never having flown a Canberra before...!
I got a guided tour of this wierd machine. It had probe mounted just forward of the canopy on the centreline and a single pressure fuel tank (normal Canberra tanks were not capable of taking flight refuelling fuel pressure); it had previously been used for AAR trials [don't know the details].
Anyway, said Gp capt did do a CT sortie in/out of Gib without incident!
St Athan, where no-one sighted them, or Punta Arenas, where Jon Snow (?, who didn't log the serials) and a Chilean spotter supposedly did....?
Yup, that's where the three airframes were in storage since May 82. They were moved to Wyton where, after a brief conversion course for the Fuerza Aerea de Chile crews (supervised by 39 Sqn aircrews), they were flown out, in company with a Chliean Boeing 707, on 15 October 1982.
If Jon Snow didn't log the serials ask him why he missed them. As for your Chilean spotter. . ., well. . . .
Ostensibly the 9s were to enhance the Chiliean PR capability along their border with Argentina. One of the three was lost on 24 May 1983. As far as I can make out the other two are still flying.