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Valiant Tankers

Old 6th Feb 2013, 14:56
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NutherA2

I was unaware of Javelins being fitted with Rebecca X, but I am not surprised.

We tanked a Sqdn of Jav's to Singapore in 1961, this was of course after a period of training for the Jav jockeys.

I have some colour slides of dawn start ups and take offs from Gan.

The topped up Valiants used water meth for their take offs, the locals were a little upset by the noise that woke them up
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Old 6th Feb 2013, 16:03
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Ian, I should have realised that the Rebecca/Eureka system was part of the IFR (later AAR) setup. I know with the 200 Mc/s setup that Rebecca could even be used as an emergency comms system but can't remember how. We only used it on the Varsity.

With our kit you could do a Rebecca homing by balancing the left and right strobes on the CRT and also reading the range. I believe on the Provosts it was improved and there was a left/right needle as well as a range readout.

As a navigation aid Tacan was far superior giving both range and bearing and more accurately too. For air-to-air use Rebecca had the edge as A-A Tacan had no bearing facility.
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Old 6th Feb 2013, 16:07
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The topped up Valiants used water meth for their take offs
It gave you 1,000 lbs more thrust per engine and south of Dover you needed it. It would run for one minute and then you lost 4.000lbs of thrust. At Nairobi International this was precisely the point where the mainwheels were being dragged from the runway.
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Old 6th Feb 2013, 16:25
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Provosts it was improved and there was a left/right needle as well as a range readout.
This was Rebecca Mk VII, known as DME for Distance Measuring Equipment. It worked on the same frequencies as Rebecca IV and in conjunction with the same Eureka transponders. Because it was for operation by Drivers (Airframe) not Navigators it was simplified to 'Meter Display'

I came across it, in an earlier incarnation, on Hunters. Also the 90 Group/Signals Command calibration Varsity's had both Rebecca MK IV and Mk VII fitted. They couldn't be used at the same time as there was only one set of aerials that were manually switched to one or the other.

I installed the Eureka VII at Orange in 1958 and then flew in the Varsity that did the calibration. The shadow of Mount Ventaux caused my installation to fall below the standard for a Class A beacon. But nothing I could do about that.
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Old 6th Feb 2013, 17:28
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Ian
We tanked a Sqdn of Jav's to Singapore in 1961

I flew one of the Javelins on that detachment and have very clear memories of the larger than planned formations when one of the tanker squadron commanders (Wg Cdr Burberry?) changed the batting order a bit to solve problems arising from an imbalance of Javelin & Valiant numbers.

On Day 1, Coltishall to Akrotiri, once we reached the Mediterranean we had a Balbo of 10 aircraft, 5 Javs with a tanker each. On Day 4, we needed to get 6 Javelins from Karachi to Gan with only 3 serviceable Valiants. Th boss got all 9 of us airborne together, had us take all the fuel we could off 2 of the tankers & himself led the remaining vic of 7 aircraft to Gan. We then had an hour or two with 3 Javs on each wing of a Valiant whose white paint scheme was an ideal camouflage in the ITCZ cirrus we flew through.

I believe t
his in-flight refuelled squadron deployment to FEAF was the first such exercise and was well timed to get us out of the UK for the worst of the weather in the notorious winter of 1962/63.

Last edited by NutherA2; 6th Feb 2013 at 17:29.
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Old 6th Feb 2013, 18:02
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NutherA2,

I think that you and I were on different detachments.

The 'orrible winter of 62/63 I read about in the papers, as I was posted to Akrotiri in Oct 62. During the Cuban Missile Crises, no less!

The time 214 took Javelins to Singapore, we staged through Akrotiri, Karachi and Gan on successive days, and I don't remember any a/c not flying on the scheduled day.

I was in a small group that stayed in Gan for 3 weeks, with 2 Valiant's and not a lot of work. A lot of Bridge was played.

I also believe that 'the other tanker squadron', 90 Sqdn, took Javelins to Singapore sometime after 214 did. I know that while I was in Akrotiri 214 tanked Javelins to somewhere in India for some exercise, that would have been between Oct 62 and Oct 64.

