Looking for Swingfire/Striker crew

#1
My name is David Lister, and for want of a better description, I'm a historian. I'm currently working on Swingfire with the aim to sticking that work in a book. I was wondering if there's any crew on here who have any tales of the missile on operations, perchance even launching one in anger, who wouldn't mind their story going into said book?

Equally I have a technical question.
Several documents mention that Swingfire is not to be used over salt water (at least until March 1972, after that I have no-information). The issue seems to be related to the control wires, however none of the documents actually state why salt water is an issue. One theory is that the exhaust mixed with salt water creates hydrochloric acid, which in turn damages the wires.
Can anyone shed some light on the issue?

Thanks.
 
#2
One theory is that the exhaust mixed with salt water creates hydrochloric acid, which in turn damages the wires.
I can't see how that would have any effect whatsoever in the few seconds of flight as the wires uncoil?

Edit: the only thing I can think of is if the trailing wires dip into the water and thus achieve a short circuit.

(One wonders how many operational or training situations could possibly involve firing ground-to-ground over a stretch of salt water less than 4km wide!)

Many of my crews were ex-RHA Swingfire and, IIRC, they claimed that at least one of their firing camps had been at Benbecula (they certainly knew where the pubs were). No idea what targetry they were using on a maritime range, but that would definitely be a salty environment.
 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
#3
I'm an admin for the 15/19H Facebook group. We had a GW Troop (Mark 5 Ferret) 1976-7 and I know that some of the members were in that troop. (One of my best friends worked at the tank museum. I wonder who stuck GW Troop 15/19H on the Swingfire vehicles? He's dead now.)

I've posted your question there. Anything comes back, I'll relay it to you.
 
#4
I can't see how that would have any effect whatsoever in the few seconds of flight as the wires uncoil?

Edit: the only thing I can think of is if the trailing wires dip into the water and thus achieve a short circuit.

(One wonders how many operational or training situations could possibly involve firing ground-to-ground over a stretch of salt water less than 4km wide!)

Many of my crews were ex-RHA Swingfire and, IIRC, they claimed that at least one of their firing camps had been at Benbecula (they certainly knew where the pubs were). No idea what targetry they were using on a maritime range, but that would definitely be a salty environment.
Well its 24 seconds of flight time, and there were a few applications for a Swingfire at sea. The wires into the water idea however comes up with the problem, why is it only salt water, and not normal water as well? In March 72 there was a trail to solve the issue of salt water by coating the wires in epoxy resin.

I've posted your question there. Anything comes back, I'll relay it to you.
Thanks.
 
#5
Well its 24 seconds of flight time, and there were a few applications for a Swingfire at sea. The wires into the water idea however comes up with the problem, why is it only salt water, and not normal water as well? In March 72 there was a trail to solve the issue of salt water by coating the wires in epoxy resin.



Thanks.
Salt water is more conductive than fresh.

Whether enough of a difference to impact the control cables, I couldn't say. But can't see any other difference.
 
#6
Salt water is more conductive than fresh.

Whether enough of a difference to impact the control cables, I couldn't say. But can't see any other difference.
Probably a bone question, but would more conductive control cables draw down more current from the control unit than it was designed to supply, and thus cause malfunctions?
 
#7
Probably a bone question, but would more conductive control cables draw down more current from the control unit than it was designed to supply, and thus cause malfunctions?
Probably, if conductivity has anything to do with it, more likely to cause a short, or put the current flowing through the control wire to earth.

Not a tech, so the above could be utter bollux, of course.
 
#8
A Squadron QDG fired a number of Swingfire missiles in anger during the Gulf War.

Gulf War QDG

You could try contacting their Home Headquarters for help and further information.

HHQ QDG
 
#9
There were many fun features of Swingfire over its long life..

It was quite an early player in the ATGW game and suffered a bit as a consequence. It was a product of the aviation industry and was engineered much more as a miniature aircraft than a round of ammunition (such as Milan). The way in which it was managed in service was also a bit of an issue. What happened after the first batch of missiles was purchased was that the HEAT warheads were swapped for practice warheads (with a self destruct facility..) and the HEAT warheads were recycled onto new missile bodies to replenish the war stock. New missiles came out of BAe with dummy pink heads which were then swapped with live HEAT warheads by bored Ammo techs. As the missiles were never intended to be used like this, there was always a danger of tech muppetry in the process.

