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Upcoming BBC doc on Jets and the Cold War - help needed!

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Upcoming BBC doc on Jets and the Cold War - help needed!

Old 5th Dec 2012, 11:38
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Upcoming BBC doc on Jets and the Cold War - help needed!

Hi all - I posted this in the The Aviation History and Nostalgia thread but have been advised that it might get a bit more attention here....

I've got a favour to ask the PPRuNe forums.

I'm a researcher at the BBC and I'm working on a two part documentary about jets and their role in the Cold War for BBC2. I've done quite a bit of research on the topic and we're in the early stages of working out what to include - there's some fantastic stuff about the RB-45s and the U2s spying on the USSR in the '50s, and the contribution jets made to the West's deterrent, on both sides of the Atlantic - but the problem with all television is finding things to film!

My producers have asked me to put feelers out to get an idea of what's out there in terms of planes, places and people that we could get on screen, in the UK, USA and Russia. I've done a lot of digging into this but there's only so much google can tell you! I'd be really grateful if anyone has any tips for potential contributors, be they pilots/crew who flew the planes, experts in the field or enthusiasts, or any suggestions for some well preserved CW-era airfields, bunkers or bases. And if there are any great stories that show just how vital jet planes were in defining how the Cold War was fought that you think we should cover in the show, I'd love to hear them!

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Old 5th Dec 2012, 14:24
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That's a big subject - it could run and run.

I'm sure that those older and bolder than me will have plenty of suggestions, but I come from the Tornado GR force so I'll limit myself to issues connected with them.

Of course the Tornado is still flying on Ops (from Kandahar) but it started 30 years ago, so it qualifies as a Cold War jet and we were nuclear-armed in addition to all the otehr hardware in those days - you could speak to that force to get some tales. Start with the Tornado Force Commander at Marham - he can connect you with the Cold War veterans who are still flying (there are plenty).

In terms of locations - I'd suggest RAF Bruggen for a visit. It's still a military base, but not for the RAF. It's an Army Unit called Javelin Barracks (I think), but I know that it is near Elmpt in Germany, very close to the NL border. It was a Cold War base long before the Tornadoes arrived (Jaguars prior to that). The other option in the area is the old RAF Laarbruch another Tornado base in the 80s/90s (Buccs prior). It's now a Ryanair hub for Dusseldorf, but last time I visited the military base was still there - it just had a brand new glass/steel terminal in the middle.

I look forward to the programme - good luck!
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Old 5th Dec 2012, 15:30
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Yep, Bruggen still has all the Hardened Shelters in place, I would also suggest you ask on here

Historic Aviation - Key Publishing Ltd Aviation Forums

and at Bruntingthorpe as they have the Lightning QRA sheds and do scrambles from them with live Lightnings, they also have Buccaneers, Nimrod, Hunter, Canberra etc that also do high speed runs down the runway, they also have an Iskra which is a russian jet.... the above link will get you in contact with those that can help.

Last edited by NutLoose; 5th Dec 2012 at 15:32.
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Old 5th Dec 2012, 15:45
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If it's a two parter, keep it balanced. The Russians had quite an array of aircraft that most people don't know a great deal about. It would certainly be interesting to know how good they were and particularly how servicable they were. Did the Russians have lots because they needed them or because they could?
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Old 5th Dec 2012, 16:38
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If its a ll about the Cold War, don't forget to include the role of the Nimrod. 40+ years of service, much of it during the Cold War (and Cod Wars) doing exactly what it was supposed to do had the cold war had turned hot. Much of the infrastructure at RAF Kinloss and RAF St Mawgan still exists and there are a number of museums with intact Nimrod airframes. It would be nice to see something that recognised the Cold War contribution rather than labouring on the one incident in Afghanistan.

Edited to add:

ISTR a programme I think done by the BBC (was it the Horizon programme) called The Deep Cold War (if I remember correctly) which would also be a good starting point.

Last edited by Roland Pulfrew; 5th Dec 2012 at 16:45.
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Old 5th Dec 2012, 16:41
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You might try and search the archives for footage from I serve the Soviet Union which was a regular TV broadcast (weekly or monthly) which was both propaganda for the masses and feel good for the troops. If you Google that title you will get several hits.

It was not all perfect either. I recall a low level drop by a TU16 Badger that dropped 4 retards HE bombs. Three retarded and one didn't.

The broadcast was receivable in the UK so the BBC, Caversham?, might have copies. You might also try MOD as they were assiduous watchers too
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Old 5th Dec 2012, 16:52
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Good to see the BBC are seeking the help of those that know ... well done Tom ... looking forward to the programme airing
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Old 5th Dec 2012, 17:31
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If your doing the Air Defence of GB during the Cold War, The Radar Museum at Neatishead is a must as they have the Ops room that controlled the southern QRA from 1973 to 93 in the condition it was left when the system it used was replaced in the early 90's (along with the last remaining large ground based radar from the cold War used to control the jets). Plus the BBC do have footage of the place in use, as BBC East did an hour long programme about the place in the mid 1980's, that also covered the Phantoms at Wattisham and the long gone SAM defences that backed the jets up.