I'm away from home at the moment and my slide collection with dates is not available, but I'm pretty sure that the trip I was on was 1961. Mind you on 214 we did so many short detachments I'm liable to get them mixed up. Especially after half a century.
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Old 6th Feb 2013, 18:10
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Thanks for the correction, Ian, "my" detachment was in January, 1963. I think it may have been the first refuelled deployment of a full squadron;we took 12 Javelins and staged Colishall - Akrotiri - Bahrein - Karachi - Gan - Tengah.
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Old 6th Feb 2013, 18:33
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Having Water Meth on the tanker Valiants (I think it was only in the tanker version) was a godsend. As mentioned by fareastdriver and ian16th it gave a boot up the proverbial at just the right time. I remember an occasion in Malta with number of squadron aircraft recovering to Marham. Each co pilot careufly worked out the T/O and all agreed water meth was not needed on the shortiish runway (now the longest) ln use. The first aircraft rolled clean. However when it was 2/3 down the runway his jet exhaust turned black. Number two made to half way and the rest used it from start. The engineers were not amused as it used up engine life.
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Old 6th Feb 2013, 19:53
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Colishall - Akrotiri - Bahrein - Karachi -
There is a detachment to remember. The Javelins and admin staff were accomodated in the Speedbird at the airport. Poor old tanker air and ground crew were accomodated in Miniwallah, somewhere in the slums; apparently used so they could put a Brit. load of passengers in it if neccessary.
There were four lift shafts but only enough money for two lifts so two shafts were empty; no gates, no barriers, no lights, nothing.
The rooms had four taps on the basins. One pair had obviously gunged up so badly that they had renewed the entire water system; and had left the old one, complete wtih taps, there.
The kitchens were extensively fly-screened; so as to stop the flies getting into the dining room.

tanked Javelins to somewhere in India for some exercise, that would have been between Oct 62 and Oct 64.
That was Exercse Shiksha at the end of October 1963, which was a token reinforcement of the Indian Air Force whilst they were having a noisy discussion with the Chinese about strips of land in the Himalayas. A joint effort with four 90 Sqn tankers assisting. This one at Bombay is taxiing to our dispersal after refuelling.



We were only there for a few days during which they lost a Javelin and some were then tanked onwards to Tengah.

Some of you may remember the the towing facilities for the ground power units.



The medical officer who came with us to Butterworth is worth another thread.

Correction. They didn't lose the Javelin. The navigator saved the aircraft by ejecting when the pilot overpitched it.

Last edited by Fareastdriver; 6th Feb 2013 at 21:15.
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Old 6th Feb 2013, 20:40
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Originally Posted by NutherA2 View Post
One of the tanker squadron commanders Wg Cdr Burberry
Ulf Burberry, a charming man. Met his at Offutt in 1965 when he was one of the targeting officers I think. He introduced us to the French Air Force 'observers' as de Gaulle had just left the NATO military command but in practice nothing had really changed.

He then arrange for us to visit the underground ops bunker. It was pure Strangeglove unlike the WW2 bunker at High Wycombe.
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Old 6th Feb 2013, 21:28
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Ulf Burberry created some unfortunate friction between the two tanker squadrons by attempting to reinvent the wheel. 214 had been devising techniques for the safe and effective operation of tanking which could not be changed at the drop of a bonedome. Some of his ideas were possibly way before their time. His deployment into Gan with al load of Javelins has something of a Black Buck feel to it. 214 did not get it too wrong as little has changed over the years
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Old 7th Feb 2013, 10:37
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Not for the queasy, and not to be read at meal times and long

There is a detachment to remember.

Fareastdriver,


Nice pics.


'THE' most memorable 214 tanking detachment during my time was the time that we sent one of our own Valiants non-stop to Singapore.

This was early 1960. We were to position tankers in Cyprus and Karachi to re-fuel the Singapore a/c. I was in the party that was in Karachi (Mauripur).


Before the trip we were briefed that we were the 1st RAF people to return to Pakistan since Independence, I have since learnt that this was probably untrue.

