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Old 29th Jan 2012, 19:21   #1 (permalink)
 
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Black Buck Alternatives

I'd appreciate input from those who have knowledge of the considerations made for possible solutions to the RAF being "caught short" in the Falklands crisis. Black Buck using the Vulcan evolved as the solution, but what other possibilities were there if the Vulcan had been rendered irretrievable for example? Was the Victor ever considered in the bombing role? How unfeasable a prospect was this? Had the Victors' bomb bays been rendered thoroughly unusable for example? I believe the Buccaneer was rapidly discounted as it would run short on engine oil. But what if that had not been the case? What would have been the next limiting factor? Could it have been fuelled up enough given its bomb bay tanking capacity? And what would/could it have carried?

Bit leftfield I admit but its a daydream query which refuses to disappear.
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Old 29th Jan 2012, 19:34   #2 (permalink)
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You really need a Victor man to answer this question. I have several thoughts but will only cover ne for the moment.

The Victor 2 was never a bomber after 1968 . It is unlikely that they ever made bomb carriers or installed the wiring for the bomber role. While the Victor 1 was a bomber and its carriers might have fitted it is unlikely that there would have been any available.

Last edited by Pontius Navigator; 29th Jan 2012 at 21:19. Reason: ty proone
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Old 29th Jan 2012, 20:08   #3 (permalink)
 
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Makes sense. It was a missile man. Thankyou.
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Old 29th Jan 2012, 20:21   #4 (permalink)
 
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Pontius Navigator,

"The Victor 2 was never a bomber."

Really? So just what were 100 and 139 Sqns doing with the Victor B2 at Wittering between February 1962 and December 1968? Who was the Bomber Training Flight training crews for after the OCU wound up and the B1A squadrons disbanded or went tanker?

I know they went on to Blue Steel but not straight away.
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Old 29th Jan 2012, 20:59   #5 (permalink)
 
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By 1982 the only Victors flying were the K2s. I was on 214, the last K1/K1a squadron, which was disbanded in 1977, with all the aircraft being withdrawn in that year.

The bomb bays of the K2 were totally occupied with two very large fuel tanks. In the case of the K1 these held around 25,000 lb of fuel and I assume the figure was around the same for the K2. Removing these in some sort of retro-fit to the bombing role would not only have been a massive undertaking requiring an extensive redesign of the fuel system, but would have also have reduced the aircraft's unrefuelled range by around 25%. All in all I reckon a non-starter.

P-N I'll introduce you to a few ex Victor 2 bomber guys at Newark - they may wish to have words with you
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Old 29th Jan 2012, 21:46   #6 (permalink)
 
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Much appreciated. Begs another question too. How far stretched was the Victor force at that time in getting the Vulcan within reach? 19 aircraft wasnt it? I know the story of the in-flight ballet dance whilst they debated how much to transfer during Black Buck 1. And the emergency relaunch towards missions end. But how many surplus Victor aircraft would have been available had the bomber aircraft's reach not been so far? (given normal servicability expectations at the time). Would there have been extra Victors available to get a Bucc there for example? Tough one admittedly.
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Old 29th Jan 2012, 21:49   #7 (permalink)
 
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How about a modified Nimrod? That might be an interesting thing to speculate on...
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Old 29th Jan 2012, 22:17   #8 (permalink)


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I suppose we could have emulated the Argentines and started chucking bombs out of the back of a Hercules by hand
What was the name of the tanker they hit - was it Hercules? Bomb didn't go off, but the ship got scuttled as too dangerous to defuse
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Old 29th Jan 2012, 22:18   #9 (permalink)
 
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Thats the kind if idea I'm talking about. Might sound crazy but I wouldnt have wanted to be the Air Officer who had to tell the PM the RAF was impotent. So all sorts of scenarios must have been considered, however fleetingly. Every jet jockey must have got their slide rule out, guessed at the tanking available, and exhaled rapidly. So would they for example have considered commandeering a BA 747, ex-RAF crew included, and bombed it up? Extreme I admit, but it must have been promptly rejected and other scenarios brought to the fore. But which? Like what weapon load might Nimrod have delivered? Would it have been worth the effort? And survivability?
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Old 29th Jan 2012, 23:19   #10 (permalink)
 
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Looks like there was a plan B after all...

