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Did You Fly The Vulcan?? (Merged)

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Did You Fly The Vulcan?? (Merged)

Old 1st Jan 2004, 01:58
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Here’re some facts and numbers that may be of interest, and may jog some memories. Taken from an excellent Lincolnshire Echo Special, 1994, by (then) Squadron Leader Peter Jacobs. (Are you there??) If there are any errors please let me know and I’ll edit.

(B2s unless stated)

9 Squadron.
1st Mar 62 - 9th Nov64. Coningsby
10th Nov 64 - 25th Feb 69. Cottesmore
26th Feb 69 - 31st Dec74. Akrotiri, Cyprus
1st Jan 75 - 9th Apr82. Waddington

12 Squadron.
1st Jut 62 – 16th Nov64. Coningsby
17th Nov 64 - 31st Dec67. Cottesmore

27 Squadron.
1st Apr 61 - 29th Mar72. Scampton
1st Nov 73 - 31st Mar82. Scampton (SR2)

35 Squadron.
1st Dec 62 - 6th Nov64. Coningsby
7th Nov 64 - 14th Jan69. Cottesmore
15th Jan 69 - 15th Jan 75. Akrotiri, Cyprus
16th Jan 75 - 28th Feb82. Scampton

44 Squadron.
10th Aug 60 - 21st Dec 82. Waddington (B1/1A until Nov 67)

50 Squadron.
1st Aug 61 - 31st Mar84. Waddington (B1/1A until Nov 66, K2 from 82)

83 Squadron.
21st May 57 - 9th Oct 60. Waddington (B1 until Aug 60)
10th Oct 60 - 31st Aug69. Scampton

101 Squadron.
15th Oct 57 - 25th Jun61 — Finningley (B1/1A)
26th Jun 61 - 4th Aug 82 — Waddington (B1/1A until Jan 68)

617 Squadron.
1st May 58 - 1st Jan 82. Scampton (B1 until July 61)

230 Operational Conversion Unit.
Jul 56 - Jun 61. Waddington (B1 until Jun 60)
Jun 61 - Dec 69. Finningley
Dec 69 - Aug 81. Scampton

Coningsby (Mar 62-Nov 64)
1st Mar - 30th Jun 62. 9 Squadron.
1st Jul - 3Oth Nov 62. 9 and l2 Squadrons.
1st Dec 62 - 16th Nov 64. 9, 12 and 35 Squadrons.

Cottesmore (Nov 64-Feb 69)
7th - 16th Nov 64. 35 and 9 Squadrons.
17th Nov 64 - 31st Dec 67. 35, 9 and 12 Squadrons.
1st Jan 68 - 14th Jan 69. 35 and 9 Squadrons.
15th Jan - 25th Jan 69. 9 Squadron.

Finningley (Oct 57-Dec 69)
15th Oct 57 - 25th June 61. 101 Squadron
Jun 61 - Dec 69. 230 OCU.

Scampton (May 58-Mar 82)
1st May 58 - 9th Oct 60. 617 Squadron
10th Oct 60 - 31st Mar 61. 617 and 83 Squadrons
1st Apr 61 - 31st Aug 69. 617, 83 and 27 Squadrons
1St Sep - Dec 69. 617 and 27 Squadrons
Dec 69-29th Mar 72. 617, 27 Squadrons and 230 OCU
3Ost Mar 72 - 31st Oct 73. 617 Squadron and 230 OCU
1st Nov 73 - 15th Jan 75. 617 and 27 Squadrons, and 230 OCU
16th Jan 75 - Aug 81. 617, 27 and 35 Squadrons, and 230 OCU
Aug 81 - 1st Jan 82. 617, 27 and 35 Squadrons
2nd Jan - 28th Feb 82. 27 and 35 Squadrons
1st - 31st Mar 82. 27 Squadron

