View Full Version : Did You Fly The Vulcan?? (Merged)

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Flatus Veteranus
23rd Jan 2004, 02:15
I wonder if anyone can remember the episode at Waddo in (probably) around 1968 when a Mk 2 Vulcan lost three engines consecutively on climb-out?

I believe it happened late one afternoon or in the early evening to a 44 or 101 Sqn crew. I was catching up with some kip in my quarter, as I remember it, when the phone rang. It was OC Ops speaking from the tower saying that an aircraft climbing out with a full fuel load had experienced three engines spooling down in succession, without any indications of mechanical distress. The captain had levelled at about FL 200 and had succeeded in relighting one of them. He was holding in the local area to attempt further relights and to “consider his position”. OC Ops was a Navigator and so was the DCF (Duty Commander Flying), and OC Ops wanted a senior Pilot in the tower pronto. Me.

I asked who was the captain of the aircraft, and was given the name of an experienced and competent operator. I asked who was the Duty Captain in the tower: ditto. I asked what more OC Ops thought I could contribute and was told unceremoniously to get my backside down to the tower. Fast.

I phoned MT for a car and was told that none was available. Of the “pool” of three Minis, Senior Officers for the use of, OC Admin had one, OC Ops another, and SATCO the third. Oh well, ‘twas ever thus! My wife was out in my car so I set off plodding thoughtfully to the tower.

Arrived there, I found that the aircraft was now a three-engined bomber and that the “brains trust” thought I should order the Captain to land overweight forthwith. This I declined to do. Neither I nor the Duty Captain nor OC Eng could figure out what could have gone wrong. There was no way of mishandling the fuel system so early in the flight to starve three engines. I questioned the possibility of contaminated fuel, but no other aircraft had had any problems. The fuel in the bowser which had refuelled the aircraft was being tested. The Captain’s intention was to burn off to max landing weight at a reasonable altitude for rear crew escape if necessary and then recover to Waddo. Captain’s decision, let him get on with it. He did.

After landing I seem to remember that the engineers discovered that the A Tank had burst due to over-pressurisation. The investigators concluded that a bleed-air pressure reducing valve had failed and that when bomb bay tank pressurisation was selected the tank received air at the full pressure at which it left the engines (2500 psi?). This aerated the fuel entering the engines causing the flame-outs until the tank burst, by when it was almost empty (thank God!).

My confidence in my memory was dented recently when Father Christmas brought me a copy of Tim Laming’s excellent book. On Page 171 of the Aircrew Manual under Tank Pressurisation and Venting it says “…The bomb bay tanks are not pressurised”. But further on, under Fuel Control Panels, Retractable Console, it concludes with “…The bomb bay system diagram has two Bomb Bay/Main switches, two ON/OFF pump switches for each tank and a pressurisation switch (inoperative)”.

Perhaps it was rendered inoperative after the incident at Waddo. Has anyone any ideas?

23rd Jan 2004, 03:06
According to Alan Clark Diaries, Norman Tebbit wanted to use the V Force to bomb the Rhodesian Railway system....
Any stories behind this?

23rd Jan 2004, 08:00
Reference the overweight landing. Of course, the Vulcan had no fuel-dumping system. After getting airborne with a gear retraction problem we had to burn down to landing weight. We had the gear down of course. The airbrakes were put out and the bomb-bay doors opened. It still took several climbs and descents to 20,000 or thereabouts to burn off enough fuel. Goodness knows what the fuel burn was in the climb.

23rd Jan 2004, 15:30
Yes, the lack of a fuel dump system was often a problem. We once spent hours burning off for what the AEO thought was a loose panel (it wasn't - just a bit of u/c door seal....).

But once the gear was down, the burn rate went up a fair bit. Can't remember the limit - around 210KIAS? But it nearly caught out at least one crew once. A bunch of old gits from the 27th Boat Spotters were out shadowing ships somewhere way north of civilisation once, when the captain noticed a possible hydraulic failure. "How long to get back to Scampton, Plotter?", he asked. A bit of mumbling and computer work from the back later, he was given the answer. "Multiply that by the burn rate, subtract it from the current total - yup, we'll still have Plan 2 fuel. OK, speed below (whatever it was), u/c down please, Co" Rumble, rumble, thump, "Down, 3 greens", came the response and off home they duly set. Then up piped the Nav Plotter "Why are we going so slowly, First?"........ It seems that his estimate was based upon the normal 0.84 cruise, not the actual speed they would be using with the gear down. They just made it to somewhere in northern Jockistan, it seems! The Nav Plotter claimed that no-one had ever told him that there was such a thing as a limiting speed with the gear down!

23rd Jan 2004, 18:47
"According to Alan Clark Diaries, Norman Tebbit wanted to use the V Force to bomb the Rhodesian Railway system....
Any stories behind this?"

I can think of a few occassions where this could have usefully employed on Virgin Trains.

Harsh but fair, in my opinion.


23rd Jan 2004, 18:53
Flatus Veteranus

I have a part copy of the bomb-bay tanks AP amended to Feb 68.

This is the console. Item 9 is the BB tank pressurisation switch.


The 'A' tank mod 527 included the fitting of pressurisation pipes. A removable pressurisation panel was located in the port bomb-bay. Unfortunately I do not have the section with more detailed descriptions.

Certainly the bomb-bay pressurisation switch was inoperative in my experience [70s] that backs up your conclusion on the incident you describe [1968ish].

The incident couldn't have been any earlier because 'A' tanks were fitted in the 301-engined aircraft of the Cottesmore Wing that were transferred to Waddo in the Spring of 68.

I understand the 'A' tank was the only bomb-bay tank compatible with Yellow Sun and Red Beard. Scampton Blue Steel a/c had 'As and Es' though the 'A' was fitted somewhat further back. Can you confirm that?

23rd Jan 2004, 19:59
The only bomb bay tank configurations for the (non-tanker) Vulcan B2 which we used in the mid-70s (whether ex-Blue Tool or free-fall ac, 200 or 300 series engines) were:

'A' Tank Fwd
'A'&'E' Tanks
Drum Tank Fwd
Double Drums (One fwd, one aft)
'A' Fwd, Drum Aft

I'm pretty sure that the tank suspension points were the same for all ac. Wasn't it 5.5K in an 'A' or 'E' tank and 8K in a Drum? Can't recall and I no longer have any books to tell me.

......and Sod's Law always gave you a 98%+16K ac with 88K total fuel only when the low level Wx was pants and you then had to go and do some high-level bore-ex for the navigation team to involve themselves in some weird astrology!

23rd Jan 2004, 21:54
Beags, you've certainly got some memory! Configs spot on. The A & E tanks were specifically designed for the Blue Steel aircraft, where the missile was recessed into the bombay.

Missile also had a folding fin for t/o, landing and on the ground. It was hydraulically operated for raising and lowering, with an emergency nitrogen raising system for hydraulic failure.

Great fun was Blue Steel, especially if you got to fly the one just taken off QRA for the maintenance cycle. The warhead was removed and a lump of concrete ballast fitted. However, the propellants were left in. Heavy aircraft, and crew monitored HTP temps at about 10 times the required rate!

23rd Jan 2004, 23:48
I've found a reference:

At one stage, 5 stainless steel tanks were proposed, 'A' through to 'E' and various combinations were to be employed for Blue Steel, Yellow Sun and Red Beard/6000lb (US Mk-5).

Costs reduced the tanks from 5 to 4 to 3 and eventually 2: the 'A' and the 'E'.

The 'A' tank as produced was a compromise with features of the original 'A' tank (cut away at the rear for YS) and the 'B' tank (recessed underneath for BS). The 'A' tank could be mounted fully forward (YS, RB, WE177, conventional) or slightly further back (BS).

'A' tanks were ordered for the Con/Cot Wing. 'A' & 'E' tanks were ordered for the Sca BS Wing.

The alloy drum tanks came later. Ultimately, all non-BS aircraft (about 50) received the mod to carry double-drums but the financiers restricted the order and did not replace the existing free-fall 'A' tanks. After the drum tank mod, modded aircraft could carry either an 'A' tank or a drum tank forward.

During conversion to free-fall, BS aircraft retained 'A' & 'E', the 'A' tank repositioned fully forward.

The only exceptions I know of are the K2 - 3 x drum, and XH558 in display mode that had a single drum aft. This was to compensate for the c of g shift when the HDU was removed.

An interesting footnote. Mk1/1As were not fitted with bomb-bay fuel though the aircraft that crashed at Heathrow XA897 after returning from NZ was. The extra tankage had been borrowed from Avros who had used it in the prototype 698 before the wing tanks had been connected. The last leg of the ill-fated flight was from Khormaksar - a seven-hour sortie.

Flatus Veteranus
24th Jan 2004, 00:41
I have received a private message from someone "who ought to know" that the incident happened on 2 Jan 69 in XM 608. 608 was ex-Coningsby, ex-Cottesmore and transferred to Waddo in Feb 68. My correspondent suggests that the saddle tank did not actually explode but was bent out of shape enough to release the overpressure. I have asked him to write up the incident for this thread.

The decision whether or not to land overweight on this occasion was a nice one; but it could (IMHO) only be taken by the Captain.
I was ready to authorise an overweight landing if asked, but I was not one of those who liked to shout the odds and pull rank.

The captain and crew did a good job. :ok:

Flatus Veteranus
24th Jan 2004, 02:05
I heard they experimented (before my time!) with making rear-crew members aircraft captains in the V-Farce. Did this work? If so, why was it discontinued? Can anyone shed any light?

Pom Pax
24th Jan 2004, 11:11
Certainly in the during the period of the introduction of the V force this was a carrot being dangled in Nav school. In fact it was also stated there was already 1 nav. captain.

Wee Weasley Welshman
24th Jan 2004, 11:20
Did the Vulcans have a realistic range capabilty to scramble UK, reach target and return UK?

I know everyone always says that if you went for real you knew you weren't coming back but presumably you would have all done the maths to see if it was feasible - feasible being with the usual flightcrew margins being built in.

On a related issue - and one of a personal nature. What were crew members instructions to immediate family in the event of an evident 'this is the real thing' alert?

I can't imagine how horrific and all pervasive such considerations must have been. Yet I suspect the wives and other base personnel "would have known" pretty quickly after scramble that the cellar was needed if it were for real this time.

For every man on the cutting edge of the Cold War deterrent there was usually a woman and some kids. A fact not overplayed.

Did any wives crack or children suffer psychological trauma? Obviously some did and it might be distressing to raise the issue. One hopes though that the various charities recognise and support these problems... yet I cannot recall ever seeing a cold war survivors fund et al....



24th Jan 2004, 15:44
Try doing some sums, WWW:

Even a max fuel wt Vulcan only carried 88000 lb of fuel. It burned around 10000lb in the first hour, then 7-8000 for the remainder. It did 500-ish KTAS at high level, around 360 at low level. Fairly obviously the route East wouldn't be a straight line, so have a guess at a route to a fairly obvious location in the old Sovietski Soyuz, including a descent to low level to avoid radar. Measure the distance, work out the time and then see how much fuel that leaves you with......

24th Jan 2004, 19:54
There is quite a lot of old (1950s B.1s) Vulcan footage on the Pathe News site. Complete with corny commentary and cheesey background blare of the time.:)
Free and worth a visit. Just type Vulcan in the search box, there is a bit of a faff to register but its well worth it.

Wee Weasley Welshman
24th Jan 2004, 20:35
Well yes - I did vaguely look at a map the other day with some Vulcan fuel burns to hand and thought it didn't look right. Sobering stuff.



Yellow Sun
24th Jan 2004, 21:01

Did the Vulcans have a realistic range capabilty to scramble UK, reach target and return UK?

The display board under the Vulcan in the hangar at Duxford gives a pretty good indication of the situation in the late 60s early 70s. It's not entirely accurate, but it's not bad.


25th Jan 2004, 10:02
For a lot of interesting background to Britain's <GW Bush> Noocular Detergent </GW Bush>, I'd recommend a read of The Secret State: Whitehall and the Cold War by Peter Henessey.
(Penguin Books; ISBN: 0141008350)

In it, there's list of assumed UK targets from about 1968 in which each V force base and dispersal would be thoroughly dealt with.


25th Jan 2004, 21:03
Was 270 really the normal max speed with the gear down? Or was that an 'emergency' speed with a lower for routine operation, Mike?

Yes, 10 000 lbs was the normal min landing fuel for a B2 or SR2. You could often squeeze a bit longer out of the ac by putting the sequence timers to manual and running the 3s and 4s to 'White MIs' - preferably with the at least some of the cross-feeds closed!

Well, at least I got the 5.5K right! And I haven't seen a Vulcan Aircrew Manual since 1980! I guess that's the legacy of the excellent training we enjoyed back then; training which the RAF can no longer afford...

25th Jan 2004, 22:47
190 KIAS with the gear down seems to ring a bell - or was that something else I've flown?

27th Jan 2004, 06:55
Just had a surf through the DD Video web site. There's a lot of video material on the V-Force now available.



27th Jan 2004, 21:05
Having just caught up on the last 7 pages a couple of items struck a chord. BEags I think you were being optimistic on the fuel burn/range issue. i remember guzzling more, particularly at high weights. At 325/350 kts on the Oil Burner routes the tanks were certainly emptying at 12-14000lbs per hour. My memory of carrying double drums versus A and E is that the extra 5000lbs only gave about another 20 minutes on the sortie because of the extra burn involved lifting it all up to height.
I echo the frustrations of many that the B2 could not dump fuel. Burning off bored everyone.
Converting from Co to Captain meant learning to fly with the head cocked off to the right instead of to the left. The top handle was never usable due to lack of space between head and canopy, and the only time I flew in the soft inner hat I kept bruising my bonce on the hard bits. Taller people than me managed, but I am not sure how.
Keep going fellahs. As my ex Nav Rad said - the ten west rule still applies even if the official secrets act doesn't seem to any more.:ok:

Vulcan 903
27th Jan 2004, 21:30
(Assuming that no female ever flew a Vulc)

I have Vulc airframes XH563 and XH537 (Skybolt test bed) Both ended there days at 27 Sqdn at Scampton. I would be interested in any stories about 27 Sdqn and the North Sea, Midway Is etc.
Would be most pleased if any of you flew 537 or 563! My web site needs your stories www.famousvulcans.co.uk

If I am inundated then I will consider producing a book if anyone wants to contribute????

Pontius Navigator
28th Jan 2004, 04:25
Jim Griff,

It were Jeremy Thorpe of the Liberals who wanted to bomb Salisbury.

There followed a delightful sketch in Punch that I remember to this day.

PM to CAS "Please bomb Salisbury"

CAS to PM "Salisbury bombed, please find attached list of recommendations for DFCs"

PM to CAS "Please bomb Salisbury RHODESIA"

There then follwed a long series from CAS as to why we could not bomb Rhodesia.

Wee Wiley Welshman,

Beagle is hedging his bets. Who said we would recover to UK?

Aircraft assigned to Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuanian could make the mission without bombbay tanks and recover to UK. Those destined for Murmansk would recover to northern Norway. Those going further east might recover to southern Norway. My favourite was Kiev. Our recovery was Yesilkoy. Where the hell is that we thought? Out came the maps and there was Turkey!

Families? No time I'm afraid. There were plans to bring those in quarters into the nuclear bomb sheds but that might not have been a particularly good option. Wales was often muted as a good refuge although our use of Brawdy, Llanbedr, Valley, St Athan, Rhoose, Pershore etc rather cocked that one up.


Min landing fuel varied. On the OCU in 64 it was, as you said, 10,000lbs. For operational crews it was 8,000lbs spread across 14 tanks and being burnt by 4 donks.

Operationally the min fuel was 4,000 lb Overhead!

Undercarriage Limiting Speeds

The undercarriage retracts in 9 to 10 seconds & no difficulty is experienced in achieving a clean aircraft before the undercarriage limiting speed of 270 kts is reached. Whenever possible, the undercarriage should be completely retracted before exceeding 200 kts.

I remember on incident at Llanbedr. As the aircraft scrambled the captain rolled off the runway, pulled across the hangars and departed asap in case of 'simulated' in bound missiles. His departure was so spirited that the nose wheel remained stuck down and the duty pilot in the tower reported him for dangerous flying. I don't recall what happened to the DP but Dick went on to become a Victor sqn cdr, 100 I think.

28th Jan 2004, 08:53
Ah Yes, 50+Ray. Converting from Co to Capt. I remember a certain doofus who was so nervous on his first left seat ride he hit the wrong start button. Number 4 instead of number 1 or whatever it used to be. Since the crew-chief was standing under the starter exhaust for the engine that was not supposed to be started things got a bit tense. We tested the limits of what an NCO can say to an Officer without getting court-martialed. The extremely humble and embarressed new-hire in the left seat had to make suitable aologies and amends at the end of the sortie. I never did that again.

28th Jan 2004, 21:27
12000 lb/hr sounds about right - reducing to 10000 at light weights.

Talking of consumption, I can recall when a captain on his last sqn sortie went for an endurance record. He was stooging around off Ireland on 2 engines [I think] when the Sqn Cdr found out and had him recalled. It didn't do much for the authorisation officer's career prospects.

Pontius Navigator
29th Jan 2004, 02:35
Interesting rule of thumb used by Norman Howard, Bomber Command Ops 1, who wrote all the routes.

He told me after I had submitted some fuel planning figures calculated by an incompetent or uncaring copilot. Thereafter I checked every flight plan for arithmetic errors and fuel pigs, one typical one was to 'use' the 7,000lb weight of YS2 as fuel. Yes, true.

The ROT was to take the leg length from departure to Top of Drop, typically 800 miles. Then three times the distance from Top of drop to bottom of climb, say 300 x 3. Then use the distance from BOC to overhead the recovery airfield, say 800. This gave a total distance of, in this case 2,500 miles. Then look at the fuel used for a level flight of 2,500 miles at range cruise which would give a fuel burn of about 55,000lbs therefore fuel o/h recovery would be 17,000lbs.

For my favourite target the figures were 700, 900, 600 which gave a total of 4,000 miles. The putative flight time would be 8 hr 20 min thus we needed the full double drum fit of 88k and would have just 5k left at the end.

While on flight planning for war missions, another thing occurs. The primary mission crew would draw up a flight plan for the start of the war plan on 1 July. The QRA targets however needed four flight plans. We were provided with sets of statistical met so a new flight plan was available for each quarter. If time permitted, the Met Office would provide updated met data but they were never permitted to know the route or area for the forecast! They had to provide met for the whole of western Russia.

Another met curiosity was the Climatological Data Sheet. This was a confidential document provided by JARIC with the climatological data for 100 different regions and each season. By refering to the CDS, the well prepared crew knew whether to pack shorts or mukluks.


One time Vulcan driver and latter Ottawa taxi driver, Harvey Moore got the 0800 slot at Waddo. He did not need the sortie for any stats but the aircraft was serviceable so fly he had to.

He announced that they would be flying for endurance and expected to return about 1500. Oh yeah was the general response. Off Harvey went and air plans assigned the aircraft to the 1500 slot for the next sortie. Come 1300 ops were still taking ops normals when air plans came in "Where was Harvey". Don't know was the reply but according to his flight plan, not far from Bodo. Every few minutes an increasingly anxious planner kept coming in and the prospects for the 1500 launch looked increasingly unlikely. At 1500, true to his word, Harvey checked in, joined the instrument pattern for an approach then into visuals to burn off down to 8,000. 7 hr 15 min. He got roaster by the air planner when he landed which might explain why he became a taxi driver.

31st Jan 2004, 03:11
For clarification the 10 West Rule was:

After 10 West, "Anything goes"; coming back, "We just had a good time!"

Pontius Navigator
1st Feb 2004, 05:32
10 west rule but there were backfires.

In 1964 someone at Coningsby let on to the Canadian nurses on the Goose when the summer ball was being held and gave the immortal words "If you're ever over pop in"

"Cooeee" and an awful lot of aircrew suddenly got food posioning in the sea food bar.

Same happened at Cottesmore in 65 or 66. A couple of nurses pitched up and were given the right cold shoulder. Then a wonderful copilot, Ernie by name, and as innocent as the day is long (in Norway in the summer) said come round to my house you can stay in my caravan. They did but Ernie's wife was VERY suspicious.

