THE BUCC STOPS HERE
|Following the success of Universal Work's salute to English Electric at the April 2010 Cheltenham GWR Modeller's Exhibition,
October exhibition featured the Railway Operating Department's Airport Embankment
diorama and, for the first time at Cheltenham, six examples of a
single aircraft type - the well loved and much missed Blackburn
Buccaneer during its final years of RAF service.
An overview of the last all-British jet bomber can be found at The Buccaneering Mellor Brothers and indeed the trailer mounted fuselage of XX889 joined the Buccaneers examined here - along with a guest from outside the Jet Age Reserve Model Collection: Tony Neul's XV348.
Indeed, three totally unexpected arrivals were two examples of Buccaneer prototype XK491( one wheels-up on a stand, one with undercarriage down ) and a De Havilland DH110 - all kind gifts from former Blackburn employee Tony Woods.
Also visiting the display was Alan Postlethwaite, well known in Gloucestershire for organising model engineering shows at Stonehouse and Cirencester, who recruited the assembled Buccaneers for a new Gloucester show to be held at Hucclecote Methodist Church on Saturday 9 July 2011 along with Capital Works.
|XK491 was the British military serial number given to Blackburn Buccaneer airframe B3-06-58 which, having
been assembled at Brough, was first flown from Holme on Spalding Moor on 29 May
Powered by two 7 100 lb static thrust de Havilland Gyron Junior 101 engines, XK491 was one of a batch of 6 prototype aircraft ordered from Blackburn Aircraft on 2 June 1955 to Operational Requirement NA39 under contract 6/Acft/11790/CB.9/(a)
|Although 1960 vintage Airfix kit 03004-1 was for many
years sold as representing the production S1 version of the Blackburn Buccaneer
it was in fact based on the six NA39 prototypes from the series XK486 to XK491
which lacked both the Radar Warning Receiver bullet fairing on the tail and the
correct larger nose of the Buccaneers from XK487 to XZ432.
Among these six prototypes, XK491 was both the first and last to be fitted with a retractable refuelling probe rather than the later fixed bolt-on type. it was also used for trials on the full ac electrical system, autopilot and tail vibration auto stabiliser before being sent to the Naval Air Department at Royal Aircraft Establishment Bedford on 20 June 1959 for probe and drogue refuelling trials.
After returning to Holme on Spalding Moor two days later, XK491 spent 3 July 1959 continuing probe and drogue trials with English Electric Canberra WH734 acting the role of tanker while a return to RAE Bedford was made on 21 July 1959 for assessments of its buffet boundary and auto stabiliser. Two days later XK491 was once again returned to Holme on Spalding Moor before being loaned to Flight Refuelling Limited at Elvington, Yorkshire, on 29 October 1959. During subsequent refuelling trials with a Vickers Valiant tanker the drogue basket broke off the hose while still attached to the Buccaneer's probe but XK491 still managed to land safely.
On 21 January 1960 XK491 was transferred to C Squadron at the Aircraft and Armament Experimental Establishment at Boscombe Down, Wiltshire, before flying back to Holme on Spalding Moor the next day and on 15 February 1960 making an emergency landing at Elvington following an engine failure.
Just over two years later on 21 February 1962 XK491 was back with C Squadron A&AEE for runway autopilot tests before flying north to Holme on Spalding Moor on 27 March for spin tests and ejector seat systems trials. Indeed, XK491 was to shuttle between Wiltshire and the White Rose County for various trials until 7 February 1964 when the aircraft was withdrawn from service having logged only 280 hours 18 minutes flying time.
Having been dismantled, components from XK491 were then sent to the Proof and Experimental Establishment at Shoeburyness, Essex, between 12 and 25 January 1965. After gunnery trials the remains delivered to BKL Alloys, Kings Norton, Birmingham, in July 1969 except for the nose section which was returned to Hawker Siddeley, Brough, in February 1976.
was the British military serial number given to Blackburn Buccaneer airframe B3-26-66 which, having
been assembled at Brough, was first flown from Holme on Spalding Moor on 2 August 1967.|
Powered by two 11 030 lb static thrust Rolls Royce Spey 101 engines, XV348 was one of a batch of 30 aircraft ordered from Hawker Siddeley ( who had taken over Blackburn Aircraft) on 12 April 1966 under contract KC/2F/153/CB.58(b)
transfer to the Royal Navy took place on 6 September 1967 before being
returned to Brough for upgrade to S Mark 2A standard and transfer to
the Royal Air Force on 2 October 1969. First issued to 12 Squadron at
RAF Honington, XV348 was upgraded to S Mark 2B standard by the time it
was transferred to 15 Squadron RAG Germany on 4 July 1973. In
September 1973 XV348 stayed at Laarbruch but became a 16 Squadron asset
before going back to 2 Squadron at Honington on 19 August 1975, where
it stayed put but transferred to 237 OCU on the 22 August 1977.|
On 31 October 1977 XV348 was written off after striking power cables at Glomfijord, Norway.
model of XV348 has its green/dark grey top and light grey underside in
a gloss finish to represent the two-pack polyeurathene paint of the
early 1970s and also has the correct wing mounted radar warning pods
and flight refuelling probe.|
However, during its earliest days with 12 Squadron - whose Fox head badge appears just behind the air intakes - XV348 would have been fitted with underwing SNEB rockets and bomblets rather than the four anti-radar AS 37 Martel missiles fitted to an S Mark 2B Buccaneer.