Waddington (Jul 56-Mar 84)
20th Jul 56 - 20th May57. 230 OCU
21st May 57 - 9th Aug 60. 83 Squadron and 230 OCU
10th Aug - 9th Oct 60. 83 and 44 Squadrons, and 230 OCU
10th Oct 60 - 25th Jun 61. 44 Squadron and 230 OCU
26th Jun - 31st Jul 61. 44 and 101 Squadrons
1st Aug 61 - 31st Dec 74. 44, 101 and 50 Squadrons
1st Jan 75 – 9th Apr 82. 44, 101, 5O and 9 Squadrons
10th Apr - 4th Aug 82. 44, 101 and 50 Squadrons
5th Aug - 2lst Dec 82. 44 and 50 Squadrons

Akrotiri, Cyprus (Jan 69-Jan 75)
15th Jan - 25th Feb 69. 35 Squadron
26th Feb 69 - 31st Dec 74. 35 and 9 Squadrons
1st - 15th Jan 75. 35 Squadron.
Famous Vulcans.
VX770 — First prototype, delivered August 1952.
VX777 — Second prototype and B2 prototype delivered September 1953.
XA889 — First production Bi, delivered February 4, 1955.
XA894 — Engine test bed for Olympus 22R as part of the TSR2 prog.
XA896 — Engine test bed for Bristol Siddeley BS100 as part of P.1124 prog.
XA900 — Last B1 intact, scrapped 1986.
XA903 — Blue Steel trials aircraft. Rolls-Royce test bed for Concorde and Tornado engines.
XH533 — First production B2, first flight August 19, 1958.
XH558 — Last Vulcan in RAF service, sold March 1993.
XL320 — Flew 500,000th Vulcan hour— December 18, 1981.
XL321 — Most Vulcan flying hours — 6,952 hours.
XM607 — Flew ‘Black Buck One’, attack against Port Stanley airfield — April 30/May 1, 1982.
XM657 — Last production B2.

XA897 October 1, 1956 Heathrow. Crashed on approach
VX770 September 20, 1958 Syerston. Structural failure
XA908 October 24, 1958 Michigan. USA Electrical failure
XA891 July 24, 1959 Near Hull. Electrical failure
XA894 December 3, 1962 Patchway. Ground fire
XH477 December 12, 1963 Scotland. Not known
XH535 May 11, 1964 Near Andover. Not known
XA909 July 16, 1964 Anglesey. Engine explosion
XM601 October 7, 1964 Coningsby. Crashed on landing.
XM576 May 25, 1965 Scampton. Crash-landed
XM536 February 11,1966 Wales. Crashed on TFR trial
XL385 April 6, 1967 Scampton. Ground fire
XM604 January 30, 1968 Cottesmore. Engine failure, loss of control.
XM610 January 8, 1971 Wingate. Engine bay fire
XJ781 May 23, 1973 Shiraz, Iran. Crash-landed
XM645 October 14, 1975 Zabbar, Malta Explosion
XM600 January 17, 1977 Near Spilsby. Engine bay fire
XL390 August 12, 1978 Glenview, USA. Crashed during air display.
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Old 1st Jan 2004, 02:39
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Forms Purple


I WROTE the purple.
I didn't mean "What may YOU may have heard " but was trying to convey the different way in which information/stories went around the maritime fleet compared to the V-Force.

By and large however the Sovs weren't too bad, it was the USN that dropped buoys on top me one night.

Now if they had debriefed Scorers in the way JAAC debriefed some of the maritime events.....You could have sold tickets for it!!

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Old 1st Jan 2004, 03:14
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The exercise in 1967 was always a Mickey Finn. The Mick used live weapons as there were never enough YS2 shapes to go around. As an operational generation the Mick was a real shit or bust. Rapid generation for a 24 bomber stream from main base as the missiles creamed in. Not a chance.

The reason why the disperse order took so long is the time it took to generate the Blue Steel force. The freefall wings had viable numbers after about 6 hours and usually full force generation in 8-10. The Blue Tool on the other hand took at least twice as long as you had to get both missile and aircraft generated and then mated. The quick ones were the ones declared for free-fall only <g>.

On that exercise the Victors took over 72 hours to reach their generation target. AOCinC liked to have a 'large' number of aircraft ready to disperse in one go. It looked far more impressive than a 'disperse when ready.'

