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

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11th Dec 2003, 15:22
If so, or even if you just want to do something to help get one back into the air, you might be interested to learn that the application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for funding assistance to get XH558 restored to flying status has just passed its first stage. More details here:

When she does fly, let's hope that she's displayed sympathetically and gracefully - and without the fatigue consuming wing-rocking nonsense of her last RAF displays which always made me wince.

12th Dec 2003, 01:32
Vulcan stories please. From drivers or otherwise.

p.s. would be nice to see and hear one flying again.

Flatus Veteranus
12th Dec 2003, 02:32
That's super news BEags. I thought the Heritage Lottery Fund was far too PC to support anything so "nuclear" as the Vulcan. I wholly agree with you about displays. Conservation should be the name of the game - indeed it should only be flown enough to keep a crew in a safe state of practice. I take it there is no simulator left. Anyway the Vulcan simulator was really only a procedures trainer. :)

PPRuNe Pop
12th Dec 2003, 03:05
I know of at least 5 drivers who could still be considered highly skilled and capable.

I'll tick them off one by one as they appear - and they will! :rolleyes:

It is good news. Let us hope and pray that those at the top of the project don't screw this up. Expertise is the name of this particular game and the display sequence should reflect conservation as BEags and others have said.

12th Dec 2003, 03:09
Still have my Vulcan pilot's handbook somewhere....!!

PPRuNe Pop
12th Dec 2003, 03:54
Oooops! It's 6 drivers - 5 to go! :O

12th Dec 2003, 04:34
What sterling news. Good luck to all at TVOC. Can't wait to feel the tarmac shake again!!

12th Dec 2003, 04:51
Sorry to disagree chaps - IMHO it's all a waste of money

12th Dec 2003, 05:08
Flew it for 8 years, including as display co-pilot for 2 seasons. Good news for the future. Smartman, your opinion is respected, but I totally disagree.

Beags, I've stilll got the manuals, too - now where's that old co-pilot's handbook?!!!

PPrune Pop, guess that's now 7 drivers, 6 to go!

12th Dec 2003, 05:43
Slightly OT but does anyone here know or remember Chris Lumb? Ex-Vulcan man and I believe one of the last display pilots, last heard of as air attache to Washington. Chris was one of the folks who taught me to fly on UWAS about a million years ago -- a true gent and a superb aviator. If he's still about, I bet he's one of the six!


PPRuNe Pop
12th Dec 2003, 05:57
No FJJP - you were one now it's 4! ;)

12th Dec 2003, 06:03
Actually, I meant the co-pilot's handbook. Mine even has the entries from my last Vulcan flight on 18 Mar 1980 still in it - even the fuel howgozit is still plotted!

XH561, c/s 49X55, ETD 0945Z. $odding 4 1/2 hour MRR boat-spotting trip, fuel was 98% with an 'A' tank fitted but empty and we had an air experience air trafficker along for the trip. Decision speed was 145 KIAS, rotate at 153, 11 minutes later we were up at FL410 chatting with Border Radar. Looks as though we had a t/o delay as t/o is recorded as 1155Z. It seems that there was a right hand sequence timer failure later as there was an imbalance in the 4s and 7s between 1310 and 1355 which was rectified as the 1455 fuel check was OK. Total flight time was 4:30, but the QFI captain was decent enought to let me fly from the LHS and even gave me the landing off a PAR at sunny Scampton.....

Then 2 weeks later I was flying a JP at Leeming doing my pre-Hawk/Phantom course.

Muppet Leader
12th Dec 2003, 06:22
Must have words with my mother to see if she can trawl anything up on this.

She was the PA to the top bod at Woodford when the beast was testing.
I fondly remember her telling me about the ground power tests, right outside her office window.

She still has contacts, so I will have words this weekend.

12th Dec 2003, 06:23
Beags - if you were delayed 2hrs on take-off you must have been entitled to a second pre-flight meal?

Used to make sure we diverted our fighter to Waddo or Scampton cause then we got a post flight meal too!

Happy days - best Vulcan was the tanker - what a stable platform to prod.

12th Dec 2003, 06:34
Probably a tasking delay from the MRR cell - but undoubtedly we had a full aircrew breakfast at the excellent Scampton feeder!

Yes, I prodded the Vulcan a few times from the F4 and agree it was a nice stable platform. A bit weird at night with those twin underwing anti-coll lights and the MFI wardrobe HDU housing looked hideous. Best tankers were Vulcan and KC-10, then Victor. Worst was the KC-135 with the wretched boom-drogue adaptor which I was launched with on QRA having never had the benefit of a dual trip against it. Teach yourself BDA prodding with 3 tanks and 8 missiles was a silly idea, in my view, but eventually we got the gas - unfortunately the Bears had legged it home before we got anywhere near them.....

Much more fun taking Bear piccies from the '10 - particularly when we showed the Ivans Sam Fox from the Sun calendar from the flight deck windows!

tony draper
12th Dec 2003, 07:07
Way things are going, you chaps may need to borrow it back.
As a civilian one would love to see it fly again, one did send them a fiver a few years ago.

Art Field
12th Dec 2003, 17:32
ACW599, Officer Lumb was Stn Cdr at Brize around 1989. I believe he retired soon after and went to Eastbourne College as the Bursar. I also hope the Vulcan, should it fly again, is treated with care having been attacked by one, thank you Mr Stannard, at the Toronto air show when we had two Harriers in tow.

Flatus Veteranus
14th Dec 2003, 01:38
I flew a Captain's Acceptance Check with Chris in XM 605 on 9 Apr 69 on 50 Sqn at Waddo. We went low level at Entry Point 24 (on the old round-Britain LL route) and frightened Wainfleet with 6 x 25 practice bombs. I notice that this was with my own crew with Chris presumably in the left hand seat and myself playing the Co-pilot role. I think it possible that Chris did the upgrade course from Copilot to Captain at Finnigilley and came to 50 without a crew as a supernumerary Captain. I flew night currency checks with Chris on 8 and 29 May 69. I believe the rule used to be that if you had not done a night landing for 28 days, you had to fly with the boss or the squadron QFI. This got very restrictive during the summer months when only one or two of the sorties generated by Eng wing would recover to Waddo between sunset + 1 hour and dawn - 1 hour. So when we were allocated a night-landing sortie, there would be a whole queue of captains waiting out by the runway to jump in and do their circuit and landing. I always thought it damn dangerous to have chaps clambering in and out of a bang- seat in a darkened cockpit downwind to have their quick shake of the stick, particularly when the weather was dodgy and a PAR or ILS had to be flown. And the boss sometimes hadn't had a decent kip for 48 hours. It was not until I had my B-52 ride at Castle in '72 that I met a real 24/7 operation. After a compressed ground school and simulator phase I had one 15 hour ride in the left hand seat of the "Buff". We took off at about noon and returned to the pattern at about 0100 the following morning to do the "circuits and bumps". SAC used to make no distinction between Day and Night flying and if you had to do your first bit of "circuit-bashing" at night, so be it!

Chris flew XM603 with me out to MOONFLOWER at Butterworth via Akrotiri, Muharraq and Gan 2 - 5 June 69 with my own rear crew. I think we swapped seats on each leg. The last leg involved a rendezvous with some RAAF Mirages who formed up in Balbo on us for the arrival at Butterworth. I seem to remember we were down to 2.5 alternators at that point! It was sometimes useful for a detachment commander to have a qualified captain as copilot. Protocol usually demanded a formal leave-taking of CO of the staging post, and it was good to be able to delegate the planning and pre-flight checks to someone competent and reliable. Sometimes I boarded the aircraft with engines running and after-starting checks complete.

When we returned to Waddo on 10 July (still in XM603) but with my own Co-pilot, he remarked when we broke out of the low clag that A Dispersal was empty. A Dispersal (the QRA dispersal) EMPTY??? when we got into Ops we were told that the cold war was over as far as the V-Force was concerned and that Polaris had taken over. At which point I handed over the squadron and was posted.

Chris was a top bloke and obviously on a fast track up the ladder. I believe he was commanding 50 Sqn when it was disbanded in the '80s :ok:

20th Dec 2003, 01:38
This civilian reader has enjoyed your correspondence immensely, being old enough to remember the chilling undercurrents of those Cold War years. Don't you find people these days have forgotten quite what a threat we all lived under back then? And young people these days probably couldn't even grasp the real possibility for us then of being melted three times over.
It all came back while I was watching a Discovery Channel cable TV prog about the V bombers just yesterday evening. There was some excellent footage of Val, Vic and Vul. There were also intelligent remarks about what the Vulcan crews might have thought about their return-home routes.
I lived near Coningsby in the eighties when a young family man, and went to the Coningsby Air Show in 1984 or1985 (I don't recall exactly which), with my wife and young kids. A Vulcan did a display. It was quite unforgettable. The ground shook noticeably!
(Is the 'driver' out there somewhere?) It must have left a big impression on my then two year old daughter; she has a place at Cranners next year, to fly.

Pontius Navigator
20th Dec 2003, 02:36
His eyes were open. It was dark. There was no sound. Why had he woken? An eerie sound penetrated his consciousness as the sirens began their mournful wail.

He swung out of his single bed into the cold of the room, dragged on yesterday's clothes and fastened his number 2 jacket. Grabbing his hat he set out for the Ops block a mere 200 yards away. In the glow of sodium lights he could make out the time on his watch - 0405 or O-dark hundred. Dawn was still some hours away.

Only 5 minutes since the sirens had begun their call to duty but the Ops block was bustling with life. No conversation, just action. Straight to the Ops desk, grabbed the call out book and then to a free telephone. "Oakham 1234 please" The operator put him straight through; no question "Is this a service call?"

"Yes?" "12 Sqn - callout" "OK"

He pressed the recall and immediately asked "Stamford 3412" Like a well oiled team he had his own operator in the exchange waiting for his next call. There was no plan; it just happened.
............................................................ ........................................

And so the war would start.

20th Dec 2003, 07:30
Cottesmore Victor QRA dispersal.

Been out of boys at Cosford 2 weeks, posted to Cottesmore Air Radar bay and found my self on Weekend QRA groundcrew, Never been near a real servicable aircraft let alown one armed with a real nuke!!!!

0230am Been asleep about 2 hours, and the tanoy clicks on and you can hear background chat and mains hum.

We start to get up and dressed--------------------------------------------- I dont know what to do!!!

Readyness state 02 02 02 (or something like that )

Tha claxton fires off 3 times and we start to run out to our Victor B!A. The Snoop pulls away the security barriers checks our passes and we strat to clean up the jet, power on remove the blanks.

The crew arrive in a black car and straight into the aircraft.

WE go straight for a start and the crew chief hits the sim start buttons one after another. I am standing under the intake ready to pull out the sim start cables and AC/DC cables. The engine noise fron the HOUCHIN??? (power generator ) sags under the load as the 4 jets start up together.

I watch the intake Vortex playing 2 feet infront of my head!!!!

The crew chief signals to me to pull the cables they are 4inches in Dia, another lad helps me. the other jet on the other dispersal has also started.
The other lad grabs me and pulls me behind the houchin, the jet winds up and starts to taxi out of the dispersal very fast!!!!!!!
they line up and go to full power and start to roll---------sh.........t------------------there going -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
then throttle down , fast taxi along the runway and back around the peri track to the dispersal.

The crew shut down and we replug the jet back in, the crew stay in the cocpit and redo scramble checks.
WE do an AF/BF inspections sign the seven hundred top up the fuel and stand down about 0500. everybody heads for the craper for a d..p,

That was 40years ago tonight whats more I was still a BE as I was under 17 1/2 years old. Whats even worse i can still smell that room the stale tea, fags and damp sweatyscared bodies

It scared tha pants off me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! they were real big nukes in those days, those jets were 30 seconds from being airborn in undar 10minuts from the initial hooter.

It was not a game..

Happy Christmas to all ex V force Aircrew and Groudcrew

20th Dec 2003, 10:44
Wasn't confined to the RAF either. In the late 1960s, both the then Royal Naval Air Stations Brawdy and Lossiemouth had what was locally called a "V" Bomber Dispersal. From time to time, these were occupied with Vulcans who came and went on a priority whim from a metallic "This is the Bomber Controller" voice on repeater in ATC and Ops. It didn’t pay to be around when the Vulcans “scrambled” – being on short finals was no reason to be given landing priority over a departing military 4 jet!

Not being a C***, I wasn't totally familiar with the reasons why Vulcans had to be parked over water pits. I was later told that it was because of the volatile nature of the Blue Steel propellant.

Vulcan diversions/scrambles, coupled with the MDA role at Lossie led for exciting times during the Cold War. Diversions of QRA Lightnings, F105s, F104s, F4s and F102s were an almost everyday occurrence. From time to time, we'd see Intel photographs of 'Bear' bomb aimers waving at the intercept aircraft.

In a later incarnation, I was privy to B52 ops out of RAAF Darwin. These guys gave new meaning to ‘long sorties’ with stories of up to 35 hour trips being flown on a regular basis in the 1970s.

At the time, I was totally committed to the righteousness of our cause. Now, older, wiser and with a broader experience of life, I look back on those time with a mixture of emotions. Was it really fun and patriotism or was it something more sinister?

On a recent UK trip, my wife and I visited the regional seat of government bunker at Hack Green - http://www.subbrit.org.uk/rsg/sites/h/hack_green/

For those who might not know, Hack Green is one of several sites around the UK from which Britain would have been governed after a nuclear attack. The place boasts every last degree of creature comfort, even down to the pastel decor shades designed, as our guide told us, by an industrial psychologist to minimise the stress on the occupants - most of whom were to have been public servants and politicians. It would have doubtless been of great comfort to the occupants to view a purple wall when those without the gate were dealing with the aftermath of a nuclear attack.

During the visit, we also saw documents purporting to be a plan to deal with radiation sickness casualties. If these documents are accurate, then the general plot would have been to round up those suffering from radiation sickness, intern them in places to be hastily constructed and then order surviving units of HM Forces to shoot them. Even in those days, it was apparently accepted that the public hospital system would not be able to cope with such a large influx of patients who would probably die anyway. As one who had been a junior officer during the Cold War, and who might have been called upon to command others to fire upon our fellow, albeit radiated countrymen and women, I felt quite ill at ease.

And just to rub salt, we were shown documents that purported to be copies of plans to re-introduce tax collections six months after a nuclear attack!

30 odd years ago, I was seized with the glamour, excitement and belief that, in the company of my comrades, I was doing something vital for my country. Now, I've come to the view that, irrespective of nationality and culture, politicians and bureaucrats will always protect their posteriors at the expense of those who actually do the work that produces the taxes that allows the pollies and public servants to live off the fat of the land.

20th Dec 2003, 12:52
If you were on leave on the V-force and there was a sudden call-out, you were normally exempt under day-to-day peacetime concessions. But you had to supply a contact number whenever you were away from home overnight, no matter what.

Occasionally the exercise directing staff might check the system; however, even they were human enough not to ring someone on leave in the early hours. I was on leave from my Vulcan sqn once when there was a Taceval Part One call-out - and the DS demanded later in the morning that a test call was made. This was long before the days of having normal civvie phone access at RAF station crewrooms....so the duty warmonger on the desk went through the tedious process of convincing some deaf old bat at a military exchange to dial my number....Ring ring, ring, ring......"Teesside Grain Company" came the reply. "Is that (my number)?" said the duty warmonger, "Nay lad, it's foo*kin' TEESSIDE GRAIN COMPANY!" came the response! Fortunately the DS saw the funny side (I was on holiday in Menorca at the time!).........

Then it happened again! This time I was staying with my lady friend; they didn't have a phone but the old biddy who owned the flat would take messages for them. But when the Sqn callout bloke rang at o-dark-hundred and asked to speak to Flt Lt (BEagle), she grandly replied "Young man, I do not accept telephone calls from strangers in the middle of the night. Kindly call back tomorrow" - and put the phone down on him! I then left in the morning as planned and didn't get any message until I got home that evening at 1900. By which time the exercise had long since finished!

I'm surprised that we didn't have more accidents caused by people racing in to work from their beds in the early hours for a Mineval, possibly only a couple of hours after a few drinks in the pub.....

VC10 scrambles were much more civilised. Phone went at o-dark-thirty, get out of bed, throw on flying kit, drive to Ops, get brief, drive to sqn, grab kit, bus to jet, get in, crank up and roar off - took about 40 minutes including a 20 minute drive. At least you could then have a wash and shave in the aircraft loo on the way to RV with the QRA Phantom - and breakfast, of course as we had a freezer full of frozen QRA meals in the crewroom. But just occasionally it went wrong; we were hanging about at 30 minutes readiness and rang Ops yet again to find out what was going on. They in turn rang the Master Controller who said "OK - you can let them go".... Ops rang back, "OK chaps, you can stack now". Half way through having a cup of tea the hooter went and the Tannoy yelled for us to scramble..... It seems that "Let them go" was supposed to have meant "Scramble"! Which is why we always had a 20 minute cuppa before stacking from being On State in case They had cocked up again or changed Their mind.

On the Phantom, Q scrambles weren't pleasant. You had to be airborne within 10 minutes, which included getting up, throwing on the rest of your kit - g-pants, goon suit, boots then head under the cold tap to wake yourself up if there was time, then on with LSJ and bone dome, up the steps, start the left engine, strap in, start the right, gennies on when the nav was happy with the INS, wave chocks, out of Q shed, down the access, hang a left onto the RW, then full A/B and away..... After I'd finished my F4 time I was holding as an assistant Ops Off one day when an alert tone came over our system. Grabbed phone, flash to Neatishead, "You've got 30 secs to tell us WTF is going on because Q1 and 2 are scrambling" I yelled, "Standby, standby" replied the Master Controller...meanwhile over the telebrief came "QI on....Q2 also....Sitrep please!", "Maintain cockpit readiness and standby 30 sec", I replied, "WELL NEATISHEAD...WHAT GIVES!!!". "It's OK, false alarm, stand them down, time blah I authenticate blah blah...". "Q1 and 2, revert to Readiness ** ", I ordered, "...and I'll ring you as soon as I find out what caused the flap"...... I soon found out - it seems that some idiot had decided to do a periodic test of the external telescramble line continuity without checking first - and his test tone was identical to the tones used for the most urgent no-notice scramble alarm....equivalent to what the civvies called the Four Minute Warning!

There must be hundreds of such anecdotes around, but Cold War times were certainly interesting right up until the collapse of the Eastern bloc.

tony draper
20th Dec 2003, 16:06
Hmmm, indeed, the cold war, I remember that, leastwise we knew how we were on with Ivan, lot to be said for having a proper enemy.

20th Dec 2003, 18:18
Argus - I wasn't totally familiar with the reasons why Vulcans had to be parked over water pits. I was later told that it was because of the volatile nature of the Blue Streak propellant

Before people wonder how a Blue Streak was fitted under a Vulcan, I will correct it to BLUE STEEL. Blue Streak was our attempt at an IRBM/ICBM.

The Mighty Vulcan would still be a crowd puller at any air display.

20th Dec 2003, 20:32
The local pub also had a "Bomber Box" until a few years ago, IIRC it was removed about 1995. Other rural locations were police stations and Post offices but as the village has neither, it was fitted in the pub

Apart from the tick-tock tone when the volume was turned up, about twice a year the landlord had to note down a codeword from the Mysteron type voice and post this word off to someplace. He would also turn up the volume periodically, listen to the tone and announce to baffled non-locals "Ah, they've not nuked High Wycombe yet then ".

The pub also had a hand-cranked air raid siren, which the landlord used with gusto to announce bonfire night fireworks.

tony draper
20th Dec 2003, 20:53
I recal they were still testing the Air Raid sirens round here right up to he seventies I think, there was a one on top of a thing like a telegraph pole not far from whereI lived.
Happy days. :rolleyes:

20th Dec 2003, 21:00

My local used to have the very same kit (and landlord by the sound of things) We found the sien at 4.30am one morning in the middle of an all night lock-in. Oops :E

20th Dec 2003, 21:27
A pub I used to know very well in W Sx, the Chequers at Rowhook used to have the same box fitted. As it was also the local warning station it was equipped with a hand cranked air raid alarm. Guess how many times that alarm came out on a summers night after a few beers :ok:

20th Dec 2003, 21:31
What was the return-home plan? (if it ain't secret or profanity laden)

20th Dec 2003, 21:37
There wasn't one.

20th Dec 2003, 21:44
That's rather what I thought. I suppose your namesake will be in much the same position!

Art Field
21st Dec 2003, 00:15
At one time the Victor Tanker fleet was used as an airborne relay station for the Bomber Force to give extra range for 'go words'. Sitting quietly munching on our sarnies at 40000ft up came the voice of an Irish lass with the word "c**t", we can't repeat that we said, "say again", "c**t" she said, disaster all round. Turned out the word was "currant" but in her clipped Irish brogue thats how it came out.

21st Dec 2003, 01:02
There's a couple of ex vulcan pilots who now fly out of Gloucester, they've got some interesting stories!
One of my Air Traffic instructors used to be a Vulcan navigator or something as well!
You ex Vulcan boys seem to be everywhere!!!!!

21st Dec 2003, 01:42
Yes - but don't forget that even in the late 70s there were 4 Vulcan sqns of 10 x 5 man crews each at Waddo and 2 x strike and 1 x boat-spotting sqn at Scampton, plus the Vulcan OCU. That made around 350 Vulcan aircrew at any one time, plus loads of others who had already done their V-bomber time....

And we had around 70 Vulcans to play with! But nowadays the RAF can't even afford to buy its own basic training aircraft and has to rent the Tupperware Trainer (Das Teutor) from some civvie firm.......

Why the hell did we bother? Succesive governments have hacked away at the RAF's capability with barely a murmur from Their Airships.... Bar one - and he was 'invited to resign', I gather.

21st Dec 2003, 03:53
Gainsey, the 'Bomber Box' you referred to in pubs, post offices, police stations, etc, wasn't the V-Force Bomber Box. The V Bomber Box was sited only in Service establishments, like ATC, Ops rooms and so on. The clicking box was something to do with the Civil Defence and Royal Observer Corps Nets - I'm not sure how they worked, though.

Blue Steel was a whacky bit of kit. I well remember QRA with the Missile - the co-pilot and AEO had to take High Test Peroxide (HTP) readings inside the aircraft every so often overnight. It was a real pain. The water pits referred to were very necessary - they were sited round the country as part of a network of emergency off-load airfields. If the HTP temperature rose towards critical levels in flight, the crew declared an appropriate emergency and landed at the nearest airfield to pump the HTP out of the missile, where the fire section would dilute it with copious quantities of water. That was a well-orchestrated drill involving the whole crew. It was called 'Red Hot Water' and struck fear into the heart of the average Stn Cdr. The worst that could have happened was the missile jettisoned on the ground and subsequently exploding. It would have made a very large mess of the surrounding area - hence the fact that the offload pits were sited in remote parts of the airfield, where the blast would cause least damage.

HTP was leathal stuff - dirty clothing would catch fire if splashed with HTP. All dispersals had heated plungebaths next to them, covered with a layer of table tennis balls to reduce the heat losses. The idea was that if anyone got splashed with HTP they would plunge into the bath fully clothed, where the water would dilute to safe state the HTP. Seen it done several times - hilarious, unless it's you in the middle of winter!

Green Flash
21st Dec 2003, 05:17
FJJP - The Bomber Box to which you refer was indeed, according to an elderly close relation (ex ROC), to do with Civ Defence. The clicking was a confidence tone. The box (either radio or via land-line) was to announce that your bit of this sceptic isle had been/was about to be turned into heat and light by Ivanski.

21st Dec 2003, 08:37

I stand corrected; Blue Steel it was. I'm afraid it's the tyranny of distance - and old men forget!

21st Dec 2003, 19:59
Thanks for the correction, I just called it the Bomber Box as it was vaguely similar to the ones I'd seen/heard in the RAF.

As a further memory, the landlord's game plan, in the event of a real alarm was to retire to the cellar with a buxom barmaid and a flagon of brandy.:)

Pontius Navigator
21st Dec 2003, 22:17

I'll use your story if i may.


Oh there was a get home plan. In the Bomber Command War SOP 1st Edition, we were given the phone numbers of all the embassys and air attaches, supposedly to get instructions for the next mission. Only now, on the AWRE site do we know that we had less than one bomb per aircraft. Enough to cover the war plans but no spares.

Under the 2nd edition of the SOP they were more realistic and left out the phone numbers. We were then to fly overhead a nominated recovery airfield and broadcast blind for instructions?

Would anyone have been listening? Would we have got into the airfield MEZ anyway? Some airfields we had to get out the gazetteer to find out where they were as we had never heard of places like Bardufoss or Yesilkoy. In those days the V-force was very insulate, isolated, and secretive. We did not consider ourselves part of NATO and were more sympathetic to the USAF and SAC. We would have operated beyond NATO.

Once we landed that was another matter.

In Cyprus we had an escape and evasion lecture. Robin Hardisty, the CSRO, was struggling with an uphill fight to convince us that it was viable to walk out of central Russia from several hundred miles behind the Urals. Most of us planned to walk EAST, find a nice Mongolian and a yurt, and settle down for ever after.

Pom Pax
22nd Dec 2003, 08:56
Lincoln crew were expected to walk back too, they didn't have the range to return!
Flying boots were designed to look like shoes even.

22nd Dec 2003, 17:25
Just out of interest, why didn't the navigator get a bang seat?

22nd Dec 2003, 17:41
A scandalous decision made early in the life of the aircraft by Their Airships even though a rear crew ejection system had actually been designed. The reason - cost. It seems that lives were cheaper in those days..:mad:

Even when they converted to the low level role, the rear crew were supposed to bail out through the bottom hatch, with the very real possibility of the 'seat inflators' trapping them in the process. We regularly used to practise 'Escape Trainer' drills, the rear crew (Nav Plotter, Nav Radar and AEO) had a complicated drill to go through which involved the right person blowing open the hatch, the seats being moved, cushions inflating to assist seat egress and abandonment taking place in the correct sequence. Of the various Vulcan abandonments, rarely was this fully successful, even at altitude.... With the undercarriage down, the noseleg was immediately behind the lower hatch and the rear crew were supposed to grab a lower hatch jack and roll themselves away from the noseleg. Even a racing-snake PTI in a wind tunnel found that pretty difficult, the chances of the average cuddly rear crew person in goon suit and LSJ being able to do it were infinitessimal. We used to fly the Vulcan in the circuit with the undercarriage down all the time, so the natural enthusiasm for the rear crew to enjoy protracted periods of pilot playtime was even less in the Vulcan than it was in most aircraft!

