Wednesday, 17 July 2019
Monday, 8 July 2019
Two views of Phantom FGR.2 - XV470 / V. Image below taken in 1978 shows the machine in RAF 92 Squadron. Sold for £21 during July 2019. Bottom XV 470 in 56 Sqd colours..
Many more British Phantoms on this blog. See links and posts on the right hand side of this page..
Friday, 5 July 2019
XN 976, a Blackburn Buccaneer S.2B - the aircraft was lost when it crashed into the North Sea in July 1992 while flying with No 208 Squadron.
Buccaneer S.1 XK523 1960 Original Blackburn Photograph
Buccaneer S.1 XK523 on HMS Victorious in January 1960. First flown in July 1959, XK523 was the first in a second batch of fourteen development aircraft. Used for trials work until withdrawn in August 1963 to be used as a spares source for XK525. Remains to the P&EE at Shoeburyness for use as a target. Photo is dated 20th January 1960.
Blackburn Buccaneer XN924 Yeovilton May-64
Tuesday, 2 July 2019
Fleet Air Arm 1962 'Sea Vixen' flight deck launch procedure in 'British Cold War Stories' - recommended aviation books
Practising carrier deck launch procedure on 'Sea Vixens' at Lee-on-Solent, 1962......
or all is not what it seems. These 'modified' Vixens are in fact 'converted Sea Venoms filmed at Lee-on-Solent for the Rank Organisation's 'Look at Life' series (1962). Video below. They were prepared for participation in the Royal Tournament at Earls Court, a venue that could not cater for the weight and size of a 'real' Sea Vixen.
The full story is published in " British Cold War Stories " currently in UK newsagents published by Mortons Media in association with "The Aviation Historian" - a compilation of (previously published) articles that have presumably appeared in the TAH - although nowhere is this stated.
Phantom FGR.2 and Lightning F.3 29 Squadron 1975
An original (probably RAF/MOD) photograph of Phantom FGR.2 XV438 and Lightning F.3 XP757 both in 29 Squadron markings. The squadron transitioned from the Lightning to the Phantom at the start of 1975. Lightning F.3 XP757 was retired to Leconfield in January 1975 and sold for scrap in December.
on offer here
Monday, 1 July 2019
Phantom FGR.2 of 228 OCU, XV428 CC, seen at Leuchars during the first half of 1988. This special livery was applied for the airshow circuit. Sadly the aircraft was destroyed in an accident at RAF Abingdon in Sept. 1988
Above; Mark Smith photo, Wethersfield, June 1988. Posted on the British F-4 Phantom group on FB.
On 23 September 1988, the crew of XV428 flew to RAF Abingdon to carry out a display practise prior to the air display the next day.. On arrival at Abingdon, they overflew the airfield at 2000ft before running in for their practice. During this overflight, they confirmed that the minimum height for the display was to be 500ft and they discussed the position of the display line and crowd centre. They were passed the surface wind as being between 240 & 330 degrees at 10 to 20 kts with occasional gusts to 30kts. Having cleared the airfield area, XV428 then ran in from the west along the display axis parallel to and north of runway 08 with the crowdline 780ft to their right. The aircraft was well to the right of crowd centre after completing a left 360 degrees hard turn since no allowance appeared to have been made for the strong wind. It was seen to roll out of the turn and immediately enter a very hard pull up using full reheat. As it approached the top of the loop, the aircraft appeared to be slower and lower than usual and at the apex, it was seen to fly in the inverted position for several seconds; the pilot appeared to be 'pushing' and maintaining level flight. During the second half of the loop, the initial pitch rate to the vertical appeared slow and at the vertical the aircraft was alarmingly low. From there on the pull became increasingly hard and some wing rock occured and just before impact the aircraft achieved a nose up attitude of 10-15 degrees but with a massive rate of descent. The Phantom impacted tail first some 819ft from and parallel to the crowd line. It disintegrated immediately and wreckage came no closer than 400ft to the crowd line. The crew were killed on impact with the ground. A very sad day indeed at Abingdon, RIP Flt Lt Chris Lackman and Flt Lt Thompson..
