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Valiant Tankers

Old 28th Feb 2018, 08:35
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I was posted from Bruggen,24/12/1964 to 214 Sqdn.Honington
That was definitely 90 Sqn.

XD814 was the first to go. We aircrew had no warning that the fleet was going to be broken up; they were still talking about resparring etc.. We were sitting in the crew room and 214 was towed past, flaps and engine panels hanging down looking a sorry mess.

Despite that we kept flying.

I delivered XD 863 to Filton on 20th Oct: XD 820 to St. Athan on 9th November. A Lone Ranger to Khormaksa with XD813 on 22nd November.

Honington's runway was closed for resurfacing in December so our remaining serviceable aircraft were repositioned at Marham and I took XD 820 up there on 3rd December.

On the 8th December I was a on a night Frex with Lightnings from 92 at Leconfield. On one engagement the basket detached from the hose and locked itself over the Lightning's probe. He then bolted off back to Leconfield where apparently he had considerable difficulty landing with the asymmetric drag.

We did the normal bomb bay ventilation procedures and returned to Marham. As we crossed the threshold I saw a Valiant at the holding point with a Standard Vanguard Estate drawn across the front of it. This was to prevent it taking off as the Valiants had been grounded. Shortly after a bomber landed and that was it.............

Last edited by Fareastdriver; 28th Feb 2018 at 08:55.
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Old 28th Feb 2018, 08:52
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Originally Posted by Fareastdriver View Post
That was definitely 90 Sqn.
Oh! You mentioned that number.
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Old 28th Feb 2018, 09:01
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I believe that 214 Sqn had to run around and look all steely whenever there was a Mick or Micky Finn.

When the hooters went I just rolled over in bed; We had two Victor Squadrons to do all that stuff.
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Old 28th Feb 2018, 09:16
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FWIW, I've just been looking at the records available to the public on the Cosford website. It records that 818 went to 32 MU at Hurn on 16 Jul 61 for modifications to a tanker., although several flights are recorded after this, until 28 Sep 62, when it was returned to 49 Sqn. If anyone wants to read what Cosford has, here is the link. https://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/documen...iant-XD818.pdf
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Old 28th Feb 2018, 09:36
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Originally Posted by Fareastdriver View Post
That was definitely 90 Sqn.

XD814 was the first to go. We aircrew had no warning that the fleet was going to be broken up; they were still talking about resparring etc.. We were sitting in the crew room and 214 was towed past, flaps and engine panels hanging down looking a sorry mess.

Despite that we kept flying.

I delivered XD 863 to Filton on 20th Oct: XD 820 to St. Athan on 9th November. A Lone Ranger to Khormaksa with XD813 on 22nd November.

Honington's runway was closed for resurfacing in December so our remaining serviceable aircraft were repositioned at Marham and I took XD 820 up there on 3rd December.

On the 8th December I was a on a night Frex with Lightnings from 92 at Leconfield. On one engagement the basket detached from the hose and locked itself over the Lightning's probe. He then bolted off back to Leconfield where apparently he had considerable difficulty landing with the asymmetric drag.

We did the normal bomb bay ventilation procedures and returned to Marham. As we crossed the threshold I saw a Valiant at the holding point with a Standard Vanguard Estate drawn across the front of it. This was to prevent it taking off as the Valiants had been grounded. Shortly after a bomber landed and that was it.............
Are you sure of the date, 8th December. My log book shows my last landing on 9th December, 865,
F/l Gibbons, capt., me in RHS. Was that the last Valiant sortie, I vaguely remember being recalled?
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Old 28th Feb 2018, 10:05
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As previously posted, I arrived at Marham and the wreckers had already started, this would have been Jan. 65. What struck me as odd was that Marham was still holding QRA, I remember this because in addition to the RAF police guard, each A/C had a rather large USAF "Custodian" on the pan.
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Old 28th Feb 2018, 10:17
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I stand corrected, thanks Pontifex, it was obviously 8 Valiants modified for Grapple not the 4 I stated. An interesting aside; during the scrapping process and coincident to the craze at the time of fitting compasses to cars, the two E2B Standby Compasses fitted to one particular aircraft "disappeared" during the dismantling process! These compasses were not "special to type" and were to be returned through the normal channels for use on other aircraft. Just before lunch on the day they had disappeared the flight commander assembled all the dis-mantling team, read them the "riot act" and advised that if the two missing compasses had not been returned by the time lunch was over, the RAF Police would be called in.

