Last time the Crabs were actually engaged in combat fighter on fighter.

Is it Battle of Britain day today?

Did similar "the enemy will never have aircraft" arguments not get used to promote Army Co-operation (?) aircraft development instead of Hurricanes and Spitfires?

Thank God for people like ACM Dowding.
The Army did indeed argue to greatly reduce procurement of Hurricanes and Spitfires (and I believe the Chain Home C2 system) in the late 30s in favour of larger numbers of Lysanders.

The navy have two large carriers, shove all the fighters on there and RNAS bases. Leave the heavy movers to the army.

The RAF moved Australia to try and cover the fleet at sea and destroy the FAA. Now we have carriers and less bases so the situation is reversed.
I genuinely love it when these arguments crop up!

The levels of ignorance inevitably demonstrated by proponents show exactly why independent air services are required, particularly given the Army have just abandoned fixed wing aviation and transferred it to the RAF.

Regards,
MM
 

Yokel

LE
The navy have two large carriers, shove all the fighters on there and RNAS bases. Leave the heavy movers to the army.

The RAF moved Australia to try and cover the fleet at sea and destroy the FAA. Now we have carriers and less bases so the situation is reversed.
Alternatively the Admiralty undermined the case for them by putting forward arguments that were not based on NATO rules, despite the fact that World War Two had shown carriers were needed to provide fighter cover and ASW aircraft for task groups and convoys. The Buccaneer was designed to counter large Soviet warships.

There was no plan B. It was NATO roles that resulted in the CVS and Sea Harrier. Why on Earth did the Admiralty not put forward a case based on defending a trans Atlantic convoy, GIUK submarine and Bear hunting, or an amphibious landing as part of NATO?
 
Alternatively the Admiralty undermined the case for them by putting forward arguments that were not based on NATO rules, despite the fact that World War Two had shown carriers were needed to provide fighter cover and ASW aircraft for task groups and convoys. The Buccaneer was designed to counter large Soviet warships.

There was no plan B. It was NATO roles that resulted in the CVS and Sea Harrier. Why on Earth did the Admiralty not put forward a case based on defending a trans Atlantic convoy, GIUK submarine and Bear hunting, or an amphibious landing as part of NATO?
It’s also worth stating that no evidence has ever been found in the RAF briefing maps and documents still preserved in the National Archives that Australia/Gan/Diego Garcia were moved 100/300/500 miles.

I believe the urban myth arose after one entirely unsubstantiated claim by a single RN officer.

@Archimedes has researched the allegations fairly well I believe.

Regards,
MM
 
Last edited:

Yokel

LE
The idea was that CVA-01 would be reinforced by RAF P1127/Harrier in wartime for ground attack, so why was not thought given to navalising it until the seventies? The high accident rate of Scimitars and Sea Vixens may well have may the politicians wary of smaller carriers, but landing vertically provided an answer.

Going to the politicians and suggesting all or nothing often results in getting nothing.
 
The idea was that CVA-01 would be reinforced by RAF P1127/Harrier in wartime for ground attack, so why was not thought given to navalising it until the seventies?...
I would imagine because the RN were reluctant to consider anything but conventional cat/trap types and P1154 would’ve undermined that argument. Meanwhile, the RAF was focused on TSR2 and F-111K and the Central Region.

Regards,
MM
 
I have another, somewhat related question - why did the RAF have so many ground attack aircraft types in the 70s and 80s? Harrier, Jaguar, Buccaneer, Tornado, Phantom FGR2 come to mind. Plus the V-bombers and the remnants of Canberra and Hunter. Seems like a lot of different fleets. Was it just the fragmented political situation and insurance against any one aircraft type failing to meet expectations?

Today there's just a couple of types, but they're really very good. Perhaps there was a lack of confidence in the aircraft types being "really very good" across disciplines? In terms of bombing or strafing the enemy, what did the Phantom bring to the party that the Buccaneer didn't? Or the Jag? Don't really need supersonic performance over the north German plain for CAS tasks.
 
I have another, somewhat related question - why did the RAF have so many ground attack aircraft types in the 70s and 80s? Harrier, Jaguar, Buccaneer, Tornado, Phantom FGR2 come to mind. Plus the V-bombers and the remnants of Canberra and Hunter. Seems like a lot of different fleets. Was it just the fragmented political situation and insurance against any one aircraft type failing to meet expectations?

Today there's just a couple of types, but they're really very good. Perhaps there was a lack of confidence in the aircraft types being "really very good" across disciplines? In terms of bombing or strafing the enemy, what did the Phantom bring to the party that the Buccaneer didn't? Or the Jag? Don't really need supersonic performance over the north German plain for CAS tasks.
Politics and procurement history really.