We were also warned of the dangers of 'disease' and we were to be given pills to alleviate 'stomach problems'. These pills were in 3 strengths and different colours. We were also to keep a 'score sheet' of our bowel movements! Complete with an indication of the consistency, as 'H' for hard, 'S' for soft and 'L' for liquid. We were also allocated a Medical Officer from SSQ and a Supply Officer from Stores.

We were paid in shiny new Pakistan Rupee notes, generously supplied at the official exchange rate, R13 = £1, by the Pakistan High Commission in London.

Transport Command kindly allocated a Hastings for us ground crew and our spares. This meant a 3 day journey, each way, with night stops in El Adem and Khormaksor and re-fueling stops at Luqa and Khartoum.

On arrival at Mauripur we were segregated. Officers were to have the privilege of being accommodated on base in the Officers Mess. We non-commissioned types, which included all of the technical ground crew and about 3 or 4 NCO aircrew, were to be accommodated in a hotel in Karachi. Guess who got the better deal?

Anyway, after a couple of days our score cards were getting well used. It quickly became apparent which of the pills were the strongest, but only by a day or so. Our M.O. was the hardest worked guy on the trip. He quickly organised a supply bottled soft drinks from the local Coke supplier, we were told to not even clean our teeth with the tap water. I, fortunately, had bought a bottle of duty free Gin in Aden. It was used for teeth cleaning!

In general life was simply ‘orrible.

When hailing a Taxi, before being asked for a destination, we were asked if we had any Sterling, Dollars or Travellers Cheques and offered R20 = £1 as a start. R22 was easily got with a little negotiation. As a consequence the shiny new notes didn’t get spent.

To re-fuel the return flight of the non-stop a/c from Singapore, our tanker air crews flew with towels as ‘nappies’! They had the benefit of wearing their oxygen masks while flying, but when they landed and the door was opened, they got out, but no ground crew entered for some considerable time.

The return trip by Hastings also had its moments.

When we landed at Khormaksor, the M.O. read out a list of 6 names. These guys, who had been working doing pre-flights that morning, were to be loaded onto the Ambulance that met the Hastings taken to SSQ and to be returned to the UK when fit.

We were also told that to rest the Hastings crew, who had done nothing for nearly 3 weeks! We were to stop over in Khormaksor for 2 nights. It was Whitsuntide Weekend, remember when that was a holiday?

The rest of nominally ‘fit’ guys were told to rest and drink plenty of liquid. To which of course some wag shouts out, ‘Does that include beer Doc?’ To which the M.O. replies in the affirmative. This advice I have being following ever since.

So we spent the spare day at the NAAFI Club at Steamer Point gently drinking and steaming.

The next morning we had an early take off and when we were in the air, the M.O. noticed that some faces that should have been in SSQ at Khormaksor. They had broken out of SSQ, via the windows!

Next bit really messy.


Our flight from Khormaksor to Khartoum was of course over Ethiopia and its mountains. Now remember the Hastings was un-pressurised so we flew below 10,000 ft. This meant that we bounced about the sky quite a lot. The Hastings also did not have flush toilets, but was fitted with the dreaded Elsan’s.

Note the combination.

Low flying a/c, rough air, Elsan toilets and a load of pax with dysentery!

For all of the wrong reasons, it was the most memorable flight that I have ever made. Getting off for the re-fuelling stop at Khartoum was a wonderful relief, getting back on, for the leg to El Adem, was not.

When we returned to Marham, 214 took over a complete ward in SSQ. Even though we were all unwell, I’m sure that you can imagine the antics created by having such a group from the same Sqdn, all in SSQ together. I’m sure the staff of SSQ was very pleased to see the back of us.

We had one last problem, the shiny new Pakistan Rupee's. The Pakistan High Commission didn't want them back. But The Accounts Dept at Marham had to give us Sterling at 13:1. We were never given Rupee's in advance ever again.


I’m pleased to say that this was my last flight in a Hastings, Transport Command always managed to supply a Britannia after that. Pure luxury, pressurized, hot food, smoking allowed and oh, FLUSH TOILETS!

