View Full Version : RAF Waddington Airfield

5th Aug 2012, 19:27
Thought I would finally get around to asking a question that I was supposed to do some time back. the first is does anyone know if the following two photos show a De-tuner base and if so what for, it does not look right for a Vulcan as the pit looks like it would be a nice place to drop the Stb wheels, the only other thing I could think of was for the Blue Steel engine running?



The last picture, the shape is concrete, has several suggestions but it seems to close to the taxi way for it to be a AA gun mount.


5th Aug 2012, 19:39
Dind't there use to be water tanks close to hardstands for groundcrews to use if splashed with fuel from Blue Steel rounds? These used a mixture of kerosene and high test peroxide (?) which was a very nasty product.

Obviously as this was in the 1960's elfan hadn't been invented.:O

5th Aug 2012, 21:36
Waddington was never a Blue Steel station. Trying to work out where that thing would be, but we never had a de-tuner even on the engine run-up base down by Charlie dispersal.

5th Aug 2012, 21:42
Just had a look on the satellite view of the airfield. That thing is on the edge of the old Vulcan engine running base but I don't remember anything special being in that location. Maybe it's post-V Force? We used to run Vulcans facing out towards the runway, with the engine exhausts pointing east.

5th Aug 2012, 22:51
Could it have been the base for an approach aid such as PAR. They were swung onto approach heading once and may still be to this day. The circle would have been for running wheels for a unit mounted on a centrally mounted plinth.

Ron Cake
6th Aug 2012, 15:03

Waddington was not a 'Blue Steel Station' but it was a Master Diversion Airfield. IIRC some, if not all, MDA's had HTP offload facilities. So it's worth considering.

6th Aug 2012, 18:23
I have found quite a few references to Vulcans of the blue steel persuasion being at Waddington before joining the Scampton Blue Steel group and from memory I am sure my father told me about the nasty stuff used in the Blue steel when he was a propulsion tradesman at Waddington before he moved onto crew chiefing at Scampton, but that was an awful long time ago and I was just a pain in the arris scaley brat.:O

Thanks for the ideas to date, it was just something a few of my work colleagues queried while we were on the engine running pan quite a while ago and just interested in the history behind these sort of things, if any.

7th Aug 2012, 09:26
Could it have been the base for an approach aid such as PAR. They were swung onto approach heading once and may still be to this day. The circle would have been for running wheels for a unit mounted on a centrally mounted plinth. That certainly gets my vote. I can remember one such (ACR7?) which was IIRC a Runway Alignment Aid, ie, better than an SRA but still without glidepath information.

On one grovelly weather occasion, I was asked to hold while they turned the kit round to get a downwind approach with better cloudbase!

But since when did a downwind approach ever worry a rotary mate ....... :ok:

7th Aug 2012, 16:07
Blue Steel V Bombers did not fly with HTP fuel loaded, it would only be loaded into a live weapon. Even on QRA the damned stuff was kept under strict control. I never saw nor heard of any HTP off-loading facilities, nor was I or any of my fellow "Lineys" ever trained on handling a live Blue Steel.

Waddington Wing had B1As up until I went on Line Servicing in '66 and we began to get B2s around the same time. These included some former Blue Steel aircraft from the Scampton Wing. These latter aircraft were reworked to "Free Fall" configuration and didn't carry Blue Steel on the Waddington Wing. Vulcan B1As we're always "Free Fall" aircraft and were never equipped for Blue Steel. With Blue Steel only being carried as inert rounds and with no HTP fuel loaded, why would Waddington need HTP facilities. We were never trained to handle HTP in any case.

7th Aug 2012, 16:45
Blacksheep, you are more than likely correct, I did say it was a long time ago and it could of been Scampton, either way it was only a suggestion as it was the only thing I could think of that might need a de-tuner and appeared to be the right size for what is there.

Also I did google for RAF Waddington and Blue Steel which seemed to lead one to thinking that some Blue Steel aircraft went to Waddington first, then to Scampton as well as what you describe the other way around, which made me believe that my memory of my fathers work on the missile might be right.

I am sure someone, some when might remember what was mounted on there and its purpose, and why indeed would Waddington need HTP facilities when someone who was there remembers the correct gen, I was a rigger liney on 230 OCU at Scampton and never had anything to do with missiles or anything else associated with them either.

