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Terrain Following Radar and the Buccaneer

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Terrain Following Radar and the Buccaneer

Old 22nd May 2021, 12:31
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Terrain Following Radar and the Buccaneer

Interesting film produced by Ferranti's around 1965. .About half of it is in-cockpit film from the trials aircraft as it follows the green dot in the HUD indicating the safe path the radar provided along the low level route. Most flights were at 60m clearance thought some at 30m. At about 11:52 the pilot flies over a cloud covered peak and at 15:32 he is heading towards a 230m TV mast. The system was manual but there could be an output for autopilot.

From a little research it seems that this radar was designed for the TSR2 but that development continued after the TSR2 was cancelled.
You'll note that the main trials aircraft is a Buccaneer (S1 - XK 487) which begs the question why wasn't this TFR fitted to the Buccaneers the RAF later operated?



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Old 22nd May 2021, 12:53
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Bearing in mind just how low some sorties were, at least the RAF Buccaneers, would the terrain following radar have been much use if below 500feet ? It just seems that you'd need very cool blood to trust your life to such a wondrous invention.
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Old 22nd May 2021, 14:14
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Great link thanks very much. This is what I love YT for.
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Old 22nd May 2021, 17:29
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Originally Posted by SpringHeeledJack View Post
It just seems that you'd need very cool blood to trust your life to such a wondrous invention.
Fortunately in those days it wouldn't have been based on Windows.
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Old 23rd May 2021, 06:34
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What a great find.
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Old 23rd May 2021, 07:02
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Fortunately in those days it wouldn't have been based on Windows.
Come on Dave, you know all manned aircraft have windows , though I bet there are times when the TFR folk wish they hadn't.
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Old 23rd May 2021, 18:21
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Originally Posted by SpringHeeledJack View Post
Bearing in mind just how low some sorties were, at least the RAF Buccaneers, would the terrain following radar have been much use if below 500feet ? It just seems that you'd need very cool blood to trust your life to such a wondrous invention.
It clearly was, it says 30-50 metres was the norm for this TFR and by my reckoning, 30 metres is about 100ft. So why not 500ft?
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Old 23rd May 2021, 19:57
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If you're looking for a more in depth treatment then there is:

TSR2 Precision Attack to Tornado
by John Forbat
ISBN 978 0 7524 3919 8
pub Tempus 2006

It covers considerably more than the title implies. Available from the South American River but cheaper on AbeBooks

YS
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Old 24th May 2021, 18:54
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Originally Posted by Yellow Sun View Post
If you're looking for a more in depth treatment then there is:
TSR2 Precision Attack to Tornado
by John Forbat
ISBN 978 0 7524 3919 8
pub Tempus 2006
It covers considerably more than the title implies. Available from the South American River but cheaper on AbeBooks
YS
Thanks I'll see if I can find a copy. I wonder if Chris Gibson's recent book on RAF ground attack post war - Typhoon to Typhoon - covers this issue?

One aircraft that did get a retrofit of a TFR was the Vulcan in the 1960s. The set selected was American though it had a lower speed restriction than the Ferranti TFR.
I understand that the Ferranti TFR was proposed for the Phantom and the ground attack version of the Tornado. In the latter case it lost out to a cheaper American radar.
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Old 25th May 2021, 06:37
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The American TFR on the Vulcan had a habit of every now and again of indicating a "fly down" instead of "fly up". It was very unreliable and the pod was changed so often even engine fitters were experienced with the task. It also had the silliest cooling system. The air from outside was passed over the electronics straight from the cooling vents. This was OK when the air was dry but if the aircraft flew through cloud or rain we used to remove the pod and tip it up to let the water run out.
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Old 25th May 2021, 11:15
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The Buccaneer also did the trials for the Tornado radar and TFR of course.

I remember visiting some of the crews chatting with them in their crew room. According to them it was a more stable platform at low level than the Tornado with far greater legs - but they weren’t allowed to say so publicly.



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Old 25th May 2021, 11:36
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It clearly was, it says 30-50 metres was the norm for this TFR and by my reckoning, 30 metres is about 100ft. So why not 500ft?
I think my concerns were to do with the split second where a glitch or unrecognised obstacle, such as a tree in full summer plumage, might cause the TFR to malfunction and leave the pilot with a near impossible task to get the aircraft higher. I've no doubt the TFR was capable and for the greater part did what it was designed to do, but at extremely low level you'd have to be either possessed of nerves of steel, or a fatalism of zen proportions to allow it full control.

As an aside does anyone remember a UK based flying group that had some ex-RAF jets back in the 70's/80's, painted black ? Did they have a Bucc ? I have a vague memory of sitting in one at Mildenhall or Duxford. They did have a hunter and something with torpedo wing tanks (perhaps a Canadian something ??). What ever happened to Mike Beachey-Head's Buccs when his company was wound up ?
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Old 25th May 2021, 12:41
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Ormond Haydon-Baillie had a pair of T-33s, one painted black which he flew as The Black Knight, the other red I think. He also had a Avro CF-100 Canuck at Duxford, though beyond delivery I don't think it flew. It's still at Duxford. One of the T-33s was at Duxford again until a take off accident a few years ago - one of our fellow PPRuNers was at the helm, fortunately he and his pax escaped; very sadly he died from an illness just a few months ago.
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Old 25th May 2021, 20:15
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As a so called TFR training officer on the Vulcan (many years ago!!) I have to confess (now!) that I had little faith in the system! Yes, it worked (up to a point) but, if it came to the crunch, I would have had some serious misgivings in it at night, IMC, at a few hundred feet and with a "bucket of sunshine" in the bomb bay! However, that was what we had in those days so we did our best, rightly or wrongly! (Sorry guys, for all the b**l that I passed on !!!

Bill
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Old 26th May 2021, 06:27
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What you're all forgetting is that Bucc had TFR when USAF F111s only had Terrain Avoidance Radar for low level ops.
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Old 26th May 2021, 08:19
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Originally Posted by pmills575 View Post
The American TFR on the Vulcan had a habit of every now and again of indicating a "fly down" instead of "fly up". It was very unreliable and the pod was changed so often even engine fitters were experienced with the task. It also had the silliest cooling system. The air from outside was passed over the electronics straight from the cooling vents. This was OK when the air was dry but if the aircraft flew through cloud or rain we used to remove the pod and tip it up to let the water run out.

Vulcan TFR at the top of the picture - compare the size to the Ferranti TFR! Don't know if the electronics below it are part of that system or something else...
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Old 26th May 2021, 09:59
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Worked with a chap who was involved in the TSR2 radar. According to him it was
tested on a Meteor, test flights always went to height before testing the terrain
following capability.
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Old 26th May 2021, 11:50
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Orac, interesting photo. I noticed the drooping ailerons, never knew the Buccaneer had them. Was it similar in use as the Lockheed L-1011?
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