BBC Radio 4 - Britain's Cuban Missile Crisis

I was a RAF Space cadet in 1979/80 but joined the army.

Got on very well with the CO of the cadet unit and later in about 84 on leave he having a pint told me about his role in the Cuban missile crisis and another crisis?

All he ever said was " We were ready to go and my targets were in Russia." asking him what his targets were he just said "classified"

BBC radio 4 now has a show about how close the UK was to war.

BBC - Britain's Cuban Missile Crisis
 
I used to shoot with a fitter on the v force.
On the sat morning they were called in for a chat by the CO.
After the Vulcans departed in a blaze of kerosene and smoke there task was to regroup at point alpha ( some miles upwind).
One bloke asked what their duties would be thereafter. I understand it was to be issued with a rifle and await orders, ( if still alive and in possession of white blood cells I assume)
I asked what he thaught that meant, he assumed it would be shooting looters and the terminally irradiated.
I don’t feel I missed out.
 
I just don't understand what your old RAF cadet unit would have achieved. Presumably they had some sort of armageddon mini-bus to take them to the USSR?
 
Chatting to one of the old and bold blue jacket types back in the mid-80s [now deceased] they had been briefed that they would likely have a one way flight, as, even if they managed to bomb their targets it was likely that:

a. They would be shot down by Russian fighters;
b. They would run out of fuel on the way home; or;
c. They would not have anywhere to come home to.

He was adamant that they were quite prepared to go out and nuke that crap out of Russia and damn the consequences. There was IIRC, an aside about having a bottle of single malt in the cockpit for just such an occasion.
 

Troy

LE
Chatting to one of the old and bold blue jacket types back in the mid-80s [now deceased] they had been briefed that they would likely have a one way flight, as, even if they managed to bomb their targets it was likely that:

a. They would be shot down by Russian fighters;
b. They would run out of fuel on the way home; or;
c. They would not have anywhere to come home to.

He was adamant that they were quite prepared to go out and nuke that crap out of Russia and damn the consequences. There was IIRC, an aside about having a bottle of single malt in the cockpit for just such an occasion.
Some of the pilots said afterwards they were told to find a Mongolian woman and start a new life together.
 
There is a thread over on Pprune where former V-Force veterans talk about various plans. Certainly, most of them seemed to view it as a one-way trip after they launched. On station exercises, once the aircraft had launched then it was endex - job done. I don't think there was such a thing as an op turn-round to reload the Vulcans for a second trip - someone may be able to correct me if I'm wrong. There was talk that that would happen to any returning aircraft, but I can't recall it ever being exercised.
 
send BATCO setting ?
Just pulling your leg; you didn't make clear whether your old CO's role during the Cuban Missile Crisis was still in his capacity as a leader of a hoard of spotty kids or something more serious.
Got on very well with the CO of the cadet unit and later in about 84 on leave he having a pint told me about his role in the Cuban missile crisis and another crisis?

All he ever said was " We were ready to go and my targets were in Russia." asking him what his targets were he just said "classified"
 
At the end of exercise in the 80s, a survival scramble would be called watching 2 sqns of F4s trying to get airborne at once was like wacky races. some of the SNCOs had served on "micky finns" with the V force and described a Vulcan force scramble as one of the wonders of the world
 
P.S. There is a documentary on You Tube somewhere where a retired navigator from Vulcans gave an interview and was quite honest about his nominated target, some Russian city or other.
Apparently his aiming/release point was the local university as it was on a bend in a river, the only one on that river, with the target across said river.
He never expected to come home either.
Very sobering.
 

Baboon186

War Hero
It is set out in Peter Hennesey's book, The Secret State, in which you will find diagrams etc.

Essentially the force would depart simultaneouly from its main and dispersal bases and would not form up in any form of formation. They would however generally concentrate in time and space to present a narror front when they penetrated the littoral defences. The idea would be to saturate the SAM and fighter system on a very narrow front which hopefully would achieve local air superiority during the penetration.

The USSR was well aware of this potential and attempted to plug any gaps it determined. On one occasion there was a gap of about 12 miles; they filled this gap with 2 SA3 batteries narrowing the gap to less than 5 miles. It was still assessed that the batteries would be shot-out before the bulk of the force squeezed through.

Although aircraft were given time-on-target to +/- 3 minutes there was no such timing constraint on the initial penetration; things would have been quite exciting.

Of course, the V force wasn't the only nuke equipped RAF asset on the SACEUR inventory. By the time the V's went in, the four, Germany based, Canberra Strike Sqns would have delivered their tactical instant sunshine to key points around the battle zone (most of Eastern Europe in fact). Canberras had targets that were intended to create the 'entry points' for the UK based V's - the so-called 'gateways'. The idea was, , that known and expected military concentrations, eg, missile batteries, radar sites, etc were to be nullifed - not countered, but nullified and quickly, within the first two hours of activities. This was to be carried out by the Canberras and their tac nukes clearing as wide a corridor as possible to facilitate V penetration.
 