Then in 64, at Butterworth, the boss, Bob Tanner, assembled all the crews and told us what we had been doing the previous week. So what we thought, we all know that. Then the bombshell. His WIFE had told him in a letter from home.

It wasn't me guv, honest!

1st Feb 2004, 14:46
Something similar allegedly happened at Waddo in the late '70s/early '80s. Apparently someone had said to the Bellevue Marriott/Crown Plaza bar flies "If ever you're in England...." Supposedly, they then turned up at the Mess during Happy Hour and there were folk bailing out of the windows to escape...!

I hasten to add that this was a story I was told (I'd left the V-force by then) - so it may rank alongside the 'Shackleton making carrier approach' fable!

1st Feb 2004, 16:23
When I heard this one the location was Waddo, the occasion was a Summer Ball (mid-70s - not later), and the young ladies were Newfie schoolies.

No doubt, the truth of this will remain as elusive as the coachload of Swedish nymphomaniacs that 'happened to leave this morning'.

Must add that January has brought some great additions to 'Vulcans in Camera'.


Thanks to the readers of this forum who have submitted images. If I receive many more pictures of 'Vulcan People', I shall have to spin them off onto a new site.

Additions, captions, amendments welcomed.

Pontius Navigator
2nd Feb 2004, 01:32
The Carrier was the Ark, the Shack was out in FEAF. They got the carrier discrete comms and simply called up for a CCA.

The Navy reputedly thought they were going for a landing rather than an overshoot.

About 64 or 65.

2nd Feb 2004, 23:09
BTW, Pontius , what was the "favourite target"? 700 miles to TOD, then 900 miles on at low level. (assuming based in the UK) Obviously in the depths of the Motherland. Even Kiev wouldn't be far enough? Voronezh with a Turkish or Iranian recovery? Nizhni Novgorod? (creative thinking hat) Arkhangelsk?

3rd Feb 2004, 02:27
Hey, guys. Let's not post about the V-Force war plan. It remains classified, even though it no longer exists.

Yellow Sun
3rd Feb 2004, 04:56
FJJP wrote:

Hey, guys. Let's not post about the V-Force war plan. It remains classified, even though it no longer exists.

Well some parts of it are already in the public domain. A few years ago there was programme on Ch4 (I think) entitled "The Moscow Criterion" that examined the UK deterrent policy, which was of course based on maintaining a credible capability to destroy Moscow. The program went into some detail about launch and release procedures and of course the target!. But we all covered that one, didn't we?


Pontius Navigator
6th Feb 2004, 02:27

It was Kiev, I only roughed out the calculations.

As far as public domain goes, I had permission to give a lecture on the war plans and a fair amount of detail on the war SOP was included. I omitted any mention of Chapter 6 however as that was still classified.

Kiev was one of the targets I used to illustrate deep penetration at low level. The others were Lenningrad, Murmansk, the principal ones on the Baltic littoral, and then the rest spreading towards Big M.

I did not seek, nor was I granted, any clearance to discuss NEAF War Plans. They were just as exciting.

6th Feb 2004, 20:52
Thanks. I was looking at a very small scale map and guessing the recovery.

9th Feb 2004, 07:57
Just to keep this memorable thread ticking over, the Vulcan blokes will surely recall this scene. ;)


Scanned from an old copy of Aircraft Illustrated I came across today.


9th Feb 2004, 22:54
This has to be Finningley as it was the only class 1 airfield with the ORP on the right.

Aircraft are XM650 [50], XL389 [IX], XM648 [101] and XM594 [44R].

I recall Wadpolling the latter for most of a day.

Occasion was the Queen's Silver Jubilee [Sleepy Fred] celebration.

10th Feb 2004, 00:54
I also guessed it was Finningley ................ from the title of the hyperlink! ;)

A Civilian
10th Feb 2004, 04:10
I have a question to do with F3 intercepts against old soviet bombers. Why im asking is that ive been reading through this thread and Beagle talks about how a bomber through use of afterburner and flying at high level an incoming fighter only has a small window for an intercept before he runs out of fuel and has to go home. What im wondering is would an F3 have the same difficulties against a Blackjack as they dont have much go-go juice in afterburner and cant fly at high atlitude?

ou Trek dronkie
10th Feb 2004, 16:28
What a lovely site, it takes me back years. Only just found it.

Just a couple of points which have risen from the deepest depths - It was definitely dear Harold (TSR 2) Wilson who threatened to use the V force to bomb Salisbury. I remember the row we had with our squadron boss when we said we would prefer to bomb Cardiff first. ( He was Welsh of course). Nothing wrong with that, it was our way of making a point. Not exactly mutiny, but …

It was, I think, not so sure here, dear Jeremy who said we could easily hit the railway lines from 40 000 feet. What a silly billy he was.

Ponters, I remember Harvey Moore doing something just like this at Cottesmore. He and his crew planned their flight in massive detail from the “Blue Book?” (?) Normally the co-pilot just sucked a couple of figures out of his thumb and made a rough guess at burn-off. I do recall it was a court martial offence (allegedly) to land with less than 8500 lbs. They did a magnificent planning job and found out the Vulcan could fly for quite a long time if you flew for endurance and cruise-climbed etc. So they did it when the opportunity arrived, as you describe. ( I can remember us being pulled out of the bar at Cottesmore to go to Malta for CT one afternoon, “Get the red line up and climbing” was the constant call). But I digress.

Anyway, when they found out Harvey and co were not back on the deck at the normal hour, the whole bunch of wheels were paralytic with fear and rage combined. Some fool at HQBC ordered him to land immediately halfway through the flight, but he pointed out that they were still over the ogwash and might they rather proceed back to base as planned, since they had xxxx hours of fuel left and the seaa looked a bit wet and cold ?

I particularly recall him asking permission for some CT when he pitched up at base after 7 or 8 hours, whatever it was. That was our Harvey all right. Of course the wheels freaked. Many mutters of disciplining him, but he had taken the precaution of filing the route (as required SOP) and his co-pilot (Ed Jarron ???) had plotted the whole trip on the plastic top sheet we use to give to the ops clerk (they never looked at it usually). The AEO had sent standard aireps (Dah dit Dah), but of course, no-one at High Wycombe ever looked at them, so Harvey was in the clear.

Never got past F/O though. I thought he went to Vancouver ?

Ah yes…, talking of memories, does anyone remember the Night of the long Knives at Waddo, was it October 66 ? The whole of No. 1 Group celebrating 50 years or something similar.

The noise when the CAS started to talk …
Scampers arriving smashed to a man... Formidable sight
Thieving the fire hose on the way back ..
Officers trying to cut down the Marquee (Chipperfields ?)

Also, does anyone remember Tony Mitchell deciding to have a quick dekko at Colin Cambell’s crash site at Conniston ? And finding his pic on the front page of the Express next day ? “A slight diversion from track on account of weather , Sir”.

Am I dreaming all this or did it really happen ?

So long ago …

John Purdey
10th Feb 2004, 21:36
As to the Waddo show, I was not in BC, but I recall the storygoing round Germany that the 1369s of all those who had been present were marked in the top right-hand corner with (in red ink) 'WAW' - was at Waddington!!

11th Feb 2004, 00:15
There was a thread on "That" bash about two years ago, I'll see if I can find it.

Ed to add: No luck, search is disabled.

A Civilian
11th Feb 2004, 21:34
I'll get me coat :(

12th Feb 2004, 09:07
Then there was the great Waddington food strike. In 1968 the food served up at the Airmen’s Mess was so bad that local pig farmers were refusing their supply of free leftovers. Despite constant complaints over several months, nothing was done until the troops took the matter in hand and organized a food strike. On the day the strike began the cooks stood behind their servery, ready to dole out the customary breakfast of gristle sausages, fried bacon fat and powdered milk and no-one turned up - except for the WRAF’s and RAFP Snoops, as neither group could be trusted to keep their mouths shut. The same happened at each subsequent meal, no-one came to the Mess Hall except to catch the bus out to Line Servicing Squadron. Meanwhile the NAAFI and local hostelries were all doing a roaring trade - being in on the scheme they had plenty of food ready.

The reaction of the authorities was predictable, rather than deal directly with the problem they set the Snoops to work uncovering the ring-leaders. The SIB, being smarter Snoops than anyone ever gave them credit for, sent in undercover men disguised as airmen on posting (easily identified – they weren’t WRAF’s or Snoops yet they ate in the Mess). For several days we were all marched off to the guardroom in rotation, but everyone managed to stick firmly to the story that we weren’t very hungry and didn’t feel like eating. Meanwhile the SIB ‘undercover’ men confirmed the fact that the food was dreadful. For example, they were being served reconstituted dried potato and even rice instead of fresh potatoes due to a supposed potato shortage. In Lincolnshire! In October! I mean, Lincolnshire is Saudi Arabia with potatoes – they stretch out to the horizon as far as the eye can see.

The efforts to uncover the ringleaders stopped and the RAFP transferred their energies to finding out what was happening to the catering funds. It turned out that one of the Caterers, using accomplices in MT, had organized a skimming operation. The ration wagon picked up the food from the regional NAAFI depot and delivered it to local greengrocers and butchers in exchange for rubbish and a share of the profits. The three culprits were court-martialed, convicted and sent off variously to Pentonville or Colchester for brain re-programming. The Airmen’s Mess back at Waddington got a new set of staff and in time developed into the gourmet restaurant it is today, where one must book weeks in advance to get a decent table for luncheon.

12th Feb 2004, 21:34
Blacksheep. We had a similar thing happen at Cottesmore. The airmen’s mess grub wasn’t particularly bad but in 66/67 I went on a Mickey Finn to Leuchars, where it was sheer gourmet.

By coincidence, when I got back to Cottesmore the Hangar Warrant Officer asked me to join the Mess Committee. My first meeting, later that week, was also attended by a shifty Corporal caterer. Bearing in mind that the V Force messing allowance was the highest in the Air Force I asked why Leuchars grub was so much better than ours. Not getting an answer I suggested that shady business was going on and that some toe-rag was creaming-off the goodies. This was long after I’d rejected a career in the Diplomatic Corps.

At this point our shifty Corporal caterer showed signs of severe distress, which was immediately picked up, without comment, by the WO Chairman.

Lo and behold - two days later I’m walking past the mess and there’s old shifty flanked by two RAF plods. Turns out that the Warrant Officer (impressive chap of the old school) was a student of human nature and shifty’s severe distress had rung an alarm bell. The Plods had then dug up his married quarter back garden and unearthed, amongst other stuff, hundreds of chickens old shifty hadn’t been able to flog on.

A month later the unused upper floor of the mess was opened up and a switched on Corporal caterer, recently returned from Changi, was given carte blanche to open a world class Chinese Restaurant. Anyone remember the Cottesmore Cantonese?

A quick follow on from the Cottesmore Cantonese. In the early hours a gang of us would frequently roll up back at Cottesmore after a Brains Trust evening spent in the Blue Cow, South Witham, or the Fox on the A1. Johnny Sharpe was a fairly accomplished rock climber and the vertical brickwork of the airmen’s mess was, to him, a doddle.

We’d sit quietly watching and burping on our several pints of Ruddle’s Best while Johnny ascended to the upper balcony, the door of which was never locked - there no reason to.

Once inside Johnny would creep down to the front door and let us all in, re-securing the door after us.

Quietly into the kitchen where the night shift cooks would see us, for the third time that week, and go ballistic, again. All threats to call the Plods were countered with an explanation of what would happen to the cooks for leaving the mess ‘unsecured’. A truce would be called and the huge joint of roast beef, just out the oven for tomorrow’s lunch, would be requested and produced. My claim was the slightly burnt bits on the edges. Never tasted meat like it since!

Cooks never did find out how we were getting in. The upper floor was still closed then so it never occurred to then that this was our access.

Pontius Navigator
13th Feb 2004, 05:26

'fraid the old grey matter is a bit rusty.

Harvey was on 44. I flew a Western Ranger with him in 68. The Jan Mayen trip was in 67, 7hr 15. I have had this confirmed by his nav rad a couple of days ago.

Ed Jarron was at Cottesmore but by 68 he was in Russia as Asst AA.

The Malcolm Campbell incident was Don Dale. He was threatened with court martial for illegal low flying. His real offence was pissing off the brass who hadn't though of the idea and were embarrassed by the praise heaped on 'A lone Vulcan pays a personal tribute'. The court martial would have failed because:

1. The rules required that the aircraft fly within 1.5 nm of track on 95% of occasions. Windermere was off track but less than 5% of the time.

2. He wasn't low flying. He was at 2,000 feet.

BTW, he was on 12 Sqn.


Do you remember the old plate wash in the airmen's mess? One to get the plate clean and one to sterelise it. Handy for sick quarters too when you got scalded?

I remember when all the airmen had to return their KFS and plate and get them handed out when they went to eat.

Day 1, all the KFS and plates were dished out.

Day 2, the remaining stocks of KFS were dished out.

Day 3 the airmen's mess had run out.

All the scalies had hung on to the freebees and did not believe the brass when they were told that it would all be washed in the mess for them. After a succession of tannoys, and probably shake downs by Paddy Cowaps men the KFS were returned to the mess.

A Civilian,

If you are still waiting for a reply. the F3 can handle a supersonic high flyer with ease. Just sling an AMRAAM or 2 at it and go for the next one.

normally left blank
16th Feb 2004, 00:01
Just a reminder:

The old 007-movie "Thunderball" (released 1965) has got some Vulcan-footage. A plane and two nuclear bombs are stolen.
Sean Connery remains the real "Bond - James Bond"! ;)

Best regards

16th Feb 2004, 22:28
Pontius Nav

I presume you mean this Don Dale:


No 27 Squadron executives 1975. Sqn Ldr Ron Leighton (Nav Ldr), Sqn Ldr Don Dale (Plt Ldr), Wg Cdr Bobby Robson (OC), Sqn Ldr John Porter (OC A Flt), Sqn Ldr Pete West (AEO Ldr) and Sqn Ldr Ian Calder (Rad Ldr).

I first knew him when he was on the staff at Sleaford Tech.


Vulcans in Camera (http://www.avrovulcan.org.uk)

17th Feb 2004, 17:17
Not sure if this has been highlighted in this thread - if not it makes a good read. Hats off to the crew who happily all seem to have made it out in one piece. http://www.neam.co.uk/wingate.html

Pontius Navigator
20th Feb 2004, 04:34

The very same. He didn't have a mustache then.

I don't remember Pete West with as much hair either.

I flew with Pete in 64. He introduced me to the niceties of crew cooperation. We had been taught airmanship, that nebulous topic from the 50s but difficult to pin down.

Now it would be known as CRM.


Nice link, shame they got one of the names wrong. It was Jim Vinales with an S.

Bob Alcock also featured in the less successful Malta crash.

20th Feb 2004, 18:00
Vulcan Bombing Accuracy

Hey - you oldish and bold ex Vulcan crew members please answer a question that has been bugging me.

For a while I was Senior Vulcan B1 TP at Boscombe Down. In between weapon carriage and release trials I spent a slice of my life trying to marry the various black boxes and coupling units of the NBS to each other. It was quite a challenge with the Mk 10 auto pilot involved both for bombing and landing approaches. Testing of all conceivable max rate runaway conditions approaching the manoeuvre envelope boundaries kept the adrenalin flowing.

What was the eventual fix to prevent the long period directional phugoid which I discovered one night when on a long haul Navigation Bomb System (NBS) assessment. The stars kept slowly going back and forth with about a 6 degree swing with cockpit instruments all showing steady heading.

Closer examination revealed the source of the problem originated with the compass which had precessional control over the Directional Gyros (DGs) to keep them aligned. Acceleration effects on this alignment system caused the Phugoid lasting about 5 mins per cycle.

This all happened a few months before the first Vulcan Sqdn at Waddington was due for the first time to enter the USAF annual bombing competition. My temporary fix was to have the Sqdn select DGs having negligible natural precession for fitment to the co pilot's panel. Existing switching then permitted use of this DG without compass correction as the heading input for the NBS during critical phases of bomb runs. The Captain retained his DG slaved to the compass. The compromise worked well but was only accepted as temporary.

I recall flying a Vulcan into Waddington to give the competition crews a briefing. The only pilot I remember at Waddington was Sqn Ldr Podge Howard who later, or was it earlier, banged out of that Vulcan at London Airport together with the C in C of Bomber Command. Where is Podge Howard now?

Anyone know the Fix?

And one other question.

At Boscombe we wanted to know the effects of loss of up to 2 Powered Flying Control Units (PFCUs) particularly related to landing approaches. The effects of having two roll units out on one side caused a high degree of cross pitch with roll input and cross roll with pitch input.

Were squadron pilots allowed to shut down PFCUs for training?

Enough technical stuff!

Here is an interesting extract from my memoirs.

One flight with the OC involved yet more weapon release trials from the Vulcan. We had completed some releases into Lyme Bay, a restricted area off southern England when I noticed an aircraft carrier in the area close to where we had been dropping a bomb load. We both thought it most irregular for the carrier to be within our restricted area, so I decided to have a closer look. And what better way to have a close look than to make an approach as if to land on the carrier.

I lowered the undercarriage and approached the deck from astern. As we closed on the carrier we were suddenly aware of smoke and muzzle flashes from some of the carrier's guns. I immediately developed a strong desire to leave the vicinity but not before flying in to about super-structure height. I then ran the engines up to full power as I pulled up into a steep climb away.

It turned out that the carrier was in the area for gun firing training. The OC later had angry words with the Navy and the Captain of the carrier who said we had them worried for a while. Subsequently, we were always carefully briefed on naval ship movements around our dropping area in Lyme Bay.

I flew the Victor occasionally. The feel of this aircraft always gave me an impression of fragility. Control reaction, wing and tail bending combined to cause one to take care with gross manoeuvres. Handley Page had tried hard with cockpit design but it seemed overly complicated compared with the ruggedness of the Vulcan. Perhaps the cohesive structure of the Vulcan made the difference. The Vulcan felt like a fighter having excellent manoeuverability. The Victor, with its lower rates of roll and pitch, was more complex in its manoeuvre characteristics. Now, as an experienced test pilot, I became very aware of these subtle comparisons and pondered about the reasons for such differences.

Then there was the Comet 2C. There could not have been a worse flight control system. It was straight spring feel with exceptionally high breakout forces. Our stipulation that the system be changed to Q (1/2 roe V squared) feel followed which must surely have been appreciated by RAF crews.

Stan Evil
21st Feb 2004, 00:22
It's a long time ago but . . . my recollection is that only QFIs (maybe only OCU QFIs?) could shut down 2 PFCUs on the same side; squadron pilots could shut down one. Even with 2 shut down the aircraft was quite manageable unless you put in large control movements.

21st Feb 2004, 00:30
Autoland approaches were binned, so the annoying MFS compass system directional periodicity wasn't a factor - pilots tended to ignore it. But on RW05 at Scampton you could easily get into a divergent mode if trying to chase the azimuth director pointer with a dose of northerly instability making things worse! The Heading Reference System (basically a Master Reference Gyro pinched from the Lightning) was a much better, well damped system with which the plotter used to steer the beast when away from the circuit - there was a MFS/HRS switch to facilitate this. We got in once on absolute minima with the nice steady headings provided by HRS with the plotter frigging the heading on a GCA. Non-SOP, but it worked very well!

Yes, we used to fly approaches with PFCs deliberately failed. I vaguely remember doing so with 2 out on the same side which made things a bit ponderous!

Thanks for your excellent recollections - I've heard from other sources that, despite its pretty appearance, the Comet had all the traditional vices of control harmony, weird sitck force per g changes at higher TAS and the usual 1950's trim changes with any selection of services!

Pontius Navigator
21st Feb 2004, 03:12

The HRS/MRGs were the same as on the Blue Steel missile with the advantage that we did not plan to sling them away half way through the sortie.

I thought that they were liberated from the TSR2 programme as indeed was the Decca Doppler 72M.

The guy responsible for the HRS in the Vulcan was a Sqn Ldr Harris at 1 Gp who made the case and won the battle.

The Ligntning may indeed have had them too but for a different purpose. In the Vulcan it was used for heading whereas the Ligntning used it for attitude.

I may well be wrong on this but your input excited a few unused brain cells.