Last edited by ian16th; 7th Feb 2013 at 11:10.
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Old 7th Feb 2013, 20:56
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Are you sure XD816 was the last Valiant flying ?
I went to some sort of 'end of the Valiant/543 Sqn' 'do' at Wyton in circa 1965 and I'm fairly sure the aircraft which arrived with a 'Wisley' civilian crew was XD818
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Old 7th Feb 2013, 22:13
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NRU, I am merely quoting a book which had a photo of 816 to support that contention.
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Old 7th Feb 2013, 22:17
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Flood Flow?

I seemed to recall that the Valiant had a system called Flood Flow. In the event of loss of cabin pressure flood flow would kick in to provide ram air to the cabin. I believe this was intended to increase cabin air pressure.

When Flood Flow kicked in a circular panel, about the size of a dustbin lid, was ejected from under the wing.

Once during a prod from a Javelin Flood Flow kicked in uncommanded firing the dustbin lid at the Javelin. I believe it was disabled thereafter.

Any Valiant drivers able to confirm or deny the story?
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Old 8th Feb 2013, 20:38
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In the book 'Jet Bomber Pilot', Robby Robinson tells the story (page 105 onwards) of a successful attempt to fly a Valiant non-stop from the UK to Chicago taking along a stone for the new cathedral to be built there.

The idea was conceived by ACM 'Bing' Cross and the 90 squadron aircraft was flown by Ulf Burberry. Robinson in XD815 was to go to Goose Bay and then refuel Burberry in that area, both on the outward and return journeys. It seems the refueling on the outward sortie was completed in very difficult weather conditions ('40 degrees below zero) on the 16th January (1962 I think). He says the refueling wasn't carried out on the return leg.

It's quite an entertaining read of their time at Goose Bay.
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Old 26th Oct 2013, 15:49
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New book Valiant Boys

Hi! Vulcan Boys comes out next May and I'd like to complete trilogy with Valiant Boys. Looking for personal accounts and photos of Valiant operations as a Bomber and as a Tanker. Please contact me or Anthony Wright as soon as possible Please spread the word around. Would like Engineers/crew chiefs input as well as aircrew.
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Old 24th May 2014, 21:46
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VALIANT MAINTENANCE

I'm writing a book called Valiant Boys and am currently trying to contact Valiant Engineers, Crew Chiefs or Officers. If you can help please contact me. My email is on my page of my web site Aviation Books and Mystery Novels By Tony Blackman
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Old 18th Aug 2016, 19:26
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Hi
Sad to report death of R I Howard who contributed much to threads concerning Valiant problems and thereby stimulated useful discussion about the properties of the alloys used in the construction of that aeroplane.
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Old 26th Feb 2018, 15:40
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Going back to the demise of the Valiant, I recall being involved in the scrappage programme at Marham in early to mid 1965. Once the decision was made most of the ground crew (of which I was one) where split up into teams to remove various items before the final "cutting up" process began. Two Valiants at a time were moved into the 4 hangers and each "team" was given a week to remove all classified equipment, non special to type components, explosive devices (eg ejector seats, explosive bolts etc) and anything else the MOD deemed worth saving. Also included in the stripping, was the removal of 2 complete forward fuselages/cockpits for sale to MGM for use in the filming of the James Bond film Thunderball and the removal and retention of 20 tailplanes, for use by RAe Farnborough for destructive testing. Engines were removed, taken to a compound near the airfield boundary (formerly 242Sqns Bloodhound site), lifted off the engine change trolleys and thrown onto the ground in Lots of 10 to be sold off to the scrap merchants. All luminous items around the cockpit and various external air intakes, vents and scoops, including pitot heads etc were either removed or chopped out, because of their supposed radio active contamination. Indeed our overalls had to be changed and disposed of as contaminated waste at the end of each week for the same reason.

One of my final tasks before posting was assisting in the preservation of XD818 and its towing onto the pre-prepared base outside the Ops Centre. Incidentally 818 was one of what I believe was one of four aircraft to have their wings reinforced with double skinning in various places, evidently to cope with increased stress during a particular operation. If you visit the RAF Cosford Museum and care to look at the underside of 818s mainplanes outboard of the landing gear you can see the multiple close rows of rivets attaching the extra skin(s). It may be that one of these "reinforced" Valiants was the last to fly sometime after the main fleet was grounded.
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