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How capable was the Shackleton for ASW?

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How capable was the Shackleton for ASW?

Old 2nd Apr 2018, 10:39
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Question How capable was the Shackleton for ASW?

I spent many happy Saturday mornings with my father, clambering around the inside of various Shackleton at Ballykelly. Sadly he is no longer here, so I can’t ask him, but I have been reading Chris Ashworth’s excellent book, which led me to wonder how effective the Shackleton was for ASW, which I suppose in the Cold War era meant detection and tracking?
His career started with Sunderlands, moved to Neptunes and then to the Shackleton in 1957, so I’m guessing that was a step up in capability?
Thanks
Carsmba
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Old 2nd Apr 2018, 11:18
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Well the sensor suite was still in service in the Nimrod MR1 into the 1980's so it can't have been terrible.

The targets weren't terribly stealthy mind you. 1960's diesel boats were similar to WW2 vessels, and the early nuclear ones could be heard passing through the Iceland / UK gaps if you stuck your ears in the sea on any Scottish or Irish beach.
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Old 2nd Apr 2018, 13:51
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Good endurance, good lookout platform, good numbers but above all, good crews.
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Old 2nd Apr 2018, 14:02
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Originally Posted by camelspyyder View Post
Well the sensor suite was still in service in the Nimrod MR1 into the 1980's so it can't have been terrible.

The targets weren't terribly stealthy mind you. 1960's diesel boats were similar to WW2 vessels, and the early nuclear ones could be heard passing through the Iceland / UK gaps if you stuck your ears in the sea on any Scottish or Irish beach.
True to an extent but the Shackleton never had Lofar (AQA5) as a standard fit, didnít have MAD, ARAR/ARAX was considerably more capable than Orange Harvest and the Nav/Tac system with even the Elliott IN platform was streets ahead of the Shackleton.

I would suggest that when it went out of service the Shackleton was at the limit of its effectiveness.

YS
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Old 2nd Apr 2018, 14:09
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Silly question perhaps, but if one of the main detection methods was acoustic detection via sonobuoys, how did the crew manage to hear that over the mighty griffons and contra props whirling about in various directions? I seem to recall it was a noisy beast.


It seems that noise reducing headphones have come very far in the past few decades, so how did our cold war crews (including P2V, etc.) cut through the noise? WHAT????
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Old 2nd Apr 2018, 14:28
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It seems that noise reducing headphones have come very far in the past few decades, so how did our cold war crews (including P2V, etc.) cut through the noise? WHAT????
I'm afraid the answer is going to seem a tad trite, perhaps even sarcastic...nevertheless it is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

We turned the volume up.

We only had passive (as in sound-proofed) noise reduction. Nothing clever like active noise control...well not in my time anyway (left in 2003).

I would agree totally with YS, even though I think??? lofar just about made it into the Shack?????

FWIW sensor wise, the gap between the last version of the Shack and the Nimrod MR1 was a lot smaller than the gap between the Nimrod MR1 and the Nimrod MR2.
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Old 2nd Apr 2018, 14:40
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Nothing clever like active noise control...well not in my time anyway (left in 2003).
January 1994 trials at BUTEC and then FORACS. 78% increase in detection range. You do wonder at some decisions.
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Old 2nd Apr 2018, 16:53
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I’m a bit startled that ASV21 went into the Nimrod MR1! It must have been s real museum piece, but perhaps it was very advanced at its original introduction? I think it’s U equivalent was AN/APS20?

I remember an ASWDU Shackleton showing up at Key West c1964 or 1965. It looked rather um aged, even next to the SP2H and certainly the P3.
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Old 2nd Apr 2018, 17:31
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As PN said,
Good endurance, good lookout platform, good numbers but above all, good crews.
Plus good equipment and a massive bomb bay, capable of carrying a lot of goodies. ASV 21 was one of the best ASW radars out there (IMHO much better than the P3C's we worked with) and even the 1C sonics were good for their time, but the airframe was getting old, with little room for more modern equipment modifications. The Mk 3, although newer, was heavier and running out of fatigue hours, and even the Mk 2 wasn't far behind, so the decision was forced through the Treasury to replace it. Then came the AEW requirement and it was decided to fit the AN/APS 20 from the Gannet (and previously the Avenger!) in the 'youngest' airframes - and even they needed new mainspars after a few years service. The AN/APS 20 seemed a real backward step from the ASV21 - it worked but was always being tinkered with, and was much earlier technology.

(Of note I seem to remember an ASWDU aircraft was fitted with a MAD boom for a trial, but it wasn't very successful and later removed)

Last edited by Shackman; 2nd Apr 2018 at 17:36. Reason: MAD booms
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Old 2nd Apr 2018, 17:31
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When I was a Flt Cdt in 1969, it was deemed A Good Thing for us to give up a week of precious leave in order to see something of the Real RAF at an operational station. Which for a couple of us meant RAF Kinloss.

23 hours after leaving my home in Somerset, the overnight sleeper from London and a change of trains at Glasgow, I finally arrived at the Officers' Mess. The next day I went to 201 Sqn to start my attachment. It was quite fascinating watching the rear crew working away in the maritime simulator, with various indications outside showing what was going on.

Then came the day to go flying. Or rather night. With the combined assistance of 4 x Griffons and 2 x Vipers, the beast struggled into the air and set off for the patrol area at around 1000 ft at a sedate pace. Several hours and honk bags later, we reached the area. Much excitement when it was thought that something unknown had been detected, so we set up an attack pattern bouncing around at low level with the rain lashing down. As the target approached, we fired off some form of flare which lit up the sky...and illuminated some Noggie fishing trawler rolling from gunwale to gunwale, rather than any submarine.