Mark Smith photo
Incidentally, Chris Lackman had converted to the Phantom from Vulcans, he was one of the 'Black Buck 6' crew during Falklands.
Chris Lackman was also the Vulcan copilot on Black Bucks 4, 5 and 6, the defence suppression missions flown from ASI to the Falklands. Black Buck 6 resulted in an emergency diversion into Rio International. Chris's captain was awarded the DFC for that mission but Chris also played a big part in the recovery, which was touch and go all the way in with the aircraft de-pressurised at 45,000 ft, the door hatch open and difficult to re-close, the crew on pressure breathing for 30 mins, and with 2 Northrop F-5s in chase. The aircraft landed with only 1500 lbs of fuel (insufficient for one visual circuit). For the very first time (and after some 34 years) this story has now been told in its entirety in Tony Blackman's book, Vulcan Boys. This story has never been told before, which includes technical detail of how the Shrike missiles were launched against Argentinian radars, the diversion into Rio, and the involvement of the CIA and Pope John Paul VI in the crew's release. A riveting read.
Sunday, 30 June 2019
EE Lightning T.5 - RAF XS454 226 OCU 2T Sqdn, 1974
EE Lightning F.3 - RAF XP759 / F 111 Squadron, 1974
Lightning T.4, XL629, poss SBAC, Farnborough
English Electric Lightning Formation 55-713 55-714 and 55-711 RSAF
English Electric Lightnings of RAF Gutersloh refuel from HP Victor
Tuesday, 18 June 2019
USAF Thunderbirds F-100 Super Sabres, Royal Canadian Air Force F-86's of the Golden hawks, and F11F-1's of U.S. Navys' Blue Angels. An F-8 Crusader and 2 x T-2c Buckeyes thrown in for good measure on a busy ramp at NAS Oceana in June 1961 (S). Mark Taylor collection
Harry Tranter and Colin Collis photos - Jaguar display getting airborne at BAe Woodford and IAT 95
Friday, 7 June 2019
Some nice air-to-air shots of RAF 74 Sqd Phantoms over RAF Wattisham prior to a move to RAF Valley, Anglesey, and a switch to BAe Hawks taken in September 1992
On offer here
Joachim Castan. Der Rote Baron: Die ganze Geschichte des Manfred von Richthofen. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 2007. 360 S. EUR 24.50 (cloth), ISBN 978-3-608-94461-7.
Reviewed by Richard Byers (Department of History, North Georgia College and State University) Published on H-German (July, 2008) " De-mythologizing the Red Baron.."
"....Few figures of aviation history rank higher in popular consciousness than Manfred von Richthofen, the greatest air ace of the First World War, forever immortalized in Western culture as the "Red Baron." Historian and documentary producer Joachim Castan, with assistance from Richthofen's surviving descendants, has written a new biography of the air ace due to the need, in the author's view, to confront the mythological memory of the Red Baron, replete with "gross exaggerations, vulgar clichés, wishful thinking, pure fantasy, beloved legends and bright shining lies" (p. 15), with the "complete" history of his short but illustrious life. The work that results from this approach is a richly-detailed, more nuanced assessment of Richthofen than earlier works, which Castan rightly asserts based their arguments on popular mythological assumptions rather than documentary evidence. Castan's access to Richthofen's personal papers and family archival holdings, cited extensively throughout his account, reinforce his theses and provide a wealth of information for interested scholars and non-scholars, particularly into the family relationships of the Richthofen clan from the beginning of the twentieth century into the First World War and beyond.
Many aspects of this work warrant praise. Castan's documentary background makes him keenly aware of the importance of the role played by the German government and media in transforming Manfred von Richtofen from an unknown airman into a national celebrity. With the death of the previous air "idol," Oswald Boelcke, in late 1916, German military officials embraced and cultivated Richtofen as Boelcke's heir and successor. As a result, Richtofen's meetings with higher officials and the Kaiser were carefully choreographed to maximize their potential as propaganda, both for internal and external consumption. Castan is at his best here, as he narrates the growth of the Red Baron's fame and transformation, by 1917, into wartime Germany's most recognized hero. Additionally, Castan's concluding chapter on the use of Richtofen by the Nazis, and the development of the "Cult of the Red Baron" during their reign, is a valuable contribution to our knowledge of the air ace's posthumous legacy, and will be of interest to scholars of the propaganda and mythology of the Third Reich. When he moves into contemporary discussions of Richtofen's utility as an example for the Bundeswehr and NATO, however, he is on less solid ground.