21st Feb 2004, 22:36
Having been glued to these pages for some hours, much to my good lady's annoyance. I have been surprised to note that no mention has been made of Automatic Landing in the Vulcan. This system was specifically designed for the V. Force to give them the ability to disperse to any airfield in fog or any limited visibility conditions. The system worked impeccably and was in fact the forerunner of todays automatic landings.

Some years following my retirement from the RAF I visited Greenham for an airshow and was permitted to go into the cockpit of a 50Sqdn Vulcan. When I began to touch the auto land switches etc My Flt Lt Pilot guide astounded me by saying " We dont know what they are for" They had never been used by him or anyone else on the squadron.

What a pity the system was not available to the crew, including Sir Harry Broadhurst when they crashed at London Airport. That story still burns in my memory.

One other thing I would like to mention is that we at BLEU used to carry out 90K approach and landings, on auto's including automatic throttle control. I am sure most ex Vulcan Jocks will give a shudder at that...I know i used to shudder all the way down.

22nd Feb 2004, 00:23
Well, PN, you're probably right. But I remember being told that the HRS was basically a Lightning MRG tied to the appropriate axis and working in a 'heading only' mode only - which it did very well!

Autoland was indeed a mystery to anyone on 35 in the late '70s. Didn't it require some sort of lead-in cable to be installed at the intended aerodromes of use? I did hear that the reliability of a non-redundant system at very low levels was considered somewhat risky.....

Flatus Veteranus
22nd Feb 2004, 04:23
I seem to remember that we did autopilot-coupled ILS approaches down to 200 ft in the 1960s. I don't think it was as effective as a well-flown manual ILS, and the autothrottle function, when fitted and serviceable, was a bit crude. The situation was not helped by the localiser at Waddo (and some other airfields) being offset. I don't think we had the real estate to install a localiser aligned to the runway QDM. Somebody tell me that I am talking rubbish and I may feel obliged to agree!

22nd Feb 2004, 14:15
I flew the 'best' Aircraft in the 70s and remember the Auto ILS worked very well, though it wasn't purely Auto. The system worked well and produced a smooth approach. However, you did have to control speed with power as the Auto throttle function had been disconnected (spares? / didn't work?). I have a feeling, my memory is not that long, that the speed limit was something in the region of 180 Kts - I'll have to go in the loft sometime & dig out the Pilot's Manual.

On a final note, the Aircraft was much more fun flying everything manually. In fact it was my time on the Vulcan that caused my decision not to go to the Airlines; although the 10 West rule etc was fun as was the going to exotic places, those high level transits showed me the utter boredom of hours of Autopilot flight. Some of you will, of course , beg to differ.

normally right blank
22nd Feb 2004, 15:07

According to Andrew Brookes: “Crash!”, Ian Allan 1991, it was 1 October 1956 that the RAF’s first operational Vulcan XA897, call sign “Mike Papa Quebec Kilo 11” crashed at Heathrow on a GCA approach.

The C-in-C Sir Harry Broadhurst was in the co-pilot’s seat. The captain Sqn Ldr Donald “Podge” Howard had joined in the ranks, gained a commission after flying training in America, had won a double DFC for low level ground attack during the war. After commanding a Canberra squadron he was seconded to Avro to “grow up with the aircraft”.

In the back sat the navigator Sqn Ldr Edward Eames, AFC. There was no bomb-aimer, as the equipment and radar was not ready yet. Instead on the navigators left sat Flt Lt (Acting Sqn Ldr) James Stroud, a Vulcan pilot with Master Green instrument rating like the captain.

“Tasman” flight was supported on a trip to Australia and New Zealand by three Shackletons carrying ground crew and support equipment. One stayed at Aden. The other two going on to Paya Lebar in Malaya. A Canberra PR7 acted as back up. If the Vulcan went unserviceable, Sir Harry would leap into the PR7 to the next official engagement. Howard and Stroud would bring on the Vulcan later.

The rear trio was completed by signaller Sqn Ldr Albert Gamble. By the entrance door sat Avro tech. service rep. Frederick Bassett.

In lashing rain the aircraft touched down 1.030 yards before the runway, was damaged by a ditch and on climb out became uncontrolable rolling to the right. Only the two with ejection seats got out.

A bitter set of inquiries followed - one of them from the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation defending the GCA system. “Someone” put out James Stroud as second navigator in a press release. Even his death certificate described him as navigator causing much bitterness amongst family and colleagues.

A Boscome scientific study found extra pressure error on the Vulcan close to the ground, that with altimeter friction could be as much as 200 ft. At the “break off “ height (minima today?) of 300 feet they came very close to the ground. (Even without the postulated sudden last second descent.)

There are many more details in Brookes chapter on this tragedy, but his final remark is worth mentioning:

“... the importance of being up to speed on instrument flying skills before the foul weather comes. It also proved that it does not pay to put your latest, largely untried aircraft into your latest, barely opened international airport for vainglorius reasons.”

(The book is out of print but well worth searching for ISBN 0 7110 1965 7)

This became a little long but the Heathrow crash has intrigued me being a GCA controller myself.

Best regards

22nd Feb 2004, 16:52
There was indeed a limit of not selecting AP 'Track' plus MFS 'LOC and GP' above 180 KIAS in the Vulcan.

Auto ILS worked OK-ish. But manual trimming and power control was needed and I agree that the hassle wasn't worth it as it didn't give you a lower DH than a manual ILS!

But it gave the GSU trapper something to throw at you on your ICC5 check ride!

Flatus Veteranus
22nd Feb 2004, 18:10

In my day "Break-off" was 250 ft for manual ILS and PAR, 200 ft for auto ILS. I believe that, when the chips were down, most crews flew manual and swore they picked up the lights at 250ft.
This was when a really good Co was worth his weight in gold. He flew the needles and the captain monitored and took over when he picked up the lights. Real flying in those days! :D

22nd Feb 2004, 18:22
Response to 'normally right blank' - GCA controller.

Milt was a Vulcan TP at Boscombe Down on a 4 hour standby with a spare aircraft and crew ALL of the several weeks that Vulcan XA897 was away on that Australian/ New Zealand trip. Didn't know at the time that the RAAF was interested in acquiring Vulcans. I and crew had been shot full of innoculations for African bugs as we planned to scamper down via Africa with this spare aircraft if any malfunction was to occur with 897 when Down Under. I planned to break some records.

Imagine my disappointment, as an Australian Flt Lt on TP exchange, that the malfunction did not happen until the last few seconds of the mission. Incidently Wg Cdr Clive Saxelby was then my CO. He just happened to be one of those who figured in the "Great Escape" - was it Colditz?

Three factors set up the Heathrow crash if we accept the weather as being right on minimums.

1. Reception committee assembled at Heathrow with resultant pressure on inexperienced (negligible IFR time on Vulcan) and non cohesive/standard crew to make a landing in conditions which would normally have justified a diversion.

2. Approach speed of the Vulcan being below minimum drag speed. This results in increased sink rate if the pilot tries to adjust approach angle with increased alpha and no thrust increase to compensate for the increasing drag with decreasing speed.

3. The Civil GCA controllers were prohibited at the time from giving vertical guidance to aircraft after they had passed through 500 ft AGL.

My test experience on Vulcan discounts PEC and altimeter friction as being amongst all those other possibles that a court of inquiry postulates.

So Podge Howard was really in the 'hot seat' but all would have been well if not for two things. Cessation of vertical guidance and the aircraft already sinking below glide slope.

As they were passing through 500 ft they were advised that they were beginning to sink below the GCA glide slope. At this point vertical guidance ceased although azimuth guidance continued. The sink rate kept increasing without adequate recognition until they emerged from the cloud base. Slamming the throttles to max, (and what wonderful engines they were - idle to max thrust in a tab over 2 seconds) was just too late. The control surfaces dragged across a field of cabbages to be damaged beyond useability and resulted in uncontrollable pitch up.

I didn't know at that time that Civil GCA controllers ceased vertical giudance at 500 ft. I doubt whether Podge Howard knew that either.
Somthing to do with insurance I think. How crazy!! Did that practice continue??

Vulcan and F-111 followed by Mustang rate as my favourite aircraft out of 90 plus. Valiant prototype No 2 (WB215) came close to doing me in when a wing main spar broke. This was after an AUW measured take off using Super Sprite rocket units. Might just open up another thread on broken wings and fatigue.

Pontius Navigator
22nd Feb 2004, 22:38

AFAIC Remember, only Scampton of the 1 Gp stations had the necessary lead in cable for autoland. This was a bone of contentions at Cottesmore as we were quite high too and frequently down in the reds and ambers. However we NEVER diverted for weather.

Let me qualify that, we never diverted when we were allowed to have a stab at getting in. We had our own inner marker, quite unofficial but otherwise infallible.

Just one mile finals on 23 was the Blue Star filling station. At night its blue star stood out like the proverbial and very similar to the flashing strobes that the USAF use. If we were at 300 ft and on heading then we had to hit the runway in the right place.

22nd Feb 2004, 23:02
Another Vulcan-ism was the so-called 'reverse flap effect'. If you were low and pitched aggressively, the elevons (Mk 2 - or elevators on the Mk 1 and 1A) all deflected upwards reducing Cl and down you sank - if further pitch was applied things just got worse! Similarly, overflaring on landing caused sink, checking forward could cause definite ballooning. Somewhere there's a videoclip of the Tu-144 demonstrating both effects and smiting the ground somewhat firmly as a result.

And yes there most certainly was considerable PE effect on the altimeter on an Instrument Approach. I seem to remember having to add 100ft to declared values - using a DH of 300 ft indicated on a PAR or ILS.

Mr J W Phillip lost 3/4 of an acre of his crop of Brussels sprouts, not cabbages when XA897 blasted them flat at London Airport - assessed as being worth £75. Damage to the ditch was assessed as £10 12s 6d....always wondered how they managed such a precise assessment!

With acknowledgement to my first Vulcan captain, Andrew Brookes, for information gleaned from his excellent book 'Crash' - which cost me £16.95 some 10+ years ago! You can see Andy fairly often on TV giving his views as a Defence Expert from the Institute of Strategic Studies. Or as a wide-eyed youngster in a photo on the back of an old Buddy Holly album, eh Andy?;)

23rd Feb 2004, 00:53
I believe Scampton was fitted with a leader cable, although I was never able to confirm this. The leader cable gave the signal to align the ac with the centreline, and the receivers were vertical aerials moulded to the front fuselage immediately behind the radome.

The auto-ILS decision height was 250ft [in-line ILS] or 270ft [off-set ILS]. In my experience, the auto-ILS was pretty accurate - we used to practice them down to 150ft just for the experience [day, VMC]. However, always took a PAR for a reallllly bad weather approach. I only ever used the auto-throttle once [again for the experience]. It wasn't very good, because it tended to split the throttles - you trimmed each engine throttle setting by pressing the relight button, setting the desired throttle position then pressed the relight button to re-engage.

FV - your right, the reason why few airfields had in-line ILS was because of the lack of space at the end of most RAF runways. I was also told once that another reason was that the installation could be expensively damaged by an aircraft over-running the runway into the overshoot area [as happened at Alconbury in the mid 80's when a Canberra did a high speed abort and careered though the ILS installation!]

23rd Feb 2004, 01:34
Many thanks for your replies to my last post. I can only say what a pity, it seem s that none of you experienced true Auto landing due to the fact that you were not adequately equipped. For the record let me point out that Leader Cables were used in the earlier years but due to their obvious disadvantages and improvements made in ILS , they were discontinued and were not necessary for an Auto Landing.
When I speak of Auto Landing system I include Auto Throttle also, because serious automatic touchdown in nil visibility requires this.It must be remembered that I am talking of the necessity of diverting the Vulcan in any visibility conditions during the cold war
I have carried out many full auto landings on the Vulcan including some at 90 Kt approach speed.
All of these have been completely 'Hands off' save for selecting 'Glide path' when a 3 degree pitch down was injected and switching 'Auto land' at about 200 ft.
I am not talking of bringing the a/c down to 150/200 ft but to full touch down including kicking off residual drift.
In my opinion,when an a/c moves through 150/200 ft without sight of the runway and without Auto Land it ceases to be a controlled vehicle, but a missile where the pilot is accepting the fact that if he was in the correct 'window' at those heights and he changes nothing then all will be ok and he will hit the concrete.
I refer to some landings carried out at London Airport in 1962 when the RVR was 45Ft!! True, not in a Vulcan.
I am most gratefull for the information on the lead up to the LAP crash and I must say that having read the official report on this I can only say that, once again the terms of reference for this report made it impossible for a true analysis to be decided and I am sure an Auto Land system would have prevented this unfortunate accident. A few more ejection seats would not have gone amiss either!:*

John Farley
23rd Feb 2004, 02:52

Fascinating stuff. 90 kts on the approach!

My understanding of the reason for the RAF 125kt min IAS for the Vulcan – even at light weight – was poor lateral control in gusts? Can you confirm that?

The Vulcan was the only aeroplane I ever flew where I never felt short of wing. I used to land it slower than 125 when there was not a turb in the sky and on one occasion without the benefit of more than a few knots of wind stopped on 24 at Thurleigh before reaching the centre line of 27. Nothing beats a good wing when it comes to flying! But I still had more than 90 kts – at least until well over that rotten security fence!


23rd Feb 2004, 05:00
90kts rings a bell - wasn't that the speed displayed during the original 'Avro descent', practiced by TPs in the early days of the Mk1's?

23rd Feb 2004, 05:25
90 KIAS??!! Good grief! I never saw anything below 125 when airborne. Normally our Pattern, Approach and Threshold speeds were 165/145/135 or 160/140/130. 125 KIAS threshold speed was thought of as being very low indeed....but 90??

23rd Feb 2004, 06:32
Back in the late 70s I was a Nav Rad on a number of ICC sorties (Co-pilot to Captain conversions) during which low-speed handling was demonstrated. I recall that if the drivers (airframe) increased the AoA progressively, at about 108 kts the fin became blanked and the aircraft dropped a wing, thus terminating the manoeuvre.

However, during airshows we regularly saw 80 kts KIAS during wingovers and had to accelerate to pattern speed for the final landing.....

23rd Feb 2004, 07:02
John Farley

Remember Ossie Hawkins doing very low IAS testing in a Vulcan B1 fitted with a chute?

Did you ever hear the results of any such tests?

I recall he pitched up, used the chute and then couldn't jettison the thing.

It ceased being a flying machine and he didn't bang out.

John Farley
23rd Feb 2004, 18:48

The listing of UK Military Flight Test Accidents 1940-1971 (produced by the former MOD PE flight safety officer Derek Collier Webb) ISBN 0 85130 311 1 has the following account about the Ossie Hawkins accident.

Vulcan B2 XH535 11 May 1964. Mr O J Hawkins Avro captain with Flt Lt R L Beeson co-pilot (B Sqn), rear crew Flt Lt J Dingley, Fg Off P Chilton, Master Sig L Christian and Flt Lt F A Young. At 19,000ft the aircraft spun after a demonstration of low speed (85 kts) high rate descent by the captain. The brake chute was released as a possible aid to recovery and a temporary arrest of the spin was made but it again entered a spin from which no recovery could be made. The co-pilot ordered the ejection and ejected at 2,500 ft, the captain ejected shortly after at 2000ft., the rear crew members remained in the aircraft. The aircraft impacted the ground at Chute nine miles west of Boscombe. Two major injured (pilots) 4 killed.


23rd Feb 2004, 20:10
The spare aircraft was XA895. Both it and the primary XA897 were prepared at Woodford - even down to the CinC's [***].

But apparently there was a difference. 897 was seemingly fitted with bomb-bay fuel tanks. These had been used by the prototype VX770 in lieu of the wing tanks (or possibly according to one source, the wing and fuselage tanks) for initial flight trials.

From a file held at Kew: the RAF wanted to 'borrow' the tanks for no cost (what's changed)?. The advantages were an increase of range of 700nm. The capacity was 2700 gallons (= 21600 lb).

I have no documentary proof that the system was actually fitted but the outbound leg from Boscombe Down to Khormaksar at a flying time of 7 hrs 20 suggests that it was. It is recorded that for the return flight from Khormaksar the aircraft was loaded to 168000 lb, which allowing for start and taxi, 897 would be at the max auw of 167000 lb for take off. Seems there was more fuel on board than just the main tanks.

One can understand the value of giving the impression that an aircraft had a longer range than it actually had.

Can anyone shad any light on the origin of these tanks and their use? Considering the A and E tanks were ordered in 1960 and not delivered until 1964, the tanks in 770 and probably 897 may have been designed for an earlier purpose - a Tudor for the Berlin airlift for example.

normally left blank
23rd Feb 2004, 21:55
" The Civil GCA controllers were prohibited at the time from giving vertical guidance to aircraft after they had passed through 500 ft AGL."

And nobody knew that! Amazing.

Brookes also mentions the BOI. Because of the C-in-C the board became rather senior. (As no junior officer could pass judgement).

The "second navigator" bit. Someone must have anticipated the question: "Why was he (as qualified pilot) not in the right seat?"

24th Feb 2004, 04:45
Didn't realise you learned at the feet of Andy B. I told him about this thread when I last saw him 10 days ago, but he seems to be adopting a lower than usual profile.

Shame you did not get to Old W at the w/e - Aerobedane was singing your praises :-)


Yellow Sun
24th Feb 2004, 05:19

90 KIAS??!! Good grief! I never saw anything below 125 when airborne

Maybe it had been removed from the OCU syllabus by the time you went through, but I recall Reg Wareham showing me the bottom left hand corner of the envelope one Friday afternoon over the Humber, very impressed I was!

WRT Vulcan autoland I was once told that a secondary purpose for its procurement was to enable a large number of landings to be carried out so that the system could be certified and sold for civil use. As it turned out, the leader cable system was overtaken by the ILS based system and the requirement to make 3 out of 4 landings an autoland never arose. Myth or some truth, can anyone expand?

I am somewhat doubtful about how much real capability the Vulcan (and Victor) autoland system represented. As far as I know it was a single channel system, unless the Alnd Prime function armed a second (redundant) channel which engaged when the leader cable guidance commenced.

From my subsequent Low Visibility Ops (LVO) experience; 3 types with Cat 2 or better capability, current aircraft Cat 3B; I would be very cautious about relying on a single channel system without adequate visual reference. Under present regulations the Vulcan with the 10B autopilot would be limited to Cat 2, i.e. Decision Height (DH) not below 100' above TDZ Elev and IRVR 300mtrs. The problem that might now arise is the adequacy of visibilty forward and down from the Vulcan in the approach configuration to allow the pilot to obtain the required visual reference at a Cat 2 DH. Having had the opportunity to carry out numerous LV approaches on simulator base checks and been able to watch them replayed immediately afterwards (snapshot facility) one quickly realises how difficult it can be to detect and assess the visual references on a Cat 2 approach. I suspect that in the Vulcan, given the relatively restricted forward and down visibility, acquisition of the required visual reference in limiting RVR might have been marginal. I should be interested if any of the TPs can recall the RVRs/visibilities that were anticipated for operational use.

Incidentally, the Victor would have had a lower visual cut-off angle than the Vulcan. Might it have been an acknowledgement of this that led to leader cables being installed at Wittering; that was I believe the first installation.


24th Feb 2004, 15:45
skua - glad that the OW bash went well. I'd hoped to drop in on chum Airbedane, but he'd had to go to work.... Not sure why he would have been singing my praises - I don't think that there's anything I could blackmail him with..:E

I was on the OCU course with Andy B; there were 2 options, go to 50 Sqn with a career-crawling little git (who introduced himself to a bunch of PMRAFNS when we were at North Luffenham as a 'senior pilot'!) - or go to 35 with Andy. I was required to choose - it took about 2 seconds to decide but, being kind, I made it look as though it took a lot longer...

Had the misfortune once to fly with that other captain during the OCU course. At TOC instead of nattering about the usual triv - beer, cars, women, RAF brass, etc, he got out his personal set of GASOs to read:rolleyes: Later, when we returned to Sunny Scampton he asked for an internal aids approach from the very new Plt Off Nav Radar (who I laast saw running Shirko's lot at ASI). I thought the approach was pretty damn good - but all Captain Fantastic would say was "That wasn't a bad approach,Radar, only you brought me down in the red/pinks rather than in the red/whites......:\ What a pratt! A non-precision approach and he quibbled about fractions of a degree. Great CRM -'me' not 'us', you'll note. He later went on to inflict himself on the Victor tanker force (couldn't prod for $hit, I gather) before spiralling further and further up Air Officers' ar$eholes and disappearing into various low-risk staff and ground appointments.