As a 16 Squadron machine in 1974, XV348 was modified with slipper tanks on the inboard wing pylons and bomblet carriers outboard, a bulged bomb bay fuel tank but no wing mounted radar receiver pods on the leading edges of the wing or flight refuelling probe. It would, by then, also have carried the two L-shaped ILS aerials part way up the leading edge of the fin which were not present in its S Mark 2A guise. Not fitted before 1974 - and perhaps never fitted - were the chin mounted Violet Picture radio homing system aerials used to home in on tanker aircraft.
|XV359 was the British military serial
number given to Blackburn Buccaneer airframe B3-09-67 which, having
been assembled at Brough, was first flown from RAF Driffield as the
usual aerodrome at Holme-on-Spalding Moor was closed for runway
repairs in early 1968.
Powered by two 11 030 lb static thrust Rolls Royce Spey 101 engines, XV359 was one of a batch of 30 aircraft ordered from Hawker Siddeley ( who had taken over Blackburn Aircraft) on 12 April 1966 under contract KC/2F/153/CB.58(b)
Official transfer to the Royal Navy took place on 28 February 1968 followed by allocation to Lossiemouth 800 Naval Air Squadron which embarked on HMS Eagle on 28 August 1968. Coded 100/E, XV359's tour of duty aboard the carrier continued until returned to RNAS Lossiemouth on 31 January 1972.
800 NAS disbanded on 25 February 1972 and in March that year XV359 joined 809 NAS which relocated to RAF Honington that October. In 1973 XV359 received a partial avionics upgrade but was designated S Mark 2C - that is, a non Martel missile fitted aircraft.
By 1975 XV359 was embarked aboard HMS Ark Royal with 809 NAS, coded 034/R and fitted with one early style weapons pylon under the port wing for a CBLS 100 bomblet carrier outboard of a slipper tank. A propeller driven buddy in-flight refuelling pod was also an option inboard on the starboard wing.
809 Squadron disembarked from HMS Ark Royal and disbanded on 15 December 1978 after which XV359 was stored at 19 Maintenance Unit RAF St Athan.
From February 1980 all Buccaneer aircraft were grounded for six months following the fatal crash of XV345 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, on 7 February 1980 during Exercise Red Flag 80 and in 1982 XV359 was moved to British Aerospace Bitteswell for upgrading to S Mark 2B - Martel capable - standard.
On 15 March 1982 the newly improved XV359 was issued to 12 Squadron at RAF Lossiemouth and for the first time tail-coded "359". In September 1983 XV359 along with squadron mates XV361 and XW530 and also XX885, XX901 and XZ430 from 208 Squadron were deployed to RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus, to take part in Operation Pulsator to support the British army contingent of the UN peace keeping force stationed in Lebanon.
By March 1984 XV359 had been recoded EF and a month later became VS of 208 Squadron also based at Lossiemouth. The aircraft was later returned to 12 Squadron having undergone modifications 1724 to 1727 to achieve Sea Eagle anti-ship missile capability, one of only 20 aircraft to be so treated prior to an ASR 1012 Avionics Upgrade Programme.
August 1985 was spent at the Aircraft & Armament Experimental Establishment at Boscombe Down, Wiltshire, although in April 1986 XV359 was noted at Lossiemouth attached to 237 Operational Conversion Unit but devoid of any squadron markings.
By February 1987 however XV359 was back as "359" of 208 Squadron prior to receiving set 39 of ASR 1012 at BAe Woodford between 19 December 1988 and 27 July 1989.
The ASR 1012 Avionics Upgrade Programme was applied to 42 Buccaneers and included the Ferranti FIN 1063 INS refinement to the Blue Parrot radar, Inertial Navigation, a new Plessey ASR 899 radio, modernised ARI 18228 ECM/ESM Sky Guardian 200 Radar Warning Receiver, Sea Eagle "fire and forget" missiles ( where not already fitted ), AIM-9G and AIM-9L Sidewinder air to air missile capability, Tracor AN/ALE-40 chaff/flare dispensers and cockpit alterations to allow the crew to wear full AR5 standard nuclear, biological and chemical protection clothing.
|XV359 is represented in this model as a
208 Squadron aircraft of 1988
with Airfix offering alternative markings for XV361 "FF" of 12 Squadron
during 1985. The winged eye symbol of 208 Squadron can be seen
with the top edge of the rudder in the picture above while below a blue
and yellow squadron arrowhead can be seen just forward of the RAF
roundel on the cockpit sides. A 12
Squadron Buccaneer of the period would have carried a Fox head badge
between the air intake and the leading edge of the wing.
Both models were shown in Dark Green / Dark Sea Grey wraparound camouflage with the bulged belly tank although the smooth rotary bomb bay door was an optional part on the sprue. The wraparound camouflage was adopted as the earlier Naval-inspired light underside became too visible when the Buccaneer was making tight turns at low level.
I built this model in the 1990s partly because I had always wanted to build a naval aircraft with wings and other components folded and because such a model was needed for a 1/72 scale representation of a potential new hangar for The Jet Age Museum.
As portrayed in a "stored" condition I omitted both the armament and stores options for the kit which were either four Sea Eagle missiles on underwing pylons or two slipper tanks inboard and two Sea Eagles outboard. And before anyone emails, yes, I do realise that the jet pipes are too far out but I was probably concentrating too hard on the wings, tail and nose at the time to notice. Apart from that, not a bad first attempt at a Buccaneer S Mark 2 in my humble opinion.
