Air International 2007-08
J.Lake - Shackleton and Nimrod /Classics compared/
To provide optimum radar coverage, the radar scanners in the ill-conceived Nimrod AEW.3 were housed in radomes at the extremities of the fuselage. This photograph of the first production aircraft XZ286 was taken at the 1980 Farnborough International Air Show, just two months after it made its first flight. The project was cancelled in 1987 as a result of insurmountable systems problems.
Nimrod MR.2s were heavily involved in the Falklands campaign, providing maritime reconnaissance and search and rescue cover. They were also armed with offensive weapons, including the Harpoon AGM-84A anti-ship missile and AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles. A pair of Sidewinders are carried on the underwing hardpoint of XV254 seen here.
No.51 Sqn's three Nimrod R.1s are tasked with electronic reconnaissance. Consequently official secrecy surrounds their present-day activities, making it difficult to assess the unit's extraordinary skills and capabilities. The first Nimrod R.1, XW664, is seen here on display at the Royal International Air Tattoo, RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire. For an Elint aircraft, it is externally clean, with many of its antennae systems installed discreetly within the airframe.
Even though the latest variant of the Nimrod, the MRA4, has an airframe based on the late 1940s de Havilland Comet, there is a vast difference in the design solutions for a maritime patrol aircraft. There are even greater advances in the systems.
Internally, the Nimrod has become unrecognisable to anyone who remembers the Shackleton, with a new two-man Airbus-style 'glass' cockpit, while the mission crew now sits close together