A few hours later, we set off home. At one point the ice became rather a worry as the ASI fell to zero, whereupon the co-pilot took stall recovery action with the thunder of the Griffons at 'all ahead flank' and both Vipers adding their assistance. But the aircraft hadn't stalled, it was ice in the pitot-static system, I was told. For much of the way back someone was standing behind the RAAF Fg Off captain illuminating the wing leading edge with a powerful handheld lamp, checking on the ice build up.

We eventually got back after about 14 hours airborne and I could still hear the engines as I crashed out in my bed - to be woken up a little later by the roar of jet engines. The prototype Nimrod was visiting the station and giving a most impressive display!

My conclusion? Shackletons - no thanks. At the end of the week I was driven to RNAS Lossiemouth by a maniac Sqn Ldr in an MT Standard Vanguard and deposited in the care of the FAA. I'd expected to by flying back to Yeovilton in the Sea Heron 'Tilly' which did the rounds on Fridays in those days, but instead of that a Cdr RN mate of my father on FONAC's staff had flown up in a Sea Vampire - and that was my lift home. 90 minutes in a smooth jet aircraft at around 30000ft further convinced me that I wanted nothing more to do with Shacks!

Until many years later when I had a lift in an AEW2 from Lossiemouth to Leuchars, which took about the same length of time as the Sea Vampire had taken to fly to Yeovilton some 30 year earlier!

The ASW crews certainly earned their pay, in my view - but the Mk3 ph3 in which I'd flown was on its last legs and they looked forward with longing to the Nimrod. The rear crew equipment looked ancient and it was clear that the chief weapon in the armoury was experience and crew coordination.

In the AEW role the Shack also relied on some very skilled crews. I was flying a VC10K on Q once when the Bears we were hunting went down to low level and were lost to land-based radar. Skill, cunning and something of a hunch from the AEW Shack spotted them again, in sufficient time for us to achieve cut-off, towing the 2 F-4s with us which topped up, roared off and completed the intercept with a visident and door number shot of the Russians before they left the ADR. Without the Shack, that simply wouldn't have happened!

All rather a bygone age now, but I'm so glad that I had the opportunity to experience the Shack at first hand.
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Old 2nd Apr 2018, 18:25
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8sqn. Old age and treachery will always overcome youthful exuberance
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Old 2nd Apr 2018, 19:29
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Oh poor Beags! My 1969 Flight Cadet visit to Shacks was a bit different. Britannia to Luqa , Four hrs famil. in a 203 Sqn Mk 3 Phase 3. 40 minutes in a 29 Sqn Lightning T5. Then 13 :50 Shack time including an hour or so right seat out on Ex. Dawn Patrol.Raced a USN Neptune, Low level over the U.S Fleet, a good look at the Sov. Fleet off Kythira (including the "Moskva"). Then half a day out at sea with the RAF Marine unit ( Maritime Griffons!) a superb visit to 13 Sqn Canberras' RIC ( a portent for the future!). Gutex's, Visits all round the island with 203 being superb hosts, before being poured back onto the Brit for the flight home.
I was bought up as a kid on a Coastal station (St.Eval) and later got a trip in Farnborough's T4 , in an airframe that was one of my father's previous engineering charges in the early 50's -when a certain Chris Ashworth was a cheeky young Fg.Offr.
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Old 2nd Apr 2018, 19:40
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Flying Aberdeen to the Shetland Basin with an American in the LHS. We espied a Shackleton doing it's rounds.

"Jesus! You guys still flying Liberators?"
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Old 2nd Apr 2018, 20:23
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Haraka - we were at St Eval 1957-1959. Did we overlap?
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Old 2nd Apr 2018, 21:05
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You guys still flying Liberators
Feckin' Lancasters. Way older design than Liberators.

Partly pressurised: 'cos they had more holes at the front than at the back.
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Old 2nd Apr 2018, 21:58
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"Jesus! You guys still flying Liberators?"
I seem to recall on PPRuNe a few years ago a guy flying an F14 or whatever off a US Carrier had to divert to Lossie.
En route to the Mess he asked if they were making a WW2 film because he’d seen a number of very ancient aircraft parked on the airfield.
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Old 2nd Apr 2018, 22:32
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I lost track of the number of times we were called a Liberator - but always (and only) by USN and USAF.
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Old 2nd Apr 2018, 23:41
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Back in the 1950s, our family holidays were usually in Cornwall. One year (I think it was 1956 or 1957), we had a week in an hotel in Bedruthan Steps....

....which is about a mile from the upwind threshold of St Eval's westerly runway. One night I was in the bedroom which I shared with my brother when a Shacklebomber took off - the growling got louder and louder and LOUDER, then the whole building shook and shuddered as the aircraft went overhead at not a great altitude!
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Old 3rd Apr 2018, 03:35
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Maybe 20 years ago... I was living in St Paul, MN (don't ask). Friend was over for coffee. Loud rumble overhead, he can see outside, I can't. Describes a large four-motor aeroplane with twin tails. I'm trying to persuade him to switch to decaf or mezcal. Several weeks later, I read in the news that someone has brought an AEW Shack to Anoka...
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Old 3rd Apr 2018, 06:19
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One of our QFIs on Bulldogs was an X Shack pilot. 2 tours I think. He always used to moan about how awful it was and how chums still flying them were desperate to get off. That didn't stop him however from saying to us light fingered UAS Cadets: ' If ever on your travels, you come across a Shackleton yoke, I will pay handsomely for it'. Alas we never did.
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