However, it should be noted that this Airfix rendition of the S Mark 2 - 03055, first moulded in 1989 - still retains the incorrect nose, left over from kit 03004-1 which purported to be the S Mark 1 but in fact was based on some of the NA39 prototypes. The NA39 prototypes - XK486 to XK488 - also lacked the aerodynamic bullet fairing later used to house the Radar Warning Receiver (described below) but this feature was fitted to the Gyron Junior powered S Mark 1.
Back on 12" to the foot, XV359 was noted back with 237 OCU at Lossiemouth coded "359" in April 1991 prior to 237 OCU disbanding on 1 October 1991.
|Also, at some point between August 1989 and October 1992 XV359 was
fitted with Modification 1736 - smaller wingtips to extend the airframe
life by reducing wing loading. Modification 1736 had been produced as
the result of fatigue testing XN982 at Brough from June 1982 following
the loss of XV345.
In June 1993 XV359 was seen coded 359 in 12 Squadron markings at Lossiemouth and this livery was continued by 208 Squadron after 12 squadron disbanded on 1 October 1993.
In March 1994 XV359 became one of six aircraft chosen to represent all six RAF units that had operated the Buccaneer along with one aircraft -XX894 - repainted in the Extra Dark Sea Grey overallof 809 NAS - for a retirement photocall on the last day of the month. The aircraft, units and markings were as follows:
Following the last touchdown XV359 was stored first at Lossiemouth and then at RAF Predannack before relegation to the fire dump at RNAS Culdrose. However, the aircraft was later restored to display at HMS Seahawk before sale to Andrew Landon of Topsham in April 2005 for private preservation.
Also of note on the model of XV359 - and seen best in the top view above - is the bullet fairing on top of the tail which houses the aerials of a Pulse Warning & Homing System behind yellow fibreglass covers. Also known as a Radar Warning Receiver (RWR), this operated on the bandwidths of anti-aircraft missile installations and the pulsed doppler radar used by some fighter aircraft.
Tail mounted RWR also provided a 360 degree picture of potentially hostile radiation - unlike earlier equipment. In fact after RWR had been introduced in 1975, Laarbruch based RAF Germany Buccaneer crews flying above 1 000 feet reported that they could now detect East German missile sites locking on to them and handing them over to the next site as they flew along the border.
Also visible in both the tailplane and top views are the L shaped aerials mounted part way up the front of the fin and facing rearward. These are "localiser" aerials for the Instrument Landing System.
Best seen in the image of the folding nose are two yellow "chin" aerials just ahead of the undercarriage nosewheel. These are connected to the Violet Picture radio homing system typically employed to find flight refuelling tanker aircraft.
was the RAF serial number for Blackburn Buccaneer airframe B3-02-69,
one of a batch of 26 S Mark 2B production aircraft ordered under
contract KC/2F/358/CB-58A first flown at Holme-On-Spalding Moor.
Initially loaned to the Ministry of Technology on 30 April 1970
it was returned to the Royal Air Force and allocated to 12 Squadron at
Honington on 8 July 1970. |
On 19 November XW526 was transferred at the same Suffolk location to 15 Squadron which then moved to RAF Laarbruch in West Germany in January 1971. By April 1974 it wore the squadron's code letter A on the inside and outside of the nosewheel door but on 12 January 1976 was returned to Honington as part of 237 OCU. On 18 May 1976 XW526 was back at Laarbruch with 16 Squadron as aircraft Y although it was aircraft B of Laarbruch based 15 Squadron by 1977. Having suffered fatigue failure, XW526 crashed at Osnabruch on 12 July 1979.
|Given its life of less than a decade, the markings of this Matchbox
model (PK-106) of XW526 would indicate that it is represented sometime between
January 1971 and 12 January 1976. However, as acquired ready-built by
the Jet Age Reserve Model Collection the nosewheel door was missing and
had to be fabricated, just as the dorsal aerials had to be added and painted.
Nevertheless, the yellow warning panel on the starboard side of the
nose has German lettering. |
In fact, as originally issued, the Matchbox model could be finished as either XW525 or XW550, neither of which would have been historically correct for the colour scheme suggested. It is therefore likely that Modeldecal numerals have been used to correct this inaccuracy.
The Matchbox model was also supplied with clean wings rather than four pylons with bomblet carriers outboard of two slipper tanks actually fitted although the light aircraft grey underside is correct, predating the wraparound camouflage.
XW526 has the production standard RWR bullet fairing on the tail and the bulged belly tank of most RAF Buccaneers but - being optimised for short-range attacks - does not have the Violet Picture chin aerials and in-flight refuelling probe. Also missing are the ILS aerials on the fin, the leading edge pods described on the Corgi model below and the model has the typical Matchbox "trough" moulding lines along with a nose, jet pipes and nose undercarriage with noticeably different dimensions from the Airfix and Corgi models.
As with most Matchbox kits of the early 1970s, PK-106 was moulded in three colours but 40142 - with all parts moulded in Desert pink - was released just after Operation Granby in 1992. By this time Matchbox was a German company and a well detailed decal sheet for XW533 / Miss Jolly Roger/ Fiona / Glenfarclas was included in what is now a very rare kit.