On one exercise, possibly that one, he opted for a simultaneous scramble of all aircraft throughout the UK. Normally there was an element of 'secret' preparation as the ADOC was pre-warned and flight plans (CA48/F2919) were filed in advance. Not this time.

Flight plans were not released until after the scramble order, ie with no more than 10 minutes notice, maybe less depending on whether the scarmble was from 05 or 02.

As a simulataneous scramble meant all aircraft would be a, out of fuel, and b, recovering to main base at the same time, they adopted a modified flight profile with aircraft recovering from about 1hr 45min. The number of addressees on the flight plans meant each had to be sent twice. Also this year flight plans were filed at main base and not dispersal. This meant Waddington had to file 56 ATC Immediates. We also had to send a number of Flash to report the scramble times. Several aircraft landed before their flight plans had been sent. Then the Blue Met and nuclear war plan signals started to stream in.

I remember the Queen Bee at Nocton Hall ringing to find out why her immediate, sent at 1000 had not been received at 1500! She was told its precedence was not high enough.

On the NBC play, the Bomber Fallout Controller began his broadcast:

"This is the Bomber Fallout Controller, Bomb No 1, Bomb No 1, Waddington, 5MT, High Air Burst . . . "

After a few minutes of this, the phone went in the GDOC. Why are you not reporting in. "Well", said Keith Batt, "I plotted bomb no 1 and assessed we were all dead." "Dont be a fool Batt, lay the game."

Keith had the last laugh, last I heard he was C Regt O.

Another day, the RAF Police went around the camp to make sure everyone was in shelter posture, I kissing their arses goodbye in the barrack blocks. In the open air swimming pool, Fg Off Davis, a permanent flying officer, was sun bathing and floating in the pool. "You there, why aren't you in your shelter?" I think he replied that he was in the pool to wash off the radio active dust. Why didn't the plods join him?

Just another thought on disclosure. In 1964 WW2 had been over for just 19 years. In 2004 the cold war will have been over for 15 years. The events related above took place 40 years ago. Much of the detail is on the AWRE site. Humphrey Winn's superb book on the RAF Nuclear Deterent Forces is a classic.
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Old 1st Jan 2004, 05:20
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Apart from the rear crew escape system, the only other significant problem with the Vulcan was the configuration of the engine intakes. If you lost one engine due to mechanical failure, there was a very good chance that debris from the failed engine would enter the adjacent engine on the same side and take that one out too.

Yes I did cadge from my Co, Pontius (that's what they were for, weren't they? But he got his own back - twice. Once at the end of a Group excercise when we had a fair amount of gas left, instead of a full stop at Coningsby (where we were operating from while the runway at Waddo was being resurfaced) we rolled and did a practice diversion to our Plan 1 at Finningley, where we arrived just as it was getting light. Co flew an excellent PAR and touched down sweetly and as I poured on the coal for him and we rotated, he flew us straight into a bloody great flock of seagulls. Big thump on the starboard side and No 3 started winding down. I did the appropriate drills and then noticed that the EGT on No 4 was higher than Nos 1 & 2, so I shut that down too. No problem as we were light. Everything seemed OK and the AEO had got the electrics sorted so we drove back sedately to Coningsby with the gear down. I got a bollocking for "gethomeitis" but the real reason was because the Waddo engine-change team was at Finningley (which I did not know). Both engines had indeed been damaged.

