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Did You Fly The Vulcan?? (Merged)

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Did You Fly The Vulcan?? (Merged)

Old 24th Dec 2003, 05:42
  #61 (permalink)  
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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'?
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Old 24th Dec 2003, 13:58
  #62 (permalink)  
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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......
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Old 24th Dec 2003, 14:50
  #63 (permalink)  
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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.
Old 24th Dec 2003, 15:31
  #64 (permalink)  
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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!
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Old 24th Dec 2003, 15:46
  #65 (permalink)  
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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!
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Old 24th Dec 2003, 17:50
  #66 (permalink)  
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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.

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Old 24th Dec 2003, 19:20
  #67 (permalink)  
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Exercie EDOM

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.
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Old 24th Dec 2003, 19:52
  #68 (permalink)  
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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??!!
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Old 25th Dec 2003, 00:04
  #69 (permalink)  

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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.
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Old 25th Dec 2003, 04:15
  #70 (permalink)  
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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...
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Old 25th Dec 2003, 05:03
  #71 (permalink)  
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EDOM (I think!)

"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
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Old 25th Dec 2003, 08:24
  #72 (permalink)  
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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 [email protected] (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.
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Old 25th Dec 2003, 14:26
  #73 (permalink)  
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Nuclear Weapons

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?
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Old 25th Dec 2003, 15:28
  #74 (permalink)  
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I don't think we should discuss nuclear weapons or policy and practice, past or present...
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Old 25th Dec 2003, 17:58
  #75 (permalink)  
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bit late for that old chap - but in any case, why not??

Merry Xmas - and a good 2004
Old 26th Dec 2003, 21:43
  #76 (permalink)  
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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.
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Old 27th Dec 2003, 01:43
  #77 (permalink)  
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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.

PS, It may have been a B47 I get mixed up with all the different American kit.
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Old 27th Dec 2003, 05:06
  #78 (permalink)  
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Low level Vulcans

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
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Old 27th Dec 2003, 05:23
  #79 (permalink)  
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Facinating article Mr Blank thank you.
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Old 27th Dec 2003, 09:55
  #80 (permalink)  
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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.
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