Archive for Royal Air Force

Come Back Winston! Britain Needs You – Again!

Posted in Britain, England, Government, Government Spending, Insanity, Liberal Party, MP's, Parliament, Royal Navy, UK with tags , , , , on 14/06/2011 by floroy1942

I dread to think what would have happened in 1939 if we had had the present government. Thankfully we didn’t, we had Winston Churchill and survived.

OK Winston - You Can Start With Today's Government!

It depresses me somewhat when I see Cameron and Clegg’s handling of the defence budget. Now, the First Sea Lord, a post held very successfully by Winston Churchill, has come out in opposition to the cuts made by the government. Sir Mark Stanhope made the message very clear, if the Libyan campaign goes on for more than 90 days we will, militarily, be in trouble.

HMS Ark Royal In The Falklands

He severely criticised the loss of the carrier Ark Royal and its fleet of Harrier jets, saying they would have been far more effective against Colonel Gaddafi than the RAF flying from bases in Italy, which, let’s face it, you can’t argue with. The Italian bases are one and a half hours flying time from the action, whereas Ark Royal’s aircraft would have been a mere twenty minutes away.

He made it quite clear however that he was not calling for a reversal of the Ark Royal/Harrier decision for it had been accepted by the Navy.

Says It All Really!

It was his opinion that should the campaign run on beyond the ninety day limit currently set, ships from home waters would be needed to fill the gap in the Mediterranean. So what the hell would we do if we got involved in a real war?

His remarks will no doubt be seen as an embarrassment to the Prime Minister and his deputy, but hey! If the truth hurts….tough! But not to worry, our illustrious armed forces chief General Sir David Richards, has said there is absolutely no cause for alarm and everything is under control. Yea right! He sounds like a politician.

Politicians always look firstly at defence when they need to make cuts in spending. Our armed forces have been cut to the bone during the last two decades and there will sure as hell come a time when we, as a country, will regret their rash decisions.

Plenty Around!

At home billions of pounds are squandered each year on inefficient bureaucracy and lame projects that in the long term do not work. New government departments are set up at huge cost only to close down within months. We are overrun with bureaucrats who do nothing positive to earn their inflated salaries, because in many areas of government there are ten managers working where one will be sufficient.

Billions Wasted on Such Items

Governmental departments waste billions of pounds annually when paying outrageously inflated prices (300-400%) for things like copier ink cartridges and other office materials.  

All this is going on from year to year but who gets hammered when its budget cut time, you guessed it, the military.

 

HMS Cumberland - Scrapped

It is no wonder US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates expressed his dissatisfaction at the recent NATO meeting. With the loss of Ark Royal (our last remaining carrier) and its Harrier jets, as well as the surveillance aircraft Nimrod plus a few other ships like HMS Cumberland, we are eating into the ability of our military to fulfill its commitments, and more serious, defend our island.

Sure, money does have to be saved to get us out of the monstrous debt which was Labour’s legacy to the present government, but there are better and more efficient ways than clobbering the military, like starting with government itself.

There Will Come A Time....Soon!

I have no doubt there will come a time, in I would think about five years, when we will need our armed forces badly but to find out why you will need to read my next post. There can be little doubt that if we continue as we are they will not be able to help us. Only time will tell if I am right or not.

Roy.

The Mighty Vulcan – Fond Memories

Posted in Britain, England, Nuclear, Nuclear Weapons, UK, Uncategorized, USA with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 06/03/2011 by floroy1942

I was extremely happy to read that the last surviving Vulcan bomber has once again received its certificate of air worthiness. As the only survivor of the RAF cold war bomber fleet of Vulcan, Victor and Valiant bombers, it is without doubt a truly magnificent sight when seen flying over the green fields of England that it protected so well.

Britain’s Nuclear Deterrent – Victor, Valiant, Vulcan

The fact that it can fly at all is due solely to a group of Vulcan enthusiasts who, with donated money, spent their free time working on the aircraft to get it airworthy. A truely Valiant (excuse the pun) achievement. My compliments Gentlemen!