7th Aug 2012, 20:27
PAR base would be a turntable type structure situated midway between the two runway thresholds and ACR7 (424 in civil parlance) was mounted on a rectangular tower with sloping sides about 10 or 15 feet high. This looks like neither of those to me.
It does look a bit like a base for a portakabin type structure (especially with what looks like a power distribution panel visible) or a tank of some sort though.
Another possibility is a standby generator or 'B' Centre, but they're usually enclosed in a small brick building.

8th Aug 2012, 13:08
Any comments/thoughts on the links of fairly hefty chains visible at the base of the concrete block nearest the "pan"?

8th Aug 2012, 16:33
Funny you should ask, we were just discussing this earlier today and all the suggestions have been discussed, but then the chains again were bought up as they are quite hefty items, again we have no idea what their use could be for.

I thought the current blast shields were from the earlier days of Waddington but the manner of engine running was confirmed by a couple of guys that were here then and the current structures were not there, but even they don't remember what was there back then in regard the photos so it would appear they are a newer construction and probably nothing to do with Vulcans.

Brewster Buffalo
8th Aug 2012, 20:54
Returning to the Blue Steel theory
IIRC some, if not all, MDA's had HTP offload facilities

I've found confimation that at airfields periodically visited by Blue Steel armed aircraft a high peroxide defuelling pit was provided for emergency use.
I suppose the next query is whether this structure can be found at other MDA/V bomber airfields.

9th Aug 2012, 16:15
I wonder who would have done the off-loading and how the offloaded HTP would be disposed of? Always allowing that an aircraft with a live round had actually flown, of course. The Victor crew who had a problem "recovering from an unusual attitude" while carrying a fuelled round at the test firing range simply jettisoned the thing onto the range, rather than bring it back.

10th Aug 2012, 12:40
I was at Wittering in 58/9 on a single aircraft, a Valiant that was doing trials on RATOG(Super Sprites fitted inboard either side of the fuselage.) We did many a take off with these things that were then dropped by parachute over the airfield. Sometimes they would not fire and the Valiant would land with it still attached, we would drop it off the aircraft, and then take it down to the test cell where we either drained it, or tried to light it off to get rid of the fuel. It was never successful, the parachute landings did more damage than anything else, and was even more amusing when the parachute failed to open on a particular cross windy day, and the darn thing fell into the hallowed grounds of the Burley Estate. With all the mishaps we had with HTP, its no wonder they never flew Vulcans with loaded Blue Steel weapons.

Ron Cake
11th Aug 2012, 16:11

Quote: 'Blue Steel V Bombers did not fly with HTP fuel loaded'

'fraid they did. I remember flying out of Bedford in a Scampton a/c with HTP aboard the missile (it was known as 'Blue Steel wet round'). On another occasion we made a rapid diversion to Wittering with rising HTP temperatures. Wittering was chosen because it too was a 'Blue Steel base'. ...can't remember whether they did an offload.

Having said that, I think the installation in the photos is probably too elaborate to be an HTP offload point.

11th Aug 2012, 17:22
Out of Bedford: That would be RAE? Was that for the firing trials at Aberporth? If so that would not have been a normal operation. I say only that, had a wet Blue Steel arrived at Waddington, Line Servicing Squadron had no specialist equipment or trained personnel to unload it while I was there. We were a B1A station until long after Blue Steel was deployed.

Ron Cake
12th Aug 2012, 15:47
RAE Bedford was an MBF dispersal airfield for Scampton in the mid 1960s. Once or twice a year a four a/c detachment would disperse there in order to exercise the facilities. Flights from Bedford were normal training profiles, including those with Blue Steel wet rounds

Blue Steel trials were conducted in South Australia (from Edinburgh Field). Aberporth was never involved.

13th Aug 2012, 19:04
Aberporth was certainly involved - in "Operation Fresno" in 1966 when RAF crews did post acceptance firings - two by Victor crews and two Vulcan. The first Blue Steel firing by an operational crew was a 100 Squadron crew on 27 May 1966. All four shots were at Aberporth.

Ron Cake
14th Aug 2012, 16:27

I was on the Blue Steel force in 1966 but have no recollection Blue Steel trials at Aberporth. So, apologies - I should not have asssumed my memories were a reliable source.