The next time was not so amusing. Co was again in the LH seat playing at Captain and we did one of those balls-aching limited aids Nav exercises somewhere up the Norwegian Sea and back while the Navs played with their sextants and stars. The nav terminal point was somewhere in E Anglia at an RBSU after which we were to descend into low level and drop some practice bombs on Wainfleet. The presence of live weapons aboard had been noted on the flight plan. Coming down the N Sea I confess that I had dropped off. It was a fine night at FL 400 or something like that and the fuel howgozit was right on the rails. A high-pitched buzzing woke me up, followed by a bang and engine fire warnings on Nos 2 & 1 Talk about an adrenalin surge! I think I had the HP cocks off even before I called the engine fire drills, and that probably saved the situation. The Co put out a Mayday
and that caused all sorts of panic when its was linked up with our flight plan showing live ordnance on board. We were too far inland to get to a reasonable jettison area. Besides I had pulled the RAT handle and I figured the loss of non-essentials would disable the bomb release system. The fire warning lights went out fairly quickly, which was hopeful, even if it did not prove anything. The HP cocks are the best engine fire extinguishers. Midland had us on the ground at Waddo within about 20 mins. My wife watched all the crash wagons and ambulances tearing around and sounding off, which did not improve her mood because she knew that I was in the only aircraft left airborn.
It transpired that a turbine blade had come adrift and in its passage downstream, stopped its spool dead. The resultant torque forces split the casing allowing hot gases to escape and activate the thermosensors. Debris took out the adjacent engine, but not so violently. I don't think that containment shields were fitted at that time, but I am probably wrong. That was 14 Jan 69 in XM653.
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Old 1st Jan 2004, 06:12
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Ignoring all principles of never volunteer...

As someone alleged to be an historian and part of the air team [civvie] at the centre for purple learning (the 'alleged' applies only to the historian bit...) if there is an interest in having someone collate this and any other thoughs/recollections/etc on V-Force, I'll do it.

PM me and I'll give you the means of checking out my bona fides. If there's enough interest we can see whether we end up with a small V-Force personal archive arrangement or something in print (and pse bear in mind that to work where I do means that I am alive to some of the concerns expressed in recent postings).

And Happy New Year.
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Old 1st Jan 2004, 06:46
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I have to say that this thread is fascinating. It's adding a personal insight which is lacking from nearly all of the books on the V-force.

Back in 1972, as a fairly novice ATC cadet, I went on annual camp to RAF Wyton, not knowing quite what to expect. Not too far from the H-Block which was our home for the week were several SR2 Victors at dispersal. To say that these massive yet graceful aircraft made an impression on me would be an understatement. In fact I have the Corgi 1/144 scale model of XL161 in front of me as I speak. The big hope for that week was for a flight in a Victor but I had to make do with 30 minutes in a Chipmunk. I also got a severe telling off for looking too closely into the 51 Squadron hangar...

A couple of years later saw annual camp at Marham where there was a mix of K1s & some newly converted K2s, plus I got to look at a Valiant close up (XD818). Again, no flight in a Victor, but I got to spend some time on the flight deck having a guided tour, having expressed an interest in an RAF aircrew career. We also got to see a night scramble when some tankers were sent off to support operations during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus.

Since then, I've always been a fan of the Handley-Page contingent of the V-force, although the Vulcan and Valiant (much underrated) have their attractions. Never did go for the aircrew career though.
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Old 1st Jan 2004, 12:57
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Just to change the direction of the thread a little and lighten the content does anybody have any Goose Bay stories.

Melville Radar. I remember, hauling kegs of beer for the radar station at Melville so that we got to drink all of their duty free spirits in exchange. On one occaision we actually got permission from a rather bemused US Base Commander to drive through a forest fire to make the beer delivery. Somehow we convinced him that it was a matter of extreme importance worth the risk of life and limb. Actually, he probably just decided he could not ever fathom the limeys!

Hanger Starts. It was so cold in winter that we manned the aircraft and ran the pre-flight checks in a hanger with the aircraft already attached to a tug. When we were ready to start the hanger doors were opened, we were towed outside and hit the start buttons before everything, including the ground crew, froze up solid.

Survival Execises. I did both summer and winter. For the winter exercise we made the usual parachute tent fastened to a tree. In the summer exercises we went to the same spot. There in a tree, about eight feet above ground level, were the parachute cords we had used during the winter exercise. That was the snow depth.

Ice Fishing.

"Tiny" Mathews. A really great individual. Wing Commander in charge of the RAF contingent. Never again have I had my wake-up call for a flight provided by a Wing Commander bringing me a nice early morning cup of tea. Christmas time at Goose was a great event.
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Old 1st Jan 2004, 22:41
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Angel Creaky Shreddies...