There follows a video showing the history of the Valiant and Victor Bombers:

There is little doubt that despite the deterrent of the American Strategic Air Command, our V Force was a potent weapon manned by dedicated airmen who gave the Russians pause for thought. Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed during this time of  world crisis, and eventually the world was no longer living in fear of the Russian menace.

This was all due to the far-seeing Mikhail Gorbachev who alone could see the perils of continuing the nuclear stand-off. The people of the world owe this man a great debt.

During my time with the Royal Air Force I had the pleasure of working with both Victor and Vulcan bombers, and as an armourer was responsible for loading the nuclear weapons.

Blue Steel Stand-Off Missile

At the time this was the Blue Steel stand-off bomb that would have devastated any city it was dropped on. Loading these weapons was a long and complicated business, as first we had to fuel the missile with its liquid propellant before actually loading it into the bomb bay.

It was dangerous work, but thanks to the professionalism of all involved, no accidents ever happened. When loading the propellant we had to wear what would be described today as chemical suites to ensure we never came in direct contact with the fuel.

On the Victor aircraft, the missile was only half embedded in the bomb bay and half of it hung below, it was that big. Great care had to be taken when loading this aircraft because it was so low to the ground and there was little clearance between the weapon and the fuselage. The Vulcan on the other hand was very high off the ground and caused no problems.

The greatest part about working with these fine aircraft was to watch a squadron scramble. Within a matter of minutes the whole squadron would be airborne and heading for their targets. Considering Britain had but a four-minute warning of approaching Russian missiles this was of the utmost importance, for nobody wanted our number one deterrent to be caught on the ground.

Scramble!

To see these great aircraft thundering down the runway only seconds apart was a sight to captivate any audience. The most spectacular was always the Vulcan due to its ability to enter an almost vertical climb immediately after leaving the ground. This aircraft was overpowered and had limiters on the throttles to prevent over-stressing the airframe, but excess power made it capable of almost impossible maneuvers with such a huge aircraft.

The standard takeoff pattern was for the first aircraft to stay low and straight ahead after leaving the ground while the second and third would peel off left and right. But the fourth was the most spectacular, for it would enter an almost vertical climb once the wheels left the ground. This takeoff pattern was to minimise the effects of air turbulence on following aircraft, while allowing all to get off the ground in the shortest possible time. It’ s an understatement to say it was spectacular!

The flight characteristics of the Avro Vulcan were akin to those of a fighter as can be amply seen in the following video where the test pilot, Roly Folk rolls the aircraft immediately after takeoff at the Farnborough Air Show in 1955:

During my two years with the Victors we had at one time been operating from a dispersal base that also had Vulcan’s, and one would assume some of the Victor crews had decided to emulate the takeoffs of their Vulcan brethren. The Victor of course did not have the sheer raw power of the Vulcan and this became obvious as the ground crew watched the takeoffs.

Victor Conventional Bomb Load

The first two got off OK but the third pilot had been a little too ambitious, for as he pulled back on the stick and dropped his right wing for the sharp turn to starboard, the wingtip touched the ground, and as we found later, left a scour mark in the grass alongside the runway running for several metres. Thankfully he managed to correct it and got away safely.

After the exercise sortie, the aircraft came back to the base and the airfield became a scene of frantic activity as the ground crew got the aircraft ready for their next flight. Due to the constant tension between east and west all aircraft had to be ready for an immediate scramble should ‘the balloon go up’.

A rather amusing set of incidents occurred during ‘Exercise Skyshield’ in the 60’s which was to test the North American radar defences (NORAD).  Two flights were made by RAF Vulcans and American B52’s against the supposed impregnable radar shield and the result was all B52’s were intercepted while only one Vulcan was detected and intercepted by an F111. This was no doubt due to the sophisticated electronics counter measures (ECM) developed by British scientists and fitted to the Vulcan.