22nd Dec 2003, 19:24
Is there anyone here who remembers a mysterious Friday afternoon at Waddington, late ’69? 4.30 had come around and I was ready to jump into the Wolseley 1500 (after which we should have named our first son) and head off from Line Squadron to my new wife and married quarter at Birchwood. I got as far as the Main Gate where a line of plod’s was turning back all those trying to leave. And I mean all; no one was allowed out. I returned to the Line Squadron where the main man on the Ops squawk box (Flt Sgt Godfrey?) was desperately trying to find out WTFIGO. By this time the night shift had turned up and dozens of baffled grunts were walking aimlessly around the site. Ten minutes later and the WingCo Tech arrived to brief the throng. This was the first time I’d seen a senior officer lost for words and appearing genuinely worried. He didn’t know what was going on (and it was pretty obvious he was being honest) but it was ‘serious’. There’d been no sirens or Tannoyed “This is the Waddington Controller, Exercise Mickey Finn” – or whatever, but (apparently) Command had simply ordered a ‘maximum state of readiness - immediately’. I seem to remember that, as the evening wore on, aircraft were bombed up with the real thing on non QRA pads, which was unheard of. (Had the traditional QRA been abandoned by then?) Around 9pm things were settling down, but camp beds were appearing from the backs of trucks. Camp beds! – they were for Pongos! But camp beds it was. Overnight, or perhaps it was Saturday morning, rumours filtered through that the situation had eased and that we were to return to normal. What situation – that’s my question. Anyone with a decent memory have any ideas?

PPRuNe Radar
22nd Dec 2003, 19:59
Czechoslovakia was invaded by the Red Army in mid/late 1968. Maybe something to do with that ??

22nd Dec 2003, 20:09
No. It was definitely ’69. Mention of Mickey Finn has reminded me; did anyone else ever create their own? A Mickey Finn exercise dispersed the aircraft, in pairs, around the British Isles to dozens of (usually) non bomber airfields.

During ’69 the Waddington aircraft were operating from Coningsby while the Waddington runway was being re-surfaced.

10pm, and very dark. I’d gone to a dispersal hut with Mick Pledger (where are you?) to pick up replacement ECM cans. There, on a packing case, was a huge electric bull horn. Too tempting by far. We drove back to the line hut, bull horn in hand. I walked off into the darkness, pointed the horn at the Line Hut, and went for it.
“Attention. Attention. Attention This is the Coningsgby Controller. Exercise Mickey Finn. I repeat……………”.

Well! As soon as I saw the result I new this would take some explaining, and not only to my mates in the Crew Room. The Line Hut erupted, Crew Chiefs running in circles, vehicles flying everywhere. Now that I’d started it - how to stop it!

Only one thing for it. I walked into the boss’s office, Squadron Leader Neave (how’s that for memory?) He was on the telephone and ignored me. I waved the bull horn at him. No response. I tried again. No success. Eventually he put down the telephone, looked up and said “Don’t you know there’s a Mickey Finn on?” I lifted the bull horn “Attention. Attention…………

Look of horror on face of Squadron Leader Eng. “You didn’t ……?” He was a pleasant sort of chap and all ended very amicably, apart from a couple of seriously p*ssed off Crew Chiefs.

22nd Dec 2003, 20:22
Former US president Richard Nixon ordered a worldwide secret nuclear alert in October 1969, calling his wartime tactic a "madman strategy" aimed at scaring the Soviets into forcing concessions from North Vietnam.

It didn't work.

SALT talks started in November 1969.

So you see, the US had barking mad idiots at the helm even then!

Yellow Sun
22nd Dec 2003, 20:30

Is there anyone here who remembers a mysterious Friday afternoon at Waddington, late ’69?

Yes, I was there as well. August as I recall, close to the first anniversary of the invasion of Czechoslovakia. But to this day I'm not sure what behind it all. Maybe the answer is in some file in the PRO, a nice little project for someone?

Yellow Sun

22nd Dec 2003, 20:48

Why on earth were you going OUT of the main gate on a FRIDAY afternoon??

22nd Dec 2003, 20:55
I have a framed squadron print of a Vulc which was signed by all of the crew that collected the last Vulcan to be serviced at Bitteswell...I wouldn't part with it for the world.

I always remember the day the Red Arrows came to collect their Hawks which had been in for winter servicing. It also corresponded with the collection of a Vulcan, so there was lots of RAF bods around. We were in the bomb bay of a recently delivered Vulcan taking out the hydraulic valves for servicing when the two parties decided to stick their heads in and say hello.

My apprentice at the time was young, full of himself and a self confessed plane spotter. He only asked the RA pilot who dropped his Hawk into the marina (Brighton I think) if he felt a prat!!

I can still see my foremans face go off the red scale, until the RA pilot said he'd been looking a the tits on the beach and got slightly distracted. At least he had a sense of humour, which was more than can be said of the Bitteswell top brass who carpeted the apprentice and me (for not keeping a better eye on him).

Aahhh, happy days.

Did any PPRuNers collect Vulcs from Bitteswell, remember the dip in the middle of the runway??

22nd Dec 2003, 21:14
The alert began on [Monday] October 13, 1969, when U.S. tactical and strategic air forces in the United States, Europe, and East Asia began a stand-down of training flights to raise operational readiness; Strategic Air Command (SAC) increased the numbers of bombers and tankers on ground alert; and the readiness posture of selected overseas units was heightened. On [Sat] October 25, SAC took the additional step of increasing the readiness of nuclear bombers, and two days later SAC B-52s undertook a nuclear-armed “Show of Force” alert over Alaska, code-named “Giant Lance.”

22nd Dec 2003, 21:50
Well done SmoleTooMuch! After all these years, now we know. I can see now why the Wingco Tech, and everyone else, was worried and baffled. SAC had secretly moved to a very high readiness, with no explanation to High Wycombe. I can imagine some very senior meetings along the theme of “What the *** do we do now”. I suppose bringing the Vulcans up to Strike’s equivalent of DefCon 1 was the only sensible thing to do. This is something of a relief on my part. I can show this to my wife to dispel the 34 year old lingering suspicion that I spent the whole of Friday night and Saturday morning in the Horse and Jockey – or worse!

22nd Dec 2003, 22:23
Yes - as I explained in my earlier post, Nixon's idea was that by calling the worldwide SAC alert, he would demonstrate nuclear resolve to the Soviet Union and that this would cause them to persuade North Vietnam to a negotiated solution to the Viet Nam war. But all it did was to increase global military tension as the UK and USSR both began to increase preparedness for a potential first strike...

This wasn't the only Cold War flap though.... There were quite a few, in fact. See http://mt.sopris.net/mpc/military/false.alerts.html

22nd Dec 2003, 23:53
Sorry to distract
Camp beds! – they were for Pongos!
No, not unless you were real good mates with the QM. Actually anywhere will do for a shagged out pongo.
Now back to the thread

23rd Dec 2003, 11:17
BEags: interesting you mentioned that about the '69 alert; I flew with a 777 Capt a while back who mentioned it to me, and what a wild "hail-Mary" strategy it was. The Capt was an F-106 interceptor-chappie at the time here in the US. Interestingly enough, he was one of the test chaps who live fired the Geenie missile way back when, wearing one dark glass and flying a split-ar$e S to get away before extra sunshine.

The escape strategy for that was fairly hopeless, too...

Is Tim W. (Vulcan co-pilot for the last season) still around, and one of the considerations? I know he went and flew the KC-10 about a decade ago at Barksdale or wherever.

This and the Buc thread are great! :ok:

John Eacott
23rd Dec 2003, 13:14
OT, but they all had heaps better chance than we did with a 600lb bomb drop. Vne and open the helicopter windows to reduce the overpressure.

As my 18 year old would say; Yeah, right :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

23rd Dec 2003, 16:05
I've enjoyed reading the contributions to the Vulcan thread.

As a humble sprog at the time, I paid little attention to the comings and goings of the 'V' force, other than to admire the beauty of the aircraft in flight. It was only when I was 'Air Officer of the Day' during a V Force deployment to Lossie that I became aware of the large water pits and their purpose.

One of my other memories from those times is a visit to RAF Buchan. In the 60s, Lossiemouth boasted an ATC facility called "Moray Radar". From memory, the range of the radar (I think it was the Marconi S264) was about 160 nm. Coverage for high level intrepid aviators beyond 160 nm was provided by "Highland Radar", located at Buchan. We knew that Buchan existed - there was a large antenna in the field next door that was a dead give away. But the GCI site itself was shrouded in mystery.

One day, after prevailing on the SATCO, some colleagues and I drove over to find a 'bungalow' that really was a guardhouse and sentry post for entry to the bunker. After checking in at the bungalow guardhouse, we were duly escorted down into the bunker. I had an impression that "Highland Radar" and the GCI facility would be super state of the art facilities. I recall being somewhat less than impressed to discover a "coal hole" of an operations room with indifferent air conditioning and controllers using thick chinagraph pencils to plot targets and draw tracks on the radar screens. No computers or state of the art tracking devices - only the Mk 1 eyeball and a thick pencil lead between us and oblivion!

Next to each console was a bottle of meths – for wiping out the chinagraph, so we were told. Most people smoked in those days. I’ve often wondered what would have happened if some one had spilt meths in the cramped operating environment where there were many smokers.

All this to safeguard us against Ivan. Even Dr Strangelove would have raised an eyebrow!

Much better indeed was the regular SAR run around the northern Scottish coastline to check the stored fuel drums (usually in police stations) for water contamination (and to participate in local hospitality). It's churlish to refuse hospitality in Northern Scotland, and the number of engine oil leaks in the Whirlwind 9 was legendry, especially in the late afternoon.

A legacy of those times was my discovery of, and the beginning of a life time affair with, "Glen Morangie".

Ah, foolish but fun.

Flatus Veteranus
24th Dec 2003, 00:54
I "saw" the Oct 69 panic from a desk at Strike Command, having handed over 50 a few months earlier. If you think there was chaos at Waddo, you should have seen the shambles at Strike!
There was no one BUT NO ONE at Strike above the level of Gp Capt Strike Ops who had any first hand experience of the strike role (Bomber had recently amalgamated with Fighter Command). I formed the distinct impression that the C-in-C decided to generate the force without reference to Whitehall. This he could do by calling an Exercise MICK, which was purely a generation exercise with no possibility of a "fly-off". Under the intricate rules governing nukes, "live" weapons could be loaded but they could not be taxied, let alone flown, without authority from the "top". MICKY FINN was always generated with dummy weapons because there was a full-scale dispersal and the force would be held at RS 15 at the dispersal airfields for some days before the scramble and fly-off.

Anyway, the Oct 69 generation was done under cover of MICK but the "brass" did not understand that the aircraft could not be flown with live weapons on to the dispersal airfields. Poor Gp Capt Ops was tearing out what little hair he had left trying to explain to their Airships the basic facts of nuclear life. At one stage they tried to order the live weaons to be downloded and sent by road to the dispersal airfields where they would meet up with their aircraft again and be uploaded. Someone had to point out the very few vehicles available cleared for moving weapons by road! Someone then had to point out the logistic constraints on the duration for which the force could be held at RS15 at which some systems were kept running. Also the accommodation and feeding problems.

I believe the flap was inspired less by events in Vietnam and more by extreme tensions along the Sino-Soviet border which were acute at the time. Once the **** started to fly no one would wait to find out where it was coming from! Not the RAF's most professional moment!

24th Dec 2003, 03:08
Yeah, I remember that exercise. I seem to remember it as an unusually long exercise, but we didn't think much about it at the time. Now it all falls into place....

24th Dec 2003, 05:23
Flat Vet , What a response! It seems a book could be written about a warm Friday evening in October ‘69. Who else out there has a memory for the sharp end?

24th Dec 2003, 05:42
Forget - I was just about to post exactly the same. There's almost a book in this thread. All it needs is someone to draw various expanded accounts together. You write well, perhaps you could dedicate it to your wife and title it 'Where the hell have you been!' :)

Beags et al - God only knows how it must have felt at the sharp end at such times. Seeing as OASC didn't want me the closest I've ever got to the doom-laden feeling was when living by a major mil base in the early 80s, regarded as 'joint number 1 target' in released Home Office documents. Local folklore had it [true?] that 6 blasts on the siren was 'attack imminent' - they tested it with 5 ferrchrissakes!. 'Have I miscounted?' I thought. How my mates laughed at my deathly pallor - I wasn't laughing - a very strange sensation. I was a student at the time but thoughts of 'what would you do given 4 min warning?' - I just quivered with a Tesco shopping bag in hand.

Maybe that's why OASC thought 'no'? :)

24th Dec 2003, 13:58
Smoketoomuch - well, actually I had a pretty easy time of it, all considered. The guys who were doing 'proper' V-bomber QRA in the 60s or who were sitting poised in RAFG are the folks who really lived on the front line...

But it was also a proper RAF free from the creeping cancer of contractorisation, investors in paperwork, 'I hear what you say', fitness tests, computers running our lives, 'yellowcoat' mentaility, etc, etc......

24th Dec 2003, 14:50
Actually, you have all got it wrong. The UK V-Force went onto alert when Pete Armstrong and his crew stole the Tirpitz bulkhead from 617 at Scampton and took it back to where it belonged with 9 squadron in Akrotiri.

24th Dec 2003, 15:31
The Tirpitz saga could certainly fill a book.

Actually, neither IX nor the Dead Dog Mob bombed it first - 35 had bombed it earlier in the war!

Dark Helmet
24th Dec 2003, 15:46
Nothing to do with Vulcans but BEags reply about RAFG reminds me of my time spent on QRA at Bruggen ('the purpose of this station in peace is to train for war') in the late 70's early 80's.

Cold HASs, cold aircraft, miserable policeman, miserable in wintertime... but excellent company and always fun in the crewroom.

Also, agree entirely with it being a proper RAF then!

24th Dec 2003, 17:50
Beags and DH have acknowledged that it was not only the tin triangle mob that had tensions in the 60's. Those who were on the Canberra Strike Squadrons, will remember "M" passes and the infamous No Lone Zone. ;)



Flatus Veteranus
24th Dec 2003, 19:20
Memories crowd in; confused, perhaps, but still very real.

Playing “Hunt the Pi$$er” in the QRA mess at Waddo on one snowy Christmas Eve at Waddo in the late’60s, listening to the carols from King’s College. “…Peace on earth, and mercy mild…" at which point the tannoys went live “THIS IS THE BOMBER CONTROLLER BOMBLIST ***** EXERCISE EDOM READINESS 05, EXERCISE EDOM READINESS 05, EXERCISE EDOM READINESS 05”. By which time we were through the door and running to our aircraft. Roy, our AEO being fitter than me (he played Rugby for the RAF) had the key to the hatch and got there first, even as the Crew Chief was firing up the Palouste.

Scramble up the ladder, trying to scrape as much snow off our boots as we could and squeezed (I am “portly”) between the central console and the LH bang seat. The 28v came on and everything lit up like a Christmas tree (we had left the aircraft at 15 mins when we took it over in the morning). Jammed on my helmet (sod the bonedome!) by which time the Bomber Controller had changed his tune on the telescramble EXERCISE EDOM READINESS 02, EXERCISE EDOM READINESS 02, EXERCISE EDOM READINESS 02. Oh S**t! So its down to me as senior (but by no means the most experienced) Captain on QRA to decide whether conditions are safe to taxy onto the runway. Anyway let’s get the donks fired up. SIMSTART was disabled after a recent engine fire (not a good idea with real nukes in the back) so its “Chief starting No 1” Starting No 1 Sir! External Air start is perfectly normal, so its “Palouste away, Chief, cross-bleeding 2,3 & 4”. Run No 1 up to 90% and stab the other 3 start buttons together. Then ensues the “fastest four-handed game in the world” (except for “its slipped out darling!”) feeding on the HP cocks, monitoring the JPTs, oil pressures and revs building up. While the AEO fiddles with his bus bars I call for taxy while starting up the PFCUs. “QRA section clear to Runway 27 to line up and hold, QFE …blah blah… be advised there are extensive ice patches on taxyways and the runway. Taxy with extreme caution” The ATCO covering his arse, don’t blame him. Decision time! “Chocks away Chief” Going off line Sir! The Crew Chief pulls his plug and also the telescramble so we are spared the regular voice of doom from High Wycombe. The wands wave me on so I pour on a little coal and release the parking brake . We are quite heavy so she takes a bit of a getting moving. I tentatively check the brakes and nosewheel steering – a little bit of juddering indicating a bit of a slide, but adhesion seems reasonable. I call the 44 & 101 crews and advise them to leave plenty of space between aircraft and take it easy. (Teaching my grandmothers, but my own arse feels entitled to a little care). At about 1700hrs it is pitch dark, of course, and some of the centreline taxiway lights are obscured or missing – probably scraped away by the snow ploughs. We now have to rely on ATC relaying the Bomber Controller. I roll well down the runway before stopping and thinking. And catching up on various FRC checks. I contemplate doing up my harness and donning my bone-dome, and if the magic words “EXERCISE EDOM” were not included in Bomber’s messages I would have done so. In fact legend has it that a rooky Bomber Controller once took the QRA force to RS 02 with out uttering the word EDOM, which was OK until he tried to stand the force down to RS15. There was no means of authenticating the instruction and the Waddington crews refused to budge off the runway. The Squadron Commander, Wingco Ops, Staish all took it turns to try to persuade some of the old sweats, without success. The story ran that it took the Padre to convince the blokes that they weren’t the targets of some trick by the duplicitous Comrades!

PS. I have no FRCs, so if any clever sods tell me that my procedures are all to hell, I readily concede. Happy Christmas to all old “V” hands. You’ve certainly earned it.
:) :)

24th Dec 2003, 19:52
93% for a ripple rapid;) !

Brilliant - conveys the spirit of the times. Yes, I've heard the story about the Stn Cdr standing in front of the lead ac pleading with them to revert to a lower readiness state, I'm sure that it's true!

Lots of other V-farce stories out there??!!

John Farley
25th Dec 2003, 00:04
This and the Bucc thread is surely what the Military Forum is about.

As BEages said Flat man's stuff gave a real feel for the times – I was certainly in the cockpit with him as he taxied onto the runway. Some 30 years from now when the RAF is only flying UCAVs I am sure the guys and girls flying today will have similar stories to tell about what they have been doing recently.

By coincidence a couple of weeks ago I was reminded of when we thought the war had started at Jever one Sunday morning (6 Dec 59). All 2TAF airfields including Jever were red due fog so when Pete Jennings and I got scrambled as the first Hunter Battle Flight pair (pre QRA) we knew it was not a practice. A second pair launched as soon after us as they could generate them. Four jets going in that Wx on a Sunday morning caused pandemonium behind us. Pilots were paired up as they arrived at the hangars regardless of whether they were Swift recce mates from 2 or Hunter guys from 4 and 93 while the ground crew were winching up live gun packs in every corner. Pete and I with arm masters on (the only time the wire locking ever got broken during my tour) were vectored onto target after target down at 5000ft but never found a thing. Eventually they brought us back from a very long way southeast via one of the Berlin corridors, somebody had the presence of mind to declare Gutersloh Amber III, Pete did his GCA stuff and I stared at his wing tip.

Afterwards there were several rumours as to how and why all those paints had appeared on Brockzetal’s radar screens but we were never debriefed officially.

25th Dec 2003, 04:15
I thought it was 'EDAM' not 'EDOM'. Anyway, at the SFD at a certain airfield we had a '02' at 2345. The whole affair dragged on and at 0025 we got the revert to '15'. Unfortunately, the Bomber Controller used the wrong codes and our crews ignored the call and remained at '02'. We figured out that this might occur, because at midnight the codes changed to a new set and we thought the Bomber Controller would test us on this. At about 0045, no further messages were forthcoming, so I called the Bomber Controller (I was on Ops at the time) and informed him that his little ruse hadn't worked and could he now revert our guys back to bed. He was aghast. He had forgotten, and the new codes were locked in a safe, where it required the duty Wg Cdr and himself to open it to get them out. He asked me for the revert code so he could pass them over the Bomber Box, to save him the embarassment of calling out the Wg Cdr. No chance - I flatly refused, no matter how obnoxious he became (and he did). We eventually got the proper revert at about 0115.

Big tick in the box for the Sqn, big kick in the ar*e for the Controller. The Boss walked in half way through the Controller's rant at me - he should have been on one of the ac, but had slept through it all!!!!! Top cover all round...

Flatus Veteranus
25th Dec 2003, 05:03
"Who is this that cometh from Edom with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save." Isaiah Ch 63 v. 1

Wee Weasley Welshman
25th Dec 2003, 08:24
This and the Bucc thread are Mil Forum classics - this has to be one of the top 3 forums on PPRuNe at this time. Keep it up.

These cold war stories are particularly interesting - to me at least - and I suspect a large section of PPRuNe readership. Now that its getting on for 15 years ago perhaps such stories will be more prolific..?

I do think there is a clear demarcation - people of my age (29) who kind of remember Falklands, Cold War and the Wall coming down and those just a few years younger to whom it seems like WW1 and all that. To whom its all lazer (sic) guided bombs, spy satellites and basically assured victory with minimum casualties these days.

I do hope the national curriculum moves forward rather rapidly to cover the latter stages of the Cold War. Far more important than Charles II and the like - or - even 30's 40's Germany. I seriously wonder what the response would be of the average 17yr old if you asked them - what was the three minute warning..?



ps thanks for winning the Cold War chaps, good effort all round.

25th Dec 2003, 14:26
Could anyone who used to be on the V Force clarify a point. I understand that the aircraft never actually flew with the real weapons, only inert dummy bombs. The actual nuclear weapons themselves were always kept under guard in the bomb dump. Is this correct?

25th Dec 2003, 15:28
I don't think we should discuss nuclear weapons or policy and practice, past or present...

25th Dec 2003, 17:58
bit late for that old chap - but in any case, why not??

Merry Xmas - and a good 2004

26th Dec 2003, 21:43
FJJP, Proletariat was asking about V Force weapons policy, not current. I doubt that Nuke rules from the ‘60s would be of any interest to today’s bad guys, whoever they might be these days.

Anyway, Flat Vet was very much at the sharp end and he’s given the expected answer.

“Under the intricate rules governing nukes, "live" weapons could be loaded but they could not be taxied, let alone flown, without authority from the "top".

Aircraft did taxi with live weapons aboard but only those on QRA, and only during an exercise EDOM. (Thanks to Flat Vat for the Biblical reference on EDOM. I didn’t know that.)

Certainly, I don’t recall anything other than training weapons ever being loaded on non QRA aircraft apart, of course, from one October evening in ’69!

For some good photographs of 60’s weapons see;

Guy Bartlett’s site; Excellent site.


Andy Leitch (ex-Vulcan pilot and great site!)


One of the first weapons was a very tight fit in a Vulcan bomb bay. Painted a fetching shade of pale green it was encased (I think) in concrete. With QRA aircraft, to pressurise the HF Comm Antenna Coupler in the base of the fin the only way to get there was to grab anything you could in the roof of the bomb bay and gradually pull yourself along the top of the bomb. Once you’d go to the back end of the bomb bay there was enough room to do what was needed and then reverse the process.

This was not a rapid activity and I did sometimes wonder, if the ‘real-thing’ had been called halfway through the process, I’d have had the honour of preceding Dr Strangelove’s mad general by some years. Childhood memories of mum, and “make sure you change your underwear regularly. You never know………”.

I’m waiting, with others no doubt, to hear from aircrew on their memories of The Friday Evening October ’69.

tony draper
27th Dec 2003, 01:43
Has a Vulcan ever dropped a live nuclear weapon ?I believe one was air dropped when we nuked Australia, but I think it was a Canberra that did the biz on that occasion.
There was a interesting documentry on the History channel a while back about Nukes going adrift and being let go by accident, one rather large yield Nuke came loose from the shackles in a B36 and crashed straight thru the Bomb bay doors, landed in a farmers front garden just outside Albuquerque, twas a pretty heafty piece of kit so it made a big hole,not as big as it could have made of course.
Must have been some interesting glances exchanged in the cockpit though.
:uhoh::confused: :uhoh:

PS, It may have been a B47 I get mixed up with all the different American kit.

normally left blank
27th Dec 2003, 05:06
A B-36, I believe. From memory in a book called "The US Nuclear Arsenal", listing every accident with american nuclear weapons.
During the Danish "Blue Moon" air defence exercises we often had the pleasure of being attacked by Vulcans. There were a network of 500 ft routes (300 ft during attacks), and the Observer Corps (part time volunteers) would try to track the "enemies". Controllers would transmit the picture to CAP'ing Hunters (Yes! - until 74) or F-104's.
A minute or so after the attack, the vortices from the Vulcan would reach the ground and could be heard and felt whipping trees and bushes. Not so funny being a PAR-controller, when they turned their ECM on you - instead of the gunlaying Super Fledermaus radar!

How was it faring at "Red Flag"?

Escape & evasion. I found a very interesting article at:


"Carrying a Nuke to Sevastopol on the first day of World War III."
-- in a Skyraider!

The pilots were promised drums of petrol in remote fields of Turkey or Bulgaria. If "the balloon went up" (our local expression?) they reckoned anyway that their carrier were gone - "nuked" by Blinders and the like.

Best regards

tony draper
27th Dec 2003, 05:23
Facinating article Mr Blank thank you.

27th Dec 2003, 09:55
There was at least one live one loaded on a non-QRA aircraft. I touched it. During an exercise "somewhere in the middle of England" (actually about 4 miles from Oakham), we went to our aircraft one cold morning and we were more than mildly surprised to see a live round hanging in the bomb-bay. There was an Irish Republican Army security alert on at the time and I could not help noticing that the aircraft was dispersed not very far from a pretty feeble looking perimeter security fence. I strolled, as casually as possible, over to the aircraft guard who was carrying a Stirling sub-machine gun and asked him whether his gun was loaded. The reply was "Not likely Sir. They would not give us live bullets when it is only an execise".

Turned out "they" had run out of dummys to load for the exercise and had decided to use the real thing.

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

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

Best regards

tony draper
27th Dec 2003, 17:11
I remember reading that our V Bomber Force were all Nuked up and ready for the off during the Cuban Missile crisis, I remember that week very well, one was sat on top of 32,000 tons of Venuzuala crude about eighty miles off the coast of Cuba,we were being constantly buzzed at very low level by the cousins coast guard aircraft, the old man even issued six cans of beer per man,as he like most of us thought the end was nigh.
It very nearly was as well.

