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nimrod bomb bay fire

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nimrod bomb bay fire

Old 17th Sep 2017, 10:04
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nimrod bomb bay fire


I was on the nav refresher course prior to doing the OCU again en-route to 201. I remember ‘blagging’ my way into the hanger to take a look at 257 during a brief refuelling stop. Astonished that she managed to keep airborne and thinking what a good piece of flying had brought her back with the crew intact.
Subject: Not the best day to go flying
Gents,
I found this, posted on-line, of quite an exciting day at work.
For those of you who don’t know, Gordon Laing was the handling pilot!



An excellent and exciting account of a tense emergency that was a pretty close run thing, with transcripts of the radio and intercom traffic. It was written by a Mr Barry Wallond, who was there, and reproduced here with his permission. It's a cracking read and should be published really. Enjoy.
“SAREX 51, mayday!, mayday!, mayday!, fire in the bomb bay.…..”
It was during an exercise at RAF St Mawgan on a summer’s day in 1984 that a Nimrod of 42 Squadron suffered the most serious emergency yet encountered with this aircraft type.
At 1040 SAC Barry Wallond, an Assistant Air Traffic Controller slid behind the wheel of his Land Rover and commenced an airfield inspection. His main objective was to check the runway for birds and Foreign Object Debris (FOD), to do this properly; he was exercise exempt and did not need to wear the dreaded respirator.
“I was protecting the take-off for a Nimrod which was now moving along the southern taxi-way. The weather was fine but we’d had recent rain and although the runway was damp, some areas of grass were water-logged and quite muddy. Due to the size of the runway (9,000ft long and 300ft wide) it required at least three runs to do it justice and by the third run, my Nimrod was already entering the runway and lining up. I simply drove off the far end into the overshoot and called vacated. I positioned the vehicle in a way that I could watch the take-off roll with binoculars, this was a scramble, already she was powering up – I could see the smoke! A few seconds later, nearly two miles away I was staring through the bino’s at a Nimrod head-on, racing over St Mawgan’s famous hump straight at me. At about the half way point the nose wheel left the ground followed shortly by the main gear, the time was 1100:10, she climbed fairly quickly and soon tucked up her undercarriage and flaps. I lost interest as she passed over the top out of view, distracted with other things going on across the airfield.
It was believed that she was already doomed, probably during the take-off roll or shortly after.”
This particular Nimrod MR2 (XV257) was configured as a Search and Rescue (SAR) standby for the Tactical Evaluation (TACEVAL) and as such was loaded with air-sea rescue equipment. A part of the load was several five inch illumination flares mounted on carriers at the rear of the bomb bay. These flares are made of magnesium and burn at a temperature in excess of 2,000°C to emit at least 13 million candle power for around 3 minutes. It was one of these flares that had during take-off become detached and dropped onto the closed bomb bay doors. As the aircraft left the circuit the Captain ordered ‘SAR checks outbound’ and with this the Navigator dutifully selected fusing for nose and tail on the flares. Within a few seconds deep in the belly of XV257 - it ignited.
1102:40 Bomb bay fire alarm bell activates.
Captain: We have an ….. underfloor warning test of the bomb bay. Can we have a
look at the bomb bay please?
1102:46
AEO: Certainly
(Air Electronics
Officer)
1102:47
Captain: Bomb bay fire warning – turn back please.
1102:50
Flt Eng: Bomb bay heating is off …
Nav 2: You’ve got it [St Mawgan] on the TACAN.
Captain: OK.
1103:00
Captain
(To Air Traffic): SAREX 51 ….
(Interrupted by AEO)
AEO: We have a fire in the bomb bay! We have a fire in the bomb bay!
Captain
(To Air Traffic): SAREX 51, Mayday, Mayday, Mayday; Fire in the bomb bay –
coming back for an immediate landing on runway 13,
Mayday, Mayday, Mayday.
1103:20
Air Traffic: SAREX 51 your Mayday acknowledged.
Captain: Push it back fast boys, airbrakes out, let’s get this thing on the ground.
Co-pilot: Yes, coming back, don’t worry.
At a height of 5,000ft, XV257 was put into a tight left turn
Air Traffic: SAREX 51 – steer 080 ….
Wing centre section overheat warning illuminates
AEO: It seems to be confined to the back end …
1103:30
Captain: OK, vacation of the aircraft will be from the front door at the moment