The Vulcan was procured for strategic bombing in the 50s and continued to hold a very useful long-range strike role even when the UK strategic deterrent moved to Polaris.

The Harrier was procured because UK PLC always had a bit of a ‘thing’ for the VTOL concept and the type allowed us to operate independently from airbases closer to the FLOT.

The Jag was originally procured as an advanced trainer, CAS and recce aeroplane but also held a secondary nuclear strike role; it’s supersonic dash capability was therefore particularly relevant to the strike and recce task. However, high speed is still relevant to CAS in NATO or elsewhere (particularly in high threat areas) as recent ops have proved.

Finally, our F-4s and Buccs were procured following the cancellation of the TSR2 and F-111K. However, the former only briefly served in the swing CAS/Recce/strike role before it was replaced by the Jag. This allowed it to replace most of the Lightning fleet in the AD role, both in RAFG and the UK. The Bucc had greater range than the F-4 and was considered superior overall for nuclear tasks.

Tbh, many NATO air arms could have (and gradually did) rationalised their fleets during the 70s and 80s. The USAF had the A-10, F-4, F-16, F-111, FB-111 and B-52 all tasked for overlapping conventional and nuclear strike roles. These were augmented by additional ANG types such as older F-4 variants, the A-7, F-105 and even F-100. Similarly, the USN and USMC had the A-4, A-6, AV-8A, F-4, RF-8, F-14 and FA-18.

Regards,
MM
 

W21A

LE
Book Reviewer
IIRC the Buccaneer was originally not an RAF aircraft. It was forced on the RAF after the conventional carriers were scrapped. The RAF grudgingly accepted them at first then learned to sing their praises.
 
IIRC the Buccaneer was originally not an RAF aircraft. It was forced on the RAF after the conventional carriers were scrapped. The RAF grudgingly accepted them at first then learned to sing their praises.
You’re partially correct.

It was originally designed for the RN.

Together with the F-4, the Bucc entered service with the RAF in 1969 after the TSR2 and then F-111K was cancelled. That was a decade before the Ark was retired so not all of our Buccs were ex-RN. However, we obviously took former FAA jets during the 70s as they were withdrawn.

Despite poor ergonomics, the Bucc was an excellent jet which was much loved by those who flew it in both services (as well as the SAAF).

However, it was undeniably inferior to the F-111 in almost every respect.

Regards,
MM
 
Politics and procurement history really.

The Vulcan was procured for strategic bombing in the 50s and continued to hold a very useful long-range strike role even when the UK strategic deterrent moved to Polaris.
No it didn't, Polaris subs made it redundant. Crab air were so desperate to justify their existence they flew one with 21 bombs all the way to the Falklands, at great expense to the taxpayer for refueling etc, which amounted to 1.1 million pounds and ten tankers to refuel. They then largely missed the fekin target. The few bombs which did get the runway were paved over in a couple of hours.

Had that fuel been invested in the FAA the SHAR squadrons could have flown 260 sorties delivering 1300 bombs.
 
No it didn't, Polaris subs made it redundant. Crab air were so desperate to justify their existence they flew one with 21 bombs all the way to the Falklands, at great expense to the taxpayer for refueling etc, which amounted to 1.1 million pounds and ten tankers to refuel. They then largely missed the fekin target. The few bombs which did get the runway were paved over in a couple of hours.

Had that fuel been invested in the FAA the SHAR squadrons could have flown 260 sorties delivering 1300 bombs.
But arguably wouldn't have convinced the Junta to keep some fighters back - because it demonstrated a capability (even if theres no intent) to twin down town Buenos Aires with Dresden.

I cant see Vulcans vectored and vomiting ordnance over Villa Medera endearing the Junta to the locals regardless of how well events were going 300miles East
 
No it didn't, Polaris subs made it redundant. Crab air were so desperate to justify their existence they flew one with 21 bombs all the way to the Falklands, at great expense to the taxpayer for refueling etc, which amounted to 1.1 million pounds and ten tankers to refuel. They then largely missed the fekin target. The few bombs which did get the runway were paved over in a couple of hours.

Had that fuel been invested in the FAA the SHAR squadrons could have flown 260 sorties delivering 1300 bombs.
Not true.

Let’s do the Falklands - for about the 9th time (I’m afraid that repeating the above mantra about the crustaceans won’t magically change what’s in the archives) - first.

