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Valiant Airborne Command Post

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Valiant Airborne Command Post

Old 7th Jun 2020, 18:11
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Valiant Airborne Command Post

Looking for something else I came across this reference in Len Scott and Stephen Twigge's Planning Armageddon: Britain, the United States, and the Command of Western Nuclear Forces 1945-1964:

In August 1962, the Air Ministry approved deployment of an airborne command post "to ensure an alternative means of passing release messages to the Medium Bomber Force without recourse to landline communications"....To establish an airborne command post, a flight of Valiants was transferred from the tanker squadron and fitted with UHF communication equipment. Operation of the system proved problematic. Joint exercises with SHAPE revealed that UHF transmission failed to meet required standards of reliability. However, if HF SSB radio sets were used, no such difficulties existed...
I did not know there was any effort to create a UK TACAMO. Does anyone (Pontius Navigator? BEagle?) know any more?

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Old 8th Jun 2020, 08:08
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I can not give any details of the Valiant days as I was not there. However on the Victor Mk 1 Tanker we had a crew on short notice standby (I seem to remember 1 hour) to launch as ACP. This was not an Airborne Command Post as there was only the standard crew aboard, no senior officer commanders. The role of the aircraft was as an Airborne Communications Post to rebroadcast go on/come back codewords to the bomber force en route to their targets.
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Old 8th Jun 2020, 09:33
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Same deal on 98 Sqn E15s at Cottesmore.
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Old 8th Jun 2020, 09:57
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We used to do that on 90 Sqn Valiants at about that time. Not the most serious of jobs compared with the sprinting by the Victor crews.

When the hooters went in the mess for a Micky Finn at some Godforsaken hour in the morning I could roll over and go back to sleep. After breakfast I would go to the squadron where a the first complete crew in got the job. On one occasion the Squadron Commander was worrying about the fact he only had one serviceable aircraft and he also had to provide a backup. I suggested that he nominate a nearly serviceable aircraft as the ACP and the serviceable one as backup.

That was what was done.
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Old 8th Jun 2020, 10:49
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98 Squadron Canberra E15s did what, now?
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Old 9th Jun 2020, 09:30
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Jacko, it's double secret.......
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Old 9th Jun 2020, 17:29
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I have a vague recollection that 8 Sqn in its early AEW days had a similar task outlined; whether it was to be done by those AEW Shackletons already airborne that were to broadcast airfield states (or those stilloperational) for recovering aircraft, or whether it was one or two of the MR aircraft on the Sqn books I don't know. I don't ever remember practising it.
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Old 9th Jun 2020, 17:51
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Originally Posted by Jackonicko View Post
98 Squadron Canberra E15s did what, now?
I think you’ll find the clue is autocat

YS
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Old 10th Jun 2020, 13:11
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As Tengah Type has said, we did this when I was on Victor K1s. Once a month we went in the vault and revised the procedures, such as frequencies, callsigns, routes etc. I'm pretty sure this has long been declassified so I think I m fairly safe, but we had a predesignated racetrack over near the coast of Norway and that was where we were supposed to go and relay messages to the main force. Having no defences, not even ECM, I wonder how long we would have lasted on task! Not sure when the commitment ceased, sometime around 1973-74 at a guess.
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Old 10th Jun 2020, 14:56
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I was 7 years on Victor K1's and never knew anything of this TTN. Perhaps it was because I was only a [pilot and was expected just to do what my Nav told me. What a relief, it would have meant I would not have had to think.
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Old 10th Jun 2020, 15:29
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[QUOTE Once a month we went in the vault and ....[/QUOTE]

..and played Kierki !
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Old 10th Jun 2020, 21:39
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I seem to remember our holding pattern was in the Daventry area but I may be mistaken. I do recall, however, that this particular variation of practice bleeding was even less exciting than "nav competition training."
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Old 10th Jun 2020, 21:50
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I seem to remember our holding pattern was in the Daventry area
There were literally dozens of SORBITS (Survival Orbits) in the plan. Most were out over the sea, but strangely many were overland - and overhead airfields which were seen as targets and whose own aircraft had orbits a safe 100nm or more away. Go figure.
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Old 11th Jun 2020, 09:34
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Valiants, 207 sqn at Marham, , SACEUR assigned. Never heard of this relay function of 214.
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Old 11th Jun 2020, 11:09
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What was wrong with this typically British idea....
"Lord Mountbatten faced the problem of what to do in the event of a four-minute warning if Harold Macmillan was away from his desk...The Treasury didn’t want to spend any money; Macmillan didn’t want to have any fuss at all. .....Whitehall arranged for the prime minister’s car to have a radio link – with which the AA used to communicate with its mechanics – that would tell the PM's driver that he needed to reach a public phone box, from which Macmillan would call Whitehall. It was suggested that government drivers carried four pennies, as that was the minimum sum needed in a GPO phone box.”

Can't see all the above being done in four minutes...
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Old 11th Jun 2020, 11:25
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I think the bit below was probably inserted so that if the Americans asked if we had a "recall mechanism", we could say yes......

An exchange of letters between civil servants highlights fears that the driver might not have had the change necessary to make the call. Macmillan’s private secretary provided reassurance.

Even if by “some misfortune or miscalculation [the pennies] have been expended and one is penniless”, Tim Bligh wrote, there would always be the option of “dialling 100 and requesting reversal of the charge”


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Old 11th Jun 2020, 11:59
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As FED intimated in #4 the ACP was rarely exercised during bomber exercises. The only one I flew was on 13 Dec 1966 - Ex Tibet 3hrs 50 night. As Top West 50 indicated at #12 a holding pattern(60 nm square ?) was used, but not on the operational location. IIRC ours was based on Lincoln. For obvious reasons "nav competition training" was more exciting for us in the back. Much better than the seemingly interminable circuit bashing favoured by others! Especially at night when the bar was calling!
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Old 11th Jun 2020, 15:17
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I think the Nav School Dominies also had an airborne comms relay war role.
t
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Old 11th Jun 2020, 15:30
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Originally Posted by Timelord View Post
I think the Nav School Dominies also had an airborne comms relay war role.
It was known as Airborne Radio Relay and was one of two War Roles for the Dominie, the other being Short Range Maritime Patrol.

Last edited by ExAscoteer2; 11th Jun 2020 at 17:56.
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Old 11th Jun 2020, 17:00
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It was suggested that government drivers carried four pennies, as that was the minimum sum needed in a GPO phone box.”
In 1964 when the country was being connected up to the STD phone system one could ascertain the numbers to dial so that you could get connected to a number in any major city for 4d.
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