so be prepared for a front door exit.
Aileron bay underfloor alarm bell rings
AEO: Front door copied.
1103:40
Flt Eng: Eng copied
Co-pilot: Aileron servo dyne ….
Flt Eng: Contact, break, break ….
Captain: Aileron servo dyne bay ….
Flt Eng: Break, break, centre section drill is complete, aileron underfloor….
AEO: Aileron underfloor copied.
1103:50
Captain: All crew 100 per cent oxygen.
1104:00
Flt Eng: Underfloor warning immediate actions, aileron bay; all crews to both
intercoms; smoke detector …. did not reset, bell isolation switches….
are off; crew member to check affected compartment ….
Air Traffic: SAREX 51, approach cable will be up, the circuit is clear, QFE for
runway 13 is 986.
Flt Eng: Subsequent actions; all crew 100 percent oxygen, smoke goggles are
available, avionic cooling fans are …. off, galley master …. off. AEO,
Eng, report.
1104:20
Dry 3: AEO’s on ….
AEO: AEO on intercom, unable to get (extinguisher) plugged into aileron
bay.
1104:30
Captain
(To Air Traffic): Mayday rescue 51 now has an underfloor warning in the aileron servo
dyne bay as well.
There’s no practise about this, sport!
Air Traffic: 51, that’s understood.
1104:50
AEO: (extinguisher is) in the aileron bay, split pin removed.
Smoke now entering the fuselage
AEO: Smoke in the fuselage, standing by to fire the fire extinguisher.
Total hydraulic system failure (main utility)
Captain
(To Air Traffic): We now have smoke in the fuselage, intention’s land, shutdown all engines, vacate starboard front, and for Christ’s sake get everything ready!
Bomb bay doors fall full open ejecting (some) burning flares
On the ground Barry was watching the drama unfold before him.
“I was still positioned in the undershoot of 13 and with the next aircraft movement not due for another 45 minutes or so, I had turned down the Storno radio and was taking a well earned break. Within 5 minutes I spotted a Nimrod out to sea going like the clappers passing Newquay north bound. It was not a huge surprise as I had been told some time earlier it was to return with an exercise emergency (!) I turned up the radio and scanned the runway briefly, all in order. However, the radio was a complete babble of agitated and excited voices, it was difficult to understand what was going on until I heard ATC telling Crash Combine (Fire fighting vehicles) of ‘a fire in the bomb bay’, I now turned my attention back to the Nimrod, almost immediately the rear end light-up like a street lamp.
Just for the briefest of moments I thought ‘how did they do that?’ I still had exercise on the brain. Then something fell away burning, then something else, a few seconds passed and what appeared to be an explosion near the tail end and several bright burning bits of wreckage fell into the sea (these were in fact the 5 inch flares burning their way out of the aircraft). The bomb doors dropped into the down position at about the same time and the fire extended from the rear of the bomb bay back to an area adjacent to the middle of the fin and rudder.”
1105:00
Co-pilot: Undercarriage is travelling down.
What’s the (touchdown) speed for me, Eng?
Quick please.
1105:10
Captain: One …..Thirty
Air Traffic: SAREX 51, you have been cleared to land on runway 13, surface wind
270/10.
1105:20
AEO: Eng, AEO, standing by to fire the extinguisher.
Flt Eng: Go ahead.
AEO: First burst going now.
1105:30
Co-pilot
(to Captain): OK, check your brakes on the red (hydraulic system)
Captain
(to Air Traffic): Mayday 51 …
Captain: Brakes are on red …. checking…..
Co-pilot: Checking ….
AEO: First burst complete, Eng.
Flt Eng: Eng copied.
Undercarriage has failed to lower
Co-pilot: We haven’t got any undercarriage coming down. We’ve got an
undercarriage stuck up.
Captain: Oh, Christ!
Undercarriage to red, please … undercarriage to red selection.
Flt Eng: Red ….
Captain: Red pump on.
Co-pilot: There we are ….
Captain: Red selected ….two greens …
Fire warning alarms for number 2 engine
Captain: Fire in number 2 engine, zone 2 … shutting down number 2 engine …
HP cock off … LP cock shut ….
Flt Eng: 1 and 2 HP air supply levers are off.
1106:00
Captain: Firing first shot …
Co-pilot: OK, I’m landing ……
Captain
(to Air Traffic): OK, landing off this, we’ve now got a fire indication in number 2 engine….There’ a real fire in the bomb bay as far as we can see.
ATC: SAREX 51.
AEO: Second shot going, the aileron bay is full of smoke.
1106:10
Flt Eng: Eng copied
AEO: Strap in! Strap in!
Captain: Brace! Brace! Brace!