In between the two Matchbox releases, Frog's Buccaneer S2A/50 appeared in 1975 just before the firm ceased trading. Although dimensionally very accurate this was an under-engineered kit with no cockpit detailing or blanking plates for the exhausts, intakes and wheel bays. The airbrake petals were also criticised for retaining the pre-Modification 1503 honeycomb sandwich although the serial XV348 was correct for a post 1969 12 Squadron aircraft.
|Like XV359, XV352 was built under contract KC/2F/153/CB.58(b)
and carrying the constructor's number B3-02-67 first flew from RAF
Driffield with official delivery to the Ministry of Defence Procurement
Executive on 30 April 1968. |
The first eight years of the life of XV352 was spent at A&AEE Boscombe Down undergoing weapons trials as the first new build Martel capable Buccaneer before returning to Brough in 1976 for conversion to S Mark 2B standard.
XV352 was formally issued to 208 Squadron RAF in March 1977 and in August that year travelled to Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, as one of ten Buccaneers taking part in Exercise Red Flag 77. For this training deployment the main fuselage and wings were temporarily over painted in a Dark Earth and Light Stone wraparound scheme as seen on the Corgi diescast model. h rear fuselage was not painted as the combination of exhaust heat and dirt would have made the Alkali Removable Temporary Finish difficult to remove. Flying at between 50 and 100 feet above the desert bombing ranges, the Buccaneers were only visible to their US Air Force hosts due to the dust blown up by their jet efflux.
|The "Nevada" camouflage was removed on return to the UK and XV352
became 208 Squadron's "N", retaining this identity in April 1979 while
taking part in Exercise Maple Leaf III at CFB Cold Lake, Canada.|
Following the grounding of all Buccaneers for six months in 1980, 208 Squadron relocated to Lossiemouth in July 1983 with XV352 being recoded as "TS" in March 1984. In 1985 the Buccaneer underwent a major overhaul at 19 MU, RAF St Athan, before becoming "FC" of 237 OCU back at Lossiemouth in May 1986 and then "352" of the same outfit in 1987.
XV352 received set 013 of AUP ASR 1012 at BAe Woodford between 7 August 1987 and 29 March 1988, returning to Lossiemouth as part of the Station Flight. April 1988 found XV358 back with 237 OCU and then back with 208 Squadron in October 1989 - in both cases retaining "352" coding.
Between then and January 1991 XV352 returned to Brough for Modification 1736 and with smaller wingtips was also repainted in Medium Sea Grey / Camouflage Grey with 12" low visibility pink/ pale blue roundels. In January 1991 however XV352 was prepared for action in Operation Granby with the application of a Desert pink Alkali Removable Temporary Finish and coded U.
Along with five other Buccaneers - XX683/S, XX885/L, XX894/O, XX895/G and XX901/N - XV352 was flown direct in 9 hours with flight refuelling to Mulharraq, Bahrain on 10 February 1991 and although it carried no nose art the distillery name "Tamdhu" was applied along with - ultimately - ten mission symbols below the cockpit on the starboard nose.
|XV352 returned with its comrades to Lossiemouth in a flight of 8 hours
50 minutes on 17 March 1991 and rejoined 208 Squadron, also losing its
Desert scheme by August 1992. By the time of 208 Squadron's exercise at
AElborg, Denmark, on 17 August 1993, XV352 was in overall Barley Grey,
a scheme it retained with the crossed swords badge of 237 OCU as
detailed in the retirement photo-call line up in the table above.|
XV352 was subsequently stored at 19 MU St Athan from 7 April 1994 and then scrapped at Hanningfield Metals, Stock, Essex apart from the nose section which was saved by John Hume of Maldon, Essex, and from December 2006 was displayed at the Manston History Museum, Kent.
The Corgi die cast model of XV352 in Red Flag markings ( Catalogue AA34109 ) is one of a limited edition of 1000 although the same basic Buccaneer S Mark 2 has also been available in a range of RN and RAF markings with varying stores and weapons.
As such, the model retains the RWR, ILS and Violet Picture aerials described on XV359 along with the thin bullet-shaped pods on the leading edge of each wing. These originally contained Radar Passive Warning systems which until 1972 were based on Airborne Radar Installation 18154 which employed S ( for Ship) bandwidth. S Band covered the frequencies used by ship and many airfield radars and so was used to detect ships attempting to "paint" aircraft with their radars as well as helping an atacking Buccaneer to keep under the radar cover of its target.
From 1972 to 1975 ARI 18154 was replaced by S/X Band Wideband Homer ARI 18216. X Band covered early monopulse airborne radars and was housed in larger, deeper and more flat sided pods than the earlier circular section pods for ARI 18154. Integral with the adoption of ARI 18216 was an audio oscillator in the rear cockpit which allowed the navigator to match the tone emitted to the Pulse Repetition Frequency of the transmitter and thereby recognise the radar transmitter as friendly or hostile.
Although ARI 18216 was itself superceded by the tail mounted RWR, the leading edge fin pods were refitted during AUP ASR 1012 to contain Sky Guardian 200 Radar Warning Receivers.
As modelled by Corgi, XV352 also has slipper tanks permanently attached to the inboard hardpoints and, according to the box artwork, green painted CBLS bomblet carriers on the outer pylons. Inside however were die cast parts representing the American Westinghouse AN/ALQ-101(V)-10 active electronic countermeasures pod supplied to Buccaneer units from 1976 as a self-defence measure and an anachronism - the American AN/AVQ-23E Pave Spike laser target designator pod for free fall Laser Guided Bombs (LGB) not supplied to the RAF until 1979.
has been noted already in this article, model manufacturers can in no
way be relied upon to call Buccaneers by the correct designation,
supply them with the correct stores and armaments or even get the right
number on the decal sheet!