25th Feb 2004, 04:40
Reply to John Farley

One thing I would wish to confirm...Without Auto Land and Auto Throttle I do not think I would have been capable of 9o Kts approaches. I can't claim they were comfortable but they did show our complete confidence in the system.

All I can say about lateral control in turbulance is that every Vulcan autoland that I experienced was in the right place and pointing in the right direction...Remember firm landings were a requirement to prevent any drift occuring during a possible hold off period.

When BLEU gave its first demonstrations to the worlds aviation press, we were, as Murphy's Law would predict, faced with a 25 kt cross wind on RW 27. Mr Charnley, the boss, pointed out that although that was a limiting factor and a situation the equipment was never designed for, if we did not go through with the demonstration, Auto land would be dead in the water, or words to that effect. In the event it worked out perfectly because it demonstrated so well the kick off drift facility. The visitors saw the a/c crabbing all the way down the slope then straighten up just at touchdown. Right on the button.

Pontius Navigator
25th Feb 2004, 05:25
There is a V Force Reunion at Newark in May.


Last time (2002) that had 200 they are hoping for 300 this time. Curiously most of the registration desks are all manned by ex-12 Sqn

26th Feb 2004, 00:38
The "other officer" sounds v different from AB, who of course had his share (largely involuntarily) of desk jobs towards the end of his career. You obviously picked wisely.


28th Feb 2004, 03:45
Correct! He was an utter ar$e!

Probably still is....

1st Mar 2004, 23:56
Does anybody have any information about the Vulcan that landed at Catterick many years ago? I heard that the crew were worried about the length (or lack of) and applied all measures to bring the ac to a stop quickly and the road was closed at the end. I think they manged to stop half way down, do any of you have the correct details?


2nd Mar 2004, 00:29
One of the aircraft concerned was XL321 AKA "Rusty Bin". This was last used by 50 Sqn and was one of a pair sent to Catterick for the Fire School.

They had to approach over the A1 low, as Catterick does not have a very long runway. The Civvy Police were due to close the A1 to allow the bombers to land, but there was confusion as to the arrival times of the aircraft. The civvy Police used Local, but as per usual, the RAF used Zulu and the aircraft arrived an hour early and gave the commuters on the A1 a very low pass.

I can not remember the other aircraft, but was on the see off team for Rusty Bin.

2nd Mar 2004, 01:02
The Catterick A/C were

XH554 9-6-81 8694M
XH561 14-6-84 8809M
XH562 19-8-82 8758M
XL321 19-8-82 8759M

2nd Mar 2004, 02:51
I was scheduled to take one of the ac into Catterick. We went up there to discuss the whole thing with the fire school and the local plods. Because of the narrow taxyways and the A1, it was decided that we would do a short field landing, with chute, shut down on the runway and get towed round to final parking.

In the event, it was decide by the powers that be that we mere mortals were not capable, and the GSU would do the job. After a couple of approaches (with the A1 closed) they did the final landing without incident. Then they decided that, because they were the GSU, they would taxy round to final parking. Several hours later and many shovels full of dirt, the ac was dug out of the grass and towed away!

2nd Mar 2004, 13:54
One afternoon at Akrotiri in 1970 or 1971, a Britannia burst two or three tires on landing (R/way 27) and came to a stop just beyond the PAR.

For some reason a Vulcan could not divert and so landed with the Brit still on the runway. The V streamed the brakechute at about 50ft just as it crossed the downwind barrier, landed quite firmly and stopped round about the eastern access. Dunno what the length of that is, but it is v. short. Vaguely remember that the a/c captain got an AOC's rec.

Oh, and the turn out of all and sundry to watch this event was one of the larger audiences, to the extent that Tony the Sarnie Man from the kiosk in Ops car park actually closed and went to see what was happening.

2nd Mar 2004, 14:31
An afternoon at Akrotiri? Thought that they all stopped work at 1300 to bug.ger off to the beach?

2nd Mar 2004, 22:39
Ah, was H24 in those days BEags.

The Oven-Ready Chicken lot with Frightenings and a Canberra, 9 & 35 with Vulcans, 1563Flt (later 84Sqn) with Whirlwinds, Love & Kisses with Argosy and Hercs, plus sundry APCs, tanker and transport transits, the Herc OCU doing night circuits, visiting Shacks & Nimrods, US Navy mates lobbing in when they couldn't get back on the boat, foreign af delivery flight transits and black jet dets from time to time.

Would've been easier if it were H36.

StopStart was on the beach though, but his grow-bag was smaller and a different colour then. :)

Pontius Navigator
3rd Mar 2004, 03:06

Not quite right. All the blanket stackers worked 7-13, the Bomber Wing worked 7-17 plus flying after that.

We had a vote at one point to work shorts on Monday, Wednesday and Friday but Zebbedee Sutton at Epi made us work longs on Mon and Fri. No fool he.

He realised that letting someone miss a half-day on Monday or Friday was more likely than taking a 10 hours day off.

He also tried to confine aircrew to the base but was told that short of arresting them all he couldn't.

A typical liver-in working week was:

Monday 1400, slide in from Kyrenia, brief, fly, land, sleep in.
Tuesday 1200 show face on sqn, check mail, check programme, swim.
Wednesday, full day 0830-1230 with an hour or so up at the NAAFI. (Not IX they worked 7-13).
Thursday volunteer for last sortie of the day - swim in the morning, fly, slide off to Kyrenia.

3 nights at Akrotiri and 4 in Kyrenia.

8th Mar 2004, 11:01
As a first time poster and SLF (but lurker for a few years!) I saw this thread and realised I was potentially sitting on something I could contribute which may jog a few memories. I apologise if this post rambles a bit!

Before I continue, there is a bit of background to this... When at school I was an RAF cadet, and as part of a promotion I had to do a project on something RAF-related which ended up as Vulcan-related (long story, involving Biggin Hill and a rather "relaxed" rotation one day). I was taught at school by a former Vulcan Pilot - He was called Ambrose Stretfield, and when I researched it, he wrote me a detailed letter of his time as a Vulcan pilot. I have no idea if he is aware of this thread, but I hope he won't
mind me sharing some of his memories with you.

He was involved with Vulcans from 1957 to 1961, starting with 83 Sqn at Waddington in June 1957 on the MK1, where he was a Co-Pilot. After a captain's course he joined 617 Sqn at Scampton and remained there till 1960, when he returned to 83 Sqn (the first MkII Sqn) as a Flight Commander.

In the letter he remembers the Vulcan as a superb aircraft to handle "very easy and light despite the great size, because they were equipped with power operated control surfaces, which could be very easily moved with a small movement of the fighter-type control column" He goes on to detail the number of crew
and their responsibilities and talks of the MkII having the more advanced wing and more powerful Olympus engines and mentioned that the occasional sortie went up to FL600, and I quote "I didn't like it much it up there - there was very little margin to play with between your high cruise Mach Number (0.86) and the stalling speed. This was of course assumed we would go in at high level, but when Gary Powers was shot
down at FL800 we realised we'd have to go in under the radar"

He left Vulcans just before low-level training commenced.

He did have a few hairy moments while flying Vulcans - whilst on the MKI as co-pilot he was doing circuits (and after about 4 hours of training sortie and doing a number of "touch and go's") just after rotating, both Port engines more or less disintegrated. Apparently a number of the compressor blades came adrift in one of the engines (he doesn't say which) and bits of debris were sucked into the other causing a fair amount of damage. His Captain apparently didn't think anything of it as there was very little warning and very little swing. The first they knew was when the fire-warning lights came on. The Captain nonchalantly flew a circuit on the two healthy engines and then executed a perfect landing.

The incident he remembers as the most dramatic was when he was flying from Goose Bay to Scampton after taking part in the World Congress of Flight at Las Vegas. They were mid-Atlantic when he noticed the No. 3 engine fuel was going down rather quickly. He got the AEO to look under the aircraft with the periscope. Unnervingly, there was a nice vapourised trail of fuel running for miles behind the aircraft. They had gone past the return point (especially as they had a nice 150kt tail wind) and called up Keflavik with the idea of an emergency landing there. You can imagine they were not best pleased when Keflavik mentioned they had a cloud-base of 300ft with driving snow... so it was a case of "let's press on to the UK". They transferred the fuel to the other tanks asap and after half an hour of transferring all was OK. On landing and after an investigation, it transpired that a rubber hose had burst just a few inches down-stream from the the high pressure pump, so "how we didn't have a fire, the good Lord only alone knows..."

He also mentions trials for "Scramble take off": 4 aircraft airborne from cold and says that they

eventually got it down to about 2 minutes, which "was designed to get most of your V-Force safely airborne before an ICBM arrived"

He also generously gave me a scale model of a Vulcan which he was given by Avro (1/72 scale) painted in the Blue-Steel "livery" (IIRC - the all white paint scheme) which I cherish!

Forgive me if this has been a bit long, but I hope that it adds to the stories/heritage so far.


ed. for spelling

Pontius Navigator
9th Mar 2004, 01:42

Your tale of an absolute A*se reminds me of a particular Cranwell captain from the days of Flight Cadets. Cranwell cadets were either young flt lts, sqn ldrs or very few old, and slightly bitter, flt lts destined to be stuck on level 6 of the pay increments with all the supplementaries sliding past them.

In this case, 2 minutes before the turn the nav in good V-force fashion, went "Plotter - Captain" .... "Shut up I'm trying to think."

30 seconds to go he tried again "Shut up, I told you I'm trying to think" The plotter duly shut up.

Some time later the captain asked what the nav had wanted. "Doesn't matter now" he said. "Common plotter what was it" "Just trying to give you the next leg details"

"Well give them to me" "Where do you want to go?"

"Heading for Stornoway of course, why, where are we?"

"Faeroes. Do you want a heading for Keflavik?"

Pontius Navigator
12th Mar 2004, 02:18
Complete the following table:

The bombing equipment was codified and used to describe different bombing techniques. When the equipment was not working properly limited procedures (LP) were practised. This is my stab at doing the table as I feel a complete one would be of use to Archimedes.

The NBS Was equipment 2. With the Blue Steel electronics it was equipment 3. The visual, T4 bombsight was 5 (I think).

An equipment 2 attack was a straight and level, high level attack.

2A was a high level evasive bomb run. It was obsolescent in 1964 although we planned to use it for a conventional stick of 21 in the far east. About 43 miles from the target the aircraft was turned at 47 deg AOB, 1.5g through 45 degrees. Wings were levelled for 15 seconds before a 90 deg turn in the opposite direction. Wings were again levelled 30 seconds before the manoeuvre was repeated. The next steady leg was 15 seconds before the aircraft was rolled on to its attack heading about 15 miles from the target. As the forward throw was 7 miles, bomb release was after 60 seonds straight and level. Hopefully this would defeat a single SA2 missie site.

2B was a practice run against an x-band jammer. The jammer was from old B50s.

2C was a practice run against multiple x-band jammers. By 1964 this was not used as we only had one jammer.

2D was an operational popup attack to about 25,000 feet for a Blue Danube (Valiant) or Red Beard Attack.

2E was an operational popup attack to 11,000 feet with a one minute run to the release point some 2 miles from the target. Exposure to SAM impact was 112 seconds but popup to bomb release was 120 seconds. This was abandoned and we used the 2H instead.

2F was an operational laydown attack. At first it was limited to the Vliant equipped with Big E and Little E. From 1966 the Mk 2 Vulcan carried the WE177B and able to adopt the laydown attack as well. The introduction of the Mk 117 tail unit for the 1,000lb bomb allowed the force to make conventional laydown attacks.

2G was an operational popup attack from a low level approach and a pull up to 8,000 feet for release of 21,000lbs of bombs. This was 1,000 feet above light tripple A. REALLY!

2H was an operational pullup attack similar to a loft. The aircraft was navigated to a precise point dependent on the mark of aircraft and rotated through a specific angle. In the case of the Mk2 Vulcan with was 18,350 yards and 15 degrees. The Mark 1 PUP was about 21,500 yards. Weapon release was as the aircraft passed 10,500 feet in the climb. After tests, the Mark 1 crews realised they could complete an automatic bomb run using the NBC. It had a lower limit of 7,000 feet and could easily cope with the 10,000 foot per minute climb. Exposure to Yellow Sun impact was about 103 seconds, comfortably ahead of the expected SA2 impact at 112 seconds.

2J was an operational pullup attack to 2,500 feet for a release of 21,000 lb of bombs. It was below the lower limit of the SA2. The quicker of you will have noticed that it was nicely in the AAA envelope.

There was also an attack where the approach was at 45,000 feet followed by a rapid descent to 18,000 feet, above the NBC 2 lower limit of 17,200 feet, for a conventional, level attack. It would have been ideal in the Falklands where there was no medium level AD.

The Blue Steel aircraft would make equipment 3 attacks.

Equipment 3 was a convoluted, simulated missile profile with the aircraft following the Blue Steel guidance package. The difference being that the BS would have climbed to 65,000 feet and flown at 1.6 mn.

Perhaps a BS crew can follow up with the rest of the variations.

The LP profiles will be added later when I have got over typists RSI.

12th Mar 2004, 17:42
The answer to the topic question is: "no, never had that pleasure" but, going back to the CW days, did you tin triangle guys ever spare a thought for the Whistling Wheelbarrows who carried your bits to the dispersal sites?

We too would get the call in the middle of the night and end up in Mac or some other Godforsaken place. Mind you, the Scotch and kippers compensated.

Sitting here now in this Central Asian "-stan" with its crumbling red stars and reading this thread has rather made me think.....

Anyway: Did You Fly the Argosy??

Pontius Navigator
13th Mar 2004, 01:31

As V-crew we never met the truckies. Only groundcrew had that priviledge. Anyway we had no sympathy for you as we always believed that you KNEW in advance when the call was going to come.

Sorry if it was as big a surprise to you too.

Those were the days.

14th Mar 2004, 04:07
I passed out from Swinderby on Wed Nov 2nd 83 and had a Vulcan as the flypast.

My mother still rememberd how we presented arms 5 seconds before the aircraft came over the back of the visitor's stand and roared over us at what felt like 200 feet.

Don't suppose any of you old sweats were flying the thing ?

16th Mar 2004, 07:59
BEagle. Many thanks for the kind words. They were great times on the triangular mean machine. A major prat you don't mention was the captain on 35, the self-proclaimed intergalactic in-door hockey champion, whose chat up line on the beaches of Malta was that he was leader of the Vulcan formation team! Have just written a piece comparing the Vulcan with the B-1B for AIR International. If only the RAF had gone for an upgraded Vulcan B.3.
As an aside, it was a Jerry Lee Lewis not Buddy Holly album, but what the heck! All the best.

16th Mar 2004, 08:10
V Bomber Photo

Have a very rare photo of Vulcan, Victor and Valiant in a V formation.

How does one post it to the site?

16th Mar 2004, 19:32
Flatiron - how the very devil are you? Good to know that you've taken to PPRuNery!

'twas my misfortune to fly with that person you recall - a real Walter Mitty. Barking b£oody mad he was - also claimed variously to have banged out of a Gnat, gone climbing mountains in Greenland - met him years later and he claimed he'd been a covert FAC in the Malvinas war..!

I stand corrected on the album featuring your cherubic smile! We had been drinking rather a lot at the time!

Must have a look for your AIR International article!!

17th Mar 2004, 08:23
BEagle. I got to thinking about some of the better characters on the Vulcan force. You are too young to remember Arthur 'Bootsie' Griffiths, but he was boss of 101 in the early Sixties. He was an awesome character, and even his own crew feared him. One day his Nav Al Capp rushed into the crewroom shouting, 'He spoke to me, he spoke to me.' 'What did he say, Al?' '**** off Capp.' The Griffiths crew were responsible for that wonderful scrape on Alert. They had set the B.1A for rapid start, locked the door and gone back to the crew room. When the hooter went, they all rushed out. On the B.1A the Crew Chief could start the engines via the Simstart trolley, and as the crew leaped out of the Crew Coach Bootsie shouted to the co-pilot, 'Give me the door key.' 'I haven't got it,' said Tony Woodford, 'you must have it.' 'I haven't ****ing got it,' replied Bootsie and so the altercation went on while a B.1A, fully laden with 33 tons of fuel, was bouncing up and down, held in place by nothing more than increasingly fragile chocks. In the end, they had to resort ot the fire axe. I got to know Bootsie later on when he was an AVM in charge of the RAF Regt!

Another Vulcan CO who made boss of the Regt was Bobby Robson. Married to a Cadbury heiress, he didn't really need to care about careeer niceties, but he was an outstanding navigator. When he took over 27, they had just taken over the Maritime Radar Recce role. That involved long 7-hr flogs over the oggin, and the Plotters started to whinge (what else is new?) about the work load. Bobby went off one day, completed an immaculate chart in Lettraset while airborne, and pinned it up on the Sqn noticeboard without comment. End of debate.

Finally, one the great modern Vulcan bosses, John Prideaux. A native of British West Hartlepool, JP was a renaissance man. Great pilot, musician, raconteur. He also had a fond spot for the gee-gees. In the late 70s, RAF morale was low because we never got any real pay rises from Jim Callaghan, so John bought an old nag for £25, called it 'IX Sqn,' entered it at Market Rasen and took the whole Sqn off for a day at the races. The Daily Mail printed a story about rich RAF toffs and JP was in the dwang because the RAF hierarchy had been banging on about how poor we were. If you are ever near a royal and ancient golf club north of the border, and you want a laugh, drop in to see JP and ask him to tell you some Bushy Ward (another Vulcan boss) stories.

There must be many other stories about Vulcan characters. This is an excellent site to capture them.

17th Mar 2004, 09:09
V Bomber Photo

Have a very rare photo of Vulcan, Victor and Valiant in a V formation.

How does one post it to the site?

find someone to store it on a website, then paste the image link into this thread. i think

17th Mar 2004, 09:28
Flatiron - presumably you got to know 'Bootsie' when you were having the odd morning cuppa with the lovely lady Campers on the Common a few miles down the A34 from this part of the world?

We certainly had some characters in the pre-IiP, PC, ERB, KPI days when fun was allowed, nay, encouraged! A far, far cry from the worried, little grey men of today who Hear What You Say:yuk: !!

Yellow Sun
17th Mar 2004, 11:44

Not doubting you (you may have been there at the time), but I always believed that the perpetrator of the unmanned Vulcan incident was a 44 Sqn Flt Cdr, one Mr Primavesi, later to become Stn Cdr at Cranwell. Did Bootsie's copilot (Tony Woodford) later become Stn Cdr at St Mawgan (early '80s)?


17th Mar 2004, 11:49

Email the V-force pic to me (I've PM'd you my address) and I'll secrete it on the company web-site.

Wonderful thread!

Thanks Folks,


Flatus Veteranus
17th Mar 2004, 17:41

"Bootsie" was indeed a formidable character! He had a phobia about his crews sitting around in the crew room doing sod-all (as he saw it). Not gifted with a great memory for names, he used to look into the 101 crew room and, if he found anyone sitting there, would point at him and say "You, F*ck Off!. It was indeed "Andy Cap" who burst into the crew room one day saying jubilantly that he had "arrived" because Bootsie had said "Cap, F*ck Off"! Bootsie carried the same habit on to when he was commanding Waddo. Great man. Everyone was sh*t scared of him, including most of the trogs at HQ 1 Gp. I was in his office one day when SASO came on the blower complaining that Waddo had only put up a few aircraft for what was a quite routine Groupex for which SASO had demanded maximum effort. Bootsie told him what he could do with his exercise in colourful Anglo-Saxon (or rather Celt as he was a red-haired Welshman). I seem to remember him finishing with something along the lines "If you think you can raise any more aircraft you can get your arse down here tonight and I will give you some spanners and you can f*cking well fix them yourself". And slammed down the phone.:)

18th Mar 2004, 06:09
Ref: BEagle's Post.

If we are talking about the same individual, he also claimed to have played International Rugby for Wales, climbed in Nepal etc etc. If you believed him, and many did, he was quite a remarkable Walter Mitty! It just goes to show, if the fibs are big enough, you are believed and get on quite well! Sad fact of life!!