John Purdey
29th Dec 2003, 00:18
Dark Helmet. Don't I recall that the Stn notice board said (--after the phrase 'prepare for war') AND DON'T YOU FORGET IT! until an HQ staff officer, a rather less red-blooded guy than the STN CDR (Whisky Walker?) insisted that it be toned down?

Pontius Navigator
29th Dec 2003, 01:14
Secrecy. As the events are over 30 years ago I got permission to give a public lecture on the holy of holies, Bomber Command's war plans. In the audience was another vault officer who kept nodding his head (he wasn't asleep).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flat Vet,

Got you.

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

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

I had a Gp Capt from Bomber trying to inspect the Vault on a pre-AOCs. No dice. His name was not on the list - it was a very short list. When he realised bluff was not going to work he made a note of the authorising officer's name, Norman Howard I think, and went off to get authorisation. He never came back.

29th Dec 2003, 01:50
So we have an apparent discrepancy in the date of this flap - some say August 1969, some say October - yet the sources all seem reputable.
Were there in fact 2 entirely different incidents?

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


Pontius Navigator
29th Dec 2003, 01:58
At the risk of monopolising this thread this evening - goon suits!

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

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

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

SmoketooMuch, quite possibly. My logbook is at work but I think that I may have left Waddington by Oct 69.

29th Dec 2003, 02:26
Pontius Nav. Great post, and information. Smoketoomuch, The Friday afternoon in question was most definitely a one-off. Exercise Micks and Mickey Finns, and Edoms, came and went as fairly routine, but this was different. As I mentioned, the WingCo Tech was a lousy actor. He was completely in the dark as to what was going on, and made his worries obvious! Flat Vet’s description of Strike HQ during the ‘incident’ is undoubtedly the Friday in question.

29th Dec 2003, 02:40
August 1969 was a busy time - or was there some connection between these events we never saw at the time. Sometime around the 26th of August 1969 an exercise was initiated for the Cyprus based Vulcans during which the aircraft were loaded with 21 x 1,000 pounders. The wing subsequently launched and dropped the bombs on the range at El Adem, Libya.

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

Odd thing about this was the live bombs and the fact that we were issued pistols. The only time is saw a firearm issued to aircrew.

29th Dec 2003, 02:43

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

Happy new year and thanks for the fascinating read


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


You've got me. Our car was a C-reg Hillman Minx, pale green. Once a month it was necessary to visit the consulate in Hull. Roads were not very good then and we had to use the A134 through Thetford to visit the consulate in Kings Lynn and then go via Boston, then a back road on the B1192 to the A153 until we found it quicker to use the A17 as far as the A607 to Leadenham. Nice pubs along the Lincoln Edge, especially the George at Leadenham for an evening meal or the Horse and Jockey at Waddington. Met lots of interesting people, Prager, Britain, etc. Then A15 A631 to Doncaster, take in Goole, and then across to Hull. Boring bit that A63 winding all that way through industrial sites. Getting home was much quicker, down hill all the way, Woolfox Lodge, Cottesmore, Wittering, sorry I meant Stamford, Huntingdon and home via Bentley Priory, oops I mean Bushey and Stanmore.

29th Dec 2003, 03:22
Just realised there is something wrong with the dates here. Some of the Cottesmore Vulcans left for Akrotiri, with a Scramble take-off, on the 19th of March 1969. I was in XM572 (my favourite aeroplane). Obviously, since it was a Scramble, several aircraft left at this time. PNav remembers that Cottesmore was required to generate 16 aircraft for the August 1969 exercise. Did Cottesmore still have 16 usable Vulcans at that time?

Being very busy exploring the kebab houses and the Kokinelli in downtown Limassol I rather lost track of events in the real World!

Pontius Navigator
29th Dec 2003, 03:28
Boing, was the Cyprus incident anything to do with Stacey the stn cdr. A right one he was.

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

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

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

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


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

I know the generation was not limited to Waddington and Finningley. I guess you are right about Cottesmore though. 9 or 35? I was 35.

29th Dec 2003, 03:44
Stacey was the Station Commander. Certainly an impressive looking individual. Never had any "social" interaction with him. I remember he used to drive a white painted Land Rover as his service vehicle. Now, you would think a white Land Rover would be fairly noticeable. Unfortunately, Bill Southcombe failed to notice this conspicuous machine as he burned down the long straight to the beach clubs at warp speed in his new mini. Bill got the honour of a private interview with the Station Commander.

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

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

9 sqdn. First out, short tour.

Yellow Sun
29th Dec 2003, 04:15
OK more brain fade. You are probably right and it may have been Wittering who certainly would not have been able to generate 16 Blue Steel.

IIRC Wittering ceased Victor ops in 1968. early '69 at the latest. I know that Scampton was involved as I discussed the event with a couple of mates on 27 & 617. Finningley?, OCU was just wrapping up there, first Scampton course was in Jan 1970. Did they have any weapons at Finningley when the OCU was there?

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


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

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


Bill was my next door neighbour.

Yellow Sun
30th Dec 2003, 01:01
normally left blank

Another exercise comes to mind. This time a high level Vulcan declared an emergency with an engine problem overhead. Clanging of bells and the crash crews were ready in seconds - and then had to wait 20 minutes before the big "Manta Ray" reached ground level!

That wouldn't have been Karup in June 1972 would it?


John Farley
30th Dec 2003, 17:46

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

Happy New Year


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

30th Dec 2003, 18:40
Thanks to a Mickey Finn my first ever flight was in a Handley Page Hastings from Cottesmore to Leuchars. On the same day, 6th July 1965, Hastings TG557 lost an elevator and fell out the sky killing 41 crew and army parachutists. The problem was found to be fatigue in the elevator hinge bolt brackets. Both aircraft were from the same squadron (RAF Colerne??) and I did sometimes wonder how close the squadron tasking might have come to swapping the two aircraft. There but for the swipe of a chinagraph………

Pontius Navigator
30th Dec 2003, 20:03
John Farley,

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

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

John Farley
30th Dec 2003, 23:33

Thanks for that. I don't know how to post a link, but if you check out Op Jiu Jitsu at the address below you will read about related exploits a few years earlier by a guy I was proud to work with many years later - John Crampton - who operated some USAF B45s in RAF markings over Russia more than once.


At Jever in 58/59 we were often scrambled in Hunters to intecept what turned out to be U2s rather above our ceiling, but I don't recall any Victors


Pontius Navigator
31st Dec 2003, 00:42

I think the Victors were about 55 or 56. I know they did not take part in Suez as it was a Valiant main force do and only one sqn had radar bombing capability. They were the ones that hit their target. The Victor, as far as I can remember, was pre-OCU.

About the B45s I found a similar article that mentioned a broad sweep of RB47 down through Siberia 'just to see what happened'

Why we ever had a cold war I don't know. The Yankees seemed to give plenty of provocation. When the Sovs fired back they were always presented as the bad guys.

Talking of 'balls', ever hear the 'offer' by the Royal Navy to get its submarines into the deterrent game in the early 60s? Sail a sub into the White Sea as far as Severomorsk and drop off some Red Beards. The plan was not received with open arms as it meant laying the 'mines' about a week or so before they went pop. This was pre-Dreadnought and not exactly retailliation.

Nimrodnosewheel on the Bucc thread reminds me about bombing accuracy. On 35 at Akrotiri, in one 6 month period, the 50% accuracy figure for practice laydown on the raft at Epi using visual or radar for the whoe squadron was 300 feet. One crew achieved 280 and one crew achieved 320. The other 8 were all on the money. I told NEAF that I would no longer be reporting laydown bombing accuracy. They did not blink.

31st Dec 2003, 01:47
With regards the RN contribution, I seem to recall they went as far as building some mini submarines to actually carry the bombs back in the mid 1950's but they were scrapped shortly after. Now who would volunteer for a suicide mission like that?

31st Dec 2003, 03:41
Sticky? Damned good idea. Lots of memories coming out here. Beags?...

31st Dec 2003, 03:57
Make it a sticky by all means..

But unlike some, I still won't talk about:

1. The weapon
2. The target
3. The procedures

Yellow Sun
31st Dec 2003, 04:56
John, Pontius, (and others)

You may find the following books of interest:

Spy Flights of the Cold War by Paul Lashmarr
Published by Sutton Publishing Ltd, 1996
ISBN 0 7509 1183 2

The author was the producer of the BBC "Timewatch" documentary "Spies in the Sky" which covered much the same ground as the book, but with interviews of some of the participants (both sides).

Shadow Flights by Curtis Peebles
Published by Presidio Press Inc, 2000
ISBN 0 89141 700 1 or 2

Covers similar ground, but with more empahasis on the U2 operations.


The Hidden Hand by Richard J. Aldrich
Published by John Murray Ltd., 2001
ISBN 0 7195 5423 3

A mighty tome!, 645 pages, but worth a look. The book examines the workings of the intelligence community throughout the cold war and contains a few real gems.

Probably a good place to start looking for these and similar books would be on:


Happy reading


Pontius Navigator
31st Dec 2003, 05:44

I accept what you say but my lecture included all the comms proceedures, authentication, weapons, profiles, routes, targets, and recovery bases. It was fully illustrated and I was surprised the ONLY issue was copyright of the photographs.

One of the best was a low level shot of a Valiant from a Turkish web site.

There was absolutely nothing previously classified at Top Secret Atomic that I was not cleared to discuss. I was even cleared to give the absolute release parameters of the WE177 and the escape manoeuvres.

Lots of details came from AWRE's own web site.

Stories from the Kipper fleet would also make interesting reading, especially the air miss with a MAY. They didn't complain and we didn't report it.

31st Dec 2003, 07:16
Totally agree with you, Beags. See my post on page 4. In my book, the passage of time does not mean that the procedures and anything else surrounding nuclear weapons can be discussed in public.

31st Dec 2003, 09:49
Many memories triggered here, not all of them good.

Yes Pontius we really did generate 31 at Waddo in mid '67. As I remember it, the exercise started off as a MICK and, after we declared all aircraft serviceable including the Hangar Queen, Bomber Command tried to call our bluff by raising us to MICKEY FINN. [We flew all aircraft off in one go which was most unusual - normally the aircraft dispersed in small groups as soon as they were ready]. Bloody murder that was, I was one of the Valley detachment and went off in a Hastings - after 16 hours of continuous work overnight that is. You can't sleep in a Hastings. We found that RAF Valley hadn't been looking after the Bomber Command detachment billets - a couple of old WW2 huts near the beach - the windows were all broken and the roof leaked so we had nowhere to live. Their MT section had knicked our No.1 Group Landrover too, so we had no transport for moving food over from the mess. We settled down in the caravan by the ORP instead. The lack of sleeping space wasn't a problem as we were short-handed as usual and didn't get any "down" time. We were issued with amphetamines to keep us on our feet (imagine that today!!!) and consequently managed to stand-to for a continuous duty shift of slightly more than 36 hours without sleep or hot food - the cold war wasn't just a game. Dunno where the aircrew hung out. Certainly not with us.

Before we left I recall doing "Combats" on a B2 and as per SOP had an LAC down below catching the Window packets in a dustbin lid. Wingco Eng was snooping about and hearing an odd noise from a hole he went over to investigate. 'Oxo', the LAC didn't get any Window in his bin lid, so I dropped another two. That's when 'Oxo' noticed Wingco Eng covered from head to toe in "Tinsel" For the record, he was not amused!

The QRA tales bring back a few memories too. In early '67 I was supposed to go away to Butterworth on detachment. When I applied for a passport I discovered that I'm not actually British. In fact I wasn't even legally permitted to remain in the country. Bomber Command resolved this problem in typical fashion by swapping me with a chap who was on QRA. So, Johnny Foreigner illegal immigrant, was now looking after one of Her Majesties Nukes. Sometime during that month at Midgeley's Motel on Alpha dispersal [Anyone remember Midge? F/S Midgeley was one of the few proper Gentlemen at Waddo. An ace bloke] we had a call-out without any definition - Zero-five, Start Engines or Zero Two as the case may be. The aircraft went down to the runway and stayed there. We were left standing on the empty pans to reflect upon the fact that there were no standing orders for what to do next. Being a first-strike target there was no point in having any - we would be vapourised where we stood. After a couple of minutes two 5 Sqn Lightnings from Binbrook flew overhead at about 500 feet rocking their wings and then circled the airfield, Something unusual was definitely going on. After about twenty minutes the aircraft taxied off down the runway and came back to Alpha dispersal and the crews returned to the Ops Block. No-one ever told us what was going on, but then we were only grease monkeys and no-one ever did.

I could write a book about the weird situation for ground crew in No.1 Group back then - no cold weather clothing so wear your own; issued with "previously owned Trog Boots and seaboot socks [they could have washed them first!]; Squadron transport robbed of serviceable parts by MT section, to get the road going vehicles through the MOT. Never mind the accidents we had out on the airfield. It was a black comedy out there and we looked like a gang of pirates but no-one in this man's air force or anyone else's could match us at keeping them flyable. We hated every minute of it. Glory Days.

PS Someone mentioned about shooting survivors with radiation sickness. Radiation didn't come into it. During NBC I was allocated to the shooting and cremation group. The medics were to classify all survivors as uninjured, walking injured or incapacitated. Those in the first two groups were to be formed into working parties for forced labour. The latter group were to be taken away and shot. One bullet behind the right ear using a 9 mm Browning Hi-Power. We were also trained in the art of burning all the bodies - how to stack them with the right air gaps for oxygen feed, proportion of wood to human remains etc. Burning bodies in the open isn't as easy as it seems and the authorities didn't wish to waste petrol. [Unusually for a service training course, we weren't allowed to take notes. I wonder why?!?] Maybe that's still the plan - I don't know if there is one anymore, now that the bunkers are open for public inspection. The daft thing that should have been staring 'them' in the face was that none of us was going to surviveto carry out the plan anyway - we were the bloody first strike targets ourselves for Christ's sake!

Through difficulties to the cinema

31st Dec 2003, 11:25
Blacksheep, towards the end of QRA things got a bit crazy for the aircrew as well.

We had one target, an important "red" city that was scheduled to be hit by missiles before our arrival. Since the city was "very important" you can bet that would have been quite a few missiles. We were supposed to arrive at the target some three hours after the missiles hit, search through the rubble for our radar aiming keypoint then proceed to add our little contribution to the charred cinders below. Did seem a bit pointless.

31st Dec 2003, 14:37
The hilarious cock-ups made by exercise planners often caused some priceless moments. We once had the usual post-Air Raid Red session in NBC kit, then were a bit surprised to be scrambled before the 'All Clear'. So we bowled down to the jets in our NBC kit; the captain was the first to the plod on cordon duty - and had to show his F1250. Not much point when you're head-to-toe in charcoal and rubber and trying to communicate through an S6 gassie! Mind you, the other trick to wind up plod was to show your 1250 not to the acting corporal but instead to War Hound Fang, one of those playful furry alligators which used to take plod for walkies around the dispersal!

PN - I wasn't having a go at you per se. But I'm totally astonished that anyone could have been permitted to disclose details of our strike role activities publically - particularly disclosure of routes, weapon yields etc. Who on earth ever sanctioned that??

31st Dec 2003, 14:50

I distinctly remember pitching up at an 'armed' ac with WST team in tow to find RAFP of the female variety on duty. Following checklist to the letter, the captain rejected the ac as the checklist said we should find a policeman !!!!

The rubber face scenario was covered by photographs taken with S6 and tin hat on.......How pointless was that then ?????

Happy days........

31st Dec 2003, 15:06
AH, WST. That was always a jolly jape! Went out to do our session once at snowy Scampton; as the ac wasn't going to fly, no-one had bothered to clear away the odd heap of snow within the cordon which had fallen since the Team had turned up on base. AEO and I dutifully 2-man our way over to the power set, then over to sit in the jet whilst the Shape is accepted. But I gave a heap of snow in front of the mainwheels a passing kick on the way back, only to discover a Vulcan picketing pin lurking within. Which was about 18" of very stout metal. Hence the area was not secure - what was hiding in the rest of the snow. Wander over to the assessor with our trophy - "Found your little surprise" we say. "Oh bolleaux - we didn't leave that there! B£oody armourers/groundcrew/plods should have cleared the area.....", says he. There is now A Problem - none of the previous half-dozen crews had spotted it, so does the umpire turn a blind eye - or fail them all? Being a sensible chap he elected to have a little chat with OC Eng instead....and within minutes a bemused dog-and-plod team was escorting various folk with snow shovels clearing the area!

31st Dec 2003, 18:22
On the topic of ID when in NBC kit, I remember being called out one dark and stormy night during a Taceval at Lyneham and having to don full NBC before making my way to ATC, about a mile's walk.

It was hammering down with rain and there were rivers of water everywhere. I happened upon a station guard, also in full NBC, who pointed his SLR at me and asked for my 1250. After much fumbling I found it and was ordered to put it on the ground and step back. When I did this, it floated away on a mini torrent coming down the hill.

The guard put his hand on his hip, sighed heavily, and said, "For God's sake, if you wanted to play Pooh Sticks why didn't you just say so?"

31st Dec 2003, 18:52
Having had great fun during my time on Vulcans, I thought I'd throw my pennyworth in.

On 25 July 1978 in Vulcan XM569, we were tasked to fly down to Brize from Waddington. It had been cleared by the appropriate authority that we were to fly down silent & LL. We were simulating a defecting Russian Aircraft. The Ground crew had put suitable large day-glo red stars on the fin and we all had Russian name badges which translated into expletives but looked very Russian! The idea was to land and find a quiet place to 'park' and await the troops to take action! Their OC Ops was a Russian speaker as was our AEO.

Great fun we thought - licenced hooliganism! So down we flew, low & quiet; lurked just out side the Airfield boundary until the runway was clear. Landed, taxied off, shut down, got out with Russian hats on and waited for the arrivel of Brize Norton defence team .... waited .... waited and waited. It would seem that we were too low & stealthy - no one seemed to have noticed us arriving, despite being in full view of the tower, Ops etc.

Eventually, we had to get back in the Aircraft and make an R/T call to announce our presence! It seems that nothing much has changed - asylum seekers ...??? or what!

John Farley
31st Dec 2003, 22:18

You remarked that unlike some, you still won't talk about:

1. The weapon
2. The target
3. The procedures

I am genuinely interested in why, although if you don't want to say then a 'no comment' by you is fine as well.

It seems to me that what went on with the V Force has no possible connection with any events of today or tomorrow. All the equipment is out of service and there are no links to present weapons.

A great deal of what went on at that time to safeguard our capabilities and nuclear safety - and what safety that was - was very effectively carried out by people who really believed in what they did - despite the odd hilarious incident such as you describe - and so I feel there is merit and value in seeing their efforts properly recorded and understood by today's generation.

Indeed if you want to look at the inside of a 177 you can do so at Boscombe's museum. As an aside I have never seen such high quality wiring which is perhaps why all that stuff was SO reliable, in fact because the RN wanted to use a 177 variant the SHAR inboard pylons had to be permanently attached to the wing in manufacture in order to meet the reliability specs. So you have never seen a SHAR FRS 1 with a clean wing. Don't know if the FA2s have been changed by St Athan.

31st Dec 2003, 23:07

I'm similarly interested in the reluctance to discuss supposedly sensitive topics. I would've thought that the fascinating tales of bygone eras typified by this thread are of great interest to a wide and healthily inquisitive audience - would not these stories, of not a little historical value, be incomplete and a little cred-less without the inclusion of the now bygone taboos.

Like PN, I recently had reason to enquire from the appropriate PTB about the possibility of discussing this previously TS material in a public forum - a very pragmatic reply offered no official objection.

Not seeking explanations - like my previous brief reply to FJJP, simply putting forward a rhetorical 'why not'.

Hope that the second of Jan will be a better day than the first will probably be -- a good 2004 to all


Yellow Sun
31st Dec 2003, 23:34

Make it a sticky by all means..

But unlike some, I still won't talk about:

1. The weapon
2. The target
3. The procedures

A bit of perspective, on Item 1 at least. Some years ago I saw in the "New Scientist" a book review dealing wth the US nuclear weapons programme. I requested it though my local public library and it duly arrived. The book contained detailed technical descriptions of most of the US inventory, including a weapon I had recently been qualified on and was still in service with UK forces. Indeed the material was identical to that used for WST revision.

A bit closer to home is the case of an acquaintance and near neighbour who was a career "weaponeer"(I'm pretty sure that just about all the Vulcan aircrew writing here would have met him in one of his guises,Sqn, OCU, WST et.al.). He is now retired and has on his study bookshelf a HMSO published book on British Nuclear Weapons. In his last service appointment he had a copy in his office, only then it was classified Secret and kept in the appropriate container.

So you see there is a vast amount of declassified information available, and some of which (quite a lot) resided in Dark Red folders in our day.


Stories from the Kipper fleet would also make interesting reading, especially the air miss with a MAY. They didn't complain and we didn't report it.

They would but the problem is that they are still at it to a greater or lesser degree. V-Force and deterrence is over, but the slow steady procedures of surveillance and collection are probably still going on. in addition, whilst V-Force tales tended to go around (discretely) many of the maritime incidents were only retailed in Forms Purple or in the Purple Amp (LimDis). What you may have heard at a subsequent briefing might be a sanitised version of the original. But there were some good tales nonetheless. I am sure that stories will emerge in due course and there are a number of questions I would like to know the answer to, like just what was Svanetya up to?


Pontius Navigator
31st Dec 2003, 23:51
Yellow Sun

I WROTE the purple.

31st Dec 2003, 23:59
I'm with BEags on this issue. It's not just the nuke affairs either it's the principle of the thing I guess. I was with the Canberra B(I)8s in Germany in the 60s where we stood our share of nuked-loaded QRAs TACEVALS and "scary" moments. Generally have no problem telling "war-stories" over a pint or two about those times (when I can remember them! :rolleyes: ). I came back to 51 Sqn from Germany though and I still, (nearly 30 years later) feel uncomfortable saying anything about those particular times. Even though I realise a lot of the actions/events are now public domain. I have read stuff about Canberras from a couple of "researchers", but it somehow still just doesn't feel "right" to be discussing it in open forum. Maybe some of us took to the security "brainwashing" too well! :confused:

I can assure you that the weekly security briefings, even for ground crew, were taken very seriously - particular car registrations, certain movements, people to watch for etc, and I guess the ethos of that time and place has just stuck in my mind. It was even more serious for the aircrews and their families. And there is the 70 year rule!

So, I would respect BEags unwillingness to get involved in detail that's any deeper than "I remember when. . . " type hangar tales. More of these tales will give a personal flavour to this potted history thread. In this I agree with John F, because all those memories are not being written down, or "collected" and, due to the current PC climate, may never be in any official sense.

Just think, maybe, in 30 or 40 years time, this thread will provide a goldmine of insight and detail for some researcher into the background of the RAF's Cold War. Imagine what it would be like now if something like PPruNe had been available to, say, "Bee" Beamont, or Ginger Lacy. :hmm:


1st Jan 2004, 00:58
Here’re some facts and numbers that may be of interest, and may jog some memories. Taken from an excellent Lincolnshire Echo Special, 1994, by (then) Squadron Leader Peter Jacobs. (Are you there??) If there are any errors please let me know and I’ll edit.

(B2s unless stated)

9 Squadron.
1st Mar 62 - 9th Nov64. Coningsby
10th Nov 64 - 25th Feb 69. Cottesmore
26th Feb 69 - 31st Dec74. Akrotiri, Cyprus
1st Jan 75 - 9th Apr82. Waddington

12 Squadron.
1st Jut 62 – 16th Nov64. Coningsby
17th Nov 64 - 31st Dec67. Cottesmore

27 Squadron.
1st Apr 61 - 29th Mar72. Scampton
1st Nov 73 - 31st Mar82. Scampton (SR2)

35 Squadron.
1st Dec 62 - 6th Nov64. Coningsby
7th Nov 64 - 14th Jan69. Cottesmore
15th Jan 69 - 15th Jan 75. Akrotiri, Cyprus
16th Jan 75 - 28th Feb82. Scampton

44 Squadron.
10th Aug 60 - 21st Dec 82. Waddington (B1/1A until Nov 67)

50 Squadron.
1st Aug 61 - 31st Mar84. Waddington (B1/1A until Nov 66, K2 from 82)

83 Squadron.
21st May 57 - 9th Oct 60. Waddington (B1 until Aug 60)
10th Oct 60 - 31st Aug69. Scampton

101 Squadron.
15th Oct 57 - 25th Jun61 — Finningley (B1/1A)
26th Jun 61 - 4th Aug 82 — Waddington (B1/1A until Jan 68)

617 Squadron.
1st May 58 - 1st Jan 82. Scampton (B1 until July 61)

230 Operational Conversion Unit.
Jul 56 - Jun 61. Waddington (B1 until Jun 60)
Jun 61 - Dec 69. Finningley
Dec 69 - Aug 81. Scampton

Coningsby (Mar 62-Nov 64)
1st Mar - 30th Jun 62. 9 Squadron.
1st Jul - 3Oth Nov 62. 9 and l2 Squadrons.
1st Dec 62 - 16th Nov 64. 9, 12 and 35 Squadrons.

Cottesmore (Nov 64-Feb 69)
7th - 16th Nov 64. 35 and 9 Squadrons.
17th Nov 64 - 31st Dec 67. 35, 9 and 12 Squadrons.
1st Jan 68 - 14th Jan 69. 35 and 9 Squadrons.
15th Jan - 25th Jan 69. 9 Squadron.

Finningley (Oct 57-Dec 69)
15th Oct 57 - 25th June 61. 101 Squadron
Jun 61 - Dec 69. 230 OCU.