Beetham - the CAS - argued that the SHAR should be used as its avionics would lead to greater accuracy. He informed the Chiefs of Staff that shutting the runway would require at least 25 attacks and probably 50. Launching a cross-cutting attack - as flown by BB1 - stood the nest chance of getting a single unguided bomb onto the runway. There was still a good chance that none would hit, but the damage to the airfield facilities would meet the mission task for Black Buck, which was - and again, this is in the files, from the Chiefs of Staff meetings - to disrupt Arg operations rather than to close the runway. Beetham was also concerned, to begin with, that some bombs might end up in Stanley. Only when he was convinced that this was massively unlikely did he become ‘an enthusiastic proponent’ for Black Buck. He did not, at any point, guarantee closing the runway. His conversion to the Vulcan came because....

Admirals Lewin (CDS); Leach (1SL) and Fieldhouse (Fleet) all argued in favour of Vulcan to conserve SHAR for protection of the Task Force, and because they wanted the raid to occur before the TF got in range of the islands, which meant Vulcan (it was delayed because bombing Stanley while Al Haig was attempting a last ditch effort at peace would annoy the Americans, so Mrs T held off granting authority to launch it).

The runway was not ‘paved over in a couple of hours’. The Args slung assorted piles of crap into the hole, and the effect was that the C-130s couldn’t fly in fully laden. The combination of Black Buck 1 and HMS Conqueror’s putting the Arg navy into port was that the garrison was getting less than half its per diem minimum logistic requirement, since it only came in by air, and the runway crater couldn’t be gone over by an airframe anywhere near max payload because the aircraft would’ve gone into the hole. The Args couldn’t generate enough sorties with C-130s to make up the difference. You can find a slightly sniffy article in the RE Journal from 1983 (or possibly 84 - readers were treated to two pieces on the hole in the runway) which decries the skill and craftsmanship of the Arg engineers who filled the crater in, since their work appears to have made the task of filling it in properly more difficult.

Black Buck 2 missed the runway by about 10-30 yards. That was the last Black Buck which was sent against the runway (two aborts, two SEAD, Black Buck 7 sent to damage/destroy Arg kit around airfield with a load of 1,000 pounders which were to air burst. A switch pigs was caused because the conventional mission had been dropped in 1975, so the chap releasing the weapons hadn’t any training and missed one switch selection which led to the bombs being impact fused - which has led to the myth that BB7 was sent to bomb the runway. It missed because it wasn’t aiming at it for a start.

The Sharkey Ward line about fuel, etc is a complete misrepresentation of what Black Buck was meant to do, what it achieved and what the RAF said it could achieve.

As for Polaris rendering Vulcan obsolete - when the Vickers Valiant went from service because of fatigue issues, the UK was three squadrons light on the number of nuclear weapons delivering aircraft committed to SACEUR. Vulcan was retained to partly fill this gap (thus keeping the US happy) and partly because the replacement aircraft it was meant to get- F-111K, or Merlin GR1 as it’d have been in RAF service, and the AFVG -were cancelled and even the Buccaneer didn’t have the range or airframe numbers to fill the role sufficiently. Thus they were kept to do a role we’d said we’d do for NATO, but couldn’t unless the Vulcan was run on until MRCA was in service. This extended to having two squadrons at Akrotiri to meet the CENTO commitment, thus six squadrons were kept. Four in the UK - 44, 50, 101 & 617 - plus, two in Cyprus (9 & 35) for this purpose, while a seventh (27) re-roled as a maritime recce squadron (allowing the Victors doing the job to be fed into the tanker conversion programme) and two more (12 & 83) disbanded, with one of those (12) becoming the first RAF Buccaneer squadron.

But apart from those considerations...

(Edit to correct maths)
 
Last edited:

Yokel

LE
I would imagine because the RN were reluctant to consider anything but conventional cat/trap types and P1154 would’ve undermined that argument. Meanwhile, the RAF was focused on TSR2 and F-111K and the Central Region.

Regards,
MM
I meant after CVA-01 got the chop!

Over the summer I considered writing an essay entitled something like 'The 100% trap'. It rightly assumed that a V/STOL aircraft would have a shorter range and subsonic. However, for a fleet defence role - if it was trying to intercept a Bear approaching a task group these a less important than actually being able to launch and recover, when needed, in likely sea states.

If accepting those limitations mean you can have cheaper carriers, and fly sorties in worse weather, at some point it becomes acceptable to compromise.

You’re partially correct.

It was originally designed for the RN.

Together with the F-4, the Bucc entered service with the RAF in 1969 after the TSR2 and then F-111K was cancelled. That was a decade before the Ark was retired so not all of our Buccs were ex-RN. However, we obviously took former FAA jets during the 70s as they were withdrawn.

Despite poor ergonomics, the Bucc was an excellent jet which was much loved by those who flew it in both services (as well as the SAAF).

However, it was undeniably inferior to the F-111 in almost every respect.

Regards,
MM
Apart from the fact the Bucc could land on a carrier. The F-111 was too heavy. Just out of interest, if the RAF had been involved in the development of the Bucc, how would that have made a difference?