18th Mar 2004, 09:58
He also got so drunk at Goose Bay that our excellent Nav Radar (Mongo) had to invite Mac McG our crew chief to find a convenient 24 hour delay snag to allow time for the ar$e to sober up sufficiently. Crew loyalty meant that we kept schtum....

21st Mar 2004, 01:49
I was at an air show in New Zealand yesterday, and I'm sure i heard that one of the pilots in the RNZAF CFS display team was a former Vulcan pilot. He had completed an exchange tour with the RNZAF and came back for good! Jim Pedley? Pegler?

22nd Mar 2004, 11:51
Herewith Milt's excellent V Force pic...


Says Milt:

"The photo attached is a formation in echelon and as far as I know was part of the only photo opportunity for getting the three Vs together.

All three were test aircraft at Boscombe Down in 1958. We were about to show them at various bases around the UK as part of Battle of Britain fly pasts.

I was flying the Vulcan and I suggested we also launch a Meteor VII with a photographer to capture a few shots."

22nd Mar 2004, 12:49
A quick update - the RAF Museum are very interested in establishing some form of archive based on this thread (plus recollections of the Valiant & Victor &, for that matter, other platforms involved in this sort of thing) from all involved in those ops (their exact wording is 'delighted to accept hard copies' of recollections).

As well as collating the snippets off this thread for archiving, if anyone wishes to produce a 'what I did in the V-Force' memoir for archiving in this (no matter how dull and boring it might seem to you), please PM me (to establish my bona fides) and we can take this forward via e-mail (obviously, I shall need to ensure there are no outbreaks of Walter Mittyism so that we don't fill the archive with gash material) - end result will be that I will collate hard copies of everything and send it on to the archive. I will have to ask those who've contributed above and who want their material to be included to send me their names and a quick outline of what they did in the V-Force, since the Pprune 'handles' probably won't be of much help to future historians.

Also, if I might take advice from any members of the V-Force Association here represented - would the association be amenable to drawing upon a wider basis of recollection than just Pprune users?

I have yet to manage to discuss with the publisher I mentioned (conflicting schedules, soon to be resolved), but am pursuing this.

The end result, therefore (I hope) will be a meaningful archive of personal experiences on the V-Force from air and ground crew, stored for access for future generations at the RAFM archive department, coupled with a published history based around these memories. To do this, of course, I need a spot of help in the form of the recollections above and beyond those here - so over to you (please!)...

23rd Mar 2004, 10:25
I have Milt's photo on Vulcans in Camera (http://www.avrovulcan.org.uk/crown_copyright/index.htm)

Aircraft identified as Avro Vulcan B1 XA892, Vickers Valiant B1 WZ373, and Handley Page Victor B1 XA919 [unless Milt knows different].

It was used [with permission] in a recent article in Air Enthusiast.

23rd Mar 2004, 13:34
Yellow Sun. Yes indeed, it was the same Tony Woodford who became Stn Cdr St Mawgan. He was a great boss to work for.

Harking back to Pontius Navigator's excellent summary of V-force attack profiles, it made me appreciate the all-round versatility of the Vulcan design. I was on the Wittering OCU at the end of the Victor Blue Steel phase, and on the Type 2H (?) attack crews would tram in at 320kts, the flying pilot would pull 3'g' and the missile sent on its way. And every time he pulled 3 'g', the Victor wings went crack because they were acting as giant shock absorbers. No wonder Victor B2(R) wing joints were clapped out by the end of 1968.

The Vulcan B2 on the other hand, especially those from the 40th onwards with Olympus 301 engines, were given internal wing strengthening for Skybolt, which came in very handy once they were sent to operate down low. I don't think metal fatigue was ever a serious problem. However, the Vulcans' internal electrical wiring was certainly past its sell-by date at the end. If the wiring had been in a house, it would have been condemned. I think we lost XM600 near Coningsby on 17 January 1977 because the wiggly amps went we knew not where.

23rd Mar 2004, 17:47
Wasn't that the Spilsby prang? I was told it went like this:

Routine RAT/AAPP for BTRs - when the AEO deployed the RAT the volts/freq were out of limits, but what the heck - on the synch bus bar it went... Then the overvolting became obvious, but once on the 'bar, at that time the RAT wouldn't come off until the Rover was cartridge-started lower down and took over. So the wiring gave way, fire started, out went the crew....

That led to the 'RAT field switch' mod which meant that at least the RAT could be turned into a lump of rotating metal rather than a runaway generator if it played up in future...

Any corrections/amendments?

Pontius Navigator
23rd Mar 2004, 18:31
Flatus Veratus,

The Blue Steel pull up and launch would have been a 3 something. Only if the missile was a dud and you had to ride it in a la Dr Strangeglove would it have been a 2H.

Oh the joy of taking a million quids worth of missile in for free-fall.

The next bit is about the V-Force low level delivery system pre-WE177.

Airship 1, "It is very dangerous climbing over the target to release a bomb"

Airship 2, "yes indeed, what we need to do is put a rocket on the back of the bomb, fly over the target, release it and let it loop the loop while the aircraft escapes."

Airship 1, "Good idea. I say, if we put a simple inertial platform on as well we could fly over an offset and let it do a corkscrew instead"

Airship 2, "Brilliant, I know, we can call it Blue Steel."

23rd Mar 2004, 20:13
The 2H was, indeed, the 'toss'version of the Blue Steel delivery. I remember doing them at Gernish range. I seem to remember a pull up from 500ft to 8000ft before pushing straight and level before drop.

The electrics were a nightmare at the end. Don't forget that the ac flew 150% of its design life at the end, so much of the wiring that was designed to last the lifetime of the bomber without maintenance actually lasted half as much again in time terms. Some of the looms were almost dust at the end (as I found out on a western ranger - pity it was winter - but the allowances were nice!). Voice Rotating Beacon was the crew entertainment!

Flatus Veteranus
24th Mar 2004, 18:05
Pontius Nav

The only profiles we flew in my time (68/69) were the laydown (2F) and the pop-up to 2500 ft for conventional unretarded iron bombs. The latter got me in the dwang down at Darwin when we were dropping some time-expired live 1,000 pounders. I picked up some damage to my bomb doors from debris and was accused of not having made 2500 ft. Good old HQ 1 Group! Your remarks about popping up into the AAA zone are so true. That, I believe, is why they popped-up even higher at Stanley in 82 to avoid the Argie Sky Sweepers. And you know how the NBS loved late radical changes in altitude or airspeed.

24th Mar 2004, 19:10
My Father was a Vulcan pilot for many years 10 I think. If any one remebers him I would be pleased to hear from you.
Flt Pete Murfitt. who is sadley not with us now.

I can remeber one story of a low level positiong flight with Mike Pilkington as captain where my Dad decided to open the DV pannel En Rounte. the cockpit conversation can not be repeated in public.:*

Flatus Veteranus
25th Mar 2004, 09:08
I wonder why your Dad did that? Perhaps he had farted? :O

25th Mar 2004, 09:30
If this thread is being used to collate Vulcan stories for posterity I wonder if anyone can rember any details of the following story which was told to me by someone I worked with some time ago:

He was copilot in a Vulcan at FL400 over Liverpool when they had an engine fire. Although the weather was below limits, the captain insisted in landing back at Waddington. On final approach, another engine, same side, caught fire.

They did land safely and this guy went straight to his boss and refused to fly ever again.

The date? - the same day as President Kennedy's assassination. I understand that they had just been told about it when the first engine caught fire. He certainly remembers where he was when he heard about it.

It sounds like the captain could have been one of the characters already mentioned on this thread.

25th Mar 2004, 18:28
JulesM, I remember your father on 27 Sqn in the late 60s, although I wasn't on his crew. I remember I used to bring back from the States boxes of King Edward cigars, which he used to swap for 200 cigs or a bottle of spirits. It was a good deal for us and that was all he smoked. Sorry that he has passed on...

Nice chap.


Pontius Navigator
28th Mar 2004, 16:57
Flatus Veteranus,

The 2,500 feet was a good wheeze, shame you did not have a copy of the OLD air weapons range orders.

They quoted FOUR low levele heights. From memory and this is REALLY stretching it,

1,200 feet was the lowest level for a low level attack with 10% chance of damage from debris.

At 2,100 feet you were still in the damage zone with 1% risk of damage.

By 3,400 feet it was assessed that the risk of blast damage had reduced to less than 1%.

You can see that 2,500 feet was well within the blast damage zone and 99% chance of being outside the debris zone. At some point before we started doing the 2J these wonderfully accurate figures were removed.

I did a number of practice attacks where we could identify the target from the water spouts of the aircraft 2 ahead. I guess some 20 miles ahead. We would then aim at the water spouts and watch the next aircraft 'slide' down the bearing marker.

Purely from a curiosity point of view I would have liked to watch a real event on radar. Certainly the practice drops where impressive with water spouts climbing 500 feet back to the aircraft and the water boiling deep magenta. Our bombs were fused with 10ms delay to ensure the frag was under water.

Flatus Veteranus
29th Mar 2004, 18:31
Pontius Navigator

I do not recall seeing the range orders you mention or I might have been a bit more cautious - one did not get the chance to drop thousand pounder HE bombs very often, rather than inerts. June 21 1969 in XM 608 was the only occasion I can recall.

I seem to remember that we allowed each crew on the detachment one carrier-full of bombs (7). After the first crew came back from Quail Island with debris-damage we progressively jacked up the release-height. By the time I got to have a go we were much higher than 2,500 ft, and even then you could feel the bounce from the detonations. I recall now that my problem was not debris but a hang-up. I was flying with a crew other than my own and one sodding bomb would not let go. Having tried to shake the ****** off out over the sea I foolishly closed the bomb doors and went round for another pass at the range. Inevitably, on the run-in, there was a big thump and we had a live 1000 lb HE sitting on the inside of our bomb-doors.

Crew conversation dried up a little. Over the sea again, I opened the bomb doors and the f***er dropped away cleanly. The bomb doors did close again, but on landing we found they were pretty badly bent out of shape. They were taped closed with glass tape and the aircraft was eventually flown back to Waddo.

Of course I was in the dwang because I had not done the correct hang-up procedure (the 90-way switch gear was never my forte). Anyway my career was already in worse shape than the bomb doors and when the matter was dredged up at my farewell chat with the AOC I did not improve matters by saying that that I would rather screw up a pair of bomb doors than slaughter a bunch of Abos. Adieu! :O

29th Mar 2004, 21:56
Apologies if this has already been covered but a little known Vulcan capability was a part of my life during the Falklands war when we ran a LGB trial with the aircraft at West Freugh.

Two bombs inside 15 feet from 16,000 feet must have set the record for Vulcan bombing accuracy.

Pontius Navigator
1st Apr 2004, 19:28
Flatus Veteranus,

I remember you well. We always enjoyed your rapid visits down the corridor in ops.

The range orders may well have been NEAF range orders. From my experience of 43 years 'on the job' and having just completed a history degree I now realise our error. We were so keen on keeping the books up to date that we often threw out the history with the bath water.

One pearl in the NEAF range orders was the bombing priority. Today it is scheduled exercises. Then NUMERO 1 was a "Bomber of the Medium Bomber Force carrying out a First Run Attack".

In theory, and usually in practice, Vulcans had to deploy to Luqa, Akrotiri or El Adem, launch do a brief navex and join the range for an FRA before joining the pattern for the next 3-4 hours.

This time, Phil Largeson, our ex-CO on 12, and newly appointed Wg Cdr Ops at 1 Gp, decided to use the orders to the letter and employ the fabled expolits of the V-Force to the max.

One Groupex we all planned the standard groupex but had been given the heads up to pack maps and charts for the full range of the Vulcan. Goose?

We launched at 10 minute intervals across the group, perhaps 30 aircraft from the 3 wings. Shortly messages started dotting and dashing in from group. Each an individual message, in coed, to each aircraft. "...... what is you fuel estimate at GDP?" Decoded, calculated, encoded, re-transmitted and replied "Continue"

As each message speceled the ether, the AEO, with not much else to do, idly decoded each message. "14,000" "Execute FRA El Adem target no 1, recover Akrotiri, report estimated FOH"

Not us, the next aircraft.

Every alternative aircraft was despatched to Akrotiri. A couple of small glitches. Group had told no one, not the French, not El Adem and not Akrotiri. About Newcastle the "lucky" aircraft turned south and about 6 hours later started to drop out of the sky at Akrotiri.

Next day, Friday, we wandered into ops to find out what had happened. "1Gp to Akrotiri: Aircraft to RTB UK immediately. Conduct FRA at El Adem target 1"

In slightly better order the aircraft duly returned to UK. 6 Hr 45 min for one. I don't think anyone landed at Manson but it was close.

Phil Largeson loved implementing orders. But then too so did Dick Smerdon, Slops at Coningsby and Waddington but that is another story.

Pontius Navigator
3rd Apr 2004, 19:27
From another thread:

A quote from aeroflight.co.uk

The production line switched over to the Vulcan B. Mk 2 version on the 46th and subsequent aircraft. The first production B. Mk 2 (XH533) flew on 19 August 1958 with Olympus Mk 200 engines. From 1960, Olympus Mk 201 engines of 17,000 lb (7,711 kg) thrust were introduced. By 1963, Olympus Mk 301 engines of 20,000 lb (9,072 kg) thrust were being fitted (from aircraft XH557), but no engine retrofit for earlier B. Mk 2s was attempted.

Really? AFAIK XH, XJ and XL were all 200 series. Only the XM were 300. On my OCU the most frequent ac I flew were XJ 781, 782. When I discovered, years later, a 784 I was surprised. I flew a couple of XL, ex Blue Steel ac years later. The only 300s I flew were XM 597 onwards. 596 also came out of the wood work late on.

No engine refit was tried as it was not needed. The 300s were developed to lift two Sky Bolts. No Ky Bolt so we were then stuck with a thirstier engine and no more real power as we were no allowed to use Combat Power.

5th Apr 2004, 12:04
XH557 was the 11th Mk2 and the first to be fitted with the larger intakes. It was flown to Filton [remember Reg Wareham demolishing the Runway Garage on the A38?] to do development flying of the 301. Eventually it received 4 301s.

XJ784 was re-engined by Avros with 301s to join the testing programme.

XL391 was the first to be fitted new with 301s though its first flight was delayed.

XL392 through XM573 were 200-series Blue Steels

XM574 through 595 were 301 Blue Steels

XM596 was not completed

XM597 onwards were 301 free falls

XL384-390 were delivered as 200-series free-fall but were retrofitted as 301-engined Blue Steels.

The original plan was to re-engine the whole fleet with 301s. The first aircraft to fall out of the scheme were the first 10. Enlarging the intakes would have cost £30000 per aircraft.

Some aircraft were indeed converted but the programme was stopped because the performance gain was not as anticipated, it was not necessary with changing weapons and tactics, and the fuel consumption was 1.5% worse.

5th Apr 2004, 14:48
Our old Giant Voice aeroplane, XH538 was one of the small-intake 200-series jets. Went well enough and was one of the nicest 35 sqn Vulcans. No-one bothered about the difference between the small and large intake ac - except for the groundcrew who needed the right intake blanks!

5th Apr 2004, 15:36

5th Apr 2004, 18:22
Thanks so much - our dear old jet looking typically 'worn'!

Many a happy hour spent flying her!

Just about to have din-dins; afterwards I'll recount the 'how we wowed Wichita' tale - so pull up a sandbag!

When was the piccie taken? I know that it was at Waddo, but when?

OK - Wichita 1979:

6 November 1979 was our crew’s turn to fly the Giant Voice (SAC Bomb/Nav competition) semi-final. We’d taken off from sunny Barksdale AFB and the high level bombing was spot on time, then down to low-level on IR 595 for another 4 targets, plus some fairly canned EW and fighter threats.

The low level went fine, I was map reading and the Captain was flying – then we had the EW threat and Colin-the-AEO responded appropriately. A bit of a shame that the threat was totally obsolete but was the only thing they had which our useless EW jammers could respond to. Then came the first 2 targets; the only 50-thou maps we’d been able to get hold of were at least 20 years old... But the target photos had given us some clues and thanks to my hand drawn map, we got a good release point photo. Then the nav team did their mysterious ‘Large Charge’ procedure and we were on to the next target. That went OK, then it was time to enter the fighter threat area. Predictably, we heard an F-106 lock on, so waited until he got close then broke hard into him from below 200 ft at 60 deg AoB. That made his eyes water – he didn’t get a firing solution before we were out of the threat area. Target 3 didn’t go well – the Nav Radar released some 2 miles early for some unaccountable reason. But Target 4 was OK-ish although we knew we hadn’t got any chance of making the final by then. So it was pilot playtime...

The trip was too long for us to fly Barksdale to Barksdale, so it’d been arranged for us to ‘gas ‘n go’ at McConnell AFB, Kansas. Inbound with Kansas City Center, they asked the usual “Hey, what type of airplane is that” questions; when we got lower the Wichita approach controller said he’d never seen a Vulcan, so could we possibly fly over Wichita airport on our way in. Well, that made the horns come out! We flew up their runway at 100 ft and about 300 knots (right over the top of an unsuspecting Lear Jet which had been told to hold on the runway), then pulled up in a huge, very noisy wingover right over the heads of the good citizens of the city of Wichita, before joining downwind for a visual approach at McConnell AFB. Total time was 5:25; my logbook simply says ‘GV 79 semi-final. IR 595 and ‘PD’ to Wichita airport’!

We put a splash of fuel into XH538, then filed for our trip back to Louisiana. A nice ‘ripple-rapid’ start to get their attention, then off on RW 36. We requested a departure to the north, then a tear-drop return overhead the field for an unrestricted climb to FL 470. That was OK’d, so off we went. Stayed at low-ish level, accelerating very nicely, then back over McConnell at 350 kt before pulling up for where-the-air-is-rare. There then followed on of those “Stop climb at 15 thousand” – “Sorry, cleared unrestricted and currently passing FL240 climbing” – “OK, stop climb FL 310”- “Sorry, cleared unrestricted and we’ve just left 310” – “OK, climb and maintain 410” – “Err, sorry, passed that as well and shortly levelling FL 470” RT exchanges as we set off south. Later we arrived at Barksdale, broke into the circuit at 300 knots and 120 deg of bank off the break, then stacked to the bar where Mister Charles, the famous Barksdale O Club barman provided copious jugs of suds.

But we hadn’t realised what the effect of a large, noisy, triangular aeroplane at 90 deg of bank, bellowing furiously had had on the good citizens of Wichita. The local media were inundated with tales of UFOs and queries for more information...it didn’t take much for them to ring McConnell and the next day there were heavens knows how many TV and radio journos waiting to greet the other crews when they landed. The journos just didn’t believe that the Vulcan was over 20 years old.....

Later our AEO overheard the Nav Radar on the phone to his new girlfriend in the UK. “Good news, darling – it looks as though we’ll be coming home next week”. As we did – thanks to him throwing the 3rd target. We never did accuse him as such – but we all harboured very strong doubts!

Flatus Veteranus
5th Apr 2004, 20:25
I believe that when I arrived at Waddo the SOP was to take off in 301-engined aircraft with the EGT limiter in the CRUISE position to save engine life. With a 3,000 yard runway there was never any need for the full whack of 20,000 lbs or whatever. Later the limiters were wire-locked into the CRUISE position.

However on 4 Jun 69 en route to MOONFLOWER in XM603, we were delayed at Muharraq because of a snag on one of the other aircraft for which our crew chief was needed to lend a hand. By the time we got off it was about noon and HOT. In those conditions the Victor K1s had to offload so much fuel that it ws hardly worth taking off. The runway was only about 7,000 ft in those days and by the time we got to the take-off point the wind had switched to quite a significant tailwind . So rather than recalculate the take-off, with the connivance of the crew chief, the locking wire "fell off" the EGT limiter and we went off like a demented rocket! With bombay panniers full of spares and the detachment duty-free we were at about 200,000 lbs, if I recall, and we only used half the runway.

You had to watch it at Goose in winter temperatures that you did not overboost the engines.

5th Apr 2004, 20:43
During the Malvinas ar$e-kicking, I understand that the 301s were once again restored to their full rating!