Barry' narrative continues, “She rolled out onto finals for runway 13, dragging her banner of fire and smoke across the sky. For the second time in just a few minutes she was again heading … straight at me! I couldn’t take my eyes off her, as I fumbled for the keys, I saw she had no gear (undercarriage), at less than 300ft it seemed to flop down, I never did get out of the way properly and for a brief moment my world slowed down as she flew over my Land rover at about 80ft, by now the flames were beyond the MAD boom, a distance of over 40ft and the Clamshell door behind the bomb bay doors had also fallen open; it was a bloody miracle she was still flying. The roar of the flames was deafening as she passed over the top and numerous bits of burning aluminium fell all around me - some hitting my Land rover in the process, holing the roof and right wing, leaving varying sized scorch/burn marks and dents everywhere else, breaking a window knocking off a mirror and (my fault) crushing the off-side rear bumper reversing into the Cornish hedge. [sic:Mark Wardley MTSS, recently commented 'one of the most heavily damaged Landrovers he had ever repaired']
The landing in the circumstance was quite superb, I think the last of the flares fell on touchdown out at 130kts and skated several hundred feet down the runway in a most spectacular manner.”
1106:20 Aircraft lands
Co-pilot: OK, reversers in now, please.
Captain: In, running up.
1106:30
AEO: Front exit when the aircraft stops …
Co-pilot: Check brakes, Gordon.
Captain: You have no pressure at the moment … brakes onto red.
Co-pilot: Red, please.
Captain: You have red … Checking brakes, no maxarets, 600 (psi) both
sides …
1106:40
Flt Eng: Total green system failure, total green system failure.
Captain: No, brakes are working …
Co-pilot: We’re on the red … reverse idle.
1106:50
Captain: Reverse idle.
Co-pilot: Turning off next exit on right
Captain: OK, Oh … kay.
Flt Eng: Fire second shot into number 2 engine.
Captain: It’s out
Flt Eng: Sorry.
1107:00 Underfloor fire warning alarm in elevator servo-dyne bay activates.
Captain: The underfloor (fire) has moved to the elevator bay as expected - flow
AEO: AEO copied.
Co-pilot: We’ll stop here.
Captain: OK, everybody out, everybody out.
The Co-pilot had used up over 7,500ft to bring the aircraft under control then calmly turned off the runway onto ‘November south’ which let the wind to push the smoke away from the crew egress point and allowed St Mawgan to keep the main runway open for further emergencies. As the aircraft came to a halt the crew threw open the front right hand exit door, deployed the escape rope attached to the roof of the door frame and began to slide down to safety. This was very much a two handed operation and it was noted that one aircrew missed the rope altogether and landed heavily 10 feet below as he was clutching his Nav bag!
The Crash crew arrived promptly and fought the flames with much enthusiasm and bravery, saving the aircraft from total destruction.
Meanwhile, Barry extricated his Land rover from the Cornish stone wall that he‘d reversed into moments ago and then chased down the runway after XV257.
“Normally I would have kept well out of the way of burning aeroplanes but on this occasion I was carrying my camera. I arrived shortly after the Fire engines and took 22 photographs for the records. These are the only known pictures taken of the incident. After leaving the scene I returned to air traffic and after parking up my wounded truck, I was walking through the door, I heard the off-side front tyre 'let go' with a loud 'pop'. A few days later I learnt that the seat of the flames were under a 650 gallon fuel tank which had swollen to the point of exploding. If this tank had gone, it would have certainly broken the fuselage in two at the rear of the bomb bay, resulting in a catastrophic failure of the airframe.
Against all the odds XV257 made it back to base and landed safely with several different emergencies on-going at the same time, this was in no small part due to the teamwork displayed by the aircrew, the firemen and a touch of ‘lady luck’. An engineering officer told me later that after inspecting the damage ‘forget the fuel tank bursting or the controls severed and inoperable, this aircraft just would not have lasted another 2 minutes without complete structural failure’.
For well over a year she was in 404 hangar undergoing repairs for a one-off flight to RAE Woodford. She was flown there with a volunteer crew with no bomb bay doors and the undercarriage locked and pinned in the down position. She was to have been rebuilt as an AEW version of the Nimrod and re-enter service 3 years later. Sadly as she was near to completion she was destroyed when the roof of the hangar collapsed during gale force winds
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Old 17th Sep 2017, 14:38
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BOZ testing