The New Threat

In their role as strategic bomber the V Force excelled, but unfortunately with the advances in anti-aircraft missiles, and their new ability to reach high flying aircraft, a different approach was necessary. For this reason, the V Force became the new generation of ultra low-level bombers. The white skin paint disappeared to be replaced with camouflage paint on the top surfaces.

It was of course necessary for the crews to practice their new low-level role, and this was done amid the peaks and valleys of Scotland. What a magnificent sight it must have been to see a Victor or Vulcan skimming through the valleys at 100 ft!

I remember when one of our Victors took a couple of reporters up to witness their death-defying skills during a low-level flight. When the aircraft returned they were as white as sheets and had just about filled their sick bags. One was heard to mutter “These men are stark raving lunatics” as he stumbled off in search of a stiff drink.

The Victor – Now Just A Tanker

I have many fond memories of my time with Britain’s V Force and was extremely sad when I heard they were to be scrapped. The Victor lingered on as a tanker aircraft and did valuable work , and of course the one surviving Vulcan was among those that dropped bombs on Stanley airfield during the Falklands conflict.

I guess we all have our time, and that of the V bombers is past and condemned to history, but as with the Spitfires, Hurricanes and Lancaster of WW2, it’s fitting that at least one of the old war horses survives.

Roy.

Will The Current Defence Review Cost Britain the Falklands?

Posted in Atlantic, Britain, Budget Cuts, England, Government, Government Spending, Insanity, MP's, Oceans, Parliament, Royal Navy, UK with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 27/01/2011 by floroy1942

As always, defence spending is the first thing to be cut when money is seen to be tight. And as usual, the politicians make the same stupid, short-sighted decisions. It seems the present Coalition is no different.

HMS Ark Royal

Currently, the Royal Navy is to be hit hard in that its aircraft carrier fleet is to be scrapped. True, two new carriers are supposed to be built to replace those we have now, but apart from the fact they will not be ready until somewhere around 2017, their future is now in doubt even though construction has begun, and in which £1 billion has already been invested.

Hopefully, One of The Royal Navy's New Carriers

All branches of the armed forces will be hit, but by far the most significant is the proposed phasing out of all three aircraft carriers by 2015. Ark Royal has already been decommissioned, and Invincible and Illustrious are soon to follow. This will leave Britain without a single carrier until around 2017 when, hopefully, maybe, the navy will receive their two replacements at a cost. This cost is a significant reduction in their surface ships to help pay for the new carriers.

It’s like the Falklands war of 1982 never happened!

Without her aircraft carriers, Britain would have stood helplessly by while Argentina took over the islands at their leisure after the invasion, with no amount of harsh words from Margaret Thatcher making any difference.

A Harrier Lands on Deck

As it was, our carrier force with their Harrier VTOL aircraft, was the only thing Britain had in its military arsenal that could effectively strike back at the invaders. As we all know, the entire operation was a resounding success.

But what of today and the near future?

It would seem the current government has forgotten the lessons of the past, and are ready and willing to make the same mistakes when the scrapping of the CVA01 carriers almost cost us the Falklands.

The Argentine government must be rubbing their hands in glee at the prospect of a neutered Royal Navy who will be helpless should they try again in three or four years time. I’ll bet their generals have already started making plans for a new invasion of the islands, knowing full well the British will have no choice but to stand impotent on the sidelines.

The Mighty Vulcan Bomber

Since that conflict in 1982 the RAF has also suffered significant cuts to its budget and aircraft. During the previous conflict, the Vulcan and Victor cold-war bombers played a key role with their huge range of action, bombing targets like the runway at Stanley airfield and attacking the radar installations on the island. They too are long gone! Now Britain has no bombers at all with the range to strike at the Falklands.

The Harrier fleet, which proved so effective against the Argentinean air force has been decommissioned also, but that doesn’t seem to stop the politicians from a proposal which will see a scaling down of the number of Joint-Strike fighters to be ordered.

The Falklands

As I see it, this defence review will prove to be a catastrophe for the Falkland islanders, who in my view had better start learning Argentinean, for in about four years time they will need it.

Roy.


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