Few Cloudy
6th Apr 2004, 07:52
Then there was the Micky Finn with 3 Vulcan Mk2s and one Victor K1a on the ORP at Marham. The RW was 24, with 8kts tailwind, which didn't bother the Vulcans of course. The K1a with full load was overweight for RW24. As I already have an incident on the Victor thread, I'll leave this on on the Vulcan one.

The plan was to let the Vulcans go and taxy the Victor via backtrack to RW 06, then 180 and T/O.

When the scramble order came, there was a hell of a noise and everything went black, as the Vulcans roared off. Our K1a captain (I was the Copilot this time...) caught up in the exitement also roared off - into the black fog. I started calling out speeds - 80kts, 90kts, 100kts in the hope that he would slow down - and then the air became clear, just after the Vulcan rotate point - to reveal 500m or so of remaining runway.

I should point out two things at this point - firstly the top brass were there to observe the scramble from mid field - secondly the brakes on the Victor were marginal and there was of course no reverse, only the brake-chute, which was always deployed on landing.

The brass, thinking we were trying for a direct take off, were saying "My God, they're not going to make it!" our Captain, as he closed the throttles with commendable alacrity was also shouting "We're not going to make it!" but for a different reason - he thought we wouldn't stop in time.

It is amazing how the brain works in these unforseen situations. From my position on the right, I could see the opposite ORP, empty but with a row of Victors waiting to go on the taxyway, with a little space in front of them. I called out to the Captain, who was doing a job on the brakes, that if he pulled hard right, we may be able to make a turn at speed.

Well, as he didn't have a lot of choice, he clutched at the straw and swerved into the ORP, to the consternation of the waiting crews. We then swung in a wide left turn, with the right refuelling pod millimeters off the runway and just made it in the remaining width for a very "rolling" take off on 06.

When, once we were airborne he called for Gear up (or rather Undercarriage up) I delayed as long as I could in an attempt to cool the brakes a bit - this wasn't appreciated, as the brass were watching...

By the way, the Captain eventually became "brass" himself. As they say - "Every one you walk away from is a good one...".

6th Apr 2004, 11:54

538 at Waddo in September 1979.

Please check caption at http://www.avrovulcan.org.uk/don_gilham/538_waddington.htm
and advise of any changes re 538 at GVs 78 and 79.


6th Apr 2004, 14:48
We were detached to Waddington for the Giant Voice Training Flight on 19 Aug 79 with XH538. We flew numerous training routes and Dudgeon lightship NBS calibration runs during August and September 1979, including one on 13 Sep when we had to shut no 1 engine down (for a JPT gauge failure, if I recall correctly). On 15 Oct we flew 538 to Goose Bay, then down to Barksdale on 16 Oct. After 4 training flights we flew our only competition sortie on 6 Nov... We then flew XJ824 back to the UK on 16 Nov and returned on a VC10 for the prizegiving ceremony, flying back on it the day after (feeling dreadful!). 538 was certainly back in the UK very shortly afterwards as we rejoined 35 Sqn on 3 Dec 79 after a 4:35 hour BTR-bashing trip.

The next year we took 538 to Wildenrath for a long week-end of Wobbly und Wurstchen on 8-11 Feb, including some low-level fighter affil in awful weather against 19(F) Sqn F4s.

We started the 1980 Bombing Competition calibration sessions again at the end of Feb; the last time I flew 538 was on 26 Feb 80 as I was posted to Phantoms shortly afterwards - via a Jet Provost refresher course, then summer at Valley flying the Hawk until going to Chivenor in September for the first Chivenor Hawk TWU course and then to Coningsby the following spring.

The 'SAC' badge had been removed after the 1978 GV; however, its distinctive shape could still be seen on 538 afterwards.

Hmm - someone earlier made a posting after this one - it's now disappeared. The point of my post was merely to supply the information which alamo requested!

7th Apr 2004, 21:42
The weekend with ‘538 in Wildenrath was one of those typical trips we all did in those days. On the Friday we did a 3 hour trip from Scampton including the odd target or two, then (according to my log book) I had the ILS and landing at Wildenrath. Our captain had worked out that, if he could get to the station in Mönchen Gladbach in time, he could just make a train to visit friends elsewhere. Now it just so happened that I still had my NATO Führerschein – the legacy of a holding session between my Gnat and Hunter courses 4½ years earlier - so, with luck, we ought to be able to hire a cheapo car from the NAAFI! The nav team and AEO checked us all into the OM (those spartan annex blocks!), whilst the captain and I wangled a fairly ropey Ford Taunus estate out of the system. He changed into civvies whilst I did the paperwork, then we set off for M-G attempting to navigate from a 50 thou map we had. Found the Hauptbahnhof and my chum the captain made his train with a few minutes to spare. I then had the joy of driving through the M-G rush hour in my goon suit as I hadn’t had time to change! Eventually I got back to the OM and went to get my room key – but was hi-jacked by the rest of the crew for a very welcome Wobbly (Warsteiner Pils to the uninitiated) or few and some good banter with the fighter mates. Later I remember trying to get out of my immersion suit whilst half-pi$$ed....ever tried that? Not easy...!!

The weekend passed the usual way – late start, sober up by lunchtime, then visit Holland. Drive back later after having realised that you haven’t actually got any Guilders, then another evil session in the OM bar. Sunday – much the same except that I missed dinner and instead stopped for a Schnellie (“Ja – Bratwurst mit Senf und Pommes Frits mit Mayo’, bitte!”) on the way to collect the captain from the railway station that evening instead of getting stuck in the bar, so felt pretty chipper on the Monday morning. We briefed a short trip to bomb a target somewhere in Germany- the F4 mates would try to stop us. Off we hurtled from Wildenrath in the ‘Ruhr haze’ of those days and groped our way at low level to the target. No fighters seen, the odd Pulse Doppler peep on the RWR but nothing to indicate a Sparrow firing solution – and there was no way they’d have managed an AIM-9G shot! I remember thinking that these guys must be pretty good to operate in the sort of clag we were in, but we claimed victory! After landing, we discovered that they’d actually pulled out of low level as the weather was so poor.... Off to the Mess to warn out, then back to Ops to file for our trip home. The nav plotter was way behind the rest of us, late to pack his bags and warn out, he then wanted to check all the UK NOTAMs. “Bolleaux” we said, “we’re flying airways to Ottringham, so just check the navaids!”. Ignoring his mutterings we got to the aircraft, loaded a very happy Crew Chief and all his duty-free, then fired up and roared off. Noise abatement? No such thing then – who won the war anyway? Up to FL 430 or thereabouts, whereupon the plotter announce that he needed a pee. To do this he unplugged from the intercom, then turned his back on the rest of the crew to use that horrid pee-tube and bladder. I got the AEO to tell me when he was in mid-flow, then pushed gently to just under zero g. Plotter and pee-tube rose gently to the top of the rear cabin, then a smart pull had him in a damp puddle on the floor! He didn’t actually see the funny side of that! The rest of the trip went fine, but we all sat a few seats away from the plotter at the debrief.....

Just a typical Lone Ranger trip of those days – and we flew another 2 trips as well that week, making a total of 12 hours for the week and 47:45 for the month.

God it was fun back then!

9th Apr 2004, 18:58

Top tale, as usual. Must take issue with you on one little point though.

...then a smart pull had him in a damp puddle on the floor! He didn’t actually see the funny side of that!

Can see the rough humour in that, but I bet your ground crew didn't at the time. :* Next to mercury, urine is the most corrosive stuff to have floating around loose in an aircraft. As an ex-rigger, I've seen the results of missed "relief" tubes / bags / bottles, etc - and the real hard (and messy) work it takes to clear it up and nullify the corrosive effects. If you reported it in the 700 (and I hope one of you did), it would have caused some poor s0d of a rigger hours of extra work lifting bits of floor and thoroughly cleaning / inspecting parts of the structure.

Still, a good tale though. :cool:

9th Apr 2004, 21:07
Not really a problem in the Tin Triangle, as it would merely trickle down to the entrance door and then freeze. Then melt in the descent and pour out of the door when it was opened....

As 'Paddington Bear', one of our 35 Sqn Flt Cdrs discovered when, dressed in his nice crisply laundered KD he opened the door to greet us on our arrival in Luqa - only to be greeted by the by-product of a split pee-tube as it flowed out of the door and over his nice clean uniform!

But at least he had the good grace to laugh it off and give us a can of Cisk beer each! "Greet the M****n crew with some beers - and they pee all over me!" was his comment.

9th Apr 2004, 23:08
Hi Beags, any idea what Paddington's doing these days? I used to fly with him in Blue Steel days - I got the full 'new co-pilot' works to drag me towards some sort of maturity!

Pontius Navigator
10th Apr 2004, 14:44
Just to back Beagle up,

The notoriuos P-tude had 3 holes in it. One at the top which was the input and two others!

At the bottom was a screw thread bung which could, with dexterity be unscrewed and the contents of the bladder poured out before the whole was washed and disinfected. The other was the join between neck and bladder.

As many a copilot discovered to his cost this often became disconnected. As Co's usually peed sitting down you can imaging the rest.

The groundcrew disliked the pee tube as much as the aircrew but were know to leave the bottom bung unscrewed!

The other problem was the damn thing falling off its clip.

We landed in Cyprus and a sheet of yellow ice slid off the door.

Crew Chief: "Someone's dropped some orange squash onto the door."

"No Chief, not squash."

11th Apr 2004, 02:08
Nasty Pee Tubes

The P51 Mustang had a little funnel on a tube somewhere beneath the seat. Other end of the tube exited the fuselage down the back.

If ground crew didn't like you they would turn the exit tube into the airflow to give one a spray job.

Longest flight I made in a Mustang was over 5 hours.

Longest in a Vulcan about the same but cannot remember whether the BMk1 had a relief tube. Did it?

PPRuNe Pop
11th Apr 2004, 07:04
I was at Duxford on Thursday and wondered if any of our 'drivers' flew this one


11th Apr 2004, 08:06
We flew it back from Barksdale to Waddington via Goose Bay 14-16 November 1979. That's the only time I flew it; it had been one of our 4 Giant Voice '79 a/c, but was ferried home after the semi-final as it wasn't one of the best. We had to leave our far nicer XH538 for another crew to fly.

11th Apr 2004, 08:15
Stupid question really, BUT: Having read Beagle comment on "our much nicer....."
Were the a/c different?

Handling, temperment!, vices, quality of build? What made a nice a/c?
Were some total sods?

Please expand.

11th Apr 2004, 08:24
Unless there was something wrong with them, they all handled much the same. But '538 was better looked after by our crew chief, generally tidier inside with hardly any bodge taped repairs to panels, etc. We'd modified it to have a stopwatch holder for the co-pilot to use on IP-to-target work which was very useful indeed!

11th Apr 2004, 10:20
XJ824 was one of four Vulcans of No 27 Squadron that participated in Operation Skyshield II in 1961 that tested the air defences on North America. They flew from Kindley AFB Bermuda. Other aircraft were XH555 and XJ823. The fourth I don't know. Four aircraft from No 83 Squadron also participated, flying in from Lossiemouth.

http://www.avrovulcan.org.uk/824400.jpg Aircraft at Kindley AFB

One of the four 27 Sqn aircraft landed at Plattsburgh AFB NY and the detachment wound up at Loring.

It seems the Vulcans were pretty successful. Has anyone any further insight into this or personal recollections?

More (http://www.avrovulcan.org.uk/htm/latest.htm)

Yellow Sun
11th Apr 2004, 15:57
Time for a bit of "Now it can be told!" In the early '70s I went off to do the CSRO course at Mountbatten. This was shortly before the annual UK Bombing & Nav Comp. In those days the targets for the competition were published about a two weeks before the comp. and given the constraints of the low level system it was possible to predict rough target areas. One of the plotters latched on to the fact that I would be driving back from Mountbatten the weekend following the course and just after the targets for the comp. were announced. The next thing I knew was that I had "volunteered" for a bit of recce. I was loaded up with a couple of armfuls of 1" maps and told to buy a film for my camera. A few days later a phonecall from the squadron provided a list of grid refs. and I started planning a scenic route back to Waddington. The weekend journey involved a lot of trudging up hills to photograph such strategically important locations as a minor road bridge over a motorway, entrance to a railway tunnel, a sewage farm (potential offset aiming point), large isolated building etc.

At one point, having just returned to my car having photographed a target somewhere on the Welsh border, I saw a car park a short distance away and out stepped two navs from another Waddington squadron who proceeded up the track I had just returned on. I snatched a quick photo, but in those pre tele lens days it was not good enough to identify them. But I know who they were! On return I was relieved of the film, much too technical for a copilot, the results of which became part of the target study material for the squadron crews.

One target which I hadn't surveyed was the final one, an insignificant little minor road bridge somewhere in the fens southeast of Waddington. This was a classic "no show" radar target. On the final day of the comp, it being fine and sunny the crew decide that an outing to watch the bombing was in order. So, having stocked the captain's car with Newcastle Brown, we set off for the last target. We found it without difficulty, for it appeared that most of Waddo, Scampton and the USAF from Marham had the same idea. The area round the isolated tiny bridge was a busy car park and all those open boot lids must have provide the best radar response south of Flixborough Works (before the explosion that is!).


11th Apr 2004, 16:35
Such close encounters with other 'spies' was all part and parcel of the fun way of life back then. One 'spy team' were negotiating a fairly awkward farm track when they met the farmer - who told them that their 'mates' were waiting for them further down the track!

On GV, it wasn't unknown for cars to be hired and driven hundreds of miles out into the bondhu to try and get some piccies of the targets... One Yank squadron even drove their own radar offset markers out into the middle of nowhere to help their competition crew. Later they helpfully showed their radar shots to the opposition; sadly the radar significant offsets had gone when they flew the route the next day!

Thanks to a friendly AEO, we had some good shots of a little telephone exchange somewhere in Yorkshire one year - even taken from the correct approach heading. Got a 50 ft score on that, we did!

11th Apr 2004, 16:39
It’s a pity, in my opinion, that the Duxford Vulcan is in a ‘later’ colour scheme. The aircraft never looked better than in the early sixties delivery colours. White belly and underside, high gloss camouflage ( always loved that!) with a black radome.

11th Apr 2004, 22:19
The 'wrap round' camouflage scheme arose directly out of the first Red Flag Exercise that the Vulcans took part in in 1977. The USAF fighter crews remarked that when the Vulcan was banked at low level, the white inderside was a perfect giveaway against the desert landscape. The post exercise report included a recommendation that the 'wrap round' camouflage be adopted. Astonishingly, it was agreed by the powers that be that it should be so and was rapidly adopted and implemented.

Prior to one of the UK bombing comps, the Sqn nav radar team noticed an unusual gound feature - a horseshoe shape with a dot in the middle It was figured that if we could pinpoint that location, we would have a cast iron radar offset for the area. 3 of us went to the area, and after a couple of days, found it. We used it to good effect on the comp and walked away with several trophies - no-one else matched the accuracy we achieved through that offset!

On one of the GVs, a bunch of wives in hire cars set off for a picnic at a special location, usually devoid of any radar significant features. Funnily enough, they parked facing a particular direction and simultaneously by coincidence left their boot lids open! It was pure coincidence, of course, that their boots were pointing directly up the track of the approaching bombers! Astonishingly, the Vulcan crews found a big fat offset target on their radar screens... The USAF immediately investigated, but when they arrived at the field in question, all they found were a bunch of cows!

17th Apr 2004, 12:04
When the 'wrap around' camouflage first came in, we were at Goose Bay (Dec 78) in an older beast (XM571) whilst a QFI crew from another Vulcan squadron were there with a new style 'wraparound' cammed a/c. We had to fly in loose formation so that various piccies could be taken to compare the conspicuity of the 2 schemes.

This included being required to go past 'the hill' at low level so that a photographer perched on top could snap 'top side' views. An opportunity not be missed, we thundered past and wired Goose nice and low - but then had to repeat it as the photographer wasn't ready!

Never did see the piccies - but I gather they were rather good! The decision was made to repaint all Vulcans as they came out of major servicing - but their days were sadly numbered by then.

Had to stay for a further week at Goose with an irritating mainwheel light which persisted in staying red on retraction and didn't get home until 15 Dec. But that very nice chap Chris Lumb invited us all to the unit Christmas party down in Herb's Hall - and that was a most excellent night!

What a shame that all the fun at Goose was stamped out a few years later when plod descended on the place after it was noted that there were a few alleged duty-free irregularities going on. The barbecue pit outside the OM went, no more getting steaks and salad sent up from Herb's and cooking them yourself around the barbi'... "Fire hazard", some boring jobsworth had called it....

17th Apr 2004, 14:07

Your wish....

XM571 7 Dec 78
photographed from the F95 of XM603 (Sqn Ldr Turnbull) 50 Sqn

See the bottom of the menu at http://www.avrovulcan.org.uk/crown_copyright/index.htm

These were the best of the images in the selection I saw. The others were just too far away.

17th Apr 2004, 16:06
Yes - that was me flying XM571 on 7 Dec. Memory fade - the idea was to confirm whether the existing camouflage needed to be replaced after the Red Flag experience. I thought that Tim's crew had one of the new jets - clearly they didn't!

Tim and his snapper manouevred about above us to get the verticals; the look-down shot of XM603 was indeed taken from the Melville Radar hill (although we both flew past it, if I recall correctly!).

I always thought that the famous 'spot the Vulcan' photo was of us - thanks for having confirmed it for me after all these years. I now have a new computer desktop!!

17th Apr 2004, 16:12

My only association with the Vulcan was as a happy airshow goer but your mention of aircraft with Giant Voice markings rang bells. These are taken from some very old Agfa slides which don't carry dates but I believe may well have been taken at Abingdon in September 1979.


17th Apr 2004, 16:44
A 617th Bombardment Sqn jet...

Back in the days when we had a reasonable sized air force, and Abingdon wasn't infested with green lorries:{

....and the sun always shone!

17th Apr 2004, 18:17
It is with deep regret that I have to inform you that Jimmy (NBS) Miller passed away quietly at home about 3 weeks ago.

Those of you who remember him will agree that he was a true gentleman. Sad loss for Ada and the family.

RIP Jimmy - I'll miss you.


18th Apr 2004, 16:36
Just read the posting about the pee tube and its effect on the door seal. When I was an SAC on 1 GSU I had the opportunity to go on a few high level Vulcan flights with the guys. I was normally give the job of hauling the ration box from the crew bus to the aircraft and lugging it up the entrance ladder. On one trip(can't really place the airframe number but possibly XH538) I was asked to pass up a carton of milk from the box to the pilot (Wg Cdr Morgan if my memory serves me right). Of course he asked for it to be opened. Ever tried opening a carton of milk with flying gloves, a bum parachute and all the rest of the gear in a totally black lower Vulcan cockpit at the same time as you suddenly hit turbulence? You guessed it. Half of it spilt.

The weather was cold and the spilt milk did not have chance to defrost from around the door seal where it had bottomed out. When the crew chief tried to open the door back on the pan at Scampton it wouldn't budge. An attempt was then made to open the door from inside - no joy. After a brief consultation with the crew chief it was decided to blow the door open on emergency override. As it smacked down on to its jacks I (sitting in the 6th seat) saw the shards of frozen milk dissipate onto the pan backlit by the sodium lights. The aircraft was tech for some considerable time while it had the door jacks replaced.

I'm much older, wiser and, as a pilot now, very much aware of flight safety. I learnt about flying from that!

You want it when?
18th Apr 2004, 17:32
Without wanting to name names... can someone enlighten me the truthfullness of a Waddington Vulcan "attacking" a camel train in the early 70's?

The story as I heard it was; whilst over flying a desert, a bored pilot spotted the camel train and decided to dive on it - a number of times. When they finally departed the camels were running in all directions. I got the story from his son (the pilot is now sadly deceased) when I asked YWIW senior about this incident he declared "lost memory".

Pontius Navigator
18th Apr 2004, 19:52
We did not go round again. Not fair and no fun.

Over Libya we used to launch about 0800 local so as to complete the low levels before it got too hot and turbulent. Quite strange really flying over the 'merciless heat of the desert' actually under 8/8 stratus.

Really there were no rules. One, BC/Lib/21 Reversed and extended was a real ball melter. Take-off from El Adam, transit at about 400 to some point in the sand about 600 miles west and to the south of Tripoli, descend to low level and vainly try and get back before we were cooked.