Scampton (May 58-Mar 82)
1st May 58 - 9th Oct 60. 617 Squadron
10th Oct 60 - 31st Mar 61. 617 and 83 Squadrons
1st Apr 61 - 31st Aug 69. 617, 83 and 27 Squadrons
1St Sep - Dec 69. 617 and 27 Squadrons
Dec 69-29th Mar 72. 617, 27 Squadrons and 230 OCU
3Ost Mar 72 - 31st Oct 73. 617 Squadron and 230 OCU
1st Nov 73 - 15th Jan 75. 617 and 27 Squadrons, and 230 OCU
16th Jan 75 - Aug 81. 617, 27 and 35 Squadrons, and 230 OCU
Aug 81 - 1st Jan 82. 617, 27 and 35 Squadrons
2nd Jan - 28th Feb 82. 27 and 35 Squadrons
1st - 31st Mar 82. 27 Squadron

Waddington (Jul 56-Mar 84)
20th Jul 56 - 20th May57. 230 OCU
21st May 57 - 9th Aug 60. 83 Squadron and 230 OCU
10th Aug - 9th Oct 60. 83 and 44 Squadrons, and 230 OCU
10th Oct 60 - 25th Jun 61. 44 Squadron and 230 OCU
26th Jun - 31st Jul 61. 44 and 101 Squadrons
1st Aug 61 - 31st Dec 74. 44, 101 and 50 Squadrons
1st Jan 75 – 9th Apr 82. 44, 101, 5O and 9 Squadrons
10th Apr - 4th Aug 82. 44, 101 and 50 Squadrons
5th Aug - 2lst Dec 82. 44 and 50 Squadrons

Akrotiri, Cyprus (Jan 69-Jan 75)
15th Jan - 25th Feb 69. 35 Squadron
26th Feb 69 - 31st Dec 74. 35 and 9 Squadrons
1st - 15th Jan 75. 35 Squadron.
Famous Vulcans.
VX770 — First prototype, delivered August 1952.
VX777 — Second prototype and B2 prototype delivered September 1953.
XA889 — First production Bi, delivered February 4, 1955.
XA894 — Engine test bed for Olympus 22R as part of the TSR2 prog.
XA896 — Engine test bed for Bristol Siddeley BS100 as part of P.1124 prog.
XA900 — Last B1 intact, scrapped 1986.
XA903 — Blue Steel trials aircraft. Rolls-Royce test bed for Concorde and Tornado engines.
XH533 — First production B2, first flight August 19, 1958.
XH558 — Last Vulcan in RAF service, sold March 1993.
XL320 — Flew 500,000th Vulcan hour— December 18, 1981.
XL321 — Most Vulcan flying hours — 6,952 hours.
XM607 — Flew ‘Black Buck One’, attack against Port Stanley airfield — April 30/May 1, 1982.
XM657 — Last production B2.

XA897 October 1, 1956 Heathrow. Crashed on approach
VX770 September 20, 1958 Syerston. Structural failure
XA908 October 24, 1958 Michigan. USA Electrical failure
XA891 July 24, 1959 Near Hull. Electrical failure
XA894 December 3, 1962 Patchway. Ground fire
XH477 December 12, 1963 Scotland. Not known
XH535 May 11, 1964 Near Andover. Not known
XA909 July 16, 1964 Anglesey. Engine explosion
XM601 October 7, 1964 Coningsby. Crashed on landing.
XM576 May 25, 1965 Scampton. Crash-landed
XM536 February 11,1966 Wales. Crashed on TFR trial
XL385 April 6, 1967 Scampton. Ground fire
XM604 January 30, 1968 Cottesmore. Engine failure, loss of control.
XM610 January 8, 1971 Wingate. Engine bay fire
XJ781 May 23, 1973 Shiraz, Iran. Crash-landed
XM645 October 14, 1975 Zabbar, Malta Explosion
XM600 January 17, 1977 Near Spilsby. Engine bay fire
XL390 August 12, 1978 Glenview, USA. Crashed during air display.

Yellow Sun
1st Jan 2004, 01:39

I WROTE the purple.

I didn't mean "What may YOU may have heard " but was trying to convey the different way in which information/stories went around the maritime fleet compared to the V-Force.

By and large however the Sovs weren't too bad, it was the USN that dropped buoys on top me one night.

Now if they had debriefed Scorers in the way JAAC debriefed some of the maritime events.....You could have sold tickets for it!!


Pontius Navigator
1st Jan 2004, 02:14
The exercise in 1967 was always a Mickey Finn. The Mick used live weapons as there were never enough YS2 shapes to go around. As an operational generation the Mick was a real shit or bust. Rapid generation for a 24 bomber stream from main base as the missiles creamed in. Not a chance.

The reason why the disperse order took so long is the time it took to generate the Blue Steel force. The freefall wings had viable numbers after about 6 hours and usually full force generation in 8-10. The Blue Tool on the other hand took at least twice as long as you had to get both missile and aircraft generated and then mated. The quick ones were the ones declared for free-fall only <g>.

On that exercise the Victors took over 72 hours to reach their generation target. AOCinC liked to have a 'large' number of aircraft ready to disperse in one go. It looked far more impressive than a 'disperse when ready.'

On one exercise, possibly that one, he opted for a simultaneous scramble of all aircraft throughout the UK. Normally there was an element of 'secret' preparation as the ADOC was pre-warned and flight plans (CA48/F2919) were filed in advance. Not this time.

Flight plans were not released until after the scramble order, ie with no more than 10 minutes notice, maybe less depending on whether the scarmble was from 05 or 02.

As a simulataneous scramble meant all aircraft would be a, out of fuel, and b, recovering to main base at the same time, they adopted a modified flight profile with aircraft recovering from about 1hr 45min. The number of addressees on the flight plans meant each had to be sent twice. Also this year flight plans were filed at main base and not dispersal. This meant Waddington had to file 56 ATC Immediates. We also had to send a number of Flash to report the scramble times. Several aircraft landed before their flight plans had been sent. Then the Blue Met and nuclear war plan signals started to stream in.

I remember the Queen Bee at Nocton Hall ringing to find out why her immediate, sent at 1000 had not been received at 1500! She was told its precedence was not high enough.

On the NBC play, the Bomber Fallout Controller began his broadcast:

"This is the Bomber Fallout Controller, Bomb No 1, Bomb No 1, Waddington, 5MT, High Air Burst . . . "

After a few minutes of this, the phone went in the GDOC. Why are you not reporting in. "Well", said Keith Batt, "I plotted bomb no 1 and assessed we were all dead." "Dont be a fool Batt, lay the game."

Keith had the last laugh, last I heard he was C Regt O.

Another day, the RAF Police went around the camp to make sure everyone was in shelter posture, I kissing their arses goodbye in the barrack blocks. In the open air swimming pool, Fg Off Davis, a permanent flying officer, was sun bathing and floating in the pool. "You there, why aren't you in your shelter?" I think he replied that he was in the pool to wash off the radio active dust. Why didn't the plods join him?

Just another thought on disclosure. In 1964 WW2 had been over for just 19 years. In 2004 the cold war will have been over for 15 years. The events related above took place 40 years ago. Much of the detail is on the AWRE site. Humphrey Winn's superb book on the RAF Nuclear Deterent Forces is a classic.

Flatus Veteranus
1st Jan 2004, 04:20
Apart from the rear crew escape system, the only other significant problem with the Vulcan was the configuration of the engine intakes. If you lost one engine due to mechanical failure, there was a very good chance that debris from the failed engine would enter the adjacent engine on the same side and take that one out too.

Yes I did cadge from my Co, Pontius (that's what they were for, weren't they? ;) But he got his own back - twice. Once at the end of a Group excercise when we had a fair amount of gas left, instead of a full stop at Coningsby (where we were operating from while the runway at Waddo was being resurfaced) we rolled and did a practice diversion to our Plan 1 at Finningley, where we arrived just as it was getting light. Co flew an excellent PAR and touched down sweetly and as I poured on the coal for him and we rotated, he flew us straight into a bloody great flock of seagulls. Big thump on the starboard side and No 3 started winding down. I did the appropriate drills and then noticed that the EGT on No 4 was higher than Nos 1 & 2, so I shut that down too. No problem as we were light. Everything seemed OK and the AEO had got the electrics sorted so we drove back sedately to Coningsby with the gear down. I got a bollocking for "gethomeitis" but the real reason was because the Waddo engine-change team was at Finningley (which I did not know). Both engines had indeed been damaged.

The next time was not so amusing. Co was again in the LH seat playing at Captain and we did one of those balls-aching limited aids Nav exercises somewhere up the Norwegian Sea and back while the Navs played with their sextants and stars. The nav terminal point was somewhere in E Anglia at an RBSU after which we were to descend into low level and drop some practice bombs on Wainfleet. The presence of live weapons aboard had been noted on the flight plan. Coming down the N Sea I confess that I had dropped off. It was a fine night at FL 400 or something like that and the fuel howgozit was right on the rails. A high-pitched buzzing woke me up, followed by a bang and engine fire warnings on Nos 2 & 1 Talk about an adrenalin surge! I think I had the HP cocks off even before I called the engine fire drills, and that probably saved the situation. The Co put out a Mayday
and that caused all sorts of panic when its was linked up with our flight plan showing live ordnance on board. We were too far inland to get to a reasonable jettison area. Besides I had pulled the RAT handle and I figured the loss of non-essentials would disable the bomb release system. The fire warning lights went out fairly quickly, which was hopeful, even if it did not prove anything. The HP cocks are the best engine fire extinguishers. Midland had us on the ground at Waddo within about 20 mins. My wife watched all the crash wagons and ambulances tearing around and sounding off, which did not improve her mood because she knew that I was in the only aircraft left airborn.
It transpired that a turbine blade had come adrift and in its passage downstream, stopped its spool dead. The resultant torque forces split the casing allowing hot gases to escape and activate the thermosensors. Debris took out the adjacent engine, but not so violently. I don't think that containment shields were fitted at that time, but I am probably wrong. That was 14 Jan 69 in XM653.

1st Jan 2004, 05:12
Ignoring all principles of never volunteer...

As someone alleged to be an historian and part of the air team [civvie] at the centre for purple learning (the 'alleged' applies only to the historian bit...) if there is an interest in having someone collate this and any other thoughs/recollections/etc on V-Force, I'll do it.

PM me and I'll give you the means of checking out my bona fides. If there's enough interest we can see whether we end up with a small V-Force personal archive arrangement or something in print (and pse bear in mind that to work where I do means that I am alive to some of the concerns expressed in recent postings).

And Happy New Year.

1st Jan 2004, 05:46
I have to say that this thread is fascinating. It's adding a personal insight which is lacking from nearly all of the books on the V-force.

Back in 1972, as a fairly novice ATC cadet, I went on annual camp to RAF Wyton, not knowing quite what to expect. Not too far from the H-Block which was our home for the week were several SR2 Victors at dispersal. To say that these massive yet graceful aircraft made an impression on me would be an understatement. In fact I have the Corgi 1/144 scale model of XL161 in front of me as I speak. The big hope for that week was for a flight in a Victor but I had to make do with 30 minutes in a Chipmunk. I also got a severe telling off for looking too closely into the 51 Squadron hangar...

A couple of years later saw annual camp at Marham where there was a mix of K1s & some newly converted K2s, plus I got to look at a Valiant close up (XD818). Again, no flight in a Victor, but I got to spend some time on the flight deck having a guided tour, having expressed an interest in an RAF aircrew career. We also got to see a night scramble when some tankers were sent off to support operations during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus.

Since then, I've always been a fan of the Handley-Page contingent of the V-force, although the Vulcan and Valiant (much underrated) have their attractions. Never did go for the aircrew career though.

1st Jan 2004, 11:57
Just to change the direction of the thread a little and lighten the content does anybody have any Goose Bay stories.

Melville Radar. I remember, hauling kegs of beer for the radar station at Melville so that we got to drink all of their duty free spirits in exchange. On one occaision we actually got permission from a rather bemused US Base Commander to drive through a forest fire to make the beer delivery. Somehow we convinced him that it was a matter of extreme importance worth the risk of life and limb. Actually, he probably just decided he could not ever fathom the limeys!

Hanger Starts. It was so cold in winter that we manned the aircraft and ran the pre-flight checks in a hanger with the aircraft already attached to a tug. When we were ready to start the hanger doors were opened, we were towed outside and hit the start buttons before everything, including the ground crew, froze up solid.

Survival Execises. I did both summer and winter. For the winter exercise we made the usual parachute tent fastened to a tree. In the summer exercises we went to the same spot. There in a tree, about eight feet above ground level, were the parachute cords we had used during the winter exercise. That was the snow depth.

Ice Fishing.

"Tiny" Mathews. A really great individual. Wing Commander in charge of the RAF contingent. Never again have I had my wake-up call for a flight provided by a Wing Commander bringing me a nice early morning cup of tea. Christmas time at Goose was a great event.

1st Jan 2004, 21:41

Yes, that '67 exercise could well have been a Mickey Finn from the start as I don't remember seeing any live rounds loaded that time. The odd part though, was that we weren't allocated to any detachments upon arrival at the Line Office as per usual practice and we went off without our 'Small Kit'. We always took our small packs in with us for 'Mickey Finn's but you didn't need it for a Mick'. Our return flight was in a Beverley and we didn't get away that night because of a thunderstorm over the island. So, we were taken back to the slum huts for the night. A nice night with no window panes and a leaky roof... no pyjamas either and our shreddies were so stiff by then that they creaked when one walked. Nasty stuff!

Through difficulties to the cinema

Pontius Navigator
1st Jan 2004, 22:14

Stories from the Goose are still classified.

Tiny Mathews OTOH had a rather sudden end to his tour as OC Bomb at Akrotiri. He had done a low and go after take-off from Tehran and pulled about 1.75g at max AUW. His misdemeanour came to light when one of the linneys at Akrotiri tripped on the wing and thought the air brake had been left out. It hadn't, it was the ripples in the wing. Tiny's crime was compounded by not reporting the overstress.

Here's a couple from the memory banks both concerned with climb performance.

In 1964 we were routing Aden-Gan-Butterworth during confrontation. Out of Aden we had an interesting set of problems. Gan was almost 2,000 miles away and our nearest diversion was in Ceylon 550 miles north-east. Our take-off weight at Aden was 192,000 or thereabouts with full fuel and full bomb-load. Our min landing weight at Gan for diversion to Ceylon was above our max landing weight of 140k. Route fuel would have been about 50k with no real flex. The plan was for minimum burn to Gan and then burn off to landing weight or divert. Diversion however meant jettisoning the bomb load.

Cruise climb was flavour of the month in the 60s, especially for the Canberra where most of our plotters had originated from. Out came the ODMs and the cruise climb profile was worked out. Max climb to the trop and then cruise climb from there. Only problem, cruise climb would not start until we were above 45,000 ft and we were not prepared to done all our pressure clothing at Aden with outside temeperatures in the high 40s. Landing at Gan was interesting especially for the second aircraft, Mike Melville or Noel Steel I think. The boss, Bob Tanner had arrived first and was in the circuit burning off fuel with us calling him the front sweeping in from the east. Still we pounded the circuit and were astonished to hear him call number 2, 30 minutes behind, to descend and burn off as we would be landing soon and the runway would be clear.

No 2 duly descended and we landed. Before we could get in the crew bus the heavens opened and the vis dropped to about 400 yards. No 2 then made a GCA and we watched as the Vulcan disappeared into the wet, tail brake streaming and no sign of slowing down. Gan was only 8,000 feet and he was at 140k. ATC saw him but did not see him stop. They hit the crash button and chased off after him. He had stopped with just feet to spare.

Back home at Cottesmore in 1965 we did the delivery air test on, I think, XM655. The air test schedule required a combat power take-off and climb to maximum altitude. We had to take engine Ts and Ps every minute. Later the Vulcan was restricted to cruise power but we had about 104% on two engines and 102% on the other two. For some reason the maximum power was never uniform across all 4 engines.

Brakes off we accelerated down the runway. We had about 50% fuel so our AUW was about 137,000lbs. That was when the Mark 2 weighed in at about 97 or 98k. One minute later, passing 2,000 feet we read out all the figures to the AEO. After 2 minutes, passing 7k we started again. He had no sooner finished one set when we started on the next. We continued like a love-sick angel at 5,000 fpm. Passing 50,000 we were still climbing like a rocket just over 9 minutes after take-off.

Our ROC started to reduce but still over 2,000 fpm. Passing 55,000 we wondered just how high it would go. We had the full pressure gear on, g-pants and pressure jerkins, P or Q masks, but it was really into unknown territory. At 55,500 our ROC was approaching 500 fpm and we were passing Glasgow. We decided to call it a day and turned for home.

2nd Jan 2004, 12:14
I've often been puzzled why Concorde crews and payload never wore pressure jerkins... :E

...and why didn't the champagne boil off?

Through difficulties to the cinema

2nd Jan 2004, 13:33
That remark about the Flying Officer in the pool reminds me of where the pool came from.

It wasn't all hard work at Waddo in the sixties. We drank hard and played hard too. Remember The Raven Club (our NAAFI)? Lincolnshire wasn't (still isn't?) exactly the wildest place in UK - its the only city where I've been stopped by the police and asked what I was doing on the street at that time of night (it was only eleven-thirty!) The Raven Club committee were unusually efficient and organised the most amazing entertainment ever seen on an RAF base. There was a dance every Saturday that attracted most of the younger population of the entire county and the takings were phenomenally good. Once a month there was a 'special' with a well known guest band. I remember Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, Jethro Tull, Unit Four Plus Two, Status Quo and Pink Floyd. The place was a paradise on a Saturday night - you couldn't move for totty in mini-skirts and the barrack blocks shook as much as the NAAFI. Eventually when we had the Bee Gees and people came from all over the country, their Airships sat up and took notice. They ordered the funds wound down and the entertainment placed on a more modest level. The Raven Club wasn't on the high security part of Waddo but this was after all a nuclear bomber base - not a nightclub.

We then had a Grand Gala night to get rid of as much money as possible. Entrance was free, beer was half-price, Acker Bilk and Kenny Ball played alternate sets all night and a free raffle handed out TV's, freezers and the like in abundance. The left over money was used to build that swimmiing pool that F/O Davis enjoyed so much...

I am reminded that the RAF of those days' wasn't much like the present in more ways than one. But then we all believed that MAD was inevitable and so lived only for today

Through difficulties to the cinema

2nd Jan 2004, 18:48
Blacksheep, That’s better. Your previous talk of NBC suits and shooting people in the head made me think I was in a different air force. I don’t recall even seeing an NBC suit, let alone wearing one.

Now the Waddington Raven Club! That was my sort of operation. I’d always assumed that the name Raven came from a squadron badge of some sort, but the real story is this;

‘On the 9th May 1941 our European Union brothers made their worst attack on Waddington, severely damaging 71 houses in the village, including both the Horse & Jockey and the Three Horseshoes pubs, and the NAAFI on the camp. 11 people were killed, among them the NAAFI manageress, Mrs Constance Raven, after whom the all-ranks club is named. 3 of the dead were airmen who had been in an air raid shelter, the only military installation recorded as damaged, although this may be due to wartime censorship. The damage was mainly caused by two aerial mines, large bombs dropped by parachute and fused to explode before hitting the ground.

Pictures at;


Thursday night was also dance night. If Bomber Command had ever done an analysis of Vulcan serviceability against weekdays they’d have found that the best time to have a war was around 9.30pm on a Thursday. By that time every aircraft on line had long been signed off as 100%, buttoned up, and ready.

It did sometimes get very tight on time and the future Memsahib, a vision of loveliness still in black stockinged nurses uniform from the late shift at Lincoln General, became very adept at operating mini-winches to help me change the odd Red Shrimp, Blue Diver, Green Palm, or whatever. This moonlit scene, subtly enhanced by the sodium orange pan lights, could well have made the RAF’s ideal recruiting poster.

She never did get the hang of running up ECM equipment but I do recall her first visit to the cockpit when the only two placards which caught her eye were Fast Erect and Artificial Feel. The rest is history.

John Purdey
2nd Jan 2004, 23:34
Forget. No, please don't forget!! Love your story. much better than the (still) semi-classified weapons tales. How do we know, even after 40 years, which bits of that information might be/ not be of use to terrorist idiots?

3rd Jan 2004, 00:18
JohnPurdy . . .
How do we know, even after 40 years, which bits of that information might be/ not be of use to terrorist idiots?

That's not the point. Point is that someone reading these tales may be able to gather enough evidence to present a case in law against the RAF, or even individuals, for considered "wrongs" in the past. Not likely? Don't you believe it! :{ :(

tony draper
3rd Jan 2004, 00:19
Information on the British Nuclear weaponry of that era is freely available on the web Mr Purdey, including cutaway diagrams photographs even maintenence regimes,how to dismantle the pit ect perhaps it should not be but it is,
Would be pity to spoil a great thread, because that horse has already bolted, the stable door was open long before this thread appeared.

3rd Jan 2004, 01:26
I’ll keep well away from weaponry, not that I ever knew much about it. Cracker post Blacksheep, and 100% correct on your last point. The RAF of the 60’s was definitely a different air force for ground crew, at least for those on Vulcans. So long as the aircraft were kept ‘S’ with a minimum of delay, I found it incredibly casual. In my 7 years with Vulcans I only once fell foul of ‘discipline’, and 38 years later the incident still rankles. ( I hope 60’s vintage Electronic Counter Measures aren’t still classified!)

5.30 one afternoon, Cottesmore 66’ish, and I’d parked the MkII Ford Zodiac in the lay-by outside of the accommodation block for ten minutes. Into the block walks the Flt Lt i/c ECM. A Bomber Command signal required that the Green Palm VHF Comm Jammer frequencies be changed immediately. The opposition had obviously done some up-grade with their fighter control comms. The Flt Lt had heard a grapevine whisper that I’d privately developed a way of re-tuning Green Palm without removing the kit from the aircraft. To change the frequencies conventionally, removing re-tuning and re-fitting the equipment, would take around 10 man hours per aircraft and, meanwhile, two or more otherwise serviceable aircraft would be off-line.

This put me in something of a predicament. I’d been tuning Green Palms in the aircraft for some months using the ‘forget’ proprietary method and knew from the Stornaway ECM test range results that the scheme worked perfectly well; in fact much better than the ‘approved’ method which didn’t account for the odd de-tuning knock between ECM bay and aircraft - but it was hardly SOP. After striking a deal with Flt Lt that we’d change the SOP’s ‘tomorrow’, and back-date them a day or two, I agreed.

The method was simple. Tune the aircraft’s PTR175 UHF Comm precisely to the first harmonic of the required VHF frequency and then manually tune the Green Palm until the VHF jamming tones came through the UHF. Do the same with all channels. Lock it up, sign it up - job done.

Into the Flt Lt’s car, forgetting all about the Zodiac in the lay-by, and off to QRA to re-tune the first aircraft. The whole night went like clockwork, with fleeting VIP status - did I need a meal bringing from the mess, anything we can get you, is the waiting transport to your liking, did I need a rest? Need a rest! This was fun – the only thing that mattered was getting the job done in record time and how soon I could sign-off the last aircraft, naturally in accordance with the SOP’s, as yet unwritten. 9.30 the following morning was the answer to that one.

So at 10am, returning to the accommodation block feeling very knackered but very pleased with myself, there’s my car still in the lay-by with a note from Plod’s dog telling me to report to the Guard Room. The result, and with the full knowledge of my dolt of a Squadron Leader who ignored the pleadings of the Flt Lt and my immediate boss, top man Sid Murray, my car was banned from camp for two weeks, for illegal parking. Thank you indeed Squadron bloody Leader C…y. You wouldn’t be attending the May 23rd Vulcan re-union at Newark Air Museum would you? Oh, alright. After 38 years maybe the rankle has subsided.

3rd Jan 2004, 23:58
Forgive my late entry to this thread – I’ve only just been told of it’s existence and have had to re-subscribe to add to it.

Sept 68 saw me, a fresh faced 18yr old Halton brat posted to RAF Scampton. I should have know all was not straightforward when the level of Security Clearance needed caused me to have to wait an extra two months at Halton before I could take up my post at Scampton.

I thought I was being clever when I chose the trade of ground electrician – it seemed to cover such a wide range of skills and thus seemed more interesting than “just” airframes or engines. Little did I know that it was a passport to one of the hardest working trades in the whole of the RAF. Whereas the blackhand gang were focussed on seeing the planes out – then either sleep, play cards or play sport until they came back. I found a never ending stream of kit to be fixed. From domestic kettles and washing machines – through generating sets, invertors through MT and specialist vehicles to Paloust starters and even to Blue Steel itself. In fact anything that was vaguely electrical, electronic or hydraulic that wasn’t (at that moment) bolted to an airframe.

Thus in Sept 1968 I found myself working in the Blue Steel maintenance hanger at Scampton. Initially I was tasked with building a test rig that would allow testing of all the Blue steel electrical / electronic modules by simply plugging them into the rig – which simulated the full blue steel systems and allowed monitoring of the input/outputs from each module. Wherever possible this was coupled to some kind of measurement circuit that illuminated a green or red light to indicate the module was OK or not. I didn’t know it at the time, but the brass had already decided to retire blue steel and my gizmo was only used for 18 months.

When I wasn’t building gizmo’s, I was fixing all manner of strange stuff – including the special blue steel transporter vehicles, fire engines, runway de-icer’s, paloust starter trollies etc. One winter’s night I returned to my billet at about 02.30 to find RAF Police searching for me – and me being called over the station tannoy system. It transpired that I was needed to go fix a Blue Steel transporter vehicle that had broken down on the A1. Having worked till about 5.30 to get the transporter functional again – we found that the escorting fire engine had a problem which prevented the convoy from moving. By this stage both the RAF and civvy police were getting concerned about this large convoy blocking a major roundabout on the A1 (not to mention the Blue Steel sitting on the side of the road waiting for some drunk to run into it). Luckily we got them moving by about 7am – just before the rush hour. The subsequent enquiry resulted in a new SOP that required a technician to be on standby at locations along the convoy route such that they could respond within 30 minutes (They apparently had been looking for me for over 2 hours).

Someone mentioned the orange plastic baths full of water and pingpong balls - well I’ve had the extreme dis-pleasure of being thrown into one (fully clothed) when HTP splashed during a missile refuel on a transporter.

The strike command dispersals were supposed to be staffed by 2-3 technicians responsible for keeping the vehicles, aircrew sleeping caravans and other equipment fully serviceable. I spent 3 months at Boscombe Down where we each had our own vehicle and took turns to remain on standby within VHF radio range of Boscombe. Boscombe was mostly staffed by Royal Navy and my introduction to the drinking and initiation ceremonies of the dark blues – still fill me with disgust – all these years on.

I will talk about my 3 years at Goose in a separate posting.


John Purdey
4th Jan 2004, 01:57
Tony Draper. Not by any means trying to spoil a very interesting thread; but just don't make it any easier than it already is for those who would put you and your's in harm's way if they had half a chance. :ok:

tony draper
4th Jan 2004, 02:19
Tiz ok Mr Purdey, I was very suprised meself at just what information there was on the web re those, err thingies, wouldn't have done in my day, my Lord no.
Anyway Drapes feels fully justifed in sleeping soundly in his bunk all those years ago, knowing full well that if Ivan had cut up rough the chaps were all tooled up ready to kick his arse.
Seriously its hard to remember just what dangerous times we lived through in the sixties and seventies.
Still, I firmly believe were it not for the seeming insanity of MAD few of us would be here now.