More problematic, though, are Castan's attempts to analyze the Red Baron psychologically, a theme that recurs throughout the work. Correctly confronting the partisan nature of previous literature, which uncritically accepted wartime representations of Richtofen as a paragon of Prussian and German chivalry and honor, Castan draws from Richtofen's 1917 autobiography and unpublished family documents to paint a different picture of the air ace as a cold, amoral aerial predator who sought to hunt and kill his opponents in a manner reminiscent of a game hunter. In Castan's view, Richtofen never viewed his enemies as human; instead, he viewed them as "targets" to be shot, and their aircraft debris as trophies to be displayed at the squadron mess hall, like the preserved heads of vanquished game. Castan repeatedly attempts to explain these realities by resorting to psychological analysis of Richtofen's childhood, adolescence, and family relationships. This process does yield some interesting insights, such as the recognition that Richtofen never developed a normal maternal bond with his mother, but in my opinion Castan's approach never materializes into a convincing case that helps explain Richtofen's actions and motivations. As many readers will recognize, psycho-historical approaches are useful as a tool to help explain the actions of historical actors, but they rarely achieve this aim in isolation from other methodologies. Castan's approach is no exception. At times these sections become repetitive, lessening the impact of the overall narrative, and they tend to minimize the importance of the brutal wartime environment on Richtofen and his contemporaries. Castan correctly points out that Richtofen's perspective on aerial combat was hardly unique; nearly all of the most successful "air aces" of the war possessed the same detached, perhaps pathological attitude toward their actions.
Despite these criticisms, however, this important work furthers our understanding of the First World War's most recognizable figure. It also encourages scholars of German military history to consider a re-evaluation of the conflict and its protagonists, in line with recent research on the conduct and motives of combatants in the Second World War, and to take the ideological atmosphere of the First World War seriously. More similarities may be found between the two conflicts in these terms than previous scholarship has suggested. Additionally, his astute analysis of the problematic nature of German military heroism, and its legacy for present and future generations of German military personnel, is worth serious consideration...."
Monday, 13 May 2019
I'm going to throw a controversial one into the ring, the British Aircraft Corporation TSR-2.
I think it’s fascinating, not just for what it was or what it could have been, but for the entire history of its development and events leading to its untimely demise.
TSR-2: The intended state-of-the-art supersonic strike and reconnaissance aircraft for the RAF, envisioned in the late-1950s,designed and built in the early ’60s and summarily executed in 1965.
Designed to be extremely fast at both low and high altitudes in order to penetrate air defences as well as scouting them out from afar.
Using two Bristol Siddeley Olympus reheated turbojets (a development of which would later be used in Concorde), all-moving tail planes and smaller delta wings with turned-down tips, it ensured the aircraft was immensely fast and swift to take off.
Add to that, cutting-edge computer systems to process the multiple ground-tracking cameras and side looking radar. It was the most advanced aircraft in the world, in 1963. Filling the low-altitude strike, high-altitude reconnaissance and nuclear-deterrant gaps with one supersonic aircraft.
The one flying TSR-2 flew 24 times, going supersonic once over the Irish Sea. With reheat on one engine (problems prevented both), it accelerated past the escort Lightning, which was required to push itself to its limit in order to keep up. The TSR-2 could cruise at Mach 2.1, above 37,000ft, with a theoretical top speed of almost Mach 3 at 45,000
To this day, its cancellation is controversial.
So many factors contributed to its downfall… Pressure from politicians to cut the program that was extremely expensive, pressure from the Royal Navy to stop the aircraft that could see them relinquish their submarine based nuclear deterrent (Lord Mountbatten was a staunch anti-TSR-2 activist), likely pressure from the Americans that would see the UK gain a top-spec aircraft to compete for sales with the in-development F-111… all were factors, with cost looming largest.