Quote:
Meanwhile, urgent modifications were carried out on Nimrods to fit them with ex-Vulcan air refuelling probes, a version then designated MR.2P. The MR.2P was also given the ability to carry Sidewinder AAMs, Stingray torpedoes, AGM-84A Harpoon ASMs, and 1000lb iron and cluster bombs. In the event, none of these weapons was actually used in action.

XV229 made the first flight with just the AAR probe installed on April 27th 1982; this was enough to allow crew training to be carried out. The actual fuel plumbing was very much a jury-rigged affair, but it allowed probed MR.2s to fly missions lasting up to 19 hours, refuelling from Victor tankers.
LJ
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Old 29th Jan 2012, 23:35   #11 (permalink)
 
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Coochy - hitting the airfield wasn't seen as a necessity.

The Chief of the Air Staff, Sir Michael Beetham, told the war cabinet that the RAF could mount a Vulcan raid on Stanley, but, that all things considered, he would only guarantee shutting the airfield with a minumum of 25 sorties, and preferably 50. He didn't think this necessarily the most practical approach, but if it was thought to be of help, then the RAF would crack on and do this.

The RN leadership, however, thought that a raid might very well persuade the Argentines to divert some of their Mirage IIIs to a defence of the homeland role, further weakening the ability of 8 Grupo to contest control of the air against the Sea Harriers. They therefore told Sir Michael that the raid could be of help, and would he mind awfully....?

There is, of course, a certain irony in this - for 30 years, we've had the joys of reading an array of comment - not all of it by Sharkey Ward - explaining that the RAF feared that without the Vulcan raid, they'd not play a part in the war (utter nonsense if you look at what the AT, AAR, MPA fleets got up to, and there were others, of course), and this would represent an existential threat to the service, etc, etc. Yet the most enthusaistic proponents of the idea of launching a series of Vulcan raids in a bid to achieve some sort of strategic/operational level effect wore dark, not light blue...

The net effect of this is that had the Vulcan not been available, there wouldn't have been an Op Blackbuck. The Argentines wouldn't have increased 8 Grupo's AD of Argentina tasking and more fighter sweeps - albeit limited in duration for want of AAR - would've occurred. Whether this would've simply offered the SHARs more targets, or whether it'd have made Corporate more difficult either through more air-air combat, or simply the presence of Argentine fighters more often prior to about 18 May (when the Mirage IIIs began to increase the number of fighter sweeps over the islands, albeit never managing to get their limited duration sorties to coincide with the SHARs' slightly less-limited duration sorties) is open to bar room speculation and nothing more.

Despite the Nimrod being fitted for 1,000lb bombs and CBU, I can't help thinking that the apparent lack of a strategic imperative to bomb Stanley at the time the decision to launch Blackbuck was taken would probably have seen any bombing of the airfield conducted by SHARs and the GR3s (as actually happened) with perhaps a greater weight of attack there had it become clear that the Argentines had taken steps to forward based A-4s/Daggers/SuE there.
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Old 29th Jan 2012, 23:56   #12 (permalink)
 
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The Argie Herc 'bomber' back in 1982 didn't chuck bombs out the back, but dropped them off a MER fitted to a modified starboard wing tank plyon.

Photos Here
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Old 30th Jan 2012, 02:32   #13 (permalink)
 
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Having flown the Victor K2, it think reverting it back to a freefall bomber would have been too problematic. There was nothing of the original bombing kit left, except for the NBS navigation system.

Th Black Buck missions required 11 victors on the outbound leg (two as reserve) and five for the return. Of course, some of these aircraft flew twice each mission. The Victor fleet at the time numbered 24, so this was a pretty impressive aircraft generation for such a long range operation.

The value of the Black Buck missions has been questioned frequently - particualrly by a certain vociferous SHAR pilot. A lot of this criticism is based considering the success of the raids in tactical terms. The strategic value of the missions is incalcuable - they sent a clear message to the Argentinians that they were in range. The effect on morale and redistribution of assets is hard to measure.

The Buccaneer was considered for the role and I gather there was a proposed modification to extend it's range. However, the Vulcan was the obvious choice and although the generation of airframes for conventional freefall missions wasn't easy, it was rapidly acheivable. The Nimrod was easily converted to carry freefall bombs - it had been one of it's design parameters. I gather it had dropped PGMs in later times.

And of course, the RN had Polaris. But I expect the use of that systems was considered a little extreme!
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Old 30th Jan 2012, 06:42   #14 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
How about a modified Nimrod? That might be an interesting thing to speculate on...
The 1000lb bombs and CBUs were intended for anti-shipping use only, there was no intention to employ them in any other way. However, the Nimrod bomb bay was measured to assess the feasibility of carrying LGBs but it got no further than that.