4th Jan 2004, 02:41
Yellow Sun mentioned that, "Some years ago I saw in the "New Scientist" a book review dealing wth the US nuclear weapons programme. I requested it though my local public library and it duly arrived. The book contained detailed technical descriptions of most of the US inventory."

Not sure if it's the same one, but the one I have is "US Nuclear Weapons" by Chuck Hansen - ISBN 0-517-56740-7. To quote a review:

"This encyclopedic work breaks through the wall of secrecy and presents for the first time historical and technical data for every nuclear weapon built by the U.S. since 1945. It is the most comprehensive technical history ever written about the postwar development of American nuclear weapons. Full histories and specifications are provided for 89 numbered U.S. nuclear warheads from the primitive MK 1 Little Boy to the high-tech W-89 Sea Lance. Also presented is the tactical or political justification for development of a particular warhead or weapon system. Individual weapons histories are supplemented by photos (most never before published, and including color photos of some nuclear weapon test)and drawings. Information in this book is derived or drawn from unclassified sources."

Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0517567407/ref%3Dnosim/bookbutlercom-20/002-1510158-5640807)

Ali Barber
4th Jan 2004, 03:38
Off the V thread but sticking with the nukes.......

I heard a rumor that the bucket of sunshine strapped to a French "Force de Frappe" Mirage 4 on alert at Creil acquired an 11 Sqn sticker. They were almost as pi**ed off at that as they were about the Tricolore being stolen from the flag pole outside their SHQ!

4th Jan 2004, 05:19
Officially, Goose Bay was a 12 month unaccompanied tour. And like Gan and Salalah was seen as something of a punishment posting. My posting to Goose came about very quickly and just happened to coincide with an interview in which my boss warned me of the consequences of getting too closely involved with WRAF Officers. Even living in a cold damp houseboat on the canal in Lincoln wasn’t enough to keep things secret. (Still she was beautiful). Thus I arrived at Goose Bay on the Christmas re-supply VC10 on 22nd Dec 1969. On board with me where the wives of approx half the married men at Goose – going out to spend Christmas with those who were not able to leave.

We arrived in a total White-out and –35 Celsius. Visibility on the ramp was about 50 metres in snow and 35kt wind as we struggled to walk from the aircraft into No 1 Hanger – where I was to spend almost every waking moment for the next two and a half years.

Most of the wives had dressed up to the nines to meet their husbands – but their (1960’s) ultra short mini skirts, white knee boots and silk blouses were no match for driving snow and –35 degrees. Still it looked good.

The next day, 50% of the detachment climbed aboard the VC10 to return home for Christmas. About 1 hour after they had left – I discovered that all my baggage was on it’s way back to Brize Norton. Five weeks and some 4 or 5 Brize aircraft later – I eventually got my bags.

Although Goose is cold – it is a very dry cold. You can fall in the snow and you don’t get wet. It doesn’t stick to you – you can’t make snowballs with it. It is so dry that static electricity is a major problem and people used to walk around earthing themselves on every pipe or radiator they passed. Miss a few and you are rewarded with a massive static electric shock.

My role was the maintenance and repair of all the ground equipment and vehicles (Houchin power trolleys, paloust starter trolleys etc. I was consequently involved in many of the hanger starts and other procedures described earlier in the thread.
I wonder who were the crew in the Vulcan whose starboard main wheel fell through the hanger floor – just after No 1 and 2 had started. Or the 2x crew chiefs that got distracted whilst refuelling and tipped their Vulcan’s on their tails by filling the rear tanks first? (Expensive)

Everything suffered from the cold. Particularly things made of rubber. The 3 inch thick power cables on the Houchin would shatter into 1 million pieces if dropped after a couple of hours in the open. The oleo seals on all aircraft shrunk, stiffened and in some instances cracked and fell to pieces. The Vulcan’s and Victors were not too bad compared to the Hercules. One Herc pilot was so keen to get home despite non existent oleo seals, that we ended up standing on the rear ramp pouring hydraulic fluid into the reservoir whilst he taxied from the ramp and onto the runway – with 90% of it pouring out of the wrecked oleo seals. When he was at full power and ready to release the brakes, his crew chief threw us out – and off he went. Try as we might – we never found out how he landed back at Lyneham (Gently?) We meanwhile had to clean up all the spilt fluid.

Goose has an annual carnival that was known throughout the Air Force. We would have anything up to 20 Vulcan’s, Victors Herc’s and VC10’s – all supposedly stranded at Goose during Carnival. Carnival was a straight 7 day period during which no one worked. Everyone took part in crazy competitions – and drank. Then drank, then drank some more. All the teams were focussed around one of the Drinking clubs on the airbase or in the local community. Although there was an RAF Officers and Sergeants mess – their combined membership was just 15. Therefore the Bulldog club became the focus for most RAF goings on. Especially for carnival, each club sold plastic walking canes. These were approx 3 ft long x 1.5 inches diameter with a screw top and were used to carry one’s personal supply of booze as you went from event to event. AFAIR the capacity was approximately 1 bottle of spirits. Just take of the top and have swig as and when needed.

Most of the events were highly amusing and some even tested Cockpit Resource Management to the full – e.g. strapping 5 or 10 aircrew onto a single pair of 20ft long “ski’s” – or two pilots onto one pair of snow shoes? Can you imagine starting out to build a life size ice sculpture of a sperm whale if you were sober? (80ft long 35ft tall at the flute and with 6 Eskimo hunters in kayaks). Or dressing up as an Egyptian Slave wearing nothing more than flip flops, loin cloth and fake tan cream – then prancing around an ice rink at –15-20 Celsius for over an hour. But it was fun. At least the bits I remember were fun.

The Bulldog club was officially the RAF Junior Ranks club – but was popular with all ranks – and with the local ladies. We held dances, disco’s and carnival events.
Airmen could take turns to run the bar for a one-month period. During this time you got to keep all the tips and all the profits from any extra events or services you were able to sell. In this respect, our relationship with the Vulcan crews was absolutely critical. The Vulcan panniers were always full of not just official spares – but also barrels of English Beer and delicacies such as Walls sausages, Danish Bacon, Cadbury’s Chocolate and anything else the duty bar manager thought he could turn a profit on. Fresh milk was also high on the list since we had to live off re-constituted milk. (Cows couldn’t survive the climate)

I had some secondary duties - including helping teach arctic survival. (Building snow-holes, Igloos, tree shelters – and trapping / ice fishing). I also had the dubious task of driving out onto the frozen lake to drill holes and measure the thickness of the ice. This was part of my standard duties and every week I sent a signal back to Strike HQ reporting the ice thickness at certain points on the lake. It had been calculated that if the runway was obstructed, a Vulcan could land on the ice. (Rather him than me).

I also had to maintain the electrical generators and radios at three RCAF Resource and Initiative training camps located on lakes in the wilderness approx 60nm east of Goose. In reality, these were fishing and hunting camps were senior officers used to go for a week or so’s hunting and fishing – courtesy of the taxpayer.

The climatic seasons at Goose were very exact and predictable. Summer starts April 31st – autumn starts October 1st spring starts April 1st – and summer again on April 31st. One year, we were as usual ferried out to the camps in two Chinooks of the RCAF on about 15th June – e.g. well into summer. My Chinook landed at Crooks Lake whilst the second went on to a lake some 30nm east of us. Everything seemed normal. We started the generator, got the HF radio aerial set up and established two-way comms with Goose. We cooked a meal – drank some beer and retired to bed happy and content – and in love with the great outdoors. About 0415 we were woken by the unmistakable sound of a Chinook in the hover just outside our hut - this was not part of the plan. The chap closest to the door stumbled to the door in just his Mk9 shreddies. As he opened it, he and the interior of the cabin were swamped in swirling snow blown in by the landing Chinook. The 2nd Chinook had encountered an unexpected snowstorm en route to their destination. The flew around searching for it in ever decreasing weather until the snow, approaching darkness and fuel shortage forced them to put down in a convenient clearing. Overnight the temperature had dropped to –5 or so but they did not have enough fuel to run the APU and keep warm. The crew and pax spent the night huddled together – just switching on the heaters for a few minutes every hour. At daybreak – they took off and found our site and landed (very cold, very shaken, but happy to have survived). It doesn’t end there – but a public forum is perhaps not the place to describe refuelling a Chinook from 45 gal drums of JP4 – still suspended in a cargo net beneath a hovering Chinook.

Overall Goose was just brilliant. I extended my tour 3 times before they eventually frog marched me onto a VC10 back to the UK. We had probably the highest divorce and buy out rate in the RAF. So many guys fell in love with the place, the local ladies or just the Canadian way of life and simply stayed there. Often leaving wives and family in the UK.

For me, I owned a car, a skidoo and played drums in a band with a bunch of USAF guys – and did a lot of great flying.

If you visited Goose – you will have seen 2 or 3 civilian light aircraft nestling like chick under the wings of your Vulcan? These were owned by the Goose Bay Flying Club, who, as payment, each year awarded a free flying scholarship to one member of the Detachment. I won – and our Sqn Ldr Ops (who moonlighted as CFI) taught me to fly. To my shame I can’t recall his name – and the logbooks were stolen some years ago. He was tall slim guy and a former Red Arrow – I’d love to know his name / what he is doing now. In those days I just called him Sir. Goose was relaxed, but JT’s and Sqn Ldrs were still not on first name terms. I got my Canadian PPL and for the next 2 years enjoyed some of the most enjoyable flying anywhere in the world – flying on wheels, on ski’s, on floats and amphibious floats. There was a never ending stream of people wanting to fly. When my colleagues went off on fishing & hunting trips – I would air-drop essential supplies (too heavy to carry) – particularly the beer.
I’m not sure, but I think I was the first, perhaps the only, AOC’s Pilot with the rank of Junior Technician when I took (IIRC) AVM Spotswood aerial sightseeing around the Goose Bay area whilst on an AOC’s inspection. Certainly the RAF News made a big splash about it.

There is much much more to tell, but not now. (Tales of my (5) trips in the back of a Vulcan, of crossing the North Pole in a Herc with a faulty door seal – and coming back sleeping in the British Ambassador’s official car, the entertainment in the USAF NCO and Officer clubs, of getting caught in black power riots on the USAF base, the wonderful Eskimo’s of Happy Valley and north West river, driving and crashing vehicles in the ice, forced landing on a beach, the parties in the barracks - and of the Goose Bay Search and Rescue team – and bringing back the remains of crashed pilots) Maybe I should write a book – but few would believe it.

In 1998 I flew some friends to a vintage aircraft fly in at Schaffendiest in Holland, on walking into the vast hanger with perhaps 2000 people eating lunch – when suddenly a voice is heard above the crowd “Oi Squiffy” a nickname I hadn’t heard since boarding the plane home from Goose Bay some 26 years previously. At the bar (where else) stood Alan Lovejoy another
long lost Goosite.

4th Jan 2004, 05:47
Perhaps you should start a separate thread on Nostalgia about Goose Bay.

The final chapter on Goose is being written.

I went through Goose about a year ago and was told that the Bulldog Club was being closed as they could not justify a fully set up Duty Free bar with only half a dozen junior ranks.

Former Vice Chairman of Bulldog Club
Winner of Winter Carnival 1987
Arsehole of the week several times

4th Jan 2004, 15:15
Or the 2x crew chiefs that got distracted whilst refuelling and tipped their Vulcan’s on their tails by filling the rear tanks first? (Expensive)

Remember one of the NEAF Bomber Wing B.2s at Akrotiri doing that in about 1971 as it was being de-fueled for a major servicing. It was written off, given a maintenance serial number and used as a weapons loading trainer parked behind the 56Sqn QRA shed. The trailing edge was badly buckled and the ECM tailcone was bent up about 30 degress. IIRC, the C/T i/c the defuelling was busted to J/T and subsequently left the Service.

It is said that as the Vulcan sat down with a large "crunch" he said "F***! Call OC Eng, I'll be in the bar" and went to the Sgt's Mess to get pissed.

4th Jan 2004, 15:34
This sort of avidable engineering cock-up wasn't restricted to Vulcans! Not so long ago, the spanners managed to write-off a perfectly serviceable VC10 at the Covert Oxonian Aerodrome when it sat on its ar$e whilst being defuelled prior to going into Base Hangar. And there was someone trapped inside, I understand.

I'm sure that the photos are around the internet somewhere; allegedly 'Thrombo' tried to keep it quiet - but by then the photos were safely in the can!

PPRuNe Pop
4th Jan 2004, 16:12
Although, from the first moment I guessed that there would be a lot of drivers coming to this thread, I could never have realised what a brilliant read it would turn out to be. It is by far one of the very best that has ever been on Mil.

So, I am going to act on John Farley's view that it should be turned into a sticky so that more and more stories can be told. Some of them are truly brilliant.

Now all we need is for someone with the inclination to write a book.

Happy New Year.


4th Jan 2004, 16:37

Is this the incident?


:rolleyes: :hmm:

4th Jan 2004, 16:46
B(I)8 - yup, that's the one! Last time I saw the ac remains they were all chopped up into bite-sized chunks in a quiet corner...

One of the more interesting low level profiles we developed as a crew was the anti-Bloodhound attack against West Raynham. You approached at low level on the bomb steer as normal, listening for the 18228 to give a warning. As soon as it did so, the non-flying pilot put the MFS back to 'Central', the flying pilot broke at 60 deg AoB to 90 deg off in order to beam the threat, then reversed to the correct AoB for range (passed by the non-flying pilot) which would cause a zero-doppler turn around the target. The flying pilot then eased or hardened the turn in response to the AEO's 18228 display indications; meanwhile the Nav Radar kept aiming at the target. As soon as the Bloodhound radar broke lock, the flying pilot turned back onto the Nav Plotter's best estimate of target heading at 45 deg AoB, then the non-flying pilot reselected MFS to 'Bomb' when the Nav Radar had corrected and checked his 50 thou target map. The action was repeated at roughly 10 second intervals; "High Threat...MFS central, break left onto 150, reverse right to 10 deg bank, ease to 5 , hold it, hold it...lock broken...come right onto 260...wings level for correction...correction coming in...go to bomb, advise demand...follow the steer....10 miles....High Threat....etc etc"; until finally you got within the min range of the Bloodhound, then followed the bomb steer until visual acquisition of the target was achieved.

This was usually quite successful; however, it needed close co-operation from all 5 crew members and was quite physically demanding as heaving a Vulcan into steep turns at 300 ft every 10 seconds or so was quite an effort!

And this was long before the airline luvvies thought that they'd invented something called 'CRM'......

4th Jan 2004, 18:41
One for your lot Beags. VC10s and Vulcans! Mixed memories of that combination. During the mid sixties their Air Ships realised that staging through the Gulf Area in order to reinforce the Far East Air Force with Vulcans may be a little fraught, or even impossible. The only option was through the US and across the Pacific. Early on, with one or two Vulcans running ahead of Britannia support aircraft the odd ‘suck and it and see’ staged through Gander, Omaha, San Francisco, Honolulu, Wake, Guam, Singapore, Gan, Bahrein, Cyprus and home. Delightful trips; I don’t recall what the flying time was, but it was lonnnng.

In 67/68 we had a full scale reinforcement exercise from Cottesmore. (Would this be Exercise Moonflower?) This time the support aircraft were VC10’s. We left Cottesmore one Sunday morning aboard a ’10 bound for Gander, or was it direct Omaha? Anyway, we’d been airborne for four of five hours when my seating neighbour, a guy who knew absolutely everything, said to me ‘There’s land down there, and by my reckoning there shouldn’t be any land for another hour’. Right I thought, I shall immediately alert the Nav. Yeah, sure. We then swung into the steepest bank ever seen in a transport aircraft.

Turns out my neighbour was right! The Court Martial found that we were 510 miles North of track and there was mention of two RCAF CF-100 being launched which had actually intercepted us. (Did the Canucks still have CF-100s then? An old issue of Air Clues will confirm all of this.) The Nav was kicked out, the captain was put back on Brits, and the co-pilot was given a slapped wrist. I do recall that when we did land (it must have been Gander) we were surrounded by acres of mobile flashing lights. Much embarrassment all round.

John Purdey
4th Jan 2004, 23:45
Tommc, ...but you should write it up, fascinating stuff!

Tony Draper, I'm sure we agree, but my point is that there is a lot of difference between, on the one hand, self-appointed experts writing in the open press about these matters, and on the other hand the real (ex) experts with hands-on-knowledge like us doing so.:ok:

4th Jan 2004, 23:55
forget - the CF were still flying the Clunk right up until 1981 - albeit in the ECM training role!

Here's a puzzler. Long after RAF Merryfield had stopped being used by fixed wing aircraft, as an inquisitive youngster I peeked through the gaps in a hangar to see a number of Belgian marked CF-100s in partially dismantled state inside. That would have been in the early-to-mid 1960s, perhaps 1965? But what were they doing there, I wonder?

5th Jan 2004, 00:20
Beags, Your puzzler of RAF Merryfield and Belgian marked CF-100s in partially dismantled state in hangars. I don’t know but, if pushed, I’d put my money on Radio Controlled target drones. Did a Merryfield runway fly straight out over the sea?

For the yoof of today, who don’t know what a CF-100 looks like, try;


5th Jan 2004, 00:32
No - it's quite a way from the sea! Situated down in Zumazett near the village of Ilton.

I guess the Clunks were in storage for some reason; I don't know whether they were shipped back to Canada after service with the Belgian Air Force - but what on earth they were doing in the land of Scrumpy and Western, I've no idea!

Back to Vulcans - we once flew one from Goose to Chatham and had a play with a couple of CF-101s on the way. After their initial nuclear missile shot (cheats!), we did a bit of fighter affil - and ended up happily in the 6 o'clock of a CF-101 tracking him quite nicely. They played the tape back afterwards and you could hear the back-seater exclaiming "Sh*t - he's in our 6. How did ya let somethin' that big pull that trick on us!"

Later there followed a good session in their mess, their boss's house etc and finally we got back to our motel at some ungodly hour. Next day, feeling like death, a couple of us were offered back seat rides in the Voodoo. But only 1 jet was available; we tossed a coin and fortunately the Nav Plotter ('Animal' - he of a later famous G Blades victory!) won the toss. I don't think my Canadian breakfast sitting uncomfortably on rather too much Labatt's would have stayed down for long had I gone flying in the back of the CF-101!

Pontius Navigator
5th Jan 2004, 06:36

Where you sitting next to me or Keith Watson? I was starboard side, just aft of centre and probably had a window seat.

It was the Greenland Ice Cap we saw.

What did not come out was the second cock-up on that trip. We descended into Gander about 45 minutes to an hour early and made the last part of the trip at low level. The nav gave the escuse that the party at the Raven Club had kept him awake all night.

In reality he had decided to practise gyro navigation which GASOs required two navigators on board. He was alone without a safety nav.

We then staged through Offut for our third breakfast that day and finished up in Hawaii for tea. The ac went magically us but they took so long deciding to night stop that it was really just a waste of time.

Next day, next stop was Guam. I will never forget the humidity and a sullen line of non-talking troops filing through the duty free, picking up their 6 duty frees an filing out, all without a sound.

We then arrived at Changi. It was dark and a dark bus ride to Tengah. All I can tell was that we arrived at 0'dark hundred but I have no idea if is was evening or easter.

5th Jan 2004, 17:21
Nice one Pontius Nav. ‘Were you sitting next to me or Keith Watson?’ :ok:

I’m concerned that I can recall my seat in a VC10 some 38 years ago! Port side, forward, centre seat. Yes, the Nav did claim that the Saturday night dance had kept him awake. That’d be Cottesmore’s Horseshoe (?) Club, not the Raven, Waddo.

I seem to recall mention that when we’d gone Oceanic the Nav had set up the Steam Driven Doppler, which would fly a sort of great circle by kicking in a very small change of heading against ground miles covered. He’d put the changes in to increase heading, rather than decrease. The consequence was that we flew a right hand great circle curve rather than left. Not sure about this, and anyone could blow me out of the water.

I remember going Tech in Hawaii like it was yesterday. The reason for the memory? The problem was a fractured cold air bleed pipe on, I think, No 1 engine. I recall standing underneath the engine listening in to the proceedings. A Vulcan Chief Tech was explaining to the WingCo Tech that he could easily fix a mildly sick Conway with – get this – a coke can and a couple of Jubilee Clips. Now, here we were within spitting distance of Waikiki Beach, bikinis we’d only dreamt about, an overnighter beckoning, and good old Chiefy is looking at getting Mentioned in Despatches.

Had he succeeded there’s no doubt someone would have been mentioned in some formal paperwork. But wiser council won through and we stayed overnight while someone did a proper job on the pipe.

Guam. Where America’s Day Begins. I can still picture your ‘sullen line of troops filing through the duty free’, understandably sullen as they were bound for Viet Nam. They’d been congregated at the far end of the Arrival/Departure Hall with ‘us lot’ sat around either side of the exit area. A PA announcement broke through in a beautiful southern drawl – ‘Would Private Jesse James please report to the reception desk’. Now to get to the desk poor old Jesse had to walk the gauntlet between two lines of Limeys. The whistle started very quietly at one end of the gauntlet and ended with 100 pairs of lips pursed in unison as Jesse reached the desk – the theme tune to High Noon. Anyway Jesse, I hope you made it back in one piece.

Other vivid memories of Guam were the B-52’s which had just started bombing Hanoi. A second PA announcement called out, ‘Attention. Attention. Stand By for the Ball Game’. At this point two dozen matt-black Buffs taxied past the hall. The first one reached the end of the runway, throttles forward, clouds of black smoke, and the PA called out ‘Pictures Rolling for the Ball Game’. The cliff tops at the end of the runway are hundreds of feet above sea level. The B-52’s didn’t actually take off. They simply drove off the end and stuck the nose down, to reappear some time later climbing away. Hope y’all made it back in one piece too.

Ah Changi. That’s another story – but very briefly, years later, when Changi was closing down, I was living on Changi Road as a civilian. The start of 14 glorious years in Singapore. By that time we’d made many RAF friends and almost every night my wife and I would drive up to say goodbye to someone or other. I just wish I‘d recorded more of the events at that time.

5th Jan 2004, 21:33
Further to my earlier post about collating info, many thanks to those who've responded so far. I'm working out the best approach for this and I'll broadcast some thoughts soon - once I've marked some lovely Formal Exercises, that is...

Pontius Navigator
6th Jan 2004, 01:36

"a coke can and a couple of Jubilee Clips" yup, I remember that.

I also remember an airman, in 'scruff order' ie a lunch suit that he had been in for the past 12 hours or so. He took one look in the airmen's toilets in Hickham and went immediately to the officers. A USAF Major caalled him Sir. Niether of us blinked <G>.

You were wrong about Cottesmore though. Cottesmore used to be the FEAF wing but their aircraft were transfered to Waddo prior to them going to Cyprus.

Joe Quinn was the Waddington Sqn Ldr Wg AEO. I remember he dropped a cigarette in the terminal in Hawaii. He was half down to the ground to pick it up when he remembered the price of a duty free (to replace the duty paid he had just dropped) was not worth the effort.

The Exercise was, I think, Sunflower. Moonflower was the route through the Gulf and Sunflower was the one we were trialling the the westabout. I may be mistaken but I think that was right. The respective Operations were Tarboosh and Stetson. Really security eh!

6th Jan 2004, 02:05
Can’t complain about VC10’s across the Pacific - bloody luxury – when I were a lad…………

Waddington June 69, and an exercise to RAAF Butterworth, Malaysia, with 8 Vulcans and then down to Darwin for exercises with more Aussie Mirages. I’m pretty sure this was a Sunday morning again. Breakfast and then wander out to the airfield to board our expected VC10, and there it was, very effectively disguised as a C-130! String parachute seats, some sort of Elsan bog perched on the ramp, four day old sandwiches in cardboard boxes, the full works. Did their Air Ships really expect us to travel 6,000+ miles in a C-130, the noisiest most uncomfortable piece of kit since Stephenson’s Rocket. Yes – they did! And me married for all of 8 days! (Try getting that past ’em these days!)

We took off and headed South East; clunk, change of mind then South West to Lyneham. Fix whatever problem it was, with us all still on board, and off we go again. 12 hours later we landed at Bahrein – that’s twelve hours!

45 minutes later, I kid you not, we were airborne again for Gan. 30 minutes into the flight a note from the Nav comes around. Due to favourable winds we were now able to forget Gan and go direct Butterworth. Favourable winds! In my dictionary favourable means beneficial. This meant another 12 hours 30 minutes on a C-130.

When we landed at Butterworth we staggered off the aircraft, all in a pretty bad way, no joke. We were deaf, could barely stand straight, and were thoroughly p-ssed off and shell shocked. No one was capable of safely touching a Vulcan for the next four days.

As I was getting out of the C-130’s rear door I saw, ahead of me, a serious hat, with a full set of gold braid on the peak. Pointing at me? - luckily no, but at the sergeant engine fitter ahead of me. ‘Sergeant’, said the Strike Command hat, ‘My office 9 o’clock tomorrow morning. You and I are flying down to Singapore. I’d like you to tell XYZ Transport at Changi how you feel after this idiotic journey and whether or not you’ll be capable of fixing Vulcans in the next week or two’.

XYZ was the boss of FEAF Transport and, significantly, one rank below the hat. After the exercises we returned home on – guess what?

There’s a rather winsome photograph of me at Butterworth two days after the trip – at Andy Leitch’s excellent Vulcan site;


I weighed fifteen stone when we left Waddington. Can’t speak for the other guy but if you look at the two apparent geriatrics, centre, you’ll see something of the problem.

6th Jan 2004, 05:44
Obviously your gold-braided Strike Command chum had a lot of pull.... People are still travelling in such squalid and inhumane conditions some 35 years later! Perhaps you're being rather unfair on Stephenson's Rocket compared to the misery of Albert travel...... A luxury I no longer have to endure, thankfully.

At least in those days the Beverley, Hastings, Brittania, Comet - and the York before them even - had real passenger seats! As, indeed, did the coach hauled by the Rocket.....or so I understand!

6th Jan 2004, 13:32
So, a ride from Lincoln to Penang in a Beverley would be more comfortable than in an Albert, Beags? I don't think so Chief!

We often used to go off for exercises to those Class A airfields that weren't normally operational, just to make sure that everything worked. I had the dubious pleasure of trying to fly from Waddington to Macrihanish in a Bev for one of those. After being airborne for nearly four agonizing hours the skipper sent back a message that due to strong headwinds we hadn't reached Carlisle yet so he was turning back. Groans all round. Twenty minutes later the now transonic Bev arrived back at Waddington, turned upwind for the approach and accomplished a vertical landing [who needs a Harrier in a gale?] and we all staggered out. The trip was successfully accomplished a few days later when the gale stopped.