The aircraft was used to test flares being fired through the flaps.
Last ditch: select full flap as the Mig 29 approaches. Fire Flares.
The Nav had to operate a guarded switch in order to override the CRIM to fire the flares with the flaps down.
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Old 17th Sep 2017, 15:57
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Any of these pics available?
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Old 17th Sep 2017, 16:07
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???

Originally Posted by dragartist View Post
The aircraft was used to test flares being fired through the flaps.
Last ditch: select full flap as the Mig 29 approaches. Fire Flares.
The Nav had to operate a guarded switch in order to override the CRIM to fire the flares with the flaps down.
Sorry don't understand what this has to do the bomb bay flare fire. Did I miss something?
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Old 17th Sep 2017, 16:55
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B2N2 - they are not taken by me and there fore I guess I don't have the right to use them. They are of the aeroplane on the ground, bomb doors open , forward door just behind the flight deck open, and lots of smoke. and one other of the rear fuselage aft and under the bomb bay area totally devastated.
These guys were heroes in every sense of the word.
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Old 17th Sep 2017, 17:11
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A torrid few minutes for the crew!

Professionally handled, and the transcript made "interesting" reading.
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Old 17th Sep 2017, 19:26
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Well done entire crew!
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Old 17th Sep 2017, 20:19
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ive seen the pictures, incredible. (friend was a firefighter on duty that day, and had a set.) fantastic effort by everbody.
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Old 17th Sep 2017, 22:12
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Originally Posted by Captain Radar.... View Post
Sorry don't understand what this has to do the bomb bay flare fire. Did I miss something?
Sorry Capt radar.
The Op chronicles the arrival of the aircraft at Woodford then goes on to describe the conversion to AEW.
The airframe was put to good use prior to conversion. Just thought some may wish to know.
I must get back to trying a new frock on now.
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Old 17th Sep 2017, 23:54
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Incredible story, some pictures available here;

https://flighteng.org/stories-sp-566...esium-escapade
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Old 18th Sep 2017, 00:10
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Originally Posted by Chinny Crewman View Post
Incredible story, some pictures available here;

https://flighteng.org/stories-sp-566...esium-escapade
Thanks for the link.....sorry, at the end it says no recognition, a mistake yes?
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Old 18th Sep 2017, 00:48
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We also had a flare incident on a MR1 in Malta in the 70's - they were old and unreliable. In this case a flare fell off a rear carrier, and was rolling around in the bottom of the bomb bay. We opened the bomb bay doors and the bloody thing just floated there in the air flow - it did move slightly, but backwards so it was above the clamshell doors that couldn't be opened in flight.
We landed back at Luqa at night, and scarpered whilst the RFS dealt with it. Probably lucky we weren't run over by a fire truck. Can't remember who the crew were now - but I flew with Gordon Laing for a quite a while on 203.
Nothing compared to what happened here though....
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Old 18th Sep 2017, 07:45
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Originally Posted by Rotate too late View Post
Thanks for the link.....sorry, at the end it says no recognition, a mistake yes?
Rotate I've no idea if any of the crew received any recognition but reading this it sounds like AFC stuff to me.
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Old 18th Sep 2017, 10:10
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Originally Posted by Chinny Crewman View Post
Rotate I've no idea if any of the crew received any recognition but reading this it sounds like AFC stuff to me.
Last sentence on the site in link post 10.

"None of the crew received any recognition for their actions, though the firemen were congratulated by AOC 18 Group!"
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Old 18th Sep 2017, 10:28
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Utter tosh!

"None of the crew received any recognition for their actions, though the firemen were congratulated by AOC 18 Group!"
The captain was awarded the AFC, the Copilot and AEO received Queen's Commendations.

YS
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Old 18th Sep 2017, 10:58
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Originally Posted by Yellow Sun View Post
Utter tosh!



The captain was awarded the AFC, the Copilot and AEO received Queen's Commendations.

YS
That seems to be more reasonable.
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Old 18th Sep 2017, 11:09
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Originally Posted by Yellow Sun View Post
Utter tosh!



The captain was awarded the AFC, the Copilot and AEO received Queen's Commendations.

YS
I must say I was surprised when I read the 'no recognition' paragraph.

And for clarity I was not the author of the article, my knowledge of the incident extends only as far as various talks at flight safety days.
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Old 18th Sep 2017, 14:52
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It always troubles me when the word 'heroes' is used in cases like this.
Can't question their professionalism and skill but they didn't really have much choice did they?
To me it's the choice element that makes a hero.
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Old 18th Sep 2017, 15:41
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You obviously have lots of troubles in your life tashengurt. My life has been oh so simple by comparison. I'm 71 and retired now, but along the way everything went so very smoothly for me. I never had an aeroplane trying to burn me alive like these guys did.
I personally know some of the names involved and they are heroes - in my opinion.
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Old 18th Sep 2017, 16:04
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5aday,
Not my intention to offend, nor am I doubting the crews courage in dealing with such a serious incident with such skill. I just struggle with measuring people as heroes when their only alternative would be to sit on their hands and await their fate.
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