After lunch I accompanied the Flight Commander into the cockpit of the aircraft concerned to find both compasses refitted in their rightful places with a third lying on its side in the middle of the coaming! Somebody obviously took fright, but it was never established where the third one came from!
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Old 28th Feb 2018, 11:07
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My log book shows my last landing on 9th December, 865,
Could well be the 9th. I would fill in my log book monthly but when we shut down we were told that the Valiants had been grounded.

Somebody told me that when the Station Commander got the message he tried to phone ATC to stop everything. There was no reply so he drove around the airfield to tell them personally. That's when he met a Valiant coming the other way.
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Old 28th Feb 2018, 11:17
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Herod.

It records that 818 went to 32 MU at Hurn on 16 Jul 61 for modifications to a tanker
A fair number of Valiants were 'modified' as tankers. The fuelling and fuel delivery system was modified so that if a probe was fitted to the stub then all tanks could be refuelled from the probe. With this came the ability to pump underwing, forward. transfer and bomb bay tank, if fitted, fuel to a central point in the bomb bay. The obvious clue is the pipe housing that wraps around the cockpit so the fuel line does not go through the pressure cabin.

We picked up a 543 Sqn Valiant in about 1963 and it was on the line as a tanker within a week.

The Victor's did go through the cabin and one day the pipe sprang a leak. The crew found themselves up to their backsides in fuel so they went to emergency oxygen and flew it back. They tried to warn the ground crew about it but were unsuccessful. Somebody opened the door and found themselves staring up at eighteen inches of Avtur.
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Old 28th Feb 2018, 15:19
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Originally Posted by Fareastdriver View Post
Herod.

We picked up a 543 Sqn Valiant in about 1963 and it was on the line as a tanker within a week.
For the Vulcan that flew none-stop from Scampton to Sydney, 214 had to put Valiant's in Cyprus-Karachi-Singapore. We didn't have enough a/c, so we borrowed one from one of the other Marham Sqdn's, it was fitted with a HDU very quickly.

So as FED says, the basics must have been fitted earlier.
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Old 1st Mar 2018, 12:03
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I rejoined 214 in Oct 64, returning to Marham as my posting of choice for my last 6 months of service. I was pleased to be assigned to my old squadron and see old friends, but it was a heartbreaking period.

There was very little flying and the a/c were subjected to daily 'anti-deterioration checks'. This for the radio trades was almost the same as a pre-flight.

From my point of view, the lack of work meant that when I requested leave for job interviews I got the days I wanted. So the demise of the Valiant had a small silver lining.

When I left RAF Marham, and 214 Sqdn for the second time, on Friday 5th February 1965 to commence my demob leave; the decision to scrap the Valiant had not reached the Squadrons.

I believe it happened the next week.
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Old 1st Mar 2018, 14:55
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5th February 1965 to commence my demob leave; the decision to scrap the Valiant had not reached the Squadrons.
Marham still had the Nato nuclear deterrent so politically there were still operational.

Daun Sauf at Honington we had already packed it in so I was fully occupied with Chipmunk WP850, at that time in a camouflage finish being ex Cyprus, running an air experience flight for all our squadron groundcrew.
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Old 4th Mar 2018, 17:38
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I was at Cosford today, and had a look at 818. There don't appear to be any multiple rows of rivets, and if I can I'll post a couple of photos. From what I can gather, the wings were removed when it was transported to Cosford, but this was just a case of dismantling and reassembling. No cutting involved. BTW, she still looks a pretty aeroplane.