During that detachment, there were the usual succession of amusing incidents. We unloaded the fire engine that we had taken up there because there wasn't one available locally at the time. Then we found there wasn't enough water to fill it and all the foam mixture stored up there had 'gone off', so we put the useless object on static display near the tower. You can't extinguish a burning Vulcan anyway, so no harm done. Is it still there I wonder?

Perhaps the best bit of fun though was when Geoff Lowes (universally known as "Louse" due to a hilarious mis-pronunciation by the SWO on an AOC's parade) pulled a Glaswegian lass - with a bee-hive that would have made Marge Simpson jealous - in the White Hart at Campbelltown. We were all stood at the bar while Louse entertained his trophy at a table. Suddenly, the Glaswegian Lass leaped to her feet with " Ye can buy me beer arl neet, but yer no gettin MAR tw*t that easy!!!" and stomped out. He tried to rejoin us but of course we all denied knowing him...

At some point a homeless local tagged along and followed us back to Macrihanish for a free night's bed & breakfast. Next day the scrounger, expecting a free meal, decided to join us when we boarded the Beverley and so he ended up at Waddington - with no idea where he was or how to get back home. Being gentlemen we took him out to the main road, pointed out the way to Fulbeck, told him that was North and gave him a left over RAF packed lunch to help him on his way. I sure hope he's made it by now. Or maybe he reached Cranwell and scrounged a cadetship... :E

Through difficulties to the cinema

7th Jan 2004, 03:41
What a truly awsome thread this is!

I arrived at Cottesmore on November 1960, from Eastleigh, of all places, and what a different air force it was! From a holiday camp to a Real Air Force.[ I was an SAC Fireman at that time, the exalted rank of Sqn Ldr came later!].

Security badges, Special Storage Areas, escorting one of the contents of which down to one of either 10 or 15 Squadron's Victor 1A's, noting that one of those weapons had a "Ban the Bomb" sticker on it, vowing never to be beaten to the aircraft by the crew on a Mickey Finn, the Heath Robinson method of loading the bombs onto a Victor by means of a cherry-picker, receiving a visit from the CO of the Victor B2 trials squadron of four aircraft, 'just to say Hello', [a rare event I might add!], the universal relief at seeing all five crew got out of the Victor that ran out of fuel on approach, the sadness at losing all five in the other in Cyprus, having regular chats with the CO, one Johnnie Johnson, who had a habit of sneaking in to his office via a Crash Gate, so that the Snowdrops couldn't report his arrival, getting absolutely, totally lost on the airfield in a snowstorm, doing a gentle 360 on ice past the Tower , but still recovering to make the turn into the Crash Bay and seeing the Tower staff all applauding! The Sun Inn in Cottesmore Village.

Great stuff! Keep it up!

7th Jan 2004, 04:45
Samuel, The Sun Inn, Cottesmore! I still cringe with embarrassment. 67’ish. 9 o’clockish. For some reason Corporal Tech forget (RAF Retd) is having a pint with the WingCo Tech. Nice chap. He confides in me that it’s the Groupie’s birthday and he’ll have to leave soon for a surprise party at the ‘Mansion’. Shortly after, he does so. Down the social drinking scale I slide, and back to the ‘lads’ - they who fixed the flying machines which protected the nation against the Red Hordes, all suited and tied lest we bump into a raiding party of Corby Commandos. ‘What shall we do now?’, someone asks. ‘Fancy a birthday party?’ says I. Unanimous. We need some bottles. Bottles arrive, paid for. Into the Mkll Zodiac. ‘Where’s the party then?’ as we pass through the main gates. ‘Secret’, says I.

Mansion looms closer. ‘You are ------- joking!’, from the back seat.

Around the gravel drive we go and up to the front door. Ring the bell. Answered by flunky. ‘May we speak with Group Captain G….., we from Line Squadron bring best wishes for his birthday celebrations’.

Group Captain and Mrs G….. arrive at the door and a case of Ruddle’s Best is offered. Only one remark from the ‘lads’ sticks in my mind, ‘Hello Groupie, I’m Spike Mardell. Happy Birthday’.

Cool didn’t come into it, these two people were what we from the Norf of England used to call ’classy’. Full marks Mrs G……! ‘Come in gentlemen, you are all most welcome’.

Into the enormous lounge we went, Mrs G…. cradling the case of Ruddle’s Best. The place is packed with very, very, senior people, including the WingCo Tech, looking oddly in my direction.

Oh God…….. Did I really do that? It was a great night, but I do remember lying in bed early next morning mulling over whether to go to work, or head for the nearest docks. Full marks to everyone; it was never, ever, mentioned again.

If you’re still around, Group Captain and Mrs G…… (RAF Retd), next ones on me.

Brain Potter
7th Jan 2004, 06:42
A few years ago I heard a story of the famous JE "Johnnie" Johnson whilst CO of Cottesmore during the V-Force era.

A group of airmen had been caught by the Snowdrops running a card school in one of the barrack blocks. They were eventually wheeled in front of JEJ for dispensation of punishment.

Johnnie, liking a bit of a gamble himself, tells these fellas to number off, left-to-right, 1 to 20ish. They all look a bit puzzled, but follow orders.

He then says "Even numbers dismissed. Odd numbers - a week of jankers"

Probably apocryphal, but I liked the story. :D

7th Jan 2004, 11:01

Hi Pa, I was wondering if you'd seen this thread! :p

7th Jan 2004, 11:05
Bloody hell Forget! I stand in awe! We pulled a few stunts, but never like that. I actually got into the Officer's Mess at Cottesmore, but it was in 1989 on a UK vist and it was legal! It was also full of Germans and Italians! Those oil painting of the Victors that used to be in SHQ are hanging there, in the ante room.

I believe at that time that CO's of Stations used to fly, and Johnnie Johnson certainly did. I saw a Victor do a 'buzz and break' one day, and recall the tower saying it was the CO! He certainly flew the Station Anson. It never happened to me, but I gather he used to throw 'grouse beater' parties for the lineys who had been doing the beating, somewhere around Melton Mowbray. He seemed an affable type, he was replaced [1961-2?] by a Gp Captain Martin, whom he introduced on the handover., with the comment, "these chaps will look after you".

I actually met JEJ again, at the Wanaka Air Show in New Zealand about four or five years ago, and reminded him we had met before.

The best memory of all of course is the totally awe-inspiring sight of a scramble of four Victors. The seemingly continuous roar of take-off power from 16 engines was absolutely unforgettable. I was always very secretly pleased that those crews never had to do it for real. Even we knew they weren't coming back!

7th Jan 2004, 11:57
Does anyone know if Ginge Knight's world altitude bagpiping record still stands? Ginge was an AEO at Waddington around 1967 [44(R) I think?] who played in the Pipes and Drums of No.1 Group Bomber Command. Our main claim to fame was our capacity for alcohol rather than any proficiency at scaring English soldiers back down south, but Ginge took Scotland's answer to Yellow Sun up for a trip. At some point in the flight he got a confirmation of aircraft altitude from a radar station then told them to "listen to this then..." and played a full set of Scotland the Brave. After landing he filed a claim with Guiness for the altitude record and, unless someone has played them in Concorde with independent altitude confirmation from outside the aircraft, I reckon that record would be damned near unbeatable.

HQ Bomber Command didn't think much of the bagpipes as a new form of ECM (Tartan Putty?) but we humble haggis-bashers still reckon the idea has potential. The bagpipes generate such an awesome set of harmonics there could be no countermeasure.

I piped the Haggis in one Burns Night at Cottesmore Officers Mess. Then I ate two haggis and drank a whole bottle of VAT69 thoughtfully provided by the mess residents... or forced down my throat more like it... The last thing I remember was being poured into a crew bus for shipment back to Waddington. I awoke at about 11am, panicking like hell, managed to struggle into a uniform and tottered off to work (in MEAS) thinking up excuses as I went. Chiefy was surprised when I arrived - Cottesmore's PMC had called our CO, explained what they did to me and wangled me a day off. "Still, now you're here son...."

I was the only one who didn't know.

Through difficulties to the cinema

7th Jan 2004, 16:51

Jock Watson may well've beaten him to it in a Canberra at an earlier date - depends on the altitude I guess --------

7th Jan 2004, 17:14
For those who may not know about it, the May 2004 V Force Reunion is at;


8th Jan 2004, 00:11
The morning after the ‘Birthday Party’ and I’d decided against heading for the nearest docks. Instead, I found myself picking up a newspaper and wandering into the Airmens Mess, still full at 7.30. Company of any sort was the last thing I wanted so I poured a coffee and sat myself in a quiet corner. As soon as I’d walked in it was obvious that the events of last night were common knowledge.

So there I sat, head down, contemplating my imminent posting to Nuclear Chipmunks at Royal Air Force Wherethe++++isthat. Movement close by caused me to look up and there they were. Two engine fitters (names??) one with a white dish cloth over his left arm, directing his companion on precisely where to place the cutlery, and my Full English.

‘Is Sir contemplating any work today or would Sir be riding to hounds?’ ‘Sir’s copy of the Telegraph appears to be ever so slightly creased. Would Sir allow one to arrange for ironing?’ You get the picture? I did, it was ‘kin hilarious, and the gloom lifted.

Anyway, thinking through these events caused me to ponder on a more serious note; crew selection for nuclear bases. Aircrew were, at least we’d hope they were, subject to deep and meaningful psychological tests. But what of ground crew? There must have been some ‘system’ that selected a certain type of personality for Vulcans and Victors. It may have been no more than a ‘tick in the box’ assessment by instructors during this or that course.

Whatever it was, it worked in putting together hundreds of people with at least one guaranteed thing in common – a world class sense of humour. If you didn’t end up with a belly aching laugh every thirty minutes or so, then you weren’t listening - or watching.

I’m convinced there’s something in this. Whinging gits were so few that, practically, they didn’t exist. And that’s what kept the Vulcans flying. Who’d you rather have with you on a snowed in airfield at 3 in the morning with a fifty knot gale from the North, glycol running down one raised arm from sticking ECM coolant valves, and blood from the other thanks to the ever lurking locking wire. I’d take one of my p’ss taking engine fitters. The glycol would keep him amused for a moment or two and, like some simpleton, I’d be amused by his amusement.

Whatever the system used to select 60’s V Force ground crew, if anyone has any old Manuals around then you’ve got the basis for world beating group personnel assessment. And I’ll bet there’s not the slightest whiff of PC.


PS. Samuel, How’s Windy Wellington. I witnessed, on a blue skied morning some years ago, one of aviation’s most magical sights. A Bristol Freighter tracking across the city with, at least, 45 degrees of drift on. Never to be forgotten.

8th Jan 2004, 02:40
Forget; I guess that's why they built the airfield where they did. There is a shot around here somewhere of the Vulcan that very nearly made Wellington Airport its permanent home, but for some brilliant driving! While Wellington can be closed to civil flying, that never applied to the RNZAF, and I can tell you that my faith in pilots was never more tested when I saw the piano keys sideways in an Andover which miraculously straightened out for a firm kerthump! I'd hesitate to call it a landing.

I think you're spot on with the humour in the V-force, though I can only speak from my two years at Cottesmore. The general athmosphere and morale seemed, to this humble SAC, as being very good, and certainly you had to laugh a lot. When I was bored on shift days off, I used to offer my services to the MT section, and often spent time around ASF taking bits of various Victors to Handley Page at Radlett. That led to one of the funniest exchanges ever between myself and a Chief Tech who knew me, and the loading of a Victor Powered Flying Control unit which I suggested I was to deliver to a museum at Newark. I guess you had to be there, but the confusion was something else.

There was also that snow-clearing Meteor engine on a bomb-trolley, which successfully turned snow into sheet-ice, thus providing we who were parked in isolation at the end of the runway [the early Victors had fairly frequent brake fires] with endless enetertainment from various vehicles sliding off onto the grass.

Pontius Navigator
8th Jan 2004, 04:17
Samuel, you remind me. I was the snow controller at Waddington, a job allocated to Ops rather than the ATC. We had an aircraft stuck at Goose until we could get the field open. The snow at Waddo was exceptionally deep.

The modern maxim of keeping all vehicles off the airfield manoeuvring area did not apply and the lineys going to B-D and E had caused ruts in the western taxy way. We had a solid wall of ice over two feet high right down the centre of the taxy way from the gin palace to RW03 threshold. It was there long after the rest of the snow had melted.

Anyway the pressure was on to get the Goose aircraft back before Monday. This would clear the CinCs tote and allow the next batch of aircraft to go overseas. He always liked as many serviceable aircraft as he could get come Monday morning.

By early Sunday we thought the airfield would be cleared so the Goose aircraft, I think it was Art Legge, was given the proceed. In those days you could not cross the pond without a proceed message. The day was brilliant, 96 million miles vis and a low setting sun when he was due to land. I asked Supply (Stores) for Potassium Permanganate to mark the snow drifts from the 03 threshold to Charlie dispersal and they supplied it. The V-Force did not have VOG and priority one for nothing.

We then set the snow blows to clear the remaining snow from the runway. As advertised they melted some snow, turned some into ice, and blew great chunks of it around to no real effect. Eventually the Goose aircraft checked in. The snow blows were cleared on to the lazy and I did a final check of the runway. 90% clear we told him.

In the bar afterwards the Captain said "I thought you said the runway was 90% clear. It was covered with ice all over. I thought the 10% would have been down either side."

It was 90% clear. There was one square foot of ice stuck firmly to the surface in every 10 square feet. DOH!

8th Jan 2004, 07:57
I spent my last Friday at Waddington operating a snow-blow on the runway. They were generally shoved along by a fuel bowser - a nice touch that - you couldn't use running out of fuel as an excuse for packing in for the day. You had to be careful with those engines too, they had no surge protection or anything like that and they were all well clapped out. If you got too enthusiastic in revving them up you got a series of loud bangs and some impressive flames and stuff. You would also be treaterd to the sight of a supersonic bowser driver practicing for the 400 yards dash in the next olympics. If you opened it up too far the bowser slewed all over the place, if you didn't give it enough welly you just melted the snow which then froze into solid black ice. Very tricky was snow blowing - like the other kind of blow job, you needed a fine touch to get the revs just right and then keep at it nice and steady until you're done.

On Monday I flew out of Lyneham and on Tuesday morning I was dragging 30 kilos of kit half a mile from Changi arrivals hall to the transit billets - no transport for single airmen in those days of course. That was some introduction to the tropics, I'll say. Instant acclimatisation. What?

Through difficulties to the cinema

8th Jan 2004, 10:58
I thought we at Cottesmore were the only ones to have one of those Meteor snow melters, and yes, they did tie them to a Hippo tanker. Most onlookers used to watch from a safe distance. Funnily enough, I was at the Avalon air show at Geelong in Victoria, Australia in February last year, and they displayed a Meteor 8, and my son [the real Sam!] commented on the strange noise the engines made. It was music to my ears I can tell you!

They also had snow-ploughs on those fuel tankers; specialising in the removal of runway and taxi lights!

As mentioned earlier, the first trials Sqn of the Victor B2 was at Cottesmore. Four aircraft under a very friendly Sqn Ldr who's name I've sadly forgotten. They certainly flew a lot.

I loved the surreal night landings, often of four aircraft, and especially in the rain. The Victor seemed bigger, and with all the orange pan lighting and aircraft lights reflecting off the wet concrete, I only wish I'd had a camera. Illegal of course! Once the first one was down and obligingly dropped the chute, we had to move it and ourselves off the runway smartly because we could see the lights of the next one. It simply wouldn't have been good enough for an aircraft to have to go around because we hadn't got the runway clear, though I can admit now there were times when I simply hitched the hot shackle to the back of the Landrover in order to do so! Needs must.

If you ever wanted to increase your vocabulary, you could go and watch the lineys reload those 'chutes, and listen to the curses bestowed on whoever designed the housing. Apparently it required a wrist action with a 90 degree turn to do it! Not even armourers had that!

8th Jan 2004, 15:02
The 'Machine - Runway De-icing' (MRD) was actually quite a common site on RAF aerodromes even in the 1980s. As has been said, it consisted of a framework holding 2 ex-Meteor Derwent engines, between which was a small garden shed in which the luckless operator sat. The jet exhausts were fitted with diffusers and were supposed to blast snow off the runways, the whole Heath-Robertson contraption being pushed around by a fuel bowser!

A fairly lethal piece of kit as far as runway non-skid surfaces, lights, VASI boxes, bowser clutches - and operator's ears ere concerned. I wonder when they were finally withdrawn - and how the present day huggy-fluffy Health and Safety rules would have affected their operation? Somehow I can't imagine civvie contractors operating the things....

I gather that it was a favourite trick to ask "Does anyone have any twin jet time?" in aircrew crewrooms once. Anyone silly enought to admit to it was then offered a 'Meteor' trip - and spent a couple of hours in an MRD!

A Double Derwent worked wonders, worked wonders.......

8th Jan 2004, 16:07
Many Thanks for starting this one. I have had a lot of entertainment from it, and a whole heap of good memories have been refreshed. My Vulcan time (73-80) was the happiest part of the time in uniform. West about to Singapore as a Co, Malta, Cyprus, Offutt, Toronto, and even the Goose provided a lot of laughs with some great blokes. Flying puddlejumpers in the sun does not generate that kind of camaraderie.
Keep it going! :ok:

9th Jan 2004, 00:25
Blacksheep’s posting on New RAF Recruiting Ad says;

‘These bunches of scruffs were Britain's main defence against the Red Terror back in the sixties. Despite our appearance we could and would have deep-fried the Soviet Union without batting an eyelid, no messing, at just under two minutes notice’.

Colourful or what! And there’s a photograph of Luqa, Malta, at;


Now, this may likely have been an occasion when the sense of humour didn’t kick in! The portly chap in the middle is Geordie Thompson, and I hope he’s reading this! Cottesmore or Waddington, doesn’t matter. We were in the middle of receiving aircraft modified with X Band ECM equipment used to jam the interception and fire control radar of enemy fighters. Prior to that the reliance was solely on Red Shrimp etc to jam the ground radar of the fighter controllers. Can’t see the target then you can’t home in the fighters.

Midnight on Line Squadron and the X Band of one aircraft wouldn’t fire up. By judicious use of matchsticks I bypassed the plastic frangible covers on the emergency switches at the AEO’s station. This showed that the problem was lack of water glycol coolant flow to the X Band transmitter. No problem, get hold of a rigger and have the pump replaced. Problem, this particular rigger wasn’t going to be told by a fairy (I’ll explain later to any American readers) that his pump was stuffed.

What to do to convince him? Drive to the ECM bay, where Geordie Thompson happened to be on nights. Dismantle the coolant flow test gauge in the X Band test cabin, hacksaw off a pair of fluid couplings (fix them tomorrow) and back to the line. All watched with some interest by Geordie Thompson.

Plug the adapted flow gauge into the aircraft and switch on the pump. Demonstrate to rigger that his pump is knackered – accepted. Pump replaced. Job done.

Fast forward three months. I wandered into the ECM Bay where I found an Air Clues, or something similar, lying opened to a particular page. Picture of Geordie Thompson beamed out at me. The real Geordie Thompson looked over at me, and turned ashen. Then I started to read. The AOC, no less, had approved the award of £50.00 to Geordie Thompson for ‘his innovative modification of a flow test gauge to allow in-aircraft testing of X Band coolant systems. This is expected to save zillions of man hours in system fault finding’.

50 Quid! That was a months wages – and he offered me not a penny. Said he’d already spent it! I know you’re out there somewhere…………

10th Jan 2004, 06:13
BEags et al: when I was a kid way back when, I remember my Grandad ( OC Eng Wing Luqa & Mersah Matruh way, way back) showing me a black and white photo of a Vulcan (white one) blowing-up an engine and other bits during a flypast. I don't remember any of the details of this incident - is it one of the ones previously listed by another poster? What happened, where was it? Anybody? This thread just brought it to my mind...:confused:

BEags, we even had one of those snow-blowing death-traps murdering the Oxfordshire quiet at Benson; ruined my Telegraph Crossword & cup-of-tea listening to that....:{

10th Jan 2004, 06:18
Maybe the crash at Syerston of VX770, the first prototype? It crashed at a Battle of Britain Day display in September (obviously) 1958.

10th Jan 2004, 08:10
That's probably the one. VX770 was the first prototype ac, not a production model. Originally it had been fitted with 4xAvons of 6500 lb thrust each; on its final flight on 20 Sep 58 it was being used as a test bed fitted with 4xConways of 17500 lb thrust each (NOT Olympi!).

It was estimated that the ac was flying down the RW at 410-420 knots at 60 ft before it was pulled into a rolling pull-up at 2 to 3g.

The pilot had been briefed for a 2-300 ft flypast at 250-300 knots; the ac was limited to 380 knots and +2.25g in straight flight and half this g limit if aileron was applied.

In the event the pilot flew outside his brief and beyond the aircraft's limits. Neither the ac, the pilot, or the other 3 in the crew survived; from passing the tower to crashing on Syerston's RW25 threshold, killing 3 people on the ground in the process took 6 seconds.

(With acknowledgement to my first Vulcan captain, Andrew Brookes, for his detailed research on the subject.

10th Jan 2004, 08:43
Many moons ago in the depths of a harsh (V cold) winter at Scampton, a tin triangle did a high speed abort on 23. It ended up on the overrun, which was a piece of soft tarmac designed to allow the ac to sink into it to prevent it rolling through the boundary fence, across the road and down the ridge.

Anyway, there was this steaming heap, sitting atop this frozen tarmac, with Staish, OC Eng, Sqn Cdr et al scratching heads as to how they were going to get it off the 'soft' tarmac. V small girly (Acting Plt Off) engineer u/t who was under tow with OC Eng piped up with a suggestion and was roundly slapped down because a) she was a girly and b) she knew nothing about aircraft and c) this was a major problem for grown ups to solve. In short, she didn't have the brain power.

She hung around a bit, whilst her elders and betters figured out how to get ropes around the landing gear to allow the big tug (weighing several tons) to sit on the concrete runway then tow the ac off the tarmac backwards. Much talk about geometry, stress on the landing gear, tug sinking into the tarmac, etc, when girly got V fed up because no-one would listen and exclaimed in a very loud voice for all to hear... 'If the bloody Vulcan weighing 20 tons on narrow wheels hasn't sunk into the bloody tarmac, I don't suppose the tug on big fat wheels weighing 5 tons will sink in either'...

She turned on her heels and stomped off, leaving said 'experts' to ponder on the wisdom of youff... 'See to it Chief', says OC Eng, sliding quietly towards his car. Convoy of Scampton's finest departs the scene...

10th Jan 2004, 13:01
Thanks for the reply, BEags....

Outside the brief and outside the envelope are never good things individually and particularly not collectively. Very sad story - I always feel for those not with a "hand on the stick", just along for the ride at this moment.

You want it when?
10th Jan 2004, 17:36
On the Wadington topic - I spent much of the early 70's sitting in the Horse and Jockey in Wadington of a Sunday lunchtime drinking coke was the barman called Lou?

YWIW senior met mother in Wadington on his first posting there in the early 60's and got married with the reception in the Horse and Jockey spot a pattern? He was then posted back as some sort of Nav with 101 in the late 60's/early 70's.

10th Jan 2004, 19:16
VX770 at Syerston:
I got the accident report from Kew last year. It was a R-R crew but the AEO was from Scampton.

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

The landlord of the H&J was indeed Lou

10th Jan 2004, 20:57
VX770 outside of brief, and spec, at Syertson! I didn’t know that, and hard to believe! I thought it was simply put down to ‘airframe failure’.

I joined Vulcans as ground crew (what you’d now call avionics) at Coningsby, February 1964, and stayed with the same aircraft when they moved to Cottesmore in November ’64, and then to Waddington in ’68.

There were two other losses, aircraft and crew, which I was close to and, only years later, did I question as being ‘self inflicted’ by unnecessary procedures in training.

The first was XM601, Coningsby, evening of October the 7th 1964.

The aircraft was doing practice approaches. At around 7.30 the crash alarm went off and we left the Castle Club when it was obvious from the fire in the darkness, within the airfield boundary a half mile away, that this was no drill.

It turned out that 601 had been doing asymmetric approaches with engines 3 and 4 at flight idle. This particular approach ended up, as witnessed by the tower, well to the right of the runway centre line. No FDR’s were carried but the Board of Enquiry concluded that the crew had decided on a very late go-around, and slammed all four throttles forward.

‘Slam-Checks’ were part of ground engine tests and the Olympus would take 9 seconds to spool-up from flight idle to 100%. In the case of 601, slamming all four forward at that speed caused thrust asymmetry well beyond the control surfaces. The Vulcan rolled right, the wing tip dug into the grass and the aircraft cart-wheeled. Had the crew been ‘lucky’ the front section and cockpit would have snapped off in the cartwheel, as I think it was intended to do at a production break, and fate may have kept them well clear of the burning wings and fuel tanks. It didn’t snap off quite soon enough and the crew died with the aircraft.

A preventable accident? Of course it was. Where on earth is the value in full asymmetric approaches in a four engined aircraft, at night. Training is to prepare for ‘likely’ eventualities, not all possible eventualities. Completely losing both on one side, at night, in a Vulcan. Likely??

A slight digression. Blacksheep, and others, have recalled that V force ground crews were not noted for their ‘military’ attention to uniform and dress code. For this reason the events of the days after the accident are still fairly clear in my memory. Two (?) families of the 601 crew wanted their husbands, sons, brothers buried in the Coningsby church yard, full military funeral.

The Station Warrant Officer visited Line Squadron and hangars asking for volunteer guard party and pall bearers. Against all the rules of never volunteer, he got the people he wanted, I as a pallbearer. The SWO spent no more than a couple of hours with us in a quiet hanger explaining positioning and protocols etc, and during the morning of the funeral we, and I’m certain the SWO and CO, were left in some wonder at the military dress and precision of we usual ‘scruffs’. One family was kind enough to write to the Group Captain, he later sent the letter around the station, saying that the distress of the day had been very much eased by the care and detail the ‘friends’ of their husbands, sons, and brothers had put into the proceedings. Least we could do, but I imagine the firing party came from the Regiment.

Back to preventable (in my opinion) losses. In the early sixties the Vulcans went low level to get through the opposition’s improved defences. Terrain Following Radar (TFR) was produced (or acquired from the US??) to allow crews low level vertical nav ‘through the mountains of Eastern Europe’. They certainly needed something, the Rad Alt at that time was a 50’s Heath Robinson cathode ray tube, at the AEO’s station; a green circle simply got smaller the closer you got to Terra Firma.

