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Did You Fly The Vulcan?? (Merged)

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Did You Fly The Vulcan?? (Merged)

Old 20th Dec 2003, 07:30
  #21 (permalink)  
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40 years ago tonight not on topic but!!!!

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
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Old 20th Dec 2003, 10:44
  #22 (permalink)  
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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.

Last edited by Argus; 1st Jan 2004 at 13:16.
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Old 20th Dec 2003, 12:52
  #23 (permalink)  
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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.

Last edited by BEagle; 20th Dec 2003 at 17:13.
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Old 20th Dec 2003, 16:06
  #24 (permalink)  
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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.
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Old 20th Dec 2003, 18:18
  #25 (permalink)  
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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.
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Old 20th Dec 2003, 20:32
  #26 (permalink)  

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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.
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Old 20th Dec 2003, 20:53
  #27 (permalink)  
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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.
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Old 20th Dec 2003, 21:00
  #28 (permalink)  
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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
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Old 20th Dec 2003, 21:27
  #29 (permalink)  
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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
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Old 20th Dec 2003, 21:31
  #30 (permalink)  
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What was the return-home plan? (if it ain't secret or profanity laden)
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Old 20th Dec 2003, 21:37
  #31 (permalink)  
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There wasn't one.
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Old 20th Dec 2003, 21:44
  #32 (permalink)  
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That's rather what I thought. I suppose your namesake will be in much the same position!
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Old 21st Dec 2003, 00:15
  #33 (permalink)  
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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.
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Old 21st Dec 2003, 01:02
  #34 (permalink)  
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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!!!!!
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Old 21st Dec 2003, 01:42
  #35 (permalink)  
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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.
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Old 21st Dec 2003, 03:53
  #36 (permalink)  
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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!
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Old 21st Dec 2003, 05:17
  #37 (permalink)  
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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.
Old 21st Dec 2003, 08:37
  #38 (permalink)  
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I stand corrected; Blue Steel it was. I'm afraid it's the tyranny of distance - and old men forget!
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Old 21st Dec 2003, 19:59
  #39 (permalink)  

Yes, Him
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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.
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Old 21st Dec 2003, 22:17
  #40 (permalink)  
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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.
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