Yes, that '67 exercise could well have been a Mickey Finn from the start as I don't remember seeing any live rounds loaded that time. The odd part though, was that we weren't allocated to any detachments upon arrival at the Line Office as per usual practice and we went off without our 'Small Kit'. We always took our small packs in with us for 'Mickey Finn's but you didn't need it for a Mick'. Our return flight was in a Beverley and we didn't get away that night because of a thunderstorm over the island. So, we were taken back to the slum huts for the night. A nice night with no window panes and a leaky roof... no pyjamas either and our shreddies were so stiff by then that they creaked when one walked. Nasty stuff!

Through difficulties to the cinema
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Old 1st Jan 2004, 23:14
  #129 (permalink)  
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Stories from the Goose are still classified.

Tiny Mathews OTOH had a rather sudden end to his tour as OC Bomb at Akrotiri. He had done a low and go after take-off from Tehran and pulled about 1.75g at max AUW. His misdemeanour came to light when one of the linneys at Akrotiri tripped on the wing and thought the air brake had been left out. It hadn't, it was the ripples in the wing. Tiny's crime was compounded by not reporting the overstress.

Here's a couple from the memory banks both concerned with climb performance.

In 1964 we were routing Aden-Gan-Butterworth during confrontation. Out of Aden we had an interesting set of problems. Gan was almost 2,000 miles away and our nearest diversion was in Ceylon 550 miles north-east. Our take-off weight at Aden was 192,000 or thereabouts with full fuel and full bomb-load. Our min landing weight at Gan for diversion to Ceylon was above our max landing weight of 140k. Route fuel would have been about 50k with no real flex. The plan was for minimum burn to Gan and then burn off to landing weight or divert. Diversion however meant jettisoning the bomb load.

Cruise climb was flavour of the month in the 60s, especially for the Canberra where most of our plotters had originated from. Out came the ODMs and the cruise climb profile was worked out. Max climb to the trop and then cruise climb from there. Only problem, cruise climb would not start until we were above 45,000 ft and we were not prepared to done all our pressure clothing at Aden with outside temeperatures in the high 40s. Landing at Gan was interesting especially for the second aircraft, Mike Melville or Noel Steel I think. The boss, Bob Tanner had arrived first and was in the circuit burning off fuel with us calling him the front sweeping in from the east. Still we pounded the circuit and were astonished to hear him call number 2, 30 minutes behind, to descend and burn off as we would be landing soon and the runway would be clear.

No 2 duly descended and we landed. Before we could get in the crew bus the heavens opened and the vis dropped to about 400 yards. No 2 then made a GCA and we watched as the Vulcan disappeared into the wet, tail brake streaming and no sign of slowing down. Gan was only 8,000 feet and he was at 140k. ATC saw him but did not see him stop. They hit the crash button and chased off after him. He had stopped with just feet to spare.

Back home at Cottesmore in 1965 we did the delivery air test on, I think, XM655. The air test schedule required a combat power take-off and climb to maximum altitude. We had to take engine Ts and Ps every minute. Later the Vulcan was restricted to cruise power but we had about 104% on two engines and 102% on the other two. For some reason the maximum power was never uniform across all 4 engines.

Brakes off we accelerated down the runway. We had about 50% fuel so our AUW was about 137,000lbs. That was when the Mark 2 weighed in at about 97 or 98k. One minute later, passing 2,000 feet we read out all the figures to the AEO. After 2 minutes, passing 7k we started again. He had no sooner finished one set when we started on the next. We continued like a love-sick angel at 5,000 fpm. Passing 50,000 we were still climbing like a rocket just over 9 minutes after take-off.

Our ROC started to reduce but still over 2,000 fpm. Passing 55,000 we wondered just how high it would go. We had the full pressure gear on, g-pants and pressure jerkins, P or Q masks, but it was really into unknown territory. At 55,500 our ROC was approaching 500 fpm and we were passing Glasgow. We decided to call it a day and turned for home.
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Old 2nd Jan 2004, 13:14
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I've often been puzzled why Concorde crews and payload never wore pressure jerkins...

...and why didn't the champagne boil off?