Last edited by MAINJAFAD; 5th Dec 2012 at 17:41.
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Old 5th Dec 2012, 17:45
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These guys are from that era and may be of interest to you.

Aircrew Details

Cliff Spink in particular is a really good bloke and was OC 74 Sqn (F4J) circa 1988.

Good luck.
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Old 5th Dec 2012, 18:29
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Lots of good stuff here - try the "Interesting Articles" link

V-Force Reunion

BBC4 filmed at the Newark reunion in April for their programme The Golden Age of Flying, and BBC Leeds also filmed for an item on the Cuban Missile Crisis on the Inside Out programme. Might be worth contacting the respective producers of these programmes, and Newark Air Museum themselves are extremely helpful.
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Old 5th Dec 2012, 18:44
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The Phantom

Happy to help if the F4 is of interest, Plenty of original pictures from the era:

The Phantom in Focus

I can offer a number of links from BBC archives

Last edited by Geehovah; 5th Dec 2012 at 18:52.
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Old 5th Dec 2012, 18:48
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I can but echo lj101's words re Cliff Spink - top bloke

And you've allready seen him on TV! He was teaching Colin McGregor (Euans big brother) to fly the Tiger, then Havard and finally the 2-seat Spit.
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Old 5th Dec 2012, 19:29
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Cold war jets

Can well remember QRA in Valiants at Marham, loaded with 2 US weapons, at cockpit readiness listening to the Bomber Controller on telescramble whist Soviet aircraft were being tracked coming down the North Sea. Usually with pyjamas under flying suit and always seemed to be in the wee small hours. The cold war might have been cold but it certainly was for real !

Just wished I had been sharper at Swinderby and gone to Hunters flying somewhere warm !

On a funnier note, well remember being in the QRA Pen listening to the BBC radio when some pompous left wing lady asked just what sort of a man could even think of dropping a nuclear weapon on Soviet city xxxx. Well, just happened our target was xxxx. Security prevented me from responding, she could have spoken to 5!!!

Last edited by RetiredBA/BY; 5th Dec 2012 at 19:32.
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Old 5th Dec 2012, 19:50
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Tom, have a word with the BBC4 / BBC Leeds team who filmed us at Newark. Also, the Newark Air Museum has some very rare aircraft from the era in question!

As lj101 says, Cliff is indeed a top bloke and could give you some interesting tales. As also could Nigel Walpole, well-known aviation author with some ex-East German Air Force contacts.

If you want some Vulcan shots, let me know - also if you wish to chat with an eminent V-force historian and author.

Drop me a PM if you wish to know the part Sam Fox's parts played in perestroika with Tu-95 / Tu-142 crews.....
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Old 5th Dec 2012, 21:10
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Tom, if you search for a book by Nigel Walpole called 'Thinking the Unthinkable' you may find that some of your research has already been done for you.
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Old 5th Dec 2012, 21:58
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Have a look at www.wingedwarriors.co.uk

It includes photographs taken during the 1970s from Recce Canberras on NATO's southern flank and others of RAF Germany Strike/Attack Tornado GR1 aircraft from Laarbruch and Bruggen both of which were key RAF strike bases at the height of the Cold War. The website includes stories too, all from the era on which you are focused and it could point you to places well worth visiting.

There are lots of untold stories out there and very many cold war warriors who will be interested in what you are doing.

The very best of luck.
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Old 5th Dec 2012, 22:20
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My own book, due out soon, Fading Eagle, might provide some useful information covering the R.A.F. during the Cold War period, particularly the political arguments.

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Old 5th Dec 2012, 22:35
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Just a change of scene. RN carriers with Scimitars and later Buccaneers were organised for 'tactical nuclear' weapons delivery. Check out the FAA Museum Yeovilton.
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Old 5th Dec 2012, 22:58
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When organising a staff ride last year I got in touch with the people who now look after Upper Heyford airfield, Heyford Business Park. Through some very helpful people I was able to get access to the old WOC; it is remarkably well preserved with the last tail no / crew / wpn allocation tote boards all still marked up. Overlooking the 'pit' is the Nuclear release room; quite chilling really - you can even recreate Crimson Tide by flashing the 'EAM' sign on/off and pick up the 'red phone' to NORAD (no, it's not connected...). They also have access to the old Nuclear QRA HAS site..it's a real time capsule.

PM if you want any extra detail.
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Old 6th Dec 2012, 09:53
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