TFR was fitted during the mid-sixties, it was the small radome sticking through the front end of the nose. Vertical Guidance was from a simple ‘fly up fly down’ instrument nailed to the captain’s glare shield.

Cottesmore. On the early evening of February the 11th ’66 we’d seen off several aircraft from Line Squadron. Amongst these was XM536 on TFR training . At around 8.30 four or five of us had driven across the airfield for a break and, at 9, had gone upstairs to watch the BBC news. I think it was the first item. ‘News is coming in of a Vulcan bomber missing in the Brecon Beacons’. (Welsh Mountains).

We left the club and drove back to Line Squadron. XM536 and crew would not be coming back.

Preventable accident? Of course it was. TFR was new to the crews and, at that time, confidence in its ability to visually direct a ‘pop over, now down, now climb for the next one’ wasn’t particularly high.

So who on earth tasked a crew to increase this confidence - at night - in the Brecon Beacons? Got me Chief! Any answers?

John Purdey
10th Jan 2004, 21:48
Don't I recall one breaking up at Syerston all those years back, and was it not a Valiant?

10th Jan 2004, 22:07
Perhaps you're thinking of XD875, a 7 Sqn Valiant from Wittering which crashed on 12 Aug 1960?

But that was at Spanhoe (disused by then), not Syerston.

10th Jan 2004, 22:39
Syerston (2 FTS, Jet Provs) was my first posting and, as a brand new SAC rigger, I arrived there in Feb 1960. Even then, less than two years later, they were still talking about the Vulc incident. In fact, if I remember correctly, there was a "picture board" with photos along a wall in the Education Block's "Library" Room. I also recall going on my first mushroom-picking sallies out onto the airfield with a couple of the older line guys and still finding small bits of airframe and other detritus from the incident.

Minded of "V" incidents, I was at Wyton when the Victor went in after a particularly "spirited" take of in front of the TV cameras (Anglia's Look East?). Just fell out of the sky! :oh: All those watching knew he wasn't going to make it, damn sad day that. :( Anybody have any details of that incident|?

10th Jan 2004, 23:32
Wasn't that one of the first Victor SR.2s of 543Sqn? I remember seeing it on TV. Seem to recall it did a wingover but didn't have the height to recover.

10th Jan 2004, 23:46

That's right, 543 Sqn. There was a rumour that the pilot (OC Sqn?) was not best pleased that day with the media attention and was determined to "put on a show". Remember seeing it fall out of the luft over a farm just outside the boundry. Loads of blokes watching, and all with one thought "He's not going to make it!". As I recall, the "Thunderbirds" were starting the motors of their appliances before it hit the deck! I know Crash One was rolling towards the crash gate.


11th Jan 2004, 02:13
For the benefit of those who did not have the luck (?) to fly the Vulcan we need to document the unusual (bizarre?) crew accomodation.

Perhaps one of our historians can answer a question for me. The pilots headroom was very restricted. In fact, we wore the old fifties edition two-piece bonedome so that we could fly with the outer hardshell removed. Otherwise you would have been flying with your head cranked to one side for the whole sortie.

I was told, and accepted, that the reason the headroom was so tight was that the aircraft was originaly designed for a single pilot who would probably have sat nearly centered in the cockpit, hence no headroom problem. This never made sense to me. If the cockpit was designed for a single pilot sitting centrally the cockpit canopy would have been far too big to see out adequately. If the design was indeed changed from one pilot to two why was the cockpit canopy shape not made bigger at that point? Any answers?

Yellow Sun
11th Jan 2004, 02:47

When I read this

For the benefit of those who did not have the luck (?) to fly the Vulcan we need to document the unusual (bizarre?) crew accomodation.

I thought that you were going to write about the dispersal caravans These novel items were usually parked in and windy and isolated spot on the airfield. They closely resembled a larger version of the starting boxes found at your local dog track. All that had to be done was ring a bell, the doors would fly open and 5 crew would appear from their individual hutches!

I was present at a dipersal at Finningley one evening when a 44 Sqn copilot left his immersion suit over the electric heater in his "hutch" (he was lucky, I never got one that worked). When he returned to go to bed he saw the smoke seeping from the door and correctly assumed that all was not well. He was about to go and call the fire section when he was intercepted by the crew AEO who had equipped himself with a fire extinguisher. "Open the door said the AEO". "No!!" replied the assembled audience taking a hasty few steps back. Unfortunately someone did open the door, flames shot out, the AEO hit the plunger on top of the extinguisher and threw it into the fire. "Close the bloody door" he was now heard to shout as he ran rapidly backwards! But what do you expect of a trade that rides elephants at 3 o'clock in the morning in Limmasol - that's another story!


11th Jan 2004, 03:19
We wore the Mk1 bonedome and inner because that was the design issued at the time; the Mk2 was issued to the fast jet world only. The Mk 3 came out, was issued to the fast jets and the Mk2 was made available to Vulcan crews. It had nothing to do with headspace in the cockpit. I wore both at various times and never had a problem.

The question of whether the cockpit was designed for one or two pilots has been the subject of much rumour an speculation over the years. I don't know the definitive answer, but I suspect that it was a 2-man design all long. Perhaps people got confused because the Avro 707 series was designed to fly with a single pilot - they were design testing platforms, since no-one had practical experience of delta aerodynamics.

And the one that broke up at Syerston was a Vulcan - see the photo above.

11th Jan 2004, 03:20
Strange things happened. As a new arrival in the Mess at Cottesmore I was assigned the upper room at the end of one of the wings. It did not take long to find out (exactly one night) that my room was directly above the QRA crew sleeping rooms.

When the QRA bell on the floor below sounded it must have taken me four months before I stopped leaping out of bed in the middle of the night to get dressed.

Another story on crew accommodation (aircraft type). There was a certain very senior officer who used to like to use a Vulcan as his personal executive jet. This involved a delux bed conversion in the visual bomb-aimers position plus VIP service to load his bags into the bomb-bay pannier when he arrived at the aircraft. Awaiting his arrival the bomb-bay doors were left open and a ladder of some sort was positioned against the pannier so that his bags could be immediately loaded and we were on our way.

It so happened that we were at a USAF base awaiting the VIP (it was dark) when several quite senior USAF pilot types arrived at the aircraft wanting to look around. Since we were busy I told then to help themselves. Shortly, from a distance, I saw the USAF types starting to climb the ladder to the pannier. I thought they were simply checking out the bomb-bay. It turned out that they thought it was the cockpit access. We ended up with one USAF pilot wondering how to get into the pannier, one on the ladder and the others waiting to climb up from below. Apparently they had watched "Thunderball" or something and thought we got into the cockpit via the bomb-bay. When they were shown the real way in I think they were even more surprised!

11th Jan 2004, 08:12
FJJP. I sat in the 707 in the hanger at Finningly (I think) several times. There was also a two seat delta (of the same series?) in the same hanger. I was impressed by how basic the instrumentation was and how small both aircraft felt. If I remember correctly, the 707 was painted blue and the two seater was in a lighter colour.

Saying you would spend the sortie with your head cranked over if you wore the hard part of the Mk. 1 helmet was a bit of an exaggeration. There was not that much clearance though. I suppose it depended on how you adjusted the Martin Baker. At one point my "fast-jet" bone-dome was withdrawn and I was reissued with a Mk.1. The helmet that was withdrawn was the type with the visor that stowed inside the hard, fixed protective cover and it had the lowering bar as opposed to the central track with an adjusting knob. Was that a 2 or a 3?

11th Jan 2004, 08:22
BOING - that was a Mk 2. Horrible b£oody thing!!

The Avro 707C was a 2-seater; the 707A and B were single seat research aircraft.

The Vulcan cockpit was always intended for 2 pilots; however,I believe that Roly Falk once flew it with just himself at the helm as there was only 1 bang seat available on that particular day? Seem to recall reading that once.

11th Jan 2004, 17:49
I recall that the original appearance of the Avro Type 698 at Farnborough was September 2nd 1952 with Roly Falk flying it solo, and with an orange coloured Avro 707A off one wing tip, and off the other flank was a blue Avro 707B.
This was the star of the show which sadly was marred by the spectacular crash on Saturday September 6th of the DH-110 prototype, and the death of John Derry and Tony Richards, plus 27 spectators.
The name Vulcan was adopted in December 1952.

11th Jan 2004, 18:00
Ah! Those QRA caravans.

Recall one night before the big fly-off when the duty [non-flying] crew had hoofed it to the bar. To find their way back to their pits, they had plugged a sodium lamp into a socket, leaving the switch off. While they were gone, some herbert had removed the sodium lamp from the socket and plugged in the klaxon. Need I say more?

And there was a glorious occasion, not up to the standard of the 1 Gp Dining-in Nite perhaps, when a squadron dispersed, all aircrew armed with a 9mm and a bottle [apart from the CO who only had a 9mm]. It was freezing hard and crews knew they were not flying off the next day so some considerable pop was consumed. Unfortunately, some idiot decided to place a practice bomb on the ORP and crews were roused from their snores to taxi the aircraft to the other side of the airfield. In spite of the weather and the state of the crews, this was managed without incident. The next day, all were threatened with courts martial. But you can't court martial a whole squadron can you?

normally left blank
12th Jan 2004, 03:01
If I remember correctly I've got the book at home:

"Crash!: Military Aircraft Disasters, Accidents and Incidents"
Andrew Brookes

Hardcover 176 pages (24 May, 1991)
Publisher: Ian Allan Publishing Ltd; ISBN: 0711019657
(available second hand)

with a thorough investigation on the Vulcan, Syerston crash.

Also contains the tragedy at London Heathrow with the crash out of a GCA-approach.

Very highly recommended!

P.S. Contains classic last sentence: "-- there are no new accidents, only new pilots."

John Eacott
12th Jan 2004, 08:24
The Mk 2A was the fast jet bone dome, with the visor inside a protective cover, and a G lock arm which brought the visor down in the event of an ejection. The Mk 3 was (generally) the helicopter version, with the visor on a central track, as per the Mk 1.

Both Mk 2 & 3 versions were fed from a central speaker which piped audio to the earpieces via a plastic tube. Next to useless when the earseals broke, and the gel dripped into the tube & blocked audio, or leaked into your ear, or down your neck & under the goon suit neck seal :rolleyes:

The Shackleton crews also wore the Mk 1 bone domes, preferring the cloth headset for their long sorties. One trip out of Ballykelly, I turned up with the Mk 3, they were good enough to search out an old Mk 1 for me: the sort I used to use riding my motorscooter back when....

12th Jan 2004, 09:58
Isn't there one of those Avro's in the RAAF Museum at Point Cook? I forget why, but it's there!

I watched the demise of the Victor at Cottesmore in 1961/2, and recall it was significant because all five crew got out. There was some problem with fuel transfer or fuses or something while on final approach and, as an avid observer of anything flying, I saw the first of the back-seaters leave before I took off to hitch a ride on the first crash vehicle to turn up! I wasn't actually on duty, but wasn't about to miss this one! So I ran, flat stick, and grabbed a passing crash vehicle. My eternally observant Warrant Officer Cockerton noted that as I was so keen, I could spend the night there! A lovely man nonetheless.

On approach, the Tower would tell you what the pilot's intentions were; landing, rolling, streaming etc, and at about three miles the Victor had a very distinctive nose-on appearance with the leading edge flaps down and those deep intakes. After the three crew had left, the aircraft took a turn for the worse with no power at all, and both pilots ejected.

It arrived in a paddock more or less three miles from touchdown at Stretton which is not far from the Ram Jam Inn, and of course the crash crew didn't know the pilots had gone, so made a brand new entrance through a hedge into the paddock with the MK6, leaving a hole through which everything else followed! Very determined lot!

John Purdey
12th Jan 2004, 18:47
BEagle. You are quite right ofcourse; faulty memory!

13th Jan 2004, 01:02
Although I have been an avid reader of the threads on this Forum for a good 12 months or more I have never really had the desire to post. But this thread is just too good not to comment on!

I am not and never have been in the military, but I do have a great interest in all military aviation subjects and nothing but admiration for all those who have served in the forces in whatever role. This thread has brought to life just what it must have been like to be serving in the RAF in particular during the cold war.

The first airshow I ever attended was an At Home day at Finningley, 1981 I think. Part of the display involved a Vulcan 4 ship stream take off which was truly amazing, nothing in the next 20 odd years has ever come close to matching that.

Keep the stories coming.

13th Jan 2004, 01:57
Well I’ll be……! I thought I’d lost this and there it was hiding in a drawer. Air Clues of December 1968 with a write up on a Moonflower Exercise. This’ll be the one that used bl==dy C-130’s to take us 6,000 miles! I thought we’d returned on VC10’s, Brits apparently. There are some reasonable photos which I can e-mail to anyone smart enough to post them.

I’ve just found out that the article is too long for one post, so I’ll post it in two parts.

by Flight Lieutenant J. R. LEGH-SMITH

“In the context of a discussion on the ability of the United Kingdom Government to deploy forces in the area (Far East) after 1 971, the Conference agreed that there should be a major exercise in 1970 in which all five countries (Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and the United Kingdom) would participate. They noted that British participation would include a major reinforcement exercise from the United Kingdom. It was further noted that the United Kingdom Government also intended to continue training and exercising British forces in the area after 1971.”

(From Annex A to Cmnd 3701, Supplementary Statement on Defence Policy 1968.)

Eleven crews and eight Vulcan B Mk 2 aircraft of No 101 Squadron, commanded by Wing Commander D. J. Mountford, AFC, RAF Waddington, were detached to RAAF stations at Butterworth, Malaysia, and Darwin, Australia for the period 11th June to 10th July 1968 on a reinforcement exercise.

The Vulcans flew out to Butterworth in two flights of four aircraft following the conventional “east-about” route with overnight stops at Akrotiri, Muharraq and Gan. The support party and freight were flown out in three Air Support Command Hercules. The Hercules is no slouch; the scheduled time from emplanement at Waddington to arrival at Butterworth was less than 26 hours. Although speedy, passenger comfort was of the London Transport rush-hour variety.

By the evening of Friday 14th June the detachment was complete at Butterworth and work had begun turning round the Vulcans. The aircrews, however, were able to spend the weekend absorbing that rare commodity in the UK - sun-shine, and getting to grips with, or the gripes from, Tiger beer. It was also the weekend of the Butterworth Officers’ Mess Ball, to which we were all invited. Thus we were given two days of area acclimatisation.

The Darwin detachment began on Monday 17th June, when a FEAF Hercules flew the ground support personnel out from Butterworth. The four Vulcans arrived at Darwin the following afternoon. The purpose of the detachment was to participate in the RAAF Exercise High Jupiter, an air defence/strike reconnaissance exercise with an associated Ground Defence element.

The background to High Jupiter was realistic and ingeniously conceived: there was apparently bad feeling between the defensive forces (Darwinians) and the reactionary forces (Tindalians). RAAF Tindal is a newly constructed airfield about 160 miles SSE from Darwin. The MB F Detachment formed the strategic strike force of the “Tindalians” but were obliged to operate from Darwin; this unfortunately deprived us of the important element of surprise. Friction had been created between the two “States” because of the “aggressive economic policies pursued by the immoral imperialistic Darwinian leadership” and the understandable desire of the Tindalians “inspired by the thoughts of Wow” to liberate the “sup-pressed Darwinian proletariat”.

Despite the quantity of humorous propaganda produced by both sides, the exercise was taken extremely seriously, and was reported realistically by press and radio; normal news bulletins were followed by the latest reports on the state of the war. At Darwin, blackouts were observed at night, air raid sirens blared, blast walls were erected (these consisted of pieces of string tied between posts and appropriately labelled), officers were seen walking to breakfast wearing tin hats and side-arms. Armed patrols dispersed imaginary mobs of revolting peasantry howling at the camp gates and dealt with infiltrators and saboteurs. The saboteurs had their successes - the Darwin TACAN was found one morning with a notice attached signifying that it had been blown up during the night; however, a replacement was promptly flown in.

The Tindalian Air Force effort consisted of Vulcan strikes and Mirage Ill and Canberra strike/recce attacks designed to exercise the air defence system. Darwin was defended by two squadrons of Mirage III interceptors armed with missiles and cannon, also ground-based missiles and anti-aircraft artillery. Impartial judges statistically assessed the results of strikes and “kills” by the traditional Australian practice of coin tossing.

The Vulcans flew high and low level sorties against targets in Darwin area, varying tactics as the exercise progressed. This was valuable to both sides, as RAAF pilots and ground radar operators welcome the opportunity to operate against other air forces, and Vulcan crews are always keen to discuss the results of their tactics immediately after fighter/bomber affiliation exercises. A very pleasant relationship was developed with the Mirage pilots, which will, in due course, be appreciated by the Swan and Victoria breweries. Several Vulcan pilots were given the opportunity to fly in the two-seat Mirage trainer, and the subsequent applications for exchange postings were duly torn up!

The delta-winged Mirage is used by the RAAF in the interceptor and ground attack roles. It is a pilot’s aircraft in the best fighter tradition in which he feels part of the aircraft. The only time that the pilot loses contact with the aircraft is on take-off when 13,000lb static thrust with re-heat and an excellent power/weight ratio leave vital organs on the end of the runway to catch up in their own good time. Control is extremely sensitive and the aircraft is highly manoeuvrable, the rate of roll is so rapid that an unsuspecting passenger will bang his bone-dome on the side of the canopy. It is an exhilarating aircraft to fly with a remarkable performance.
During the exercise period the Mirages maintained a CAP for considerable periods, with other aircraft standing by on the ground at immediate readiness. No attempt was made by the Vulcans to evade the opposing forces as the main purpose of the exercise was to provide the RAAF with experience against V-type aircraft. Nevertheless the defending forces did not have matters all their own way, and considerable tactical success was achieved.



The “war” culminated on the fourth day with a final co-ordinated attack on Darwin involving simultaneous strikes by Vulcans, Canberras and Mirages. Onlookers on the ground watched the approaching contrails of Vulcans attacking above 50,000 ft, and the trails of the interceptors streaking towards them. Suddenly a Vulcan appeared at low level, followed seconds later by four Canberras in low level battle formation. Then the sky was full of strike Mirages screaming around hotly pursued by interceptors. During the short time it lasted, the strike was most exciting and effective. Because the Vulcan force was based at the “enemy” airfield, it was possible to make an accurate assessment of the defensive potential of the opposing forces; thus enabling specific tactics to be devised for use against the enemy defences.

After the strikes on Darwin on Day 4 of the war the “Tindalian” news agency published the following bulletin: “Today the vile, war-mongering Darwinian Supreme Commander, standing in a knee-high paste of human viscera, made preliminary moves for a cessation of hostilities

When the exercise was over the Vulcans flew further sorties out of Darwin. These entailed motoring up and down a tow-line for five hours at a time to provide fighter pilots with more experience of medium bomber targets. They certainly made the most of the opportunity; over 80 attacks were made, and the Vulcan crews completed their fighter affiliation commitment for several years!

The strength of RAAF Darwin had been considerably increased for the exercise, so it is not surprising that accommodation was rather cramped. The Darwin area, which is in every sense a desert is, not surprisingly, reputed to have the highest beer consumption per capita in the world - matter of considerable satisfaction to the locals. The average “Pommie” fancies himself as a beer-drinker, and it may come as a shock to learn that we are not so high in the big league. However, this detachment did the local average nothing but good, and did much to cement Anglo/Australian relationships. Before the return to Butterworth, the standard souvenirs were bought: stuffed Koala Bears, boomerangs that would not come back, and didgery-do’s that didn’t.

After much hard work and play the detachment began its withdrawal on 25th June, when two crews left for RAAF Richmond, Sydney. On the 26th June the other two Vulcans departed the arid desert of Darwin for the rain forests of Butterworth, where on the 29th June the inevitable Hercules deposited the support personnel.
During the Darwin detachment, a fifth Vulcan had flown down to RAAF Base Pearce, Perth. This aircraft was escorting Air Chief Marshal Sir Wallace Kyle, GCB, CBE, DSO, DFC, then AOC-in-C Strike Command, who visited the area. The crew spent six days at Pearce, during which time they put the Vulcan on static display and attended a Passing Out Parade at the RAAF College. They also took the opportunity to inspect the gold mines at Kalgoorlie. They returned to Butterworth on 28th June to make the detachment complete for the first time since the initial deployment.

Meanwhile, at Butterworth, the rest of the Squadron, consisting of five crews with three aircraft, commanded by Squadron Leader A. L. Sebright, had been carrying out routine high and low level training flights around Malaya and Borneo. On some of these flights an Aviation Medicine Team, led by Dr. Richard Allen from RAE Farnborough, was conducting a trial which investigated the physiological effects of flying Vulcan B2s in the tropics. That is to say, they were finding how hot we got, and looking for ways of making us cooler. To do the former, one of the aircraft had thermometers fixed up around the cabin with more in the ears of the captain and AEO (no danger of errors through the dissipation of mental energy!). Thus it was established that it gets very hot in Vulcans in the tropics. Temperatures of 80~C were recorded in air leaving the cabin. A simple device was tried out to see if it improved cabin conditions; two open tubes were protruded into the airflow through the two sextant mountings and, with one facing forwards and the other aft, a near jet-stream gale was made to howl across the cabin. This was appreciated by all except the plotter, whose attempts at tidy draughtsmanship were rendered chaotic. However, Dr. Allen has outlined some refinements he proposes to incorporate with this excellent device and which will do much to improve the comfort of crews operating at low level in hot climates.
A crew’s first trip from Butterworth was a familiarisation sortie which incorporated approaches at Tengah, Changi and Alor Star. Training flights usually followed the high-low profile and included simulated and live practice bombing at Song Song Range, and fighter affiliation. Two crews took aircraft to Tengah for weekends; this was much appreciated by both the crews and by the station staff at Tengah.

Any detachment’s leisure and social activities are probably predictable. This was no exception, apart perhaps from the playing of two rugby matches at Butterworth. Being winter in Australia, it was rugby season in Malaya and, being unable to defy such logic, the detachment side was beaten twice. Otherwise our leisure activities conformed to type. Spare time was usually spent at the swimming pool, on the station golf course or shopping in Penang. Many detachment personnel of all ranks were flown into the jungle to Fort Kemar by the Twin Pioneers of No 209 Squadron, where they were always received with outstanding hospitality by Inspector Zabri, the Fort Commander, shown the Sakai arts and crafts, including a demonstration of blow-pipe hunting, and were invariably given a curry lunch to sustain them on their return journey. On the Saturday before the end of the detachment, the Squadron officers invited the officers of Butterworth, Inspector Zabri, and their ladies to a party in the Mess, to repay the hospitality and many kindnesses received.

Sadly, the detachment ended on 5th July, on the morning of which the first four Vulcans set off for home, following the outbound route back. The second four Vulcans left Butterworth on 6th July and arrived in UK on July 9th. The remainder of the detachment flew back in three Britannias.

So our detachment to FEAF was over. It was most enjoyable, but no “swan”. Much productive work was done, and much valuable experience acquired. If the success of a detachment is measured by the fact that all commitments and tasks were completed, then Exercise Moonflower 1968 was successful. The main credit for this must inevitably go to the ground-crews who, as usual, were obliged to work long hours in the unaccustomed heat of the tropics; this they did with much enthusiasm and skill. The fact that many new friendships were sealed made the detachment doubly successful, in this context the RAAF personnel at Butterworth and Darwin and the RAF Support Unit at Butterworth are due a full share of the credit and our gratitude for their unrestrained co-operation and hospitality.

13th Jan 2004, 03:34
I hope I’m not over staying my welcome but The Air Clues article has reminded me of a funny during that particular Darwin detachment. Well, I thought it was funny. Friday night was dance night at a Royal Australian Navy Sigs base, about twenty miles ‘down the track’. Lots of Aussie Wrens. Name of RAN Coonawarra I think. Time came to leave and we were heading for the Main Gate to pick up a taxi. Strolling past the swimming pool (did he fall or was he pushed) I ended up in the water. Not much of an issue, warm water, cheap watch, and dressed in Darwin Rig of shirt, shorts and long socks. I hauled myself out and we continued towards the gate. The floodlit Guard Room, or Naval Bridge I suppose, was ahead of us, three stories high, and narrow. As I took a short cut across the grass a naval voice yelled from the top story - ‘Man overboard’. The navy do this on shore establishments when people walk on the grass - don’t ask. Terrific I thought, he can’t possibly know I’m dripping wet - this is a gift!

I climbed up the outside stairs and into the top floor where the Duty Officer, the shouter, stood on the far side of a very highly polished floor. I walked slowly across the floor the better to cover it with the dripping water that clearly caused him some pain, looked him in the eye and said - ‘Bloody magic. How’d you do that?’

One RAN Duty Officer in serious stitches!

13th Jan 2004, 06:01

That brought back some very happy memories, I left Butterworth june 68 and had many happy memories of Vulcan detachments.

For me you can keep them coming, glad you kept the Air Clues article. Priceless:D

13th Jan 2004, 06:36
Great thread!

What is astounding is that all these learned gentlemen contributing from the age of Astro Nav, GPIs , APIs etc have the abilty and technology to work a computer and contribute!!

Blue touch paper lit!

John Eacott
13th Jan 2004, 06:45

E mail the pics to me, & I'll host them for you ;)

Pontius Navigator
14th Jan 2004, 03:55
Watch it unmissable, watch it. We had the ultimate PC, as in portable computer, all 1,400lbs of it made by EMI with radar by British Thompson Houston.


Your recollection of 601 at Coningsby was spot on. Although I was at Butterworth at the time we were fully briefed. One of my nav course was the radar on the aircraft. The engines, as I recall, took rather longer to deliver full power from flight idle than 9 seconds.

The other cause of the crash was the automatic assumption that being a senior officer was synomymous with being at expert. The Captain was the new CO of IX Sqn. Ron Dick, a very experience Captain, se below <g>, said that it hd happened to him once when he was the non-flying pilot. He had never seen the horizon swing across the cockpit so fast. The only solution was to throttle back on all 4 and then bring the power back on slowly. The problem in 1964 was exacerbated by the use of unrestricted take-off power giving about 20k per donk.

At a later date Ron Dick was the display pilot for Farnborough. The Vulcan was kept out on a hold about 10-12 miles from the field awaiting its slot. Its slot came and went and the crew kept pressing for the time. Then the tower came on and gave them about 2 minutes. Sod's law, they were pointing the wrong way. They rolled in and Ron opened up the power and took the aircraft well over 350 kts which was the peacetime Vne. The ASI settled about 380 kts or just 5 kts over wartime low level cruise. The co, apparently concerned about exceeding the release to service, kept calling check air speed. Very experienced Captain, knowing that he knew the release to service, told the co it was OK. No CRM in those days.