Through difficulties to the cinema
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Old 2nd Jan 2004, 14:33
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Lightbulb The Sixties - Raven it up in Lincs...

That remark about the Flying Officer in the pool reminds me of where the pool came from.

It wasn't all hard work at Waddo in the sixties. We drank hard and played hard too. Remember The Raven Club (our NAAFI)? Lincolnshire wasn't (still isn't?) exactly the wildest place in UK - its the only city where I've been stopped by the police and asked what I was doing on the street at that time of night (it was only eleven-thirty!) The Raven Club committee were unusually efficient and organised the most amazing entertainment ever seen on an RAF base. There was a dance every Saturday that attracted most of the younger population of the entire county and the takings were phenomenally good. Once a month there was a 'special' with a well known guest band. I remember Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, Jethro Tull, Unit Four Plus Two, Status Quo and Pink Floyd. The place was a paradise on a Saturday night - you couldn't move for totty in mini-skirts and the barrack blocks shook as much as the NAAFI. Eventually when we had the Bee Gees and people came from all over the country, their Airships sat up and took notice. They ordered the funds wound down and the entertainment placed on a more modest level. The Raven Club wasn't on the high security part of Waddo but this was after all a nuclear bomber base - not a nightclub.

We then had a Grand Gala night to get rid of as much money as possible. Entrance was free, beer was half-price, Acker Bilk and Kenny Ball played alternate sets all night and a free raffle handed out TV's, freezers and the like in abundance. The left over money was used to build that swimmiing pool that F/O Davis enjoyed so much...

I am reminded that the RAF of those days' wasn't much like the present in more ways than one. But then we all believed that MAD was inevitable and so lived only for today

Through difficulties to the cinema
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Old 2nd Jan 2004, 19:48
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Blacksheep, That’s better. Your previous talk of NBC suits and shooting people in the head made me think I was in a different air force. I don’t recall even seeing an NBC suit, let alone wearing one.

Now the Waddington Raven Club! That was my sort of operation. I’d always assumed that the name Raven came from a squadron badge of some sort, but the real story is this;

‘On the 9th May 1941 our European Union brothers made their worst attack on Waddington, severely damaging 71 houses in the village, including both the Horse & Jockey and the Three Horseshoes pubs, and the NAAFI on the camp. 11 people were killed, among them the NAAFI manageress, Mrs Constance Raven, after whom the all-ranks club is named. 3 of the dead were airmen who had been in an air raid shelter, the only military installation recorded as damaged, although this may be due to wartime censorship. The damage was mainly caused by two aerial mines, large bombs dropped by parachute and fused to explode before hitting the ground.

Pictures at;


Thursday night was also dance night. If Bomber Command had ever done an analysis of Vulcan serviceability against weekdays they’d have found that the best time to have a war was around 9.30pm on a Thursday. By that time every aircraft on line had long been signed off as 100%, buttoned up, and ready.

It did sometimes get very tight on time and the future Memsahib, a vision of loveliness still in black stockinged nurses uniform from the late shift at Lincoln General, became very adept at operating mini-winches to help me change the odd Red Shrimp, Blue Diver, Green Palm, or whatever. This moonlit scene, subtly enhanced by the sodium orange pan lights, could well have made the RAF’s ideal recruiting poster.

She never did get the hang of running up ECM equipment but I do recall her first visit to the cockpit when the only two placards which caught her eye were Fast Erect and Artificial Feel. The rest is history.
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Old 3rd Jan 2004, 00:34
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Forget. No, please don't forget!! Love your story. much better than the (still) semi-classified weapons tales. How do we know, even after 40 years, which bits of that information might be/ not be of use to terrorist idiots?
Old 3rd Jan 2004, 01:18
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JohnPurdy . . .
How do we know, even after 40 years, which bits of that information might be/ not be of use to terrorist idiots?