If you ever get the chance, visit the Secret Bunker at Hack Green.
OK, it's not very secret now but there is a load of frightening / sobering exhibits in there such as the rotary slide rule for calculating number of fatalities / wounded from various sizes of nuclear blast.

Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker - Experience Cold War
 

anglo

LE
I was on "thor"[ at that time] they reckoned that 59 missiles where ready to go,
I don't know how many missiles would have got airborne, I'd like to think the whole lot--But
I still wonder how many Russian war heads would have reached the UK

I was at Scampton on 617 Sqn, To see many Vulcans take off at full chat is a sight to behold,
Pity many of you will never see such a sight
 
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It is set out in Peter Hennesey's book, The Secret State, in which you will find diagrams etc.

Essentially the force would depart simultaneouly from its main and dispersal bases and would not form up in any form of formation. They would however generally concentrate in time and space to present a narror front when they penetrated the littoral defences. The idea would be to saturate the SAM and fighter system on a very narrow front which hopefully would achieve local air superiority during the penetration.

The USSR was well aware of this potential and attempted to plug any gaps it determined. On one occasion there was a gap of about 12 miles; they filled this gap with 2 SA3 batteries narrowing the gap to less than 5 miles. It was still assessed that the batteries would be shot-out before the bulk of the force squeezed through.

Although aircraft were given time-on-target to +/- 3 minutes there was no such timing constraint on the initial penetration; things would have been quite exciting.

Of course, the V force wasn't the only nuke equipped RAF asset on the SACEUR inventory. By the time the V's went in, the four, Germany based, Canberra Strike Sqns would have delivered their tactical instant sunshine to key points around the battle zone (most of Eastern Europe in fact). Canberras had targets that were intended to create the 'entry points' for the UK based V's - the so-called 'gateways'. The idea was, , that known and expected military concentrations, eg, missile batteries, radar sites, etc were to be nullifed - not countered, but nullified and quickly, within the first two hours of activities. This was to be carried out by the Canberras and their tac nukes clearing as wide a corridor as possible to facilitate V penetration.
Covered in this book.


Due to the reduced flight times of the RAF compared to the Americans, the V force were to blast their way through the air defence systems and carry on to various targets, thus enabling the Americans to follow through the gao that was left to go roaming throughout the Russian hinterland.

At least the V bombers had a chance of getting back though. French Mirage pilots only had fuel to get to the target.
 

4(T)

LE
P.S. There is a documentary on You Tube somewhere where a retired navigator from Vulcans gave an interview and was quite honest about his nominated target, some Russian city or other.
Apparently his aiming/release point was the local university as it was on a bend in a river, the only one on that river, with the target across said river.
He never expected to come home either.
Very sobering.

Good description of Moscow State University, which is on the Sparrow Hills on a prominent outward bend of the Moscow river. Opposite is Luzhniki stadium (and the equivalent of MoD) and then central Moscow.
 
Good description of Moscow State University, which is on the Sparrow Hills on a prominent outward bend of the Moscow river. Opposite is Luzhniki stadium (and the equivalent of MoD) and then central Moscow.
That will be the one then, watched it either on You Tube or History/Viasat History Channel.
Putting it into perspective, me in my little hole in the ground somewhere in northern Europe had a greater chance of survival than him.
Four O levels wearing green versus a man with A levels and a degree wearing light blue crimplene.
Poor sod on both counts.
 
At the end of exercise in the 80s, a survival scramble would be called watching 2 sqns of F4s trying to get airborne at once was like wacky races. some of the SNCOs had served on "micky finns" with the V force and described a Vulcan force scramble as one of the wonders of the world
I was at Waddington in '76 or '77 when they did a practice scramble.
The noise went right through you.
Was at Carlisle for the final Vulcan flypast a couple of years ago & that brought back memories:

DSC_0701 (2).jpg


Back when the Cuba thing kicked off I was at a very C of E infant school & remember all us littluns praying for peace each morning.
 
I was at Waddington in '76 or '77 when they did a practice scramble.
The noise went right through you.
Was at Carlisle for the final Vulcan flypast a couple of years ago & that brought back memories:

View attachment 338519

Back when the Cuba thing kicked off I was at a very C of E infant school & remember all us littluns praying for peace each morning.
There was also a Vulcan scramble at Finningley for the Silver Jubilee.
That was when the the Def Sec, Fred Mulley, was photographed fast asleep - sitting next to HM.
 

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