1965 saw a change of government and a swift cancellation of the program that Labour had campaigned against for years. The aircraft and parts under construction were ordered to be destroyed. They were burned and scrapped, however several were not.
Several already built were simply sold for scrap hence two survive today. The gap it was designed to fill was instead filled by the proven Blackburn Buccaneer and Phantom II before the Panavia Tornado could properly fill the void.
There’s a lot more to it than the bits I mentioned, but I think it had a fascinating… and tragic history.
Saturday, 27 April 2019
Those a/c were used as decoys with fake German markings to be later "bulldozered" on to the nearby beach. All a/c are former French naval aviation types, 'left over' on June 18 1940 when the station was evacuated. The reverse of the photo is marked " Lockvögel auf FF Platz Querqueville Aug. 40". The German word "Lockvogel" (plural Lockvögel) means decoy. From L to R : Two Potez 631 (ex F1C) MS 406 (ex Armée de l'air, evacuated from Calais by Lt Habert of AB4 squadron), two Dewoitine 376 (ex F1C), one Loire-Nieuport 401 or 411 (ex F1A), Potez 567 (c/n n° 9), Levasseur PL.7 (station "hack"), Potez 631 (ex F1C)
Tuesday, 16 April 2019
Monday, 8 April 2019
Lt Cdr John Moffat RN was one of the Swordfish pilots from HMS Ark Royal that attacked the Bismarck and is generally credited with launching the torpedo that damaged her steering gear and, consequently led to her demise at the hands of the British cruisers, which should certainly mean that he knows what he’s talking about. In his 2009 book “I Sank the Bismarck”, he had this to say about the Fairey Swordfish, which explains some of its success:
This aircraft (the Swordfish) seemed like a hangover from the 1920s, although it had actually come into service in 1936. It was a biplane, and had all sorts of struts and wires reminiscent of the First World War planes like the Avro 504 that had first excited my interest in flying. But the Battle of Britain was being fought by fast monoplanes - Hurricanes and Spitfires. They were all metal, whereas the greater part of the Swordfish, the wings and the rear fuselage, were canvas covered. It was powered by a single radial engine that gave it a top speed of barely 110 miles per hour. The Spitfire could manage over 300 quite easily. The Swordfish was a big aircraft, with a crew of three. The pilot sat in a forward open cockpit, which was high above the centre line and gave a good field of view. Behind was another cockpit, set lower in the fuselage, in which there was first the observer/navigator; then behind him the telegraphist air gunner, or TAG, who worked the radio and could fire a rear-pointed drum-fed Lewis gun. Apart from this, there was a forward-firing machine gun mounted in the fuselage behind the engine. The huge wing area gave the Swordfish the ability to carry a bomb load of almost 2,000lb, which was impressive for a single-engined plane. It was manoeuvrable at slow speed and could pull out of a dive without any trouble.
I felt that I was riding a cart horse instead of a steeplechaser at first, but the more I flew it, the more I began to appreciate its qualities. It was nicknamed the ‘Stringbag’. Several reasons are given for this, the most obvious being that at first glance it looks as though it is held together by string. This is deceptive. The main struts were made out of stainless steel, the rigging was very strong steel cable, and the frames were made of steel and duralumin, an aluminium alloy produced for aircraft production. No, I believe the Stringbag got its name because, like the old lady’s shopping bag, it expanded to accommodate whatever was demanded of it. It carried bombs, depth-charges, torpedoes, smoke flares, and they even mounted sixteen rockets under the wings in the later stages of the war. There are stories of some squadrons moving rapidly from airstrip to airstrip in the desert in North Africa, securing motorbikes underneath the fuselage of their Swordfish and then carrying them to a new location. It was a tough plane and could take an awful lot of damage, as many aircrew were to discover and be grateful for. It’s low speed was also an asset, it seemed, as our instructors told stories of Swordfish in the Norwegian campaign being attacked by Messerschmitt 109s. The British pilots employed the tactic of making 180-degree turns at sea level towards the attacking plane. The Swordfish had a much smaller turning circle than any fast fighter, and moreover it had such an advantageous lift ratio that you could reduce its speed to just 70 knots in the turn and it would continue on a perfect line. Most planes need more power to complete a turn, but not the Swordfish. The hapless Messerschmitt pilot would not know why his target had suddenly disappeared from view as he sped past.
