View Full Version : Upcoming BBC doc on Jets and the Cold War - help needed!

4th Dec 2012, 17:03
Hi all

I've got a favour to ask the PPRuNe forums.

I'm a researcher at the BBC and I'm working on a two part documentary about jets and their role in the Cold War for BBC2. I've done quite a bit of research on the topic and we're in the early stages of working out what to include - there's some fantastic stuff about the RB-45s and the U2s spying on the USSR in the '50s, and the contribution jets made to the West's deterrent, on both sides of the Atlantic - but the problem with all television is finding things to film!

My producers have asked me to put feelers out to get an idea of what's out there in terms of planes, places and people that we could get on screen, in the UK, USA and Russia. I've done a lot of digging into this but there's only so much google can tell you! I'd be really grateful if anyone has any tips for potential contributors, be they pilots/crew who flew the planes, experts in the field or enthusiasts, or any suggestions for some well preserved CW-era airfields, bunkers or bases. And if there are any great stories that show just how vital jet planes were in defining how the Cold War was fought that you think we should cover in the show, I'd love to hear them!

Post here, PM or:
[email protected]
07971 723731



Shaggy Sheep Driver
4th Dec 2012, 18:57
Come and see our Nimrod at Manchester Airport:


A significant cold war jet whose primary purpose was detecting and having the ability to destroy the Russian submarines thyat would deliver ICBMs to nuke western targets.

5th Dec 2012, 08:48
You should contact the Classic Air Force down in Newquay:

Classic Air Force, Newquay (http://www.classicairforce.com/)

Also worth looking at is the collection at Bruntingthorpe.

5th Dec 2012, 09:36
RAF COSFORD Cold War display is simply as good as it gets.

Aircraft on display at the National Cold War Exhibition Cosford (http://www.nationalcoldwarexhibition.org/explore/cold-war-exhibition-aircraft.cfm)

National Cold War Exhibition | Things to see and do | Cosford | RAF Museum (http://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/cosford/things-to-see-and-do/hangars/cold-war.aspx)

Al McLean the curator, is extremely helpful.

5th Dec 2012, 11:02
I've heard stories from different sources about our V Bombers testing the NORAD system in the late '50s/early '60s.
Apparently, we sent Vulcans in at high altitude to test their detection systems, and they got to the US mainland undetected.
Some time later after they'd beefed up their high level radar cover, we sent Victors in at low level, and once again they were able to penetrate undetected.
I was told (by a Vulcan pilot) that Chapman Pincher, then Defence Correspondent of the Daily Express, was on one of these flights, however I find this doubtful as there are no spare seats as far as I know so a crewmember would have to be left behind.
Anyway it would be interesting to research this theme; I for one would like to know the true story.

5th Dec 2012, 12:21
On the Vulcan there was a "seat" if you can calll it that for the use of a Crew Chief on Ranger flights, and a duplicate on the opposite side, so Pincher could have been aboard. But why?

5th Dec 2012, 12:23
The RAF Radar Museum at Neatishead is worth contacting too Index Page (http://www.radarmuseum.co.uk/)
Also the Vulcan Home | Vulcan To The Sky (http://www.vulcantothesky.org/) should be on your contact list before it retires at the end of 2013

5th Dec 2012, 13:04
Blacksheep: dunno why. The person who told me about Pincher was an instructor on StCBS at Lindholme in the early '70s, although I got the original story from my brother, who was told it while training as an Air Radar Mechanic at Cosford in '62.

5th Dec 2012, 14:18
Would one of the world's 2 remaining running Victors be of interest? PM me if so. :)
Our jet along with the Vulcan provided the UK nuclear deterrent, then after conversion to a tanker spent many years refuelling the RAF and NATO's aircraft before finally retiring in 1993.

5th Dec 2012, 14:57
Try the FAST Musuem at Farnborough airport; they have Hunter, Jaguar, Canbera and Harrier aircraft along with other cold war related items.

5th Dec 2012, 23:42
Welcome tmoriarty, given that you will be looking for things that move (and preferably through the air!) I'm sure that you know that XH558 Home | Vulcan To The Sky (http://www.tvoc.co.uk/) will probably be flying for the last time in 2013. They would appreciate your facility fee!!

If memory serves, aren't there a couple of these still flying? Blackburn Buccaneer - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackburn_Buccaneer)

6th Dec 2012, 06:26
I've heard stories from different sources about our V Bombers testing the NORAD system in the late '50s/early '60s. Apparently, we sent Vulcans in at high altitude to test their detection systems, and they got to the US mainland undetected. Story circulating in 230 OCU 'B' Sqdn liney's crew room at Finningley, circa 1964, was that this may have been a 230 OCU aircraft. Much talk about extra effort that went into an ECM configuration and testing prior to a Gander/Goose Bay exercise. Apparently diverted South over the Atlantic. But may have been general gossip, no actual facts known.

6th Dec 2012, 08:48
For good background reading you could do worse than look at the Spyflight Website. (http://www.spyflight.co.uk/main.htm) Its creator posts on these fora as Heimdall, so you may be able to contact him by PM.

6th Dec 2012, 11:18
Dear BBC person:

The USAF (that's United States Air Force to you), has an exceptional museum including a B45 Tornado at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton , Ohio.

I would think that reconaisance versions of the Canberra Bomber would also prove interesting.

And it may prove of interest to explore old science fiction movies for ''stock footage'' of old jets. Half the fun of watching movies like, "The Lost Missile" (soon to be on TCM) is seeing footage of these first generation jets streaking across the sky and might be useful to you and your show.

I think the RCAF flew F86
's in Germany during the Korean war.

Treble one
10th Dec 2012, 15:03
I think you may be refering to this?

Operation Skyshield - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Skyshield)


10th Dec 2012, 15:44

You could try my relative (Russell) who owns 485, a Lightning Jet at Cranfield Airport, Bedfordshire.

Should be some good footage there for you

Lightning-T5 home (http://www.lightningt5.com)

All the Best


14th Dec 2012, 15:18
Tom, you may like to include a small piece on where all the decisions may have been taken & controlled from in the event of an all out nuclear war?
BBC - Wiltshire - Wiltshire's Underground City - Wiltshire's Secret Underground City (http://www.bbc.co.uk/wiltshire/content/articles/2005/12/14/burlington_nuclear_bunker_feature.shtml)
Burlington Bunker - Corsham, Wiltshire | Britain's Subterranean City (http://www.burlingtonbunker.co.uk/)

20th Dec 2012, 19:18
I have exchanged emails with the o/p from the BBC and he says that is appreciative of posts and will be returning to the forum.

It strikes me that the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonnell_Douglas_F-4_Phantom_II) was in the Cold War? There must be a lot of footage of them in RAF colours and some still airworthy?

20th Dec 2012, 22:11
Dont forget the RN with Scimitars and Buccaneers invited to do tactical nuclear strikes on one way missions.

22nd Dec 2012, 06:28
of course the TSR2 was seen as the do-it-all perfect fit but Harold Wilson put paid to that project

26th Dec 2012, 19:01
Hi Tom

I'm sure it would be interesting to interview people on the Russian and Eastern European side too. Their perspective was rather different from ours. Happy to link you up with some via PM.