Further evidence of this can be found on the latest issue of Airfix's kit 03055 which purports to portray either 809 NAS Buccaneer S Mark 2D XV344, S Mark 50 426 or RAF Buccaneer XW895. Typing XW895 into Google in fact reveals that this British military serial was in fact applied to an Aerospatiale Gazelle in 1974 and that Hannants had to correct a Model Alliance decal sheet which claimed that "Glenfiddich" was the name attached to XW533.
The correct serial should be XX895. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.
S Mark 2B XX895 was one of the penultimate batch of Blackburn Buccaneers ordered by the Royal Air Force, numbering 17 aircraft and built under Contract KA6a/316/CB.A6a. Its Blackburn builders number was B3-04-74 and after leaving the assembly shops at Brough was flown from Holme-On-Spalding Moor joining the RAF on 5 December 1975 and being specifically allocated to 12 Squadron at Honington on 5 January 1976.
XX895 was sent to 19 MU at RAF St Athan in 1979 for overhaul and was flying with 12 Squadron at Honington again in June 1980. On 5 September 1980 XX895 was transferred to 15 Squadron at RAF Germany Laarbruch where it was coded "B", an identity which it was to keep despite another spell of maintenance at 19 MU from 9 January until 6 April 1981.
Indeed, XX895 was also coded B with 16 Squadron at Laarbruch from August 1983 to March 1984 when it returned to Honington to become aircraft A with 237 OCU. As it turned out, 237 OCU relettered XX895 as B from August 1984 and retained this identity when the Operational Conversion Unit moved to Lossiemouth in October 1984.
In 1985 237 OCU recoded XX895 as BC and it kept this - despite a brief loan back to 12 Squadron in 1986 - until the end of 1986 when the code changed to a simple "895".
AUP ASR 1012 set 015 was installed at BAe Woodford between 16 September 1987 and 5 May 1988 after which XX895 joined the Station Flight at Lossiemouth, then 12 Squadron on 9 May and 208 Squadron in October 1989.
|Modification 1736 was carried out between then and January 1991
followed by preparation and use in Operation Granby as discussed when
examining XV352 above. In this case however, XX895/G gained the Jaws/
Lynn / Glenfiddich / Skypirates nose art and five LGB mission symbols for
the following actions.|
|In March 1991 XX895 rejoined 208 Squadron at Lossiemouth and by August had acquired a Medium Sea Grey
/ Camouflage Grey colour scheme with 12" pink / pale blue roundels.
its final flight was to 19 MU at St Athan for disposal on 6 April 1994.|
XX895 was then mounted on the bar at the Planets leisure complex in Woking, Surrey, with the fin was cut off to clear the roof, undercarriage doors and pitot removed and adorned with various drinks advertisements. While it survived the smoky atmosphere of a bar, Planets then changed hands and the new owners had the aircraft removed - in pieces. The new owner used what remained of the airframe (which was tail-less to fit into the bar) for spares for another aircraft and then scrapped most of XX895, keeping only the nose by 2003..
well as recalling the only time that British Buccaneers actually went
to war, I opted for the RAF Lossiemouth Gulf Detatchment option from
the Airfix as a comparison both to the Nevada two-tone scheme and to
the Operation Granby Panavia Tornado GR4 - pictured with my Buccaneer
above - that I built for display at the Jet Age Museum about 15 years
ago. This had actually been started by someone else using
the kit pieces
supplied each week with the aviation partwork "Takeoff" although with
the Buccaneer I had a greater choice of underwing options.|
As can be seen below under the port wing are an AIM-9L Sidewinder air-to-air missile and an AN/ALQ 23E Pave Spike Designator while under the starboard wing are a Paveway II Laser Guided Bomb and an AN/ALQ 101 active electronic countermeasures pod.
As well as being an extremely fast aircraft at low level, the Blackburn Buccaneer also had a low infra-red signature ( the Spey engines having long efflux pipes and no reheat ) and was highly agile, using its tail airbrakes to slow down rapidly - and let a following fighter overshoot - or slow rapidly and change direction, thus breaking the doppler radar lock of approaching fighters and the hold of early heat-seeking missiles alike.
However, some of these elusive qualities were to be lost with the advent of fighter aircraft with look down / shoot down radar systems and heat seeking missiles that did not rely on being fired from astern at a hot engine but just sought out hot metal skins.
As a self defence weapon the AIM-9B Sidewinder heat seaking air-to-air missile had been fitted to Blackburn Buccaneers in Royal Navy service from 1965, although this required the launching aircraft to approach a hot target directly from astern so that the heat seeking head could lock on before firing. The rocket motor of the Sidewinder had a maximum burn of 20 seconds giving a two mile range but the missile could not be used against targets close to the ground or at night.
