Aviation Historian 24
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T.Eeles - Brute force & innovation
The author leads a two-aircraft formation in S.2B XZ432 during a photographic sortie over the west coast of Scotland, near Oban, on March 11, 1987. Tom enjoyed three tenures with No 237 OCU, a specialist Buccaneer training unit: as a QFI during 1971-72; CFI 1977-79 and OC 1984-87.
Pre-production NA.39 XK534 of No 700Z NAS, coded LM/683, rolls on to the “piano keys” at Farnborough before its display at the 1961 SBAC show. The air intakes of the S.1 ’s Gyron Junior engines were considerably smaller than those required for the later more powerful Speys fitted in the S.2 variant.
An unidentified early S.1 is prepared for a flight during deck trials. Some S.1s were painted in an overall white anti-nuclear-flash colour scheme, similar to that used on V-Force aircraft, including a pale pink and blue roundel, with the radome left unpainted. Because of its curvaceous area-ruled fuselage, the Buccaneer became known as the "banana jet”, these white-painted examples being dubbed "peeled bananas"!
Another photograph of the author’s two-aircraft formation of No 237 OCU S.2s during a photo sortie from Lossiemouth in March 1987. Nearest the camera this time is XV352, which was later used as part of a nine-aircraft formation for a final photo-call for the Buccaneer before the type was retired from RAF service in March 1994.
A two-Buccaneer formation over Scotland, led by Gp Capt Tom Eeles, who reveals in this issue what the type was like to fly.
XV эскадрилья британских ВВС получила Buccaneer в 1970 году. До 1983-го она летала на S.Mk 2В с неядерным вооружением и размещалась на авиабазе Лаарбрух в ФРГ.
Although initially unimpressed with the Buccaneer S.1, the RAF nevertheless ordered the much-improved S.2 in 1968, the type entering RAF service with No 12 Sqn in October 1969. A total of five operational RAF units - Nos 12, XV, 16, 208 and 216 Sqns - plus one OCU was equipped with the Buccaneer. This S.2, XX887, of No XV Sqn was photographed while up from its base at RAF Laarbruch in West Germany in the mid-1970s.
Wing Commander Tom Eeles climbs down from the cockpit of his Buccaneer S.2B while Officer Commanding No 237 Operational Conversion Unit at RAF Lossiemouth in 1986, having reached the considerable milestone of 2,000 hours on type. By the time of his retirement he had reached a total of 2,185 hours on the Buccaneer.
Buccaneer S.1 XN960 demonstrates the type’s highly effective split airbrake as it comes in to land at Le Bourget during the 1963 Paris Air Salon. The airbrakes were extensively tested and modified during the Buccaneer’s trials programme, with strakes of various sizes added above and below the petals until the most effective configuration was found.
With the Flight Deck Officer’s green flag lowered, Buccaneer S.2 XN977 of No 801 NAS is launched in the “holdback” position from HMS Victorious in July 1966. Note the much larger intakes of the S.2 and 250 Imp gal (1,136lit) slipper tanks with “pen-nib” fairings (later removed) fitted to the inner wing section
Perhaps surprisingly, given the type’s capabilities as a rugged but highly effective low-level strike fighter, only one export customer, South Africa, selected the Buccaneer for its air arm. Fitted with a pair of BS.605 rocket motors beneath the rear fuselage, the S.50 variant entered service with the South African Air Force in late 1965.
This illustration from an early Blackburn brochure for the Buccaneer shows the pilot’s cockpit. The control column was unusual, in that it projected from the lower part of the instrument panel, rather than being hinged from the cockpit floor, as in most contemporary fighters.
This illustration from an early Blackburn brochure for the Buccaneer shows the rear cockpit of the type. The observer’s duties included navigation, control of the search and fire-control radar, input of data into the Strike Sight system, fuzing of the armament and management of role equipment from the role panel. The role panels were interchangeable units which incorporated the relevant controls and instruments associated with the specific roles of the Buccaneer. Good forward vision for the observer was provided by the right-of-centre positioning of his seat, which allowed him to look over the pilot’s shoulder.
The Blackburn Buccaneer's boundary layer control system