As they sped down the approach they shot passed the Dakota that was on the approach ahead of them and swept onto the airfield. Then Ron re-checked the ASI. He had misread it by 100 Kts and they were doing 485 kts. My fastest at low level had been 415 kts but that was over France and another story; we had a Vatour chasing us.

The second incident was John MacDonald on another IX Sqn aircraft. They did not have TFR at that time. TFR was only introduced in 1967 and I had to ask the GSU for some operational questions for the aircrew mission quiz. No, John and his crew were doing map based terrain following. It should only have been done in daylight and VMC. The technique called for the radar to get accurate fixes and for the plotter to 'track' the aircraft using a chinagraph pencil and a half-mill chart. He would call the terrain height and height to fly while the radar would call 'cut-off' ie the black hole that marked the next ridge. As the black hole got smaller and returns appeared behind it the assumption was made that the aircraft was above the ridge. The fallacy was the 'hill behind a hill' when the second hill was much higher than the first. In this case there was 'no hill behind a hill' on their track. Unfortunately they were not on track but about 2 miles off.

In the absolute certainty that the nav team were in control the pilots followed the height calls in VMC. The height demanded meant that the aircraft just kissed the tops of the clouds. Unfortunately it was not cloud but ground mist. Once pilot was recovered dead but otherwise uninjured. I think the other lost a foot. Of the rear crew there were hardly any remains. A similar incident had happened 'at Scampton a year or so earlier called the 'Hills of St Clone' where the aircraft hit a saddle in ground mist.


Why be coy? 'twas Lord Louis himself. The VIP flight was for the 'Eagle River Conference' where senior members of the US military, Canadian, and UK could meet (4 star and above) for confidence building measures and discussing detailed military topics in a secure environment free from prying eyes. That Eagle River happened to be a first class fly-fishing river was purely coincidental. The second year one cheesed off liney spoke to his wife and wife, not being a signatory of the official secrets act spoke to the Sun. The Sun naturally led with the story which Lord Louis had to prove was false by appearing in London when he was suppoed to be in Goose. Story was killed and so was the stn cdr's career (he has already been mentioned earlier).


Legh-Smith, otherwise known a Leg H.

14th Jan 2004, 05:10
I’m pleased to be wrong on the TFR/Welsh Hills accident but I’m pretty sure that TFR was on-board, at least some aircraft, before ’67. It may have been that one or two aircraft were modded early on for proving trials. Only mention I can find is at


Good read!

14th Jan 2004, 22:25
Pontius Nav

The Hill of St Colm accident was B1A XH477 of the Waddington Wing - 44R Sqn crew. Jun 63.

Presume pilot who lost foot in XH536 was also deceased. This is stated on checking ITN Archive.


General Dynamics TFR ARI 5959 first tested on Victor B1. First Vulcan B2 fitted TFR was XM606 of Cot Wg loaned to MoA June 65 to May 67. Returned to service April 68 after mod programme.

Having read that XH536 crashed Feb 66 in TFR trials had assumed TFR fitted before delivery to Cot Wg in Nov 65. It had been retained for trials since new and this was its first service use. Being the fourth production B2 and with the Cot Wg being equipped with the last production batches, an unlikely candidate for the Wing. Assumed if it had TFR, it was used for TFR training. Apparently not.

Will have to get the TFR files out on my next visit to Kew.


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

15th Jan 2004, 00:19
Pontius Nav, Alamo; I’ve still got more than a suspicion that TFR figured in the loss of XM536. In fact the Lincolnshire Echo’s Tribute to the Vulcan (which seems to be correct in most other things) says, under losses, XM536 - Crashed During TFR Trial.

The earliest Vulcan photograph I can find with a TFR pod is XL445, Waddington, some time in 1967, 44 and 50 Squadron’s Standard Presentation. Jeez……I’m turning into an anorak!

PS. You've got to see this.............


15th Jan 2004, 00:48
Jesus! IMC terrain following by map and pencil - you must all have had balls like footballs...

How long did the far-eastern dets go on? Govt. decided to withdraw from east of Suez by 1971 in '68, but didn't Heath extend that to the mid-70s, at least for some of the facilities, and some of the Maltese Vulcan photos are 77-78 (I know it's not in the far east).

15th Jan 2004, 11:23
Dunno how long the Moonflowers lasted but the last time I saw a Vulcan was over here on the beautiful island of Borneo around 1990-ish. It was parked by our hangar but when I tried to approach the crew chief for a chat, I was chased away by a Gurkha dog handler. Apparently the old beast was much too secret for an old cold war warrior to approach too closely, though I doubt if any of the b*ggers looking after it would have ever seen 'old Yeller' never mind used a live one for an access stand while changing anti-collision light bulbs on QRA.

Through difficulties to the cinema

15th Jan 2004, 20:03
If Moonflowers included Vulcans down to Darwin then the list is below;

High Rigel December, 1965
Short Spica March, 1966
High Castor August, 1966
High Mars November,1967
High Jupiter June, 1968
Rum Keg December, 1968
Town House June,1969
Castor Oil February, 1970
Opal Digger November, 1970
Whisky Sour February, 1972
Top Limit May, 1972
Dry Martini July, 1972


© Denis W.O’Brien

The last Vulcan I saw east of the Channel was something of a shock. May 24th1973 I was flying from Tehran to the ‘Gulf’ via Shiraz, Iran Air 737.

We’d landed and were taxing in when - there it was, wheels up and on the grass next to the runway, sat XJ781. Couldn’t get the gear down apparently. I later hear the biggest problem was the bomb aimer’s window shattering on ‘landing’. This produced a very effective high speed scoop which poured huge amounts of very fine dust and sand into crew compartment and reducing viz to nil. Anyone expand?

16th Jan 2004, 00:04
Fascinating thread. When I were a lad, I lived for a couple of years about 3 miles south of Finningley, right on the approach. I'll never forget the sight and sounds. I think there was a Group HQ in Bawtry, the AOC's car was some lovely old Armstrong Siddeley or such.

I picked up a book on the Vulcan which I found very interesting- The Vulcan Story 1952-2002, by Tim Laming, Silverdale Books, ISBN 1-85605-701-1. It covers the history of the delta design, flight testing, display including display pilots' notes, aircrew manual, and is, as they say, lavishly illustrated.

Pontius Navigator
16th Jan 2004, 03:06
Here's one from the memory banks. Back in 1965 we did the delivery air test on, I think, XM655. The air test schedule required a combat power take-off and climb to maximum altitude. We had to take engine Ts and Ps every minute. Later the Vulcan was restricted to cruise power but we had about 104% on two engines and 102% on the other two. For some reason the maximum power was never uniform across all 4 engines.

Brakes off we accelerated down the runway. We had about 50% fuel so our AUW was about 137,000lbs. That was when the Mark 2 weighed in at about 97 or 98k. One minute later, passing 2,000 feet we read out all the figures to the AEO. After 2 minutes, passing 7k we started again. He had no sooner finished one set when we started on the next. We continued like a love-sick angel at 5,000 fpm. Passing 50,000 we were still climbing like a rocket just over 9 minutes after take-off.

Our ROC started to reduce but still over 2,000 fpm. Passing 55,000 we wondered just how high it would go. We had the full pressure gear on, g-pants and pressure jerkins, P or Q masks, but it was really into unknown territory. At 55,500 our ROC was approaching 500 fpm and we were passing Glasgow. We decided to call it a day and turned for home.


We were flighted to go to Tengah in 1972 as the 'final' withdrawal but the base loading was too high and we stopped the weekend in Gan instead. In 1973 we flew through to Ohakea. Creative team effort. One crew did a ferry from Akrotiri, via Bombay, to Tengah. We took it out and back, and a final crew took it via Madras back to Cyprus. On our return to Singapore we landed seconds behind the VC10 that was due to leave for UK about 90 minutes later. Unfortunately we missed our return flight and were stuck in downtown Singapore for a week. Awful <g>.

We didn't actually fly IMC on a map and a pencil, we practised doing it with a non-flying pilot doing the safety pilot. It usually worked though. Operationally it would have been easy compared with Scotland or Wales. Highest ground between High Wycombe and Moscow was Harrow Hill.


The Shiraz was a IX Sqn with Eddie Baker as the Captain and an Iranian observer on board too. Yes, it was a failed undercarriage. Unfortunately ATC did not warn the crew about the trench down the side of the runway. Had they done so the aircraft could have landed on the opposite runway and been recovered. As you said, the bomb aimer's window acted as a dust scoop which turned the back end into its own sand-storm. Anyway the pilots and observer got out OK as did the AEO. The two navigators did not appear and the AEO, Stef Episcopo went back in to find that the nav table, which was a structural component, had dropped and trapped them in their seats. he pumped iron and that day he lifted the table off them. They all got out.

I must check my log book about TFR.

The Cottesmore and Waddington wings swopped aircraft about 1968. The Coningsby/Cottesmore wing had the newer 301 series Mk 2 which were also assigned to the Far East. The Waddington wing converted to Mk 2 after the Cottesmore wing was complete but using oldest 201 series aircraft as the Scampton wing now had the newer 201 series Blue Steel.

Then, before the Cottesmore wing moved to Cyprus, the Waddington wing gained their 301 series aircraft and the Far East comittment to boot.

Just a thought, Taff Scouse?

17th Jan 2004, 00:55
B(I)8 & Gainsey
Ref the 543 Victor,
543 were being presented with their Colours, by, I believe, Princess Anne. Anyway they had a parade on the lazy, where also were lined up their Victors. The culmination of this was to be a rapid start and scramble of one of the said a/c. followed by a flypast. Sod's law came into play and the prime went tits up, the crew, minus I think the Nav Rad, who was to get some pics for the Captain, ran to the standby, started and taxied . He did a wonderful take off(min fuel) airborne well before the intersection and pulled into a tight r.h climbing turn, intending to line up on 27 for a max rate climb, but he was unable to pull onto the centreline due to speed & not letting out far enough so he called going around for another try. He came over us going like the proverbial bat out of hell, and in at least 50 to 60 deg bank, got to the far side of the airfield and the tailplane departed, the rest is history, apart from the fact that I got hauled in to do the first night's guard at the crash site.
Incidently,The Daily Mirror was the only paper to get a photo of the take off and initial climbing turn, and it headlined it's next day's edition "Death of a Giant" with said pic on the front page
regards Den.

17th Jan 2004, 02:21
Thanks for that Den, brings my memory of the thing into sharper focus. Along with a few others we were watching the day from the corner of 3 Hangar (51's house). The "rumour" I mentioned previously may well have be accurate then if there was a kerfuffle in changing aircraft in front of a VIP.

I take it you were on 543. But date is vauge in my mind, refresh me if you will. :confused:

17th Jan 2004, 05:47
According to Andrew Brookes' excellent little book on the Victor, XM716 (the a/c in question) disintegrated over Warboys on 29 June 1966.

17th Jan 2004, 06:21
OK, thanks Arc. Yes, I was alive then. . .:ok:

galaxy flyer
17th Jan 2004, 10:09
Fascinating thread on a marvelous plane. Was anyone here at the CFB Cold Lake Airshow in the summer of 1979? Was there in an ANG F-100 and what good time was had by all.


17th Jan 2004, 14:20
Hello Den,
Thanks for that. I have often wondered how many people have gone in as a result of performing for the cameras/press/VIPs. The "Hey, watch this" famous last words syndrome. Sad.

Pontius Navigator
18th Jan 2004, 04:15
Nimrod at Toronto for one.

I was lucky in the Vulcan. Inverted, 20,000 feet, climbing!

Yellow Sun
18th Jan 2004, 04:25

Nimrod at Toronto for one.

The sad aspect of the Toronto accident was that it was an "action replay" of an incident during a display practice at Kinloss in the 1970s. Regrettably the lesson learnt that day at Findhorn had been forgotten by the time of Toronto.


Noah Zark.
18th Jan 2004, 07:59
Forgive me for drifting a little off-thread for a moment, but what were the findings for the Toronto incident? I never did hear.

PPRuNe Pop
18th Jan 2004, 16:33
This thread is too good to let it drift off into a general discussion about aircraft accidents or other off topics posts - like many others before it. Please keep to the topic.


John Purdey
18th Jan 2004, 23:45
There was an earlier survey of lost Vulcans on this thread, which among others mentiond the Malta accident in 1975(?). The item simply refered to 'explosion' as the cause. What was that about?

18th Jan 2004, 23:59
If I recall correctly, the ac hit the undershoot of the 'old' runway causing substantial damage to the undercarriage in the process. They rolled (sort of) in order to try a belly landing, with bits falling off the ac, then the ac exploded in mid-air, killing the rear crew before they could bail out. Only the 2 pilots survived.

I seem to recall being told that the rules were changed shortly afterwards to ensure that the crew entrance ladder was always lashed down as the ladder in the Malta accident had obstructed the crew entrance door?

Edited to add: Seems my memory was correct, I've just found this very full account: http://www.flightlinemalta.com/airaccidents/XM645/ . Note that the co-pilot is at one point incorrectly described as the 'navigator'.

18th Jan 2004, 23:59
A Vulcan doing CT at Luqa landed very hard in the undershoot, continued on the grass, making hard contact with the runway lip. The combination did severe structural damage to the landing gear and wings, including, I believe, rupturing fuel tanks. The captain got it airborne again to assess the state of the ac. Unfortunately, the aircraft caught fire and exploded in the circuit. The 2 pilots ejected, but the rear crew [which I believe included a crew chief] perished.

RIP, those fine men.

[Edited to say my post crossed with Beagles. Just confirming his facts]

19th Jan 2004, 00:54
Here we are, more on XH536, and TFR trials are mentioned.
Vulcan Bomber XH536 of R.A.F. Cottesmore
11th February 1966
SN 913215 Fan Bwlch Chwyth at about 590 m
Reason for Flight
TFR trials [ Terrain Following Radar]
Cause of Crash
A low flying exercise that went badly wrong when the weather conditions become too bad for safe aircraft operations in the low level role, and the Pilot did not elect to fly at a higher altitude.
And more;

no reds
19th Jan 2004, 17:42
Kicking my heels in Cardiff about 91 suggested by the locals that the scrapyard opposite was worth looking in - duly went ponceing about.The bulk of it - Hunter,various Sabres, lots of other stuff ok but minding my manners I didn`t touch.
I had been let in by a guy driving a small JCB thingy who appeared to be redefining the yard boundaries and I was very wary about being caught bang to rights - I really shouldn`t have been there ( suspect you`ve guessed ).
Next thing I knew there was a scrapyard XJ owner revving the valves out of his " pride and joy " apparently to get to me . . . . " have you been in the Vulcan ?"
"not touched it" I said
"Right" qouth he "use this to get the door down and don`t worry about putting it back - I`ll sort it out later" at which point he gave the jag an equal thrashing on the way out.
A layabout sat in the skippers seat of a Vulcan? sooo tiny and with a stick - x2 - like a Kestel 19 !
Amazing. Just wonder about the history of that aircraft.
Day off today and spent all night digesting this thread so please forgive the waffle - my lady did :E

19th Jan 2004, 18:16
RE 536

The jury must be still out on this one. There are many Vulcan myths around [you could have an entire thread on this]. One 'fact' that pops up on occasion concerns the 'Ferranti' TFR. In reality it was built by GD in the US and is confirmed by PRO file AVIA 18/2437 Vulcan B. Mk2 and Victor B. Mk2 evaluation of the general dynamics terrain following radar system (ARI 5959) .

Indeed, one of the links quoted by forget says: "The Avro Vulcan... ... incorporated elements of ”fly by wire” computer control. The TFR was one element in that system [and was] ... connected directly to the AutoPilot." It didn't and it wasn't.

You cannot believe everything you read however authorative the medium is. It only takes one mention of 'terrain-following training' for one author to add the word 'radar' - not unnaturally thinking about it - and a new 'fact' is published and republished.

I would prefer to read the accident report or read about it in Air Clues. I would pay more attention to those who were around at the time than what I read in books or see on Web sites.

The TFR trials Vulcan XM606 was on loan to MoA from June 65 to May 67.

536 crashed in Feb 66. Would TFR have been released for crew training as early as this?

No reds:

The only aircraft that seems to match is XM569. I am not aware of any XJs being scrapped at Rhoose or St Athan.


Searching XM569 will bring up more info.

19th Jan 2004, 18:56
alamo - ‘Indeed, one of the links quoted by forget says: "The Avro Vulcan... ... incorporated elements of ”fly by wire” computer control. The TFR was one element in that system [and was] ... connected directly to the AutoPilot." It didn't and it wasn't’.

Agree 100%. It didn't and it wasn't. I posted the links without comment. With hindsight I should have covered your points

I’ve also seen mention of the 'Ferranti' TFR in various papers. It was certainly a General Dynamics kit but it’s possible it was manufactured by Ferranti under license.

See picture and more on 536 at;


but note ‘Seemingly, 536 was fitted with TFR before delivery to the Cottesmore Wing………..


Completed in August 1959 and retained by the manufacturers, the fourth Avro Vulcan B2 XH536 at the Farnborough Air Show in September 1959. 536 carries a Hawker Siddeley (Avro's parent company) logo behind the roundel and the words 'BRISTOL SIDDELEY OLYMPUS ENGINES' in the intake. (Bristol engines had merged with Armstrong Siddeley earlier that year). Note how 536 has yet to be fitted with an ECM tailcone. 536 was delivered to A&AEE at Boscombe Down in December 1959 and was officially allocated to the Ministry of Aviation for engine trials in May 1960. 536 entered RAF service in November 1965 with the Cottesmore Wing but crashed in February 1966 when it struck the ground during TFR trials with the loss of its IX Squadron crew.

The preliminary trials of the General Dynamics terrain-following radar ARI 5959 were held in 1965 on Victor B1 XA933. Vulcan trials were carried out on B2 XM606 which was loaned to the Ministry of Aviation from June 1965 to May 1967. Seemingly, 536 was fitted with TFR before delivery to the Cottesmore Wing and was used for squadron trials pending the modification with TFR on the Cottesmore Wing's 301engined Vulcans.

no reds
19th Jan 2004, 19:24
XJ`s being scrapped.

Alamo no offence was intended, sorry if it sounded like that. I will shut up

19th Jan 2004, 20:11
No reds

Absolutely no offence. And don't shut up. Hope the link reminded you of a good day.


Unfortunately, I wrote that last link you quote! I should heed my own advice! Mind you, I did partially cover my ar*e with 'seemingly'.

no reds
19th Jan 2004, 21:11
Alamo - bless you

19th Jan 2004, 22:31
No Reds,
I thought you were refering to the scrapyard owner's Jaguar XJ.:confused:
In the Malta accident I believe that a woman on the ground was also killed.
BTW, Lots of good tales about operating the B-58 and B-52 by an ex-SAC mate on his site here:
www.fortunecity.com/marina/havana/287/ (http://www.fortunecity.com/marina/havana/287/)

19th Jan 2004, 23:52
I remember being told about the Malta accident and having a vivid description of the crash by a friend who lives in the village. He was about 8/9 years old at the time and his father was based on Malta (on Shackletons). His father had gone to work that morning and he had gone down to the beach with his family, his dad having told him to watch out for his plane because they were the only flight due out that day - he said the Vulcan was an unscheduled flight.

He heard a plane taking off and turned to watch what he thought was his dad's aircraft take off then explode and crash in flames. As he put it 'I was a bit upset at the time'. Justifiably I think.

(Apparently his father was also in crew of the 'landing a Shackleton on a U.S. carrier incident' of legend).

20th Jan 2004, 11:16
The TFR may certainly have been a piece of General Dynamics kit but it was always referred to by the Ferranti name in engineering crew rooms. Perhaps one of our ex-air radar fairies can enlighten us as to why? I do remember there being many more radomes than radars, so just because an aircraft had a TFR radome on its nose didn't necessarily mean that it was TFR equipped - at least up until 1969 anyway.

"Fly-by-wire" Vulcans ha-har... The main reason for all the secrecy was that the RAF didn't want the true state of affairs to leak out. The 'V' force were using electronic equipment left over from the european bomber offensive that had seen active service in Lancaster's - much of the radar navigation kit bore serial numbers indicating 1940's manufacture. It did the business though, just as the Shackleton was unbeatable at sub-hunting against the P3 Orion. Its the quality of the crew that counts.

Through difficulties to the cinema

20th Jan 2004, 14:54
Maybe the TFR was GD designed and built under licence for the RAF by Ferranti?

21st Jan 2004, 01:29
When the TFR pod was not fitted, there was a blanking plate fitted over the hole in the radome. This was the same contour as the radome, and about 1/4 inch thick, but was not TFR pod 'nipple' radome in shape.

The TFR pod fitted to XM598 at Cosford however, is an empty TFR pod. This was fitted at Cosford by myself after the aircraft had been stripped out at Waddington and then flown to Cosford. The 'pod' was fitted to give 598 the appearance it had in '82 during the Falklands escapade.

The H2S and the NBC may have been steam driven and fitted to Noah's Ark, but it managed to get a 1000lb Iron bomb on the airfield at Port Stanley, and if this had been a Blue Danube or similar weapon, the debate as to if the Vulcan actually hit the runway would not be needed as the runway would not exist.

21st Jan 2004, 01:47
Blacksheep. I have to agree with ZH on this. The TFR Radome was an intrinsic part of the equipment. If a ‘radome’ was fitted then TFR was fitted.

21st Jan 2004, 09:51
I stand corrected then...
...but I do remember occasions on starter crew, having to sit it out in an old wooden crew hut during one those inevitable aircraft switches, while the radar fairies dashed around fitting TFR equipment from another kite before ours could do its trip. I don't mean simple 'crew-in' snags either, I'm referring to equipment shortages and the kites I was waiting to see off definitely had a pimple on their noses.

I also remember an occasion where an Air Radio Fitter was called out to a defective VHF. He was fiddling about in the racks below the pilot seats making test calls when he heard a reply from someone else saying that they couldn't raise the station either but they were receiving him OK. The snag was cleared and...

...well we've all heard of side-tone haven't we? (The incident made into Air Clues as a piece of fairy folk lore. I worked with that chap again later at Northolt, by which time he had somehow made it to Chief Magician).

Sending one off and then having it abort before reaching the runway like that was a bloody nuisance - especially when it was from one of the rear pans and you had to turn the b*gger round to face the right way again. Usually in freezing rain. Ex-Vulcan ground crew will never forget that tow-bar contraption. I reckon it was designed by the same chap who designed the Forth Railway Bridge. My hands still bear the scars of Vulcan towing duty.

On the subject of towing, we had a crew chief who acquired the nickname Chiefy 'Magoo'. It was a freezing cold and misty evening at Waddington and a B1A was due into the shed for a spot of seciond line servicing. The MPBW were ditch digging with a JCB along the eastern taxiway just opposite the bomb dump and in typical MPBW disregard for safety, left it parked with the arm in the up position. Through the mist comes 'Magoo' and his gallant towing crew, huddled down tight against the cold in the equipment well on back of the tug as usual, secure in the knowledge that the crew chief and driver were watching ahead. Except that Magoo was as blind as a bat and both his and the driver's specs were steamed up. The Vulcan lost about four feet of wing in the collision, the JCB ended up on its side and the flat spots on the tyres saved Ian the brake man's bacon at the Board of Inquiry. The aircraft became the queen of all hangar queens - a major source of spare parts for a couple of years. The Hawker Siddeley work party in Two Shed got it back out on the line just in time for 44(R) to convert to B2s and I believe that the aircraft ended up on the burning area for the firemen to play with.

Through difficulties to the cinema

21st Jan 2004, 17:30

Ferranti airborne radars were developed and produced in Edinburgh and they certainly didn't licence build the Vulcan TFR there. It's possible, but very unlikely that it was licence-built in Manchester. I spent many years with Ferranti and never heard of it as being one of theirs.

21st Jan 2004, 18:22
Hi Wub,
Thanks, I was just guessing.

21st Jan 2004, 22:18
These fun filled, high spirited times extended beyond the Cold War days. I was posted to 57 Sqn at Marham during the mid 80's as a radio/radar teccy.

I don't think I'd ever enjoyed myself so much, through wind, rain and sweeping BL***Y snow off the wings, we still managed a laugh.

Never really experienced such a great gang of blokes again.

Paul Wilson
22nd Jan 2004, 05:12
Just a thought, but was TFR fitted to anything else prior to the Vulcan, and was that made by Ferranti? Could it be a sort of Hoover situation where the company name became the word for all vacuum cleaners?

Pontius Navigator
22nd Jan 2004, 05:25
Yellow Sun,
I don't recall the Kinloss incident. I was there 75-80. What hapened? Whick sqn?

In Cyprus I usually left the door ladder behind if we were bombing and landing back. Other times we always stowed it in the prone position.

I lost a couple of good friends at Luqa. Stan Lambert and Dave Beeden.

TFR was never, in the 60s or 70s refered to a Ferranti. It was GD but then again we only ever called it TFR. Similarly we never used EMI always NBC.

The TFR was spectacular and in many respects useless. It was designed for use in an F111, and possibly a spin off of that cancelled programme. Given that the F111 would travel at 420-540 K drift angles would have been low. In the Vulcan, in training, the drift angles for a given wind would have been double.

Designed for the F111 the TFR had a +/- 3.5 deg beam. The Vulcan at low level often experienced drifts of 5 deg or more. It followed that we TFRd terrain that we were not flying over!

Paul Wilson
As far as I can remember, we got the TFR pod PDQ even before the Americans. It was 'essential' for our survivability and credibility. The F111 was the second user. Good bit of kit. It was J-band. Give it a quick squirt of J-band noise and it would 'fail-safe' and give a fly-up command.

Just the thing if you were visiting downtown Hanoi. The Vietnamese cottoned on rather quicker than the USAF. The fix was simple; drop the fly-up logic.

Yellow Sun
22nd Jan 2004, 16:02
Pontius Nav

Yellow Sun,
I don't recall the Kinloss incident. I was there 75-80. What hapened? Whick sqn?

Check your PMs


22nd Jan 2004, 17:12
Paul W:

The first, and only, TFR designed and made by Ferranti was for the TSR-2 and was known as FLR (Forward Looking Radar). Ferranti bid for the MRCA TFR but lost out to Texas Instruments' GM/TF system - but ended up as UK design authority for the kit.

I don't think Ferranti had any kit on the Vulcan, avionics-wise, but may have supplied instruments; not sure.