I particularly like his explanation of why the Swordfish was nicknamed Stringbag, which wasn’t what I had previously been led to believe.
Sadly, John Moffat is no longer with us, as he died in December 2016 at the age of 97. In his sixties, after 40 years, he began flying again and celebrated his 90th birthday in June 2009 by performing aerobatics in a light aircraft. He was often the guest of honour at Fleet Air Arm Taranto Night dinners, which celebrate the attack on the Italian fleet in Taranto harbour in November 1940, when Swordfish sank several Italian capital ships. Although he hadn’t taken part in the raid, he was one of the very few remaining WWII Swordfish pilots alive at that time.
Visiting the RN Historic Flight in 2008 to get re-acquainted with the Swordfish
As guest of honour at Ark Royal's final Taranto Night event in 2010
One point only touched upon - the Swordfish was slow which meant that it could fly low near the surface of the water - low and slow was good for aiming and launching torpedoes. US torpedo bombers for example would have to slow considerably as they approached their target to get a good launch. This made them difficult to control.
Sunday, 17 March 2019
Barbarossa victims -more Soviet aircraft destroyed. Quora opinion piece on Soviet aircraft by Charles McDevitt
The Soviet aircraft of WWII are fascinating for where they differ and where they match other nations aircraft.
The Russians were not much interested in strategic bombers, but were real leaders in tactical and attack aircraft. Their fighters were dangerously late to reach parity with the Germans, but did so despite being handicapped by a lack of strategic materials.
The Soviets learnt a number of lessons from the Spanish Civil War, where they supplied the Republicans with most of their aircraft, but Stalin’s purges slowed the implementation of those lessons - it takes longer to design an aircraft while you are in prison!
Let me develop my points.
Tactical and Attack aircraft.
Able to carry huge loads and very well armoured. For reasons that have never been clear, Illyushin was not able to use a radial, air-cooled engine - by far and away the better choice for a ground attack aircraft. So, he put the radiator behind the engine! Hence that huge air scoop on top of the cowling.
More Illyushins were built than any other plane in history!
High speed twin-engined dive bomber. Petylyakov's “get out of jail free card”. A candidate for the best dive bomber of WWII.
And then fighters
Yaks - lots of them! 43,000 in all! Starting with the Yak 1.
Stalin was so impressed Yakolev got the Орден Ленина, Orden Lenina - the highestbestowed by the - a 100,000 rouble prize plus Zis car
Moving on to the Yak 3 - more manouverable than the Spitfire according to some!
Luftwaffe pilots were told to avoid dogfighting low down with Yaks that had an oil cooler below the engine.
And ending up with the Yak 9
And then you have the Laggs
Amazing what you can do with pressure bonded plywood! The Lagg 3 was nothing special - and Soviet pilots nicknamed the plane Lakirovanny Garantirovanny Grob, or "guaranteed varnished coffin"
But Lavochkin worked hard to improve his design (prison is a good incentive?). He fitted a radial engine to get the Lavochkin La-5 ( Vladimir Gorbunov had given up so his name was dropped off the aircraft designation!)
The La-5 was a superb dogfighter low down and later Lavochkins were even better.
Migs are similar - an iffy start
But achieving greatness eventually
OK, late for WWII but came as a real surprise in the Korean War! So, we still do not know as much about Soviet aircraft as we might like, but what we do know is very impressive..."
An original Ministry of Defence photograph of Handley Page Victor B.2 XL513 equipped with a Blue Steel Missile. Note the four Vulcans on...
British Phantoms - F-4 Phantom II in RAF & FAA service (56, 74 Tiger, 111 Squadron, Wattisham photo call) - Save 'Black Mike' - this page last updated January 2018Having recently acquired Vol 2 of Patrick Martin's "British Phantoms" and bought Tim McLelland's mega 320-page "F...
A great view of the cockpit of Nick Caudwell's Sopwith Snipe, still undergoing test flying at Tyabb, April 2015 via The Australi...