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Did You Fly The Vulcan?? (Merged)

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Did You Fly The Vulcan?? (Merged)

Old 22nd Dec 2003, 08:56
  #41 (permalink)  
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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.
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Old 22nd Dec 2003, 17:25
  #42 (permalink)  
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Just out of interest, why didn't the navigator get a bang seat?
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Old 22nd Dec 2003, 17:41
  #43 (permalink)  
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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..

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!
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Old 22nd Dec 2003, 19:24
  #44 (permalink)  
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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?
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Old 22nd Dec 2003, 19:59
  #45 (permalink)  
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Czechoslovakia was invaded by the Red Army in mid/late 1968. Maybe something to do with that ??
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Old 22nd Dec 2003, 20:09
  #46 (permalink)  
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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.
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Old 22nd Dec 2003, 20:22
  #47 (permalink)  
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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!
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Old 22nd Dec 2003, 20:30
  #48 (permalink)  
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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?

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Old 22nd Dec 2003, 20:48
  #49 (permalink)  
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Why on earth were you going OUT of the main gate on a FRIDAY afternoon??
Old 22nd Dec 2003, 20:55
  #50 (permalink)  
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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??
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Old 22nd Dec 2003, 21:14
  #51 (permalink)  
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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.”
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Old 22nd Dec 2003, 21:50
  #52 (permalink)  
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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!
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Old 22nd Dec 2003, 22:23
  #53 (permalink)  
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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

Last edited by BEagle; 22nd Dec 2003 at 22:44.
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Old 22nd Dec 2003, 23:53
  #54 (permalink)  
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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
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Old 23rd Dec 2003, 11:17
  #55 (permalink)  
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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!
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Old 23rd Dec 2003, 13:14
  #56 (permalink)  
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Exclamation The escape strategy for that was fairly hopeless, too...

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
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Old 23rd Dec 2003, 16:05
  #57 (permalink)  
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The Cold War

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.

Last edited by Argus; 24th Dec 2003 at 04:52.
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Old 24th Dec 2003, 00:54
  #58 (permalink)  
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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!
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Old 24th Dec 2003, 03:08
  #59 (permalink)  
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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....
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Old 24th Dec 2003, 05:23
  #60 (permalink)  
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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?
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