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.
Lightning mate mentions ramming - that was prescribed when I did the OCU in 1964. The OC Ops welcomed us to Royal Air Force Fighter Command (a bit rich since most of us had arrived from Chivenor) and told us that with our Lightning we would be able to despatch 4 enemy aircraft - one with each of the two missiles, one with the guns and the fourth one we would ram. I tittered 'cause I thought he had made a funny - first of many career-limiting incidents.
'If you came here to laugh young man, you can leave now' said OC Ops. No sense of humour I decided and was proved right several times through the course.
IIRC part of the issue in putting anything other than Firestreak/Redtop on the beast was the missile cooling (ammonia?).
The Firestreak used ammonia for cooling, the Redtop used 12,000 psi pure air. Cooling was only for the IR seeker heads, the electronics used (IIRC) Arklone or Trike. The reason for all those 40-gallon drums of water on the flight line was in case a liney copped for a face-full of liquid ammonia - your mates were supposed to dump you head first into a water barrel. Obviously, in some cases all you had to do was give a liney a funny look and you'd end up in a barrel...
I can't think of a reason why Sidewinders couldn't have been fitted - all that gubbins in the missile pack could have been replaced with ballast, the Sidewinder doesn't need much support from the airframe, unlike Firestreak/Redtop. Given the respective weights of Redtop vs Sidewinder you could have got 2 Sidewinder on each pylon. I was on 5 Sqn at the time of the Falklands war and there was talk of underwing hardpoints for Sidewinder carriage, though nothing came of that. Might have got away with overwing Sidewinders a la Jaguar, though.
Liquid ammonia, liquid oxygen, AVPIN, intake checks, it's a wonder any of us groundcrew survived!
...would there have been any intact bases to return to and do a turn-around? I wondered that same thing doing the ex-launch nuke-cleaning drills at Bruggen. Waste of time.
Ahh dressed in a see through plastic suit over the top of a NBC suit in summer sweating your nuts off trying to wash a Jag down with a bucket of soapy water and a brush... Thinking if it ever comes to this we are f**ked. That and the Blue Peter designed decontam centre as you entered the site Hards, built from black plastic sheeting, bodge tape, broom handles and some surreal faith that it would be alright on the night..
Did you ever see the film of the trials of the first HAS's where they stuck some old aircraft and some sheep inside, nailed the door shut and detonated a simulated near miss from I think a 1000 pounder, opening the doors the narrator was wittering on about how the aircraft was damaged it could be brought back into service in days........ We were looking at all the dead sheep, as we would be living in the said HAS's.... Often wondered what pillock thought that would boost our confidence in the concrete coffins.
I don't own this space under my name. I should have leased it while I still could
Join Date: Dec 2002
In '67 or '68, on the Malta Adex the Lightnings demonstrated the QTR is less than 10 minutes including a missile pack drop. On one sortie a colonial was spoofed by the inbound bomber and sent to Recovery. Recovery didn't realise he had been spoofed on to the freq so vectored him back to Luqa. He did a supersonic RTB, QTR, scramble, and engaged the same bomber pre-bomb release.
A frightening aircraft, no; exhilarating and exciting, definitely.
I think it helped that we had mostly trained on that great Lightning trainer the Gnat, although one chap on my OCU course was heard to complain that the only previous swept-wing aircraft he had flown was the Tiger Moth. First problem was trying to get your wheels up after take-off without exceeding the limiting speed of 250kt, the acceleration was amazing. I never thought that it had any bad flying habits; it normally gave plenty of warning of a spin for example, and would recover, eventually. Incidentally, years after my only Lightning tour I was converting to the Tornado. The 67° swept wing approach was considered to be quite a handful; I thought it was just like a Lightning approach.
I was glad I was well out of the way at the bottom of a ruddy deep trench and under 3 or 4 feet of well thumped down overhead protection. Al R at front, after the fleet at Wildenrath had called it a day (1985?).
Last edited by Al R; 2nd Aug 2012 at 20:08.
Reason: added year
On a lighter note...... At a "Summer Camp" at Binbrook, I was chatting to a Chiefy. He said that "If you take the wing top fairimgs off, and bolt on a coupje of rails, then using the Nav Light circutry, you cold pop on a couple of Sidewinders" As a member of IPMS, at that years Nationals, I exhibited a Lightning Mk6B, Two RedTops and Two Sidewinders in Dark Gre[a]y Camo. It was only when the Aviation "Experts" were told about the 'Winders, they sussed it. They ALL thought it was the colour scheme....