By 1991 however, AUP ASR 1012 allowed the use of the AIM-9L with a larger tail for more agility and tighter turning, a more sensitive argon-cooled heat seeker that could make attacks from any angle - including head-on - and a rocket motor that burned for 60 seconds to give an 11 mile range. In fact AIM-9Ls were only fitted for the earliest Operation Granby missions as Allied air supremacy made them redundant and their place was taken by more laser guided bombs.
|The American supplied Westinghouse AN/ALQ 101
electronic countermeasures pod could jam airborne and ground based
radars but were normally set up for peacetime training with relatively
low power and reduced function. A fully powered and functional
"war pod" would have been designated by a red band on the upper section
- something that Airfix missed despite supplying a number of very small
decals for the ECM pod!|
Once either Radar Passive Warning, RWR or Sky Guardian 200 systems had warned of a radar threat, the Navigator could then use his ARI 23234 control unit to activate the AN/ALQ 101's travelling wave tube to drown the enemy radar receiver with noise. Alternatively, incoming radar waves could be copied and either sent back with a delay to give a false range and / or bearing. The AN/ALQ 101 kept its electronic components cool with distilled water, which boiled during use and gave the impression of being steam-powered!
As well as having AIM-9L Sidewinders and ECM pods at their disposal, Buccaneer crews could also use flares to distract heat-seeking missiles and metallic "chaff" as a physical radar decoy.
it was the AN/ALQ 23E Pave Spike Designator system that brought the
Buccaneer into Operation Granby when it was realised that attacks by
Panavia Tornados were not effective against sprawling Iraqi
Using lessons learned from the 1982 Falklands Conflict, the Tornados had made low level interdictor strikes using the Hunting JP 233 Airfield Denial Weapon - which dispensed both SG 357 Anti Runway Weapons to penetrate the runway surface and leave craters, and HB 876 Area Denial Mines to slow the work of reconstruction. However, most airfields attacked still had runways to spare and were also heavily defended with anti-aircraft guns which were effective up to 18 000 feet. The Tornado's alternative tactic was to us 1 000 lb unguided bombs from a higher altitude but this was too imprecise to guarantee that the runways were destroyed.
What RAF Strike Command needed was a way of denying the use of the Iraqi runways efficiently without undue risk to its aircraft - laser guided bombs falling to their targets along beams shone down from the only designating aircraft available, the Blackburn Buccaneer.
Shining a laser on a target - or designating - was a function of 237 OCU, the American-supplied Pave Spike system incorporating a television camera in the laser pod so that the Buccaneer navigator would only have to keep the crosshairs on his TV screen on the target for bombs to drop there.
Laser guided bombs (LGBs) with responsive guiding fins could be carried by Tornados. The only question was - how soon could the Buccaneers get to the Gulf? Three days after the question was asked on 23 January 1991 as it turned out - despite 12 Squadron being in Gibraltar and 208 Squadron being deployed to RAF St Mawgan at the time!
LGB missions would be flown with two Buccaneers and four Tornados, allowing for either of the designating Buccaneers to fail without endangering success, and the moving monochrome recordings of bridges, runways and even enemy aircraft on the ground being suddenly destroyed became an integral part of the worldwide TV coverage of the conflict.
Towards the end of the 1991 Gulf War RAF PanaviaTornados were fitted with their own Thermal Imaging And Laser Designator (TIALD) equipment, hereby allowing the Buccaneers to designate targets for 48 of their own bombs, as pictured above.
Each Buccaneer used in Operation Granby had its own individual version of the Jolly Roger, just as all 14 Squadron Buccaneers once had an individual fox head on the air intakes. The white tail letters also spelt the phrase "PIRATE SLOGUN" when lined up correctly.
as the Cold War and its aftermath saw seismic shifts in Britain's'
military posture, so the transport infrastructure of the nation adapted
to new challenges. And in the same time frame as the development
and deployment of the Blackburn Buccaneer - first for the Royal Navy
and then the RAF - new diesel multiple units would revolutionise
The Blue Pullman train concept grew from a memorandum written on 11 October 1954 by part time British Transport Commission member Hugh Barker, suggesting that BTC's acquisition of a controlling interest in the Pullman Car Company and innovations in diesel multiple unit train operation could be combined to create a prestigious inter city service "...to catch the imagination of the public and give a visible demonstration of the new potentialities of rail travel."
Barker had in mind the 1933 vintage five-car Brighton Belle EMU with meals served at the seats of individual passengers and a surcharge paid for such luxurious travel. In this period too, growing car ownership would prompt the building of Britain's motorway network and the first Blue Pullman route between Manchester and London was chosen to compete with air travel. On the Continent meanwhile, the first Trans Europ Express diesel multiple units were introduced in 1957.
The British Transport Commission's Diesel Multiple Unit Main Line Express Committee first met on 14 June 1955 to further refine the concept of what would eventually become the World's only diesel multiple unit Pullman train. As a DMU, the new luxury train would eliminate locomotives running round rakes of carriages and the turn-round time of services would be further reduced by the cleaning and replenishment of trains at terminal stations.
However, running fast and punctual trains at the peak hours demanded by business travellers would prove challenging, especially as the Manchester - St Pancras and Bristol - Paddington routes earmarked for Blue Pullman services retained traditional mechanical signalling. Before the Second World War, the London & North Eastern Railway had run its Silver Jubilee and Coronation high speed trains by decelerating other services so that two signal blocks rather than one would be kept clear ahead of them.
The 36 vehicles were built by Metropolitan Cammell at Washwood Heath, Birmingham, outshopped in a striking and unique Nanking Blue and white livery with red buffer shanks and divided into two six-car trains for London Midland region and three eight-car trains for Western Region. The London Midland trains were all First Class while the Western Region sets had both First and Second Class accommodation.