Miles and miles of rolling sand and absolutely nothing to see. Nothing visual that is. As a radar op we were looking for ill defined sand dunes, wadis etc where JARIC had calculated a radar significant feature, fix and on for the next 60 miles to the next fix point. Then we might see footprints.

Minutes later a camel train would appear plodding slowly across the featureless terrain. Down we would go and try and thread the eye with the needle. The AEO would watch through the periscope. Never any complaints as far as I know. No phones!

19th Apr 2004, 08:22
How do you include pix with a posting? I've got an absolute magic one of XL 427 doing some 'low level bombing' at Macrihanish which deserves a much wider audience.

Picking up on some earlier parts of the thread:

The list of casualties doesn't seem to include the one at Finningley which tucked its wheels up when No 3 was fired up. It very ably demonstrated the frangible qualities of the nose/cockpit pressure hull/rest of the airframe. I remember watching it from the picture windows of ECMSDF on the top storey of the Electronics Block. Seem to remember that the crew exited by sliding over the windscreen down the nose and off the end of the refuelling probe and then high tailing it towards the armoury. I think the Crew Chief also had a narrow escape by being pinned under the wing.

I also remember doing a trip to check out the 301 series engines, possibly XL 360 or XL 318 in 1971/72 (memory not too good after 30 odd years and the log book isn't very helpful). It was a 1GSU crew and, if my memory serves me right, had only one 301 engine in. Somewhere over the North Sea off Newcastle the other 3 were spooled back to flight idle and the 301 was given full belt. I can remember that the pilot (Wg Cdr Morgan or Flt Lt Hainsworth) had to throttle back to avoid going over the limiting Mach Number.

19th Apr 2004, 10:03
Allan907 - only one 301? I suspect that's incorrect. There was substantial modification to the airframe and systems to install the 301 series. Sure it wasn't an airtest following an engine change?

You're right about the need to watch the speed, though. At light weights, even at high level, it was only too easly to exceed limiting Mach no. On a GSU checkride with J le B on a high speed run, the Mach no jumped instantaneously from .93 to .96imn. We conclude that we flew through a pocket of air at a substanially different temp to the surrounding. The pitot static system was checked and fully serviceable. Spectacularily big anti-climax - the lady behaved perfectly!

19th Apr 2004, 15:49
You can't upload images to PPRuNe. To get round it, you have to upload the image to a web location and then use the button to link to it.

But since you kindly forwarded me a copy of that photo this morning, I'll gladly show it here using the above technique:


Sequence - Before - During - After (http://www.avrovulcan.org.uk/misc/index.htm)

The only Vulcan to fly with 3 x 200-series and 1 x 301 was XH557 doing development flying from Filton. It was the 11th B2 and the first with the larger intake. It later received a second 301 to test the common intake. Later still, it received 4 x 301s and ended up in squadron service. It was the only 'XH' 301 a/c.

Flatus Veteranus
19th Apr 2004, 17:41
Pontius Nav

In my day we used to fly the Libyan routes during rangers to Luqa. They often finished with a practise bomb on the El Adem range. They had, if I remember, some radar markers out to give the NavRads a release offset. One bright spark was not content with these so used one of the buildings at the airfiled as his offset. Then he forgot to switch in the offset and scored a DH with a hundred pounder on a barrack block. Luckily no one was at home! :O

Pontius Navigator
20th Apr 2004, 05:50
Flaterus Veteranus, I suspect he hit the RANGE domestic site not the airfield, but I could be wrong. I make that assertion as the NEAF Range Orders specifically stated that the domestic site could be confused with No 1 Radar target.

One of our navs (12 Sqn) I think dropped a stick of 3 outside the NAAFI.

Regarding Luqa, I did my fair share of Luqa Rangers but also El Adem. For some reason the senior officers tended to go to Luqa and Akrotiri <vbg>.

The photo of 427 is definitiely not the one that had the undercarriage collapse at Finningley. In this photo we can see there is no fin fairing, the tbc comartment is empty, there is a hatch at the side of the nose open and all the control surfaces and airbrakes are everywhere.

The photo looks very much like it has just had its undercarriage surgically removed by the bomb squad.

Finally, as Kim Bunting, the plotter, slide down the nose as stated, how did he do so with the lid in place? Final point, Vulcans did not sport fin badges in the 60s; 427 is sporting a Lincoln badge.

20th Apr 2004, 06:46
Now THAT is a fake photograph. Without any doubt whatsovever.

1. 427 is clearly a derelict sitting on its undercarriage [with the gear painted out by software].

2. The reflections in the water are more like NY harbour reflecting skyscraper buildings.

3. If you study 427 and compare it directly with another ac on its gear, 427 appears to be too far off the ground.

4. The explosive flash and smoke are not accurately reflected in the water.

And I could go on to discuss other aspects of the photo, but a waste of time.

If the author is going to fake something and make it look authentic, more practice is needed...

20th Apr 2004, 08:28
I didn't say that the photo of 427 was the one that collapsed at Finningley. That happened in the mid 60s (1966?) and the photo of 427 was taken in 1982 when it was moved up to the fire dump at Macrihanish.

With the Finningley crunch just think about it... of course the canopy was jettisoned before the crew exited. With the crew entrance door on the floor and unable to be opened how else do you think the crew got out? Photos appearing in Air Clues and the Accident Report clearly show the wreck minus canopy which is lying off to the side.

I watched the whole thing from start to finish and couldn't believe what was happening. The Crew Chief was underneath the wing on the mic/tel lead when the mains started folding up and the aircraft started settling on its backside. He ran directly forward. The nose u/c wasn't far behind and the aircraft then started to slide forward to even out. With a rapidly lowering forward engine bay and intakes coming down on top of him the Chief decided to exit sideways - just in time! I seem to remember from the Accident Report that the whole thing was caused by a faulty microswitch.

And NO the photo of 427 is NOT a fake. I have one of the originals complete with neg no and crown copyright on the back. The shot is obviously a long shot (safety distance) and the reflections are from the main runway (probably had been p***ing down as usual up there) which, as you can see from the before and after photos is quite a distance from the pan where the aircraft is standing. Besides, 1982 is a long time before computer wizardry could do that kind of stuff.

20th Apr 2004, 08:57
Allan907 - I accept that the photo is genuine on your word. You may have hit the nail on the head when you mentioned 'long shot'. Telephoto shots tend to distort the perspective. Please accept my apologies for doubting you...



20th Apr 2004, 09:40
No probs.

Now, does anyone have a pic of the crunched Vulcan at Finningley??

20th Apr 2004, 12:16
Alamo asked about Exercise Skyshield.

The US and Canadian air defence systems were merged within the North American Air Defence Command (NORAD) on 12 May 1958. Coordinated from Colorado Springs in the Rocky Mountains, the Americans and Canadians had every right to be proud of NORAD. To prove it fully they decided to mount a massive air defence exercise (Skyshield) in October 1961 which was to be fully realistic and to which Bomber Command was invited. High Wycombe was more than happy to oblige, especially as it gave them an opportunity to test the new Vulcan B.2 under virtually operational conditions, and 27 and 83 Sqns were detailed to send four aircraft each. The 83 Sqn aircraft were sent to Lossiemouth to attack from the north while the 27 Sqn element went to Kindley AFB, Bermuda, to penetrate from the south. On October 14 both groups set off. The northerly wave began with B47s going in at low level from 500ft upwards jamming out the ground radars. Behind them came the B52s between 35,000ft and 42,000ft supported by B57s, while finally at 56,000ft came the 83 Sqn Vulcans in stream. Electronic countermeasures proved so effective that only the first Vulcan heard an F101 Voodoo lock-on, and though numerous fighters were scrambled they all concentrated on the B52s so that by the time the Vulcans came through the interceptors did not have enough fuel left to climb to 56,000ft for another battle and the British penetrated unscathed to land at Stephenville, Newfoundland.

The southern wave too came in "using all jamming equipment and passive defence systems". The 27 Sqn aircraft penetrated on a broad front, but as they approached fifty miles from the coast, when the fighters were unleashed, the southernmost Vulcan turned and flew north behind the jamming screen provided by its compatriots. Thus, while the F102 Delta Daggers concentrated on the three lead aircraft, the fourth Vulcan crept round to the north and sneaked through to land at Plattsburgh AFB, New York.

Pontius Navigator
20th Apr 2004, 17:47
Flat Iron, I heard a rumour that the V-force jamming achieved hard kills on some of the radars as they overcame the safety devices. Any comment?

20th Apr 2004, 17:48
from allan907With the Finningley crunch just think about it... of course the canopy was jettisoned before the crew exited. With the crew entrance door on the floor and unable to be opened how else do you think the crew got out? Photos appearing in Air Clues and the Accident Report clearly show the wreck minus canopy which is lying off to the sideI always thought that the canopy relied on fwd airspeed to rip the canopy upwards once the forward jettison cartridges had unlocked and lifted the front of the canopy. If the aircraft has zero airspeed then the canopy guns would lift the front edge of the canopy which would then fall back onto the aircraft under the effects of gravity.

20th Apr 2004, 19:17
The intimation in ZH875's post is that the canopy gun just lifted the front of the canopy into the airflow, which then completed the task. Not so. The canopy gun was positioned immediately behing the pilots - it did 'lift the front of the canopy' but was big enough, with a substantial cartridge, to blow the canopy clear of the ac without airflow assistance. The action of the pilots, in pulling the jettison levers aft, unlocked the front canopy locks.

Pontius Navigator
20th Apr 2004, 20:09
I also understand that they all exited via the front seats because the nosewheel area was awash with fuel.

Kim Bunting, the staff plotter, was out first, he should have been last!. He trod on the co's hand as the co tried to switch off the fuel pumps, onto the co pilot's legs and out. No worries about the bang seat pins! I suspect the seats were live but cannot remember exactly when they would have been armed.

20th Apr 2004, 23:14
Had the honour of being taught to fly by another fine V Force gentleman, by the name of Pete Armstrong. Don't know if any of you guys remember him but he told a fine tale of the 9 Sqn/617 Sqn Tirpitz bulkhead raid at Scampton a good few years ago. I've got his written version of it somewhere, with the attached letter from CO Wittering complaining of being used in 'High Jinks'.
I'll see if I can dig it out.
Watch this space.


21st Apr 2004, 02:42
Now this has got the grey cells stirring! Didn't the canopy fly straight up and come down on someone trying to exit injuring their back? Or perhaps that was the one that landed wheels up at Finningley in early 1965 (couldn't have happened, shouldn't have happened but it did). My best mate married the captain's daughter - lovely girl!

I also remember some safety lecture where they had a very gory photo of some engineer whose arm had been penetrated by the canopy release pins. The story went that he had been sitting in the LHS doing something with the instruments and had been resting his left arm on the sill (the canopy was off). The emergency canopy release had activated and the bolt entered his arm at the elbow and exited at the wrist!

There was a fair amount of force in the emergency release system!!

Pontius Navigator
21st Apr 2004, 12:31
Allan907, don't remember anyone being hurt at Finningley. I seem to remember that the crew were in the coffee bar, drinking coffee (what else) before the fire crew got there.

21st Apr 2004, 12:56
"V-force jamming achieved hard kills on some of the radars as they overcame the safety devices."

Hmm. Wonder if they'd work against speed camera radar...

(thumbs through Yellow Pages looking for surplus equip. dealers)


21st Apr 2004, 14:51
Pontius N

Ref your did V-force jamming "achieve hard kills on some US radars as they overcame the safety devices" query, I fear we will need an AEO to answer that. Assuming we can find one who can write in plain English!

21st Apr 2004, 15:02
Not a hard kill, but someone (alleged to be a Vulcan) accidentally dumped a load of chaff over Norfolk one evening in about 1976 or 77. Saw it on Honington's AR1, it took hours to dissapate.

21st Apr 2004, 16:07
Had a similar problem at Finningley in the mid 60s. I was a lowly SAC working on BCDU and was tasked with burning some unused bundles of chaff which had been used on some trial or other. Had to be burnt because it was Secret.

The incinerator was near the sewage farm near the end of the runway and there was some other documents to be destroyed as well. As the fire gained in intesity we chucked on the packets of chaff and as the packets burnt away the chaff gaily floated up the chimney! Caused absolute panic in ATC - particularly as a 230 OCU Vulcan was on short finals at the time!!

26th Apr 2004, 06:39
Indeed - and rumour seems to indicate that it'll soon be even smaller if the Jags are flogged off and the GR9s go.....:mad:

It's almost impossible for people who've been in for less than 13 years to begin to understand what it was like in the '60s, '70s or'80s..... Lots of ac types, plenty of bases, overseas tours on proper RAF bases, not tents in abandoned car parks. Even when I was on the V-force we had 7 squadrons of Vulcans with 50 aircrew on each in Lincolnshire. If you drove across the UK England, you'd always see someone at low-level.

I think that it's around 40 places where once we flew which have closed since I joined. But noe there's H&S, IiP and all those other wonderful 'management initiatives'.

Adedicated group at Bruntingthorpe is doing its best to get just one Vulcan back into the sky. Having played such a key part in defending our heritage, the aircraft surely deserves to demonstrate how it was when we had an air force.

Pontius Navigator
26th Apr 2004, 09:02
Another ECM nearly a hard kill was on Red Flag. As the F16 swept in for a Fox Two the AEO duly activated the I-band chaff, probably the book 5 bundles per second for 2 seconds and 5 second intervals, is about 15 bundles in 20 seconds of so.

Unfortunately they had a stripper runaway. The stripper broke the cardboard wrapper as the bundle was dispensed. All 1,000 bundles went out and the F16 ingested the lot.

Apparently the yanks were not amused with the shiny aluminium plated engine. He recovered Ok and broke off so it was certainly a kill.

A Vulcan also got a near miss with a Sea Vixen. The Sea Vixen was chosen as the nearest equivalent to the best Russian fighter, the Firebar. Also becaue it could be jammed, just like the Firebar.

The SV closed in at low level, below and behind the Vulcan which was at 500 feet. As soon as it was detected the Vulcan fired chaff and decoys, initiated a rapid climb, roll, and pushover, not above 1000 feet, and then sidestepped a mile of so. Meanwhile, the SV was inverted and descending!

It recovered, called knock it off and recovered to Yeovilton. The trial was abandoned forthwith and another successful tactic was written into the manual <g>.

26th Apr 2004, 09:11
The old power, pitch, roll, sidestep trick also ruined the day of the poor IWI student who was attempting a stern firing against us one fine day at low level over the North Sea. 3500 sq ft of highly disturbed airflow in the face somehow upset his aim!

Pontius Navigator
28th Apr 2004, 08:22
There is a very good MA disertation in the latest edition of Air Power on the creation and effectiveness of the V-Force. The author has done an excellent job of trawling through archives and books and created a very credible essay. Her strength lies with her analysis of air ministry plans and documents; her weakness lies with less useage of primary sources from the V-force. She does however cite Alan Brookes on several occasions.

What the essay reveals is that documents at air staff level in the 50s and 60s actually avoided spelling out operational detail. For instance it was recognised that penetration of the central region was out of the question as the V-force would have to run the gamut of allied defences, tactical nuke contamination, and enemy bombers heading the other way. The option was the northern and southern routes. It was assummed that this was around North Cape and up through the Med. She was clearly not a navigator as a bit of map work would soon have shown up this fallacy.

The routes through Sweden and Switzerland gave the longest tracks through non-combat zones.

She then analysed the SAM effectiveness but ignored the possibilities of tactical deception and concentration of force.

A good article but earlier items in this thread will flesh out the detail. The Buccanneers were involved and not, as she said dismissed.

28th Apr 2004, 18:54
Is there a particular reason why this topic has slipped off the 'sticky' bit?

28th Apr 2004, 19:03

See the thread "Sticky threads -good or a pain" currently on page 3. You may find the answer there.

Pontius Navigator
29th Apr 2004, 08:07
Some pages back I posted the types of attacks used by the Vulcan and other Vs. I suggested someone might have a go at the LPs or limited procedures. As no one has I shall have a go but in this respect I confess to failing memory as it was over 30 years ago.

LP1B - no ballistic computation from the Calc 3 so the attack was done using the HOME function on the CU585 and releasing when the distance to go on the Nav Panel matched the calculated forward throw. The release range was accurate down to +/- 200 yds. Offset attacks were still possible
LP3A - no navigation output from the Calc 1 and 2 so a fixed bearing marker and 15 mile range ring were set up. The aircraft was manouevred to bring the bearing marker through the target and the doppler distance gone counters started at 15 nm and the release initiated when the distance gone equalled 15 mile less the forward throw. Range accurate to about 200 yards and tracking depending on both the skill of the nav radar and the pilots and the visibility of the target as offset attacks were not possible.
LP4 - shiftless. The radar picture was usually slewed off centre by the nav rad using the CU626 and the range and bearing cross hairs would be scope centred. If the shift potentiometers, one or both, failed or some other malfunction, it was possible to drive them markers to the target position but not offset the radar picture. For a direct attack this limited the forward look to 15 miles or just one minute at high level. If there was an undershoot offset then you gained a bit of time. If there was an off track offset then you might not see it at all unless the aircraft flew closer to the offset. Full ballistic computation meant accuracies down to the 900 foot limit were possible.
LP5A - no height. I might have the wrong one here. The height carriage on the Calc 3 was not functioning so the Calc 3 height was set manually using the PC/Set H function. Using this the carriage height could be increased at 50 ft/sec. The pilots then had to fly at an accurately calculated height.
LP6 - markerless. In this case the full ballistic computation was possible but the markers from the Wave Form Generator (I think) were not displayed. Pre-flight the nav rad would have calibrated the scope electrnic centre for the attack track and release range and marked this with a chinagraph mark. Remarkably accurate as a full computed attack was possible.
Then we have a Basic attack. In this case the entire NBC (nav bombing computer) was U/s and the attack would be performed using a plastic gizmo called a bombing protractor. This had a moving arm calibrated in nautical miles at quarter mil scale and a drift scale. The drift was set and the protractor aligned with the headng marker on the picture. The aircraft was manouevred to fly down the plastic track and release at the calculated range mark. The target had to be discrete. In theory 1000 yards was a good bomb. In practice errors of 600 feet were not unheard of and that from 40,000 feet.
Then the piece de resistance, a pictureless. This was the opposite of the basic with the H2S 9 u/s. Release was accomlished from best navigation inputs and full comutation. Now we started to approach WWII accuracies <g>.

If we set these against a modern mission we can glimse an entirely different ethos. Today, any degradation would risk both the loss of the aircraft for an almost certain ineffective attack and high risk of collateral damage. With the V-force you never planned to abort a nucler mission.

30th Apr 2004, 10:15
Pretty as a picture.


Pontius Navigator
30th Apr 2004, 19:19
If you thought the mark 2 could power off the ground you should have seen the Mark 1 land.

Without the sting in the bum it could pull up a prodigious angle during aerodynamic braking.

1st May 2004, 09:26
And if you were VERY careful, you could get BOTH tail strike warning lights on during aerodynamic braking without damaging the mechanism!

Pontius Navigator
1st May 2004, 17:55
FJJP, if you look at the picture you will see not striker.

This came after our boss dropped it in in 1964 at Butterworth. Wouldn't have worked anyway as the striker arm was only about 8 inches long and he dropped it from 30 feet.

Same boss, post-mod with, I think, Ricky Crowder as P1, landed, pulled the nose up and got the first light on. Kept light 1 on and 2 off until the speed decayed.

"How was that then?" <g>

"Are you sure light 2 bulb is working?"


1st May 2004, 19:22
1 light = 'You are just about to damage the ECM cone'

2 lights = 'You have just damaged the ECM cone!'

1st May 2004, 21:12
1 light = 'The strut has made contact with the ground and has moved from the parked position'.

2 lights = 'The strut has reached the end of its travel. Any further movement will result in damage to the ECM cone'.

1st May 2004, 21:27
Yes - that's what was supposed to happen. But most people who saw one light very soon saw both - and then had a fair bit of explaining to do!

Extreme aerodynamic braking wasn't really that necessary in any case.