That's not the point. Point is that someone reading these tales may be able to gather enough evidence to present a case in law against the RAF, or even individuals, for considered "wrongs" in the past. Not likely? Don't you believe it!
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Old 3rd Jan 2004, 01:19
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Information on the British Nuclear weaponry of that era is freely available on the web Mr Purdey, including cutaway diagrams photographs even maintenence regimes,how to dismantle the pit ect perhaps it should not be but it is,
Would be pity to spoil a great thread, because that horse has already bolted, the stable door was open long before this thread appeared.
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Old 3rd Jan 2004, 02:26
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I’ll keep well away from weaponry, not that I ever knew much about it. Cracker post Blacksheep, and 100% correct on your last point. The RAF of the 60’s was definitely a different air force for ground crew, at least for those on Vulcans. So long as the aircraft were kept ‘S’ with a minimum of delay, I found it incredibly casual. In my 7 years with Vulcans I only once fell foul of ‘discipline’, and 38 years later the incident still rankles. ( I hope 60’s vintage Electronic Counter Measures aren’t still classified!)

5.30 one afternoon, Cottesmore 66’ish, and I’d parked the MkII Ford Zodiac in the lay-by outside of the accommodation block for ten minutes. Into the block walks the Flt Lt i/c ECM. A Bomber Command signal required that the Green Palm VHF Comm Jammer frequencies be changed immediately. The opposition had obviously done some up-grade with their fighter control comms. The Flt Lt had heard a grapevine whisper that I’d privately developed a way of re-tuning Green Palm without removing the kit from the aircraft. To change the frequencies conventionally, removing re-tuning and re-fitting the equipment, would take around 10 man hours per aircraft and, meanwhile, two or more otherwise serviceable aircraft would be off-line.

This put me in something of a predicament. I’d been tuning Green Palms in the aircraft for some months using the ‘forget’ proprietary method and knew from the Stornaway ECM test range results that the scheme worked perfectly well; in fact much better than the ‘approved’ method which didn’t account for the odd de-tuning knock between ECM bay and aircraft - but it was hardly SOP. After striking a deal with Flt Lt that we’d change the SOP’s ‘tomorrow’, and back-date them a day or two, I agreed.

The method was simple. Tune the aircraft’s PTR175 UHF Comm precisely to the first harmonic of the required VHF frequency and then manually tune the Green Palm until the VHF jamming tones came through the UHF. Do the same with all channels. Lock it up, sign it up - job done.

Into the Flt Lt’s car, forgetting all about the Zodiac in the lay-by, and off to QRA to re-tune the first aircraft. The whole night went like clockwork, with fleeting VIP status - did I need a meal bringing from the mess, anything we can get you, is the waiting transport to your liking, did I need a rest? Need a rest! This was fun – the only thing that mattered was getting the job done in record time and how soon I could sign-off the last aircraft, naturally in accordance with the SOP’s, as yet unwritten. 9.30 the following morning was the answer to that one.

So at 10am, returning to the accommodation block feeling very knackered but very pleased with myself, there’s my car still in the lay-by with a note from Plod’s dog telling me to report to the Guard Room. The result, and with the full knowledge of my dolt of a Squadron Leader who ignored the pleadings of the Flt Lt and my immediate boss, top man Sid Murray, my car was banned from camp for two weeks, for illegal parking. Thank you indeed Squadron bloody Leader C…y. You wouldn’t be attending the May 23rd Vulcan re-union at Newark Air Museum would you? Oh, alright. After 38 years maybe the rankle has subsided.
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Old 4th Jan 2004, 00:58
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Vulcan ground crew

Forgive my late entry to this thread – I’ve only just been told of it’s existence and have had to re-subscribe to add to it.

Sept 68 saw me, a fresh faced 18yr old Halton brat posted to RAF Scampton. I should have know all was not straightforward when the level of Security Clearance needed caused me to have to wait an extra two months at Halton before I could take up my post at Scampton.

I thought I was being clever when I chose the trade of ground electrician – it seemed to cover such a wide range of skills and thus seemed more interesting than “just” airframes or engines. Little did I know that it was a passport to one of the hardest working trades in the whole of the RAF. Whereas the blackhand gang were focussed on seeing the planes out – then either sleep, play cards or play sport until they came back. I found a never ending stream of kit to be fixed. From domestic kettles and washing machines – through generating sets, invertors through MT and specialist vehicles to Paloust starters and even to Blue Steel itself. In fact anything that was vaguely electrical, electronic or hydraulic that wasn’t (at that moment) bolted to an airframe.