Apart from the numbers of vehicles involved, the Midland Pullman trains could be distinguished by the design of the Driving Motor Brake First Lavatory vehicles at each end. Numbered 60090 to 60093 ( including the Rosebud Kitmaster's model 31 of 60090 seen boxed below), these featured a 15' long smoking saloon with 12 seats. As such, the inner most window on each side was smaller than the other two.
On Western Region meanwhile, Driving Motor Brake Seconds 60094 to 60099 ( including Triang's model of 60095 pictured below on Universal Works) had a 20' non-smoking Second Class saloon with 18 seats. The three inner most windows were thus of equal size and there was also a black-backed destination roller blind in a window of the Guard's compartment between the passenger saloon and the engine compartment.
Other recognition features were that the Western Region Driving Motor Brake Seconds were simply labelled "Pullman" rather than "Midland Pullman" as they were ultimately to run to Swansea and Wolverhampton rather than just leave Manchester Central for St Pancras. Western Region Blue Pullman drivers were also given a uniform of long white coats and matching peaked caps while their Midland counterparts had a smart and practical "battledress" uniform.
|Common to both steel-underframed LMR and WR Driving Motor Brakes were a North British built 1 000 bhp L12V18/21BS MAN diesel engine. Coupling gear was also hidden behind a vertically slotted cover on each DMB cab end.|
|With double glazed monocoque non-driving carriages featuring large luggage racks opposite the vehicle-end toilets, the Blue Pullman trains bore a resemblence to the InterCity 125 High Speed Trains of the 1970s. However, the electric transmission arrangements of the Blue Pullmans prefigured the Bombardier Voyagers of the 21st Century. The front bogie of each Driving Motor Brake was unpowered but traction motors applied to each of the axles of both the rear bogie of the DMB and the outer bogie of the next non-driving vehicle, electricity being transmitted through high voltage cables alongside the clean, wide, pivoting gangways.|
the Midland sets, the Motor Kitchen First Lavatories were numbered
60730 to 60733 while the Western Region Motor Parlour Second Lavatories
were numbered 60644 to 60649.|
W60745, supplied as the centre car of the Triang / Hornby Blue Pullman set of the early 1960s and pictured below, was a 36 seat Trailer Parlour First Lavatory. It was catalogued as R426 while the powered and dummy DMBS vehicles were identified as R555 and R556. However, no other 00 gauge intermediate Blue Pullman vehicles were ever issued by the company.
|Rosebud Kitmaster however produced each of the three types of vehicle needed to produce a six car Midland Pullman set. As well as the Kit 31 Type 1 DMBFL mentioned above, Kit 33 was the Triang equivalent Trailer Parlour First Lavatory - the most central cars on both Midland and Western rakes and the only vehicles common to both. Kit 32 then represented theType 4 Motor Kitchen First Lavatory with an underfloor 8 cylinder 190 bhp Rolls Royce prime mover for lighting, cooking, battery charging and air conditioning - the Blue Pullman trains being the first in Britain equipped with climate control. The equivalent Type 5 Trailer Kitchen First Lavatory on the WR Pullmans was the third vehicle in from each end.|
one of the most debatable features of the Blue Pullman was the choice
of Metro-Cammell's version of the Swiss Schlierien bogies. This
was widely used in Europe and had been testedunder three Mark I
carriages on London Midland region in 1958 but the 90 mph Blue Pullman
sets marked their first use as powered rather than merely trailer
components and their ride was variable to say the least.|
Like many Pullman trains before them, the Nanking blue DMUs had inward opening doors although an innovation was the Venetian blinds between the window panes. These had been pioneered on an experimental carriage built in 1957 by Cravens as a BR Mark I replacement. Although more technically advanced than the eventual BR Mark II carriage, this Sheffield built vehicle was rejected as being too luxurious and expensive by British Railways.
The Midland Pullman began operations on 4 July 1960 and the Western Region sets - to Bristol and Wolverhampton - first ran on 12 September 1960 with the South Wales Pullman running to Swansea in 1961.
However, with the inauguration of ac electric services between Euston and Manchester Piccadilly on 18 April 1966, the two six-car Midland Pullman sets eventually moved to Western Region by 1967. After many options had been considered, including the ex Midland Pullman sets being used on The Golden Hind to Plymouth, the Cheltenham Spa Express and a cross country service from South Wales via Gloucester to Birmingham, the two six-car trains were employed between Paddington and Bristol. To enable them to run as one train, jumper cables were added to the streamlined cab fronts, the lower parts of which were cut away to reveal the necessary screw couplings.
Having arrived from Bristol each morning, the 12 car rake would then be split into one six-car train for Oxford via Didcot while the other six cars would return to Bristol. The two sections would then return to Paddington later in the day for reunification and another journey west. As was to be the case on 21st Century Voyager units deployed first by Virgin and then Arriva Cross Country Trains, the lack of gangways at the end of each 6 car Blue Pullman denied a guard access to the whole of a 12 car train in motion.
Timetable retrenchments in 1969 were to make all of the WR based Blue Pullman trains less useful, not least as they were now about to be replaced by air conditioned Mark II carriages which would bring even greater levels of spee and comfort to everyday trains. With the InterCity 125 concept just around the corner too, regular Blue Pullman services ceased on Friday 4 May 1973 and the next day an "Enthusiasts Safari" was run by British Rail Western Region from Paddington to Birmingham, Cheltenham, Bristol Temple Meads and Swansea before returning to London. After a number of failed attempts to either sell the Blue Pullman vehicles abroad or to marshall them into a preserved tourist train - like the Italian Settebello EMU - the entire fleet was scrapped in 1974.