A key feature and cause of a number of "issues" with the Swingfire was the swivelling rocket nozzle that gave it its name. The velocity of Swingfire was kept deliberately low to give the somewhat primitive electronics time to "capture" the weapon on launch and give the poor bugger trying to fly the thing an easier job. This led however to an extremely low launch velocity, with the rocket nozzle pointing almost at the ground to keep the thing in the air until it could build up speed. On several occasions this led to missiles steadfastly refusing to leave the launch box and the efflux burning nice holes in the paint at the back of the launcher (directly above the exit door ...!). At one time it was SOP for the supervising Ammo Tech to cut the tinfoil seal and ensure the four triangular packing pieces (Dairylees?) were not stuck.. There was a story that they had metricated the tinfoil and that it was now too thick to let the missile out, but this is bolloux!

The slow flight speed was also the reason for the failure of Beeswing, the air launched version of Swingfire. With any sort of headwind, the missile took fright on launch and dropped like a stone, allowing the launch aircraft to overtake the missile and place itself in the probable impact arc.. Even Teeny Weenie Airways were not impressed, and we hung on to an even more aerodynamically improbable missile (SS11) at the time..

On the upside, the Swingfire had a significantly sized warhead, and what got hit, generally stayed hit.. Following in the great tradition of Malkara, (80lb HESH warhead) there was nothing subtle about the terminal effect, although it has to be said, many times this got applied to the ground immediately in front of the target, rather than the target itself...!

Edited to add... the six missile boxes that they came in were much favoured by pig farmers for making cozy pig sties - I hate to think what we paid for them!
 
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#10
Equally I have a technical question.
Several documents mention that Swingfire is not to be used over salt water (at least until March 1972, after that I have no-information). The issue seems to be related to the control wires, however none of the documents actually state why salt water is an issue. One theory is that the exhaust mixed with salt water creates hydrochloric acid, which in turn damages the wires.
Can anyone shed some light on the issue?

Thanks.
I can't comment on Swingfire since I was US Army, but TOW missiles had the same limitation of firing over water. The reason given is that control wires will short out.

See chapter 2 of FM 23-34 for details.
 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
#11
#12
I can't comment on Swingfire since I was US Army, but TOW missiles had the same limitation of firing over water. The reason given is that control wires will short out.

See chapter 2 of FM 23-34 for details.
I've fired both, and thought the same rule applied regarding water and it was because of potential shorting of the electrical signals. But it was a long time ago, so my memory is somewhat faded.

As my (Ulster) RA instructor said on my Swingfire course, 'positive, negative and ert'. 'What about the fourth wire, staff?' says I. 'Positive negative and ert', came the reply.
 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
#13
One of my members came sack with this.
I never heard of not flying Swingfire over water. The only reason I can think may be if the wire gets wet it could initiate CBU (command break up) which destroys the missile. He may get further info off BAC Stevenage who developed the missile. Good luck.
I'll pass on anything else that comes back.
 
#14
I was in GW troop, A Sqn 1 RTR, 1974-78, with Mk5 Ferrets. I do not recall anything said about flying the missile over water, salt or fresh!
 
#15
I was in GW troop, A Sqn 1 RTR, 1974-78, with Mk5 Ferrets. I do not recall anything said about flying the missile over water, salt or fresh!
Do you recall anything about anything?
 
#16
Fired a few from striker, not in combat unfortunately some hits some misses seen a few rogue as well great times.
 
#17
Probably, if conductivity has anything to do with it, more likely to cause a short, or put the current flowing through the control wire to earth.

Not a tech, so the above could be utter bollux, of course.
Fear not, that REME tech who was Swingfire trained is now here, although I can't remember much about the finer workings of the system. Anyway I would imagine the current required from the guidance controllers (either the in vehicle or extra vehicle one used for peeking over hills with) would have been very small. The missile itself had batteries so was power independent. The guidance circuitry was analogue computer stuff using op-amps with high impedance inputs and outputs, so more about voltage than current. The missile contained it'd own steering vector system (moving the nozzle about) and also housed the control gyros and servos.

The wires were coated but I do not know the insulation material, it was though a thin, white, hard coating (rubber etc. presumably being too bulky and weighty for the purpose) so maybe it wasn't all that waterproof.

Personally I enjoyed using the simulator (it wouldn't cause much excitement among the Xbox generation though) with lots of wild and buffeting wind added on and peeking over the hill type scenario. Whether a missile was ever fired in anger I do not know, all I can be sure of is if that was ever needed then it was a good job I wasn't the operator judging by my poor hit rate with the simulator.
 
#18
#20
No, it was more like a rough slightly flexible paint. Sort of like Artex.
I think I know the stuff you mean but I'm buggered if I can remember the name of it.
 
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