No it didn't, Polaris subs made it redundant. Crab air were so desperate to justify their existence they flew one with 21 bombs all the way to the Falklands, at great expense to the taxpayer for refueling etc, which amounted to 1.1 million pounds and ten tankers to refuel. They then largely missed the fekin target. The few bombs which did get the runway were paved over in a couple of hours.

Had that fuel been invested in the FAA the SHAR squadrons could have flown 260 sorties delivering 1300 bombs.
Did they have 1300 bombs aboard the carriers? More importantly, the Sea Harrier's war winning role was air defence so why risk the limited number of aircraft? Perhaps if Hermes had carried a few Harrier GR3s and Paveway LGBs when she sailed.an argument could be made, but..... What @Archimedes said.

But arguably wouldn't have convinced the Junta to keep some fighters back - because it demonstrated a capability (even if theres no intent) to twin down town Buenos Aires with Dresden.

I cant see Vulcans vectored and vomiting ordnance over Villa Medera endearing the Junta to the locals regardless of how well events were going 300miles East
There is an arguement that they withdrew the Mirage III was because when it encountered Sea Harrier one was splashed (Flt Lt Paul Barton RAF) and the other was crippled by a Sidewinder fired by Lt Steve Thomas RN and then shot down by Argentine gunners whilst attempting an emergency landing at Stanley.

Conserving one's fighters does seem like a good idea!
 
But arguably wouldn't have convinced the Junta to keep some fighters back - because it demonstrated a capability (even if theres no intent) to twin down town Buenos Aires with Dresden.

I cant see Vulcans vectored and vomiting ordnance over Villa Medera endearing the Junta to the locals regardless of how well events were going 300miles East
Nonsense, the RAF were trying to justify their existence. Bomber subs could have taken out Buenos Aires. It cost the public a million quid for what was essentially a PR stunt.
 

Trans-sane

LE
Book Reviewer
Nonsense, the RAF were trying to justify their existence. Bomber subs could have taken out Buenos Aires. It cost the public a million quid for what was essentially a PR stunt.
Can we start calling you English Redshift now?
 
No it didn't, Polaris subs made it redundant. Crab air were so desperate to justify their existence they flew one with 21 bombs all the way to the Falklands, at great expense to the taxpayer for refueling etc, which amounted to 1.1 million pounds and ten tankers to refuel. They then largely missed the fekin target. The few bombs which did get the runway were paved over in a couple of hours.

Had that fuel been invested in the FAA the SHAR squadrons could have flown 260 sorties delivering 1300 bombs.
you are sharky ward and i claim my £5
 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
Despite poor ergonomics, the Bucc was an excellent jet which was much loved by those who flew it in both services (as well as the SAAF).
And astonishingly good handling at ground-effect altitudes, allowing it to win Red Flag competitions long after it was obsolescent.
 
No it didn't, Polaris subs made it redundant...
Once again @Dashing_Chap, you demonstrate considerable ignorance (or at best a willingness to ignore plain facts), disrespect and bias.

I think @Archimedes has comprehensively covered your numerous factual errors; your more recent post is not even worth a written response.

...If accepting those limitations mean you can have cheaper carriers, and fly sorties in worse weather, at some point it becomes acceptable to compromise.
Which is what the RN eventually did with CVS.

...The F-111 was too heavy...
Too heavy for what? After early operational problems, the F-111 was outstanding as a strike asset.

...if the RAF had been involved in the development of the Bucc, how would that have made a difference?...
I suspect that we’d have certainly wanted more range but it’s a moot point as neither service was really willing to compromise in that era.

There is an arguement that they withdrew the Mirage III was because when it encountered Sea Harrier one was splashed (Flt Lt Paul Barton RAF) and the other was crippled by a Sidewinder fired by Lt Steve Thomas RN and then shot down by Argentine gunners whilst attempting an emergency landing at Stanley.

Conserving one's fighters does seem like a good idea!...
Not when your bombers are getting splashed!

The connection between the Mirage IIIs being withdrawn and BB1 is pretty clear in my view and has been alluded to by several Argentine sources. The Mirage continued to provide occasional escort tasks for KC-130s. However, once it became obvious the Vulcans were not going to be used against the mainland, the Mirages started flying over the islands again on escort and decoy sorties.

And astonishingly good handling at ground-effect altitudes, allowing it to win Red Flag competitions long after it was obsolescent.
Nobody ‘wins’ FLAGs and I’d argue that the Bucc was still credible in the early 90s when it was retired. However, the aircraft’s low level stability was exceptional although true ‘ground-effect’ only becomes relevant below 50 ft.

Regards,
MM
 

Latest Threads

Top