1974 was also the last year - for a long while at least - that the three car Western Region Blue Pullman appeared in the Hornby catalogue. The real trains had, from 1966 onwards, acquired full yellow ends and were eventually given a new overall grey livery with a Monastral blue stripe over the windows and stretching the whole length of the train up to the grille just behind each driver's cab. A similar scheme was applied to the prototype InterCity 125s but the final Hornby incarnation was simply - an not at all accurately - a version of the original Nanking blue with full yellow ends and a WHITE stripe going further up the power cars than ever before.
|Other articles on this website have explored the InterCity 125 concept, showing how in the 1970s it took the best features of the Blue Pullman trains and rebuilt British Rail around them. Here though I will look at two vehicles from the more recent Hornby range and how they represent the High Speed Train.|
|As it happens, both the relevant video clip
and Hornby model represent 43126, which was part of a second batch of
14 HST sets built at BREL Crewe for British Rail Western Region between
1975 and 1982.|
The Driving Motor Brake - later known as Class 43 locomotive - had an integral all-welded mild steel construction designed to combine strength and stiffness with a relatively light weight of 70 tonnes. The cab was a one-piece unit, resiliently mounted on the underframe and formed of an inner and outer skin of of glass reinforced polyester sandwiching polyurethane foam. Immediately behind the cab was a clean air compartment which housed the electrical control equipment and the alternators, next to another sealed compartment for the Paxman Valenta 12RP200L engine and associated cooling fan.
The roof panels of these compartments were originally translucent, although an early problem for the InterCity 125 fleet was oil laden exhaust fumes being deposited on the rear windscreen. This was solved by the addition of an inverted flattened U-shaped deflector plate mounted on the roof over the electrical control cubicle which diverted the exhaust fumes.
However, this modification was added to most HSTs before the original BR blue and grey livery gave way to the Inter City Executive "raspberry ripple" colours seen on the model below, which itself further developed into the Inter City Swallow markings which survived into the Privatization era.
|Slung from the underframe between the bogies meanwhile
were the fuel tanks, battery box, air compressor and engine compartment
spillage tank. To the rear, under the original guard's
compartment, were the main cylindrical air reservoirs. |
However, once again by the early 1980s, HST guards were being moved from the very noisy space next to the engine to their own compartment on the adjacent carriages, classified as a Trailer Guard Second ( now Trailer Guard Standard ), a N gauge example of which can be seen on Terminal 1.
The Class 43 bogie was constructed of welded mild steel in a box section with two deep box section transoms to carry the centre pivot and one side of each motor. The axleboxes were guided by radius links with primary coil springs suspension and flexicoil secondary suspension, both hydraulically damped. Monobloc wheels with cast iron cheek plates for the disc brakes were shrunk on to each axle, as was the gear drive. The motors were resiliently mounted on the bogie frame and the torque taken through two flexible drives to the pinion meshing with the drive gear in the gearbox.
Unlike the other Class 43 locomotives with four Brush TM68.46 traction motors, 43124-43160 were outshopped with a quartet of GEC G417A2 units and 43126 was to be named "City of Bristol" by 1988, a title which it was to carry until 2008 when it was refurbished in First Great Western's latest indigo livery and re-engined with an MTU prime mover.
Originally paired with 43125 ( as modelled by Hornby ), 43126 was introduced as part of HST set 253 028 which by 1981 comprised Trailer Firsts 41121 and 41122, Trailer Restaurant Unclassified Buffet 40322, Trailer Seconds 42251, 42242 and 42253 and Trailer Guard Second 44028.
This later became Plymouth Laira based rake 028 while 43126 was based at Bristol St Phillip's Marsh until 2002, during which time it became an Angel Trains asset in 1995 and was rebranded in the early green liveries of Great Western Trains from 1999. The First Great Western indigo livery with pink and white stripes was applied from 2003 when 43126 moved to its home of 2010 at Swansea Landore depot.
|If Hornby failed to keep up with HST modifications with 43126, Trailer Second 42251 illustrated the firm's more basic problems with representing a 75' long vehicle that in 4mm scale would not have fitted their more gentle set track curves. Their solution - at first - was to simply to shorten the model so that it only had seven window bays instead of the prototypical eight! More recently however, Hornby have matched other model manufacturers in producing 4mm scale Mark III carriages of the correct length and with the correct number of windows. The advertisement below was from Model Rail magazine in July 1999.|
|Trailer Seconds 42251 - 42305 were built
to Lot 30939 at Derby from 1979 to 1980, weighed 33.60 tonnes and
originally contained 72 seats and two toilets. As has been
described above, 42251 became part of rake LA 028, acquired
secondary door locking in 1995 and subsequently transferred to Angel
From 1999 green and ivory Great Western Train Operating Company vinyls were applied and 42251 was moved to Bristol St Phillips Marsh with a new interior comprising 65 fixed and five tip-up seats and one ordinary and one disabled toilet. From 2000 green seat covers and extra partitionsbetween seating bays were installed.
First Great Western indigo livery appeared in 2003 while in 2008 the Trailer Standard received new composite ( as opposed to cast iron ) brake blocks, 80 high density Grammer seats along with two disabled toilets and the latest First Great Western "Dynamic Lines" livery. 42251 also relocated to Old Oak Common where it forms part of the depot's High Density set 39.