Sorry, can't post pictures at the moment. Will try later.

Last edited by Herod; 4th Mar 2018 at 17:43. Reason: Trouble with pictures
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Old 5th May 2019, 13:42
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DTD 683
Just to set the record straight about the issues with the UK aluminium alloy DTD 683. This alloy was a refinement of an earlier alloy (DTD 363) and was a member of the 7xxx alloys (as designated today) and contained the major alloying elements zinc, copper and magnesium. The alloy was developed by High Duty Alloys, based in Slough where they had a large research and development centre. It was first shown to the public around 1937 and was given the trade name Hiduminium RR77. This alloy suffered from poor resistance to stress corrosion cracking (SCC) and was particularly prone to SCC as a result of quenched-in residual stresses. DTD 683 is strengthened by precipitation hardening - the formation of nano-meter sized intermetallic particles in the aluminium matrix by a combination of high temperature heat treatment, quenching and then ageing to form the precipitates. After quenching and ageing the residual stresses in the component were sufficient to drive SCC, hence the unused spars developing cracks during storage. It was this, rather than fatigue, that caused the failure of DTD 683 as used in the Valiant, although fatigue stresses in service obviously didn't help.
Note the USA developed a similar alloy, today known as AA7075, which contains a small chromium addition and Alcoa in America used this alloy successfully in the B29 Superfortress, amongst others. High Duty Alloys did not like the use of chromium as it tended to make the alloy less strong unless given a severe quench, which of course, increased the residual stresses. The UK alloy underwent various changes to composition and process, including chromium containing variants and boiling water quenching, but was ultimately dropped from use when over-aged tempers were developed which reduced the susceptibility of the American alloy to SCC, but did not work with the UK alloy due to the lower copper level used.
I understand the R&D effort of High Duty Alloys was led by one William Doyle who was apparently a very "colourful" gentleman in his time.
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Old 6th May 2019, 18:27
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Anyone remember a nav by the name of Andy McHugh, sadly I believe no longer with us. Andy and I were in the same year at Harrow County School. He joined the RAF "direct entry" about the same time I went to the Towers. After the Valiants were grounded a party of "ex" Valiant aircrew came on a visit to Cranwell. Amongst them was Andy as a fg off with nav brevet, I was still ploughing through, but close to the end of, the Towers course. I always wondered where he went after that
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Old 6th May 2019, 20:57
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Originally Posted by Wander00 View Post
Anyone remember a nav by the name of Andy McHugh, sadly I believe no longer with us. Andy and I were in the same year at Harrow County School. He joined the RAF "direct entry" about the same time I went to the Towers. After the Valiants were grounded a party of "ex" Valiant aircrew came on a visit to Cranwell. Amongst them was Andy as a fg off with nav brevet, I was still ploughing through, but close to the end of, the Towers course. I always wondered where he went after that
Andy Mac Chuguhuff was posted to Javelins but fortunately they discovered an anthropomorphic incompatible - he would have lost his knees. Where he went after that for two tours I do not know but from the outset he was slated to be a radar operator and I next saw him of phantoms at Coningsby as a flt cdr. It is possible he had gone to Sea Vixen before F4.
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Old 7th May 2019, 12:15
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We had a Nav called Andy McHugh on 105 Sqn (Argosys) in Aden. Great chap but sadly no longer with us.
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Old 7th May 2019, 14:30
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JW, so not Sea Vixens but Argosy when did he go then?
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Old 8th May 2019, 14:40
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OK, Guys, many thanks. W
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Old 3rd Sep 2019, 21:13
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For HEROD _ I thought memory was playing tricks but having just been to Cosford and had a look at XD 818 the multiple rows of rivets securing the reinforcing skins for Op Grapple are indeed present. Look at the mainplanes outboard of the underwing tanks and you will see many, many rows of rivets from mid wing to trailing edge all the way outboard to the wing tip.
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