Quote:
The Nimrod was easily converted to carry freefall bombs - it had been one of it's design parameters. I gather it had dropped PGMs in later times.
I have never heard of that before. I can understand that it may have been mooted but would be very interested to hear more detail of any actual events.

YS
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Old 30th Jan 2012, 07:47   #15 (permalink)
 
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was any thought given to equipping Vulcan with the l@ser Guidence system welded onto the GR3's in the closing stages of the war (and absolutely not borrowed off the septics, oh no sirree)? surely a vulcan with 3 x 1000lb LGB's is going to use a much smaller proportion of the tanker fleet than a Vulcan with 21 x 1000lb...

once it became obvious that Vulcan was the only land-based aircraft that could/would be used for strike, were other weapons considered (i know Shrike ARM was fitted) like Harpoon, Martel, CBU ?

and, to be a pain, does anyone know why Nimrod was discounted from the land strike role when it had the capability to get that far and the kit to use relatively sophisticated weapons?
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Old 30th Jan 2012, 08:20   #16 (permalink)
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If the Vulcan carried say 14,000lbs then it could also have carried a drum tank or 2 if the load was 7,000lbs. I don't know if it could have loaded 4 lgb and 2 drum tanks.

Also, IIRC the Victor did not have the Calc 3 ballistics computer?
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Old 30th Jan 2012, 08:33   #17 (permalink)
 
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pp00ne no.4: PN said "after 1968". No Yellow Sun Mk.2s were allocated to Wittering. The Sqdns were nominally formed 1/5/62 (100) and 1/2/62 (139) and were effective on Blue Steel early-1964 (100) and 24/10/63 (that's all as per Wynn's Official History. B.2s available to Wittering 1962-63 before those Blue Steel dates were rolled back into HP Radlett to be brought up to (then described as "Autoland mod") standard.
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Old 30th Jan 2012, 08:57   #18 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tornadoken View Post
pp00ne no.4: PN said "after 1968". No Yellow Sun Mk.2s were allocated to Wittering. The Sqdns were nominally formed 1/5/62 (100) and 1/2/62 (139) and were effective on Blue Steel early-1964 (100) and 24/10/63 (that's all as per Wynn's Official History. B.2s available to Wittering 1962-63 before those Blue Steel dates were rolled back into HP Radlett to be brought up to (then described as "Autoland mod") standard.
Tornadoken, thank you for that. I made the stupid mistake of believeing pr00ne without further checking. Had I thought for a moment I would have realised it was b0ll0cks as I recall one generation for a Mickey Finn where it took 3 days for the Wittering wing to reach its generation target so the Vulcans were stuck on their dispersals until the Thursday when 3 Gp came out to play.

Now, what about the Tornado? It entered service in Jan 82. As Archmedies pointed out, the aim was a force of force for deterrence. The very latest operational nuclear bomber being employed only 4 months after entering service would have sent an unmistakable message. To counter such a modern, high-speed, and more accurate aircraft would have needed even more aircraft held back at base. It would have been a real ball-buster of a sortie and possibly too high a risk for such an unproven aircraft.

Imagine having to do a couple of 18 hour sorties around the UK to see how many piddle packs were required.
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Old 30th Jan 2012, 09:14   #19 (permalink)
 
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Archimedes.

Well done mate...a coherent, intelligent and knowledagable post on the Falklands War. Something of a rarity on PPRuNe. Note how it has been studiously ignored. Wouldn't want facts to get in the way of a good thread.

OP

No Vulcan, no black buck, no big deal. World would have been short of one very good book. Great effort by the crews/support teams for a job well done in any event.
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Old 30th Jan 2012, 09:17   #20 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Now, what about the Tornado? It entered service in Jan 82. As Archmedies pointed out, the aim was a force of force for deterrence. The very latest operational nuclear bomber being employed only 4 months after entering service would have sent an unmistakable message. To counter such a modern, high-speed, and more accurate aircraft would have needed even more aircraft held back at base. It would have been a real ball-buster of a sortie and possibly too high a risk for such an unproven aircraft.
A navigator was provided with the sortie parameters and a set of Tornado ODMs/performance data. He then retired to a quiet secluded room to contemplate and cogitate. When he emerged he is quoted as saying:

"Not really the Tornado's sort of war"

....and that was the last heard about it.

YS
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