1st May 2004, 21:55
On the K2, the striker was repositioned under the 'skip' and was about 2 feet longer. To stop the constant illumination of the lights in the cockpit, it was wirelocked in the forward position to prevent the airflow from making the switches. An aerodynamic landing would just snap the locking wire. The only problem it caused was when pushing the kite into one of the hangars (either 3 or 4 south end), where the slope would try to rip the striker off if it was not held in the fully up position.

As long as the crew remembered they were in a K2 and not a B2 on landing they were OK.

3rd May 2004, 13:06
I have received a photo of the Martin-Baker rear crew ejection system rig:


The hatch was under the canopy that had to be blown first. The plotter went out first vertically. Nav rad and AEO seats have hinges at the bottom of the seat rails. The tops of the seats rotated inwards along the top rail and fired at an angle through the opening - first the radar then the AEO.

I understand the sequence was started by the co-pilot after the canopy had been blown - the handle being hidden before that. The pilots' seats were only armed after the AEO had left as I recall.

More at Vulcans in Camera (http://www.avrovulcan.org.uk/htm/latest.htm).
Contributions welcomed.

4th May 2004, 00:56
A date for your diary: Discovery Wings, 25th May, 7pm and 10pm, "Vulcans, Victors and Cuba".

We have a photo, here at work, of a Vulcan doing a low pass, at what looks like Waddington, with several other Vulcans on the pads. No ID marks on the flyer apart from a white shield with a red cross on the fin. Was anyone here flying it?

John Farley
4th May 2004, 13:36

Thanks for the reminder. If only all aviation related progs were of the quality of this one. As TV documentaries go it is top of my list.

PPRuNe Dispatcher
6th May 2004, 13:09
The longest nonstop Vulcan flight was by XH481 on 20th June 1961 from Scampton to Sydney. The flight took just over 20 hours.

The aircraft was "borrowed" by 617 squadron from 101 squadron for the flight as it had the best servicabilty record at the time. 101 squadron didn't know at the time why 617 squadron wanted that particular aircraft! My dad in particular was extremely pissed off as he was the crew chief of XH481... and anyone who knew my dad would understand why XH481 was such a good aircraft.

Pontius Navigator
6th May 2004, 16:57

and 21 years later what seemed a pointless exercise requiring probably the majority of the Valiant tanker force became an operation.

Even with the gap of 21 years and the upgrade to the Mark 2 I am sure the lessons learnt were applied. Even if the only lesson was that we could fly a Vulcan for 20 hours.

6th May 2004, 23:58

Might not have been necessary, but was jolly good fun.

I recall that 1st light meant contact, 2nd light meant that the little stick thingy had been pushed up into its housing, any more back pressure was optional and may cause damage.

Nothing matters very much, most things don't matter at all.

12th May 2004, 19:33
Was it Vulcans that came out to Perth for the Games in the early 60? Any stories etc from that trip?

Pontius Navigator
14th May 2004, 06:37
Yes it was Vulcan's and I was stuck in Singapore. ASAIK they were based at Darwin and flew some cracking exercises there. I think they went down to Perth that time.

In UK the bombers used to fly 'fighter rules' ie simulating the enemy bombers. Not too high, not too low, and nice and level.

In Oz, totatally unrealistically for the OZ jets, we were able to fly bomber rules. Not too low, about 55K plus was comfortable, not too high, less than 300 feet was perhaps not unheard of. Plenty of open air space to no jammer restrictions.

Flying above the contrail level and jamming the height finders was great. The fighter controllers could 'see' all the bombers but they were 'invisible' to the fighter jocks as they were simply looking in the wrong place.

When you are capping at 30-35k it is a long way up to 55k.

Pontius Navigator
24th May 2004, 17:19
V-Force reunion at Newark Air Museum on 22/23 May. Interesting who went. About a third of my first sqn 14 out of 55 or so were there but it seemed a very generational thing.

Crews from 1966 and earlier were thick on the ground but those from 1967 onward were scarce. There was however a recently retired AVM from the 70s V-Force.

The evening function also seemed to attract an older group. Amazing though, QFIs who in the 60s looked 40 odd looked hardly a day older 40 years on. Even Wally George and John 'Willie' were unchanged. Wally with his teeth and John with his foghorn voice from Lincolns.

Thanks to Don Chadwick and his small team for organising it.

2nd Jun 2004, 12:36
Hopefully it hasn't come up in this thread so far (32 pages!?), but Phoenix Simulation Software (http://www.phoenix-simulation.co.uk/ ) have a superb model of XH558 for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2002/2004. Cost is £20, half of which goes to the fund to get it flying again (http://www.tvoc.co.uk/).

Bought mine yesterday, first shot climbing out of Gibraltar:

Engine noise is spot on, at least as far as I remember having seen it many years ago at airshows. Black smoke out of the engines at full throttle looks good as well.

Pontius Navigator
11th Jun 2004, 07:13
I don't believe a Vulcan ever flew in to Gibraltar let alone out again.

The obvious reasons were the undershoot and overshoot and also the long straight in approach for 27 <g>.

Diversions were also a bit thin on the ground. The problem was the high, normal max landing weight, coupled with the lack of fuel dump.

Several times the aircraft would be too heavy for the short field landing and too remote for a diversion when the weight was right. I believe I mentioned this earlier in the thread when we went to Gan and had to land at 140,000lb which left us only about 17,000 lbs of fuel.

11th Jun 2004, 12:41
Like the Phantom thread, my memories are mainly from being deafened at countless airshows, particularly by 4 ship scrambles in the 70s & 80s. My only regret is not seeing one "down on the deck".
In the UK where did the big birds fly at L/L?
I have a copy of the video of the same name about low flying in Canada, fan-bloody-tastic!!;)

I can only add a few images as my recollections......:(






11th Jun 2004, 13:15
Hairy, cant see your pics, think you might want to add a "www" into the links - can't wait to see 'em!

Treadders :ok:

Flatus Veteranus
11th Jun 2004, 13:36
Pontius Nav

The "hairiest" Vulcan diversion I ever heard of was a Mk 1 of, I think, the "squadron with a hole in the middle". It was during an Adex that was the central feature of Exercise SUNSPOT deployments to Luqa. There was the usual queue to recover into Luqa after the grand finale raid. The Lightnings naturally had priority - they were, after all, in a fuel emergency as soon as they tucked their wheels up! Then there were a few civil movements , and finally the Vulcans. The last of the Vulcan stream was usually stretching it to make its Plan 1 to Sigonella (sp?) in Siciily. On this occasion the penultimate Vulcan blew the tyres on one bogey on touch-down and obstructed the runway. The final Vulcan on go- round announced that he had "lost" his alternate and declared an emergency. ATC and the Station Commander wanted to tow the obstructing Vulcan onto the grass which would probably have damaged the U/c. The DCF (Bootsie I think) persuaded the staish to hold off, phoned Halfar, where there was still a RN presence, and asked them to lay out some goosenecks (dusk was drawing in). I am not sure how long the runway was at Halfar, but the threshold was on the edge of the cliff - sheer to the sea about 100 ft below. I think it was considerably less than 6,000 ft because it used to give us pause for thought in a heavily laden Meatbox. The overrun, as usual, consisted of stone walls. All went well (the brake chute deployed OK this time!) and no one was scratched. :D

11th Jun 2004, 14:19
Pontius, wrong about Gib I'm afraid. When Johnny Pack was AOGib he persuaded MOD to donate a Vulcan to be 'gate guard'. It was parked on the town side of Spanish Road beside the stadium. It became quite dangerous as the salt air rotted the structure. An ex 617 crew chief became OC VAS, and not long into his tour he had the unenviable task of arranging to tow the beast over to the dispersal, where it languished for many more months before being broken up. I can testify to its poor condition - I actually pushed a finger through the skin under the wing!

The Vulcan was never required to fly into Gib because Gib was en-route to nowhere as far as Vulcan ops was concerned; Johnny just loved the ac and wanted one near...

11th Jun 2004, 14:31
These better??






11th Jun 2004, 14:45
Oh yeah! Super!

You need to make 'em a bit smaller though, say 640dpi wide - that way they'll fit within the PPRuNe layout on most people's screens.




11th Jun 2004, 16:08
You need to make 'em a bit smaller though

Keep'em big - it's a Vulcan remember, not a Cessna 150

remember when they dispersed to Leeming when I was at RN EFTS - living in the pre-fabs (SEECO huts in the trade) about 200m from the rway - what a spectacular noise.........

11th Jun 2004, 16:24
Very true A_A, but unless you are running a much higher res screen, you have to scroll right to read the posts - very irritating! Particularly with the excellent quality of posts (and pics) on this thread!

Nopw, if you click on the pics to go full screen...

11th Jun 2004, 16:29
sorry about the size ( the number of times Ive said that in my life:cool: !) I have no imaging software and so they're pretty raw scans off the scanner with a very limited range of functions.

11th Jun 2004, 19:16
No apology needed Hairy (I love your monika, me thinks it's tongue in... errr...) feel free to email them to me and I'll do the business. On Monday tho. I'll PM you my email address.

Pontius Navigator
13th Jun 2004, 20:56
Mike Jenvey, yes Gan was with a full bomb load, kit for 7 and the COs golf clubs. He didn't take them out until we got to Butterworth.

Zero fuel weights were fascinating.

The lightest I recall was around XM597 at 96K. This then moved up to about 98K, probably with the first coat of green paint.

The weights in 1967 started to creep over the ton as the paint was changed to polyurethane. 8,000 square feet of wing, it added about 4,000lbs.

Then the TFR, X-Band Jammer and the IRD/RBW and still it increased. Once the big rivets started appearing on the wing and the extra reinforcement on the spars we started to get to 108k. The heaviest I recall in the early 70s was about 111K.

Chuck in 1,000 for the crew, 88K for a double drum fit, 7x1000 then your 204k would easily be exceed. But back in 64, a clean TOW was about 172k and pilots had to practise an occasional Max weight take-off at 178k when they added the YS2.

At that time the conventional loads were really only for the Mk 1s on the Sunspot. Come Malaysia however we then had max weights of 194k. Sitting in the middle of the apron at Khormaksar the 4 Vulcans, each with 21k of bombs, and in easy mortar range, sank gently into the tarmac. When we came to leave after a week we had 6 inch tarmac chocks and just about blew a hangar away <vbg>.

Hope that helps.

I stand corrected but then again John Pack was something else again.

Two of walking out of STC when this staff car reversed smartly and JP wound the window down for a chat.

My first skipper had also been JPs copilot and JP was my stn cdr at ISK.

13th Jun 2004, 21:26
I have just found a letter in my fathers papers from a chap called Anthony L Blakeman who was an Experimental Test Pilot for AVRO at Woodford. The letter is dated 20-10-57 and refers to my fathers time as a Flight Test Observer on the Vulcan. It looks like a 'reference' type letter.
Can anyone tell me anything about Anthony L Blakeman?

Many thanks


14th Jun 2004, 03:27
Tony Blackman

Tony graduated on No 13 ETPS course in 1954.

Flew with him a few times on Vulcans at Boscombe Down circa 1956 before he left to go to Avro at Woodford.

Where are you now Tony?

14th Jun 2004, 11:54
Possibly the same Tony Blackman who flew the Blackburn B2 at a number of Air Shows in the '70s & '80s?
During that period, I believe he was Chief Test Pilot at Holme-on-Spalding Moor/Brough?

14th Jun 2004, 20:06
Just checked the letter again and it is signed Anthony L Blackman and not Blakeman as I originally stated. Thanks for the responses, and the dates match.


spud's on the job
30th Jun 2004, 10:53
how tempting was it to just keep going!


vulcan at wellesbourne mountford 20 jun 04

30th Jun 2004, 15:31
Drool, drool! Mind you it looks as though them there engines ain't been run for a while - either that or they're running 'em on diesel:ok:

Pontius Navigator
2nd Jul 2004, 19:08
Allan907, it could be concrete dust. She certainly looks very clean. First flew in 655 on 8 Sep 65 from RAF Cranwell on Exercise Unison.

This was the big tri-service display. We did 4 hr 50 min and ended up diverting the Scampton having flow the main UK low level route through Wales and ending with a 2H attack at West Freugh.

The next day, 23 hours later, we flew 5 hr 15 min on a different exercise from Cottesmore. From this it suggests we would have had just 17 hours off. Still only managed 25 hours in 5 trips that month.

21st Aug 2004, 11:48
I was in the US on my hols last week and visiting some friends near Omaha. They suggested that I may like to visit the "Museum of the (what I thought) Plains" Having great admiration for all those who trekked across the plains in the 1800s, I agreed.

Anyway it was the Museum of the Planes! The SAC Air and Space Museum. Inside was Vulcan XM 573. The info said that it was delivered to 83 Sqn in March 1963, and flown to Offut in June 1982.

Anyone here who flew it?

Flatus Veteranus
21st Aug 2004, 17:28
I flew a check ride with Frank Bonfield's crew at Waddo on 2 October 1967. We did a practice double engine failure after take-off, 4 Type 5 attacks (whatever they were!), a Type 2J, some fighter affil and CT including 2 x ILS. They were probably the best crew on 50 Sqn at the time. That was my last trip in XM573. :)

Yellow Sun
21st Aug 2004, 18:57
Anyone here who flew it?

I flew it on my second trip on the OCU, Reg Wareham was the QFI. Never flew it again.


PPRuNe Pop
21st Aug 2004, 19:41
Mighty Gem

A picture would be good. Any chance of one? In the meantime I bet that there are one or two of the V drivers who will bring up some good memories.

21st Aug 2004, 21:20
Flew in it a lot during summer 1979 with the Blyth crew on 44 Sqn. A lot of it was displays, including Manchester, Waddo open day and Chicago Lakeshore

22nd Aug 2004, 06:57
Flew 570, 571 and 572, but never 573. I guess it was allocated to the Zimbabwe Air Legion when I was at Sunny Scampton on 35 from 1977-80!

22nd Aug 2004, 10:18
No picture, I'm afraid, not even on the SAC website (http://www.sacmuseum.org/)

22nd Aug 2004, 21:19
Mighty Gem

I also flew a handful of sorties in XM 573 during 78/9 while she was on the ZAL fleet.

There are a number of pictures of her on Andy Leitch's excellent website: www.avrovulcan.org.uk/andy_leitch_vol2/index.htm

The 16Th (?) picture down even has a potted history of the jet.

I can commend the site to all who have an interest in the Vulcan

Pontius Navigator
23rd Aug 2004, 16:14
Flatus Veteranus,

Agreed. Did you know that Frank Bonfield's crew always deployed on Micky Finn with DJs? They would have been the best dressed crew in the POW camp.

DEFATO. Type 5 was the T4 Bombsighte Visually aimed attacks. The 2J of course was the NBS LL pop-up to 2,500 feet. Below SAM 2 and above the frag damage level for the unretarded 1,000lb - they said!!!!!!!!!!!!

BTW Frank's Nav Radar is still at Strike and drops in here from time to time. He sussed my nom de plume.

Flatus Veteranus
23rd Aug 2004, 17:17
Pontius Nav

Please give him my best regards when next you see him, and ask him to pass them on to the rest of the crew if he is still in contact. Being a relative newboy, I probably ousted the Co fom his seat to see how a really crack crew did it They had been part of the Giant Voice team, If I recall. It was quite an education. Everything very relaxed but a minimum of chatter. No first names, only crew positions used (which may have been due to my presence!). Frank, although quiet, was firm when needed. I believe the story about the DJs. I cannot remember their dispersal base, but they were a very social bunch on detachment.
Captaincy I thought was an odd phenomenon. There was one crew with a weak captain (good pilot but lacking personality) which was effectively being captained by the AEO. It worked OK so I let it alone!

24th Aug 2004, 09:07
Flatus - were you on 1 GSU by any chance? In fact - were any of the posters on this thread ex 1 GSU? If so PM me!

24th Aug 2004, 16:20
XM573. We flew it on your first Double Top sortie according to my log book, Hifiman.
Timelord - we must know you, which seat did you sit in?

26th Aug 2004, 17:14

I suspect he would have done the same job as me.

Initials ML perhaps?

Flatus Veteranus
26th Aug 2004, 19:37

1 GSU were far too grand for me. I was merely a Boss! Rgds ;)

Pontius Navigator
26th Aug 2004, 21:17
Flatus Veteranus,

The dispersal was Manston. I do not have to pass one your regards as the AL has sussed your nom de plume and lurks here from time to time.

As for professionalism, I used to run the targetting quiz. As crews could do an hours worth of target study with 2 crew members it follows they could answer the quiz with just two as well. "I'm airframes" didn't wash.

In Frank's case they very rarely turned out with less than a five-man crew for TS.

27th Aug 2004, 02:44
Wouldn't we just love to fly one again.?

28th Aug 2004, 15:42
50+ RAY - Which seat did I sit in? Well, I seem to remember spending a lot of time in the one by the uckers board, and almost as much in the one by the window in the feeder. As for in the aircraft; "the Nav Radar is the one who turns a 4 engined transport into a weapon of war" Quiz for all, where was that slogan displayed?

50+RAY - Which seat did I sit in? Well, I seem to remember spending a lot of time in the one by the uckers board, and almost as much in the one by the window in the feeder.

As for the aircraft "The nav radar is he who turns a 4 engined transport into a weapon of war"

28th Aug 2004, 17:20
That's the trouble with being a Timelord, Deja vu

That's the trouble with being a Timelord, Deja vu

28th Aug 2004, 17:24
But only if you could wake the bugger up between fixes!

Draw overlay, find same responses on radar screen. Say "Go to Bomb, advise demand". Make all sorts of warlike noises whilst pilots use 50 thou map and stopwatch to get a decent score. Go back to sleep. Wake up when nudged by a Plotter too stupid to use TACAN for GPI fix. Go back to sleep. Wake up when jet lands, bull$hit rest of crew in pub about self-importance.....

Pontius Navigator
29th Aug 2004, 16:03
The navigator radar is that member of aircrew that turns a four-engined transport into a weapon of war was at the Bomber Command Bombing School in Lindholme.

It was actually 'borrowed' as I believe it was originally attributed to bomb aimer and furthermore I believe of US origin, Army Air Corp most likely.

Pontius Navigator
11th Sep 2004, 21:18
Jackinoko was asking about the ceiling of the Tornado. I posted the following there:

I take John Farley's point about aircraft performance and release to service.

On the Vulcan Mk 2 we had boming kit that could reach 60,000 feet agl. We had oxygen kit that was cleared to 56,000 feet until someone discovered aerodynamic suck.

We had crews that flew at over 60,000 feet but whether agl or sps I am not sure. What I do know is that the turn circle was 24 miles with 15 AOB.

The ISA was down at the bottom and the IMN up at the top. Thing is though this was in stable flight.

When it came to planning a long range cruise with a take-off weight of 190,000 lbs and ground temp of 35 C and unrestricted take-off power the ODM showed that the most economical profile was a max rate climb to 470 and cruise climb thereafter.

WE Branch Fanatic
12th Sep 2004, 21:21
Found this on the net:

Nasty Shock (http://www.vforce.co.uk/memories/)

I guess that that happened a lot.........

12th Sep 2004, 22:00
And if you want to see a Vulcan fly again, time to get your donation/pledge off to http://www.tvoc.co.uk/index2.htm !!

There are some 77638 views on this thread. How many of you have done anything to get 558 airborne again?

Glad to see that this is page 35 of the thread. A fine sqn was 35 - it was my first experience of the real RAF!

Edited - it's now 77666!

13th Sep 2004, 17:51
Milt & Temps

Tony Blackman is alive and well and resides in Hampshire UK and Florida during the hurricane closed season. When he is in UK I drink with him quite regularly.

He has some epic dits on displaying the Vulcan at Farnborough in the 50's. I believe he did a lot of test flying work on the wing modifications for the Vulcan.

I have posted this link to him so maybe he will get in touch with you or better still add one of his rich experiences to this thread.



13th Sep 2004, 20:27
My Grandad's cousin was a pilot of the Vulcan.
His name was Francis Clapp I think and he was killed after he kept the aircraft from crashing into a school in Belgium or Holland.
The story goes that he ordered the rest of the crew to get out of the stricken jet whilst he stayed in it.
It would be great to hear of more about him if anybody has further info about this. He grew up in Fleetwood Lancs.


Pontius Navigator
14th Sep 2004, 22:45
Clapp rings a bell but I don't recall any crashes in Europe.