Thus in Sept 1968 I found myself working in the Blue Steel maintenance hanger at Scampton. Initially I was tasked with building a test rig that would allow testing of all the Blue steel electrical / electronic modules by simply plugging them into the rig – which simulated the full blue steel systems and allowed monitoring of the input/outputs from each module. Wherever possible this was coupled to some kind of measurement circuit that illuminated a green or red light to indicate the module was OK or not. I didn’t know it at the time, but the brass had already decided to retire blue steel and my gizmo was only used for 18 months.

When I wasn’t building gizmo’s, I was fixing all manner of strange stuff – including the special blue steel transporter vehicles, fire engines, runway de-icer’s, paloust starter trollies etc. One winter’s night I returned to my billet at about 02.30 to find RAF Police searching for me – and me being called over the station tannoy system. It transpired that I was needed to go fix a Blue Steel transporter vehicle that had broken down on the A1. Having worked till about 5.30 to get the transporter functional again – we found that the escorting fire engine had a problem which prevented the convoy from moving. By this stage both the RAF and civvy police were getting concerned about this large convoy blocking a major roundabout on the A1 (not to mention the Blue Steel sitting on the side of the road waiting for some drunk to run into it). Luckily we got them moving by about 7am – just before the rush hour. The subsequent enquiry resulted in a new SOP that required a technician to be on standby at locations along the convoy route such that they could respond within 30 minutes (They apparently had been looking for me for over 2 hours).

Someone mentioned the orange plastic baths full of water and pingpong balls - well I’ve had the extreme dis-pleasure of being thrown into one (fully clothed) when HTP splashed during a missile refuel on a transporter.

The strike command dispersals were supposed to be staffed by 2-3 technicians responsible for keeping the vehicles, aircrew sleeping caravans and other equipment fully serviceable. I spent 3 months at Boscombe Down where we each had our own vehicle and took turns to remain on standby within VHF radio range of Boscombe. Boscombe was mostly staffed by Royal Navy and my introduction to the drinking and initiation ceremonies of the dark blues – still fill me with disgust – all these years on.

I will talk about my 3 years at Goose in a separate posting.

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Old 4th Jan 2004, 02:57
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John Purdey
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Tony Draper. Not by any means trying to spoil a very interesting thread; but just don't make it any easier than it already is for those who would put you and your's in harm's way if they had half a chance.
Old 4th Jan 2004, 03:19
  #139 (permalink)  
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Tiz ok Mr Purdey, I was very suprised meself at just what information there was on the web re those, err thingies, wouldn't have done in my day, my Lord no.
Anyway Drapes feels fully justifed in sleeping soundly in his bunk all those years ago, knowing full well that if Ivan had cut up rough the chaps were all tooled up ready to kick his arse.

Seriously its hard to remember just what dangerous times we lived through in the sixties and seventies.
Still, I firmly believe were it not for the seeming insanity of MAD few of us would be here now.
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Old 4th Jan 2004, 03:41
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Yellow Sun mentioned that, "Some years ago I saw in the "New Scientist" a book review dealing wth the US nuclear weapons programme. I requested it though my local public library and it duly arrived. The book contained detailed technical descriptions of most of the US inventory."

Not sure if it's the same one, but the one I have is "US Nuclear Weapons" by Chuck Hansen - ISBN 0-517-56740-7. To quote a review:

"This encyclopedic work breaks through the wall of secrecy and presents for the first time historical and technical data for every nuclear weapon built by the U.S. since 1945. It is the most comprehensive technical history ever written about the postwar development of American nuclear weapons. Full histories and specifications are provided for 89 numbered U.S. nuclear warheads from the primitive MK 1 Little Boy to the high-tech W-89 Sea Lance. Also presented is the tactical or political justification for development of a particular warhead or weapon system. Individual weapons histories are supplemented by photos (most never before published, and including color photos of some nuclear weapon test)and drawings. Information in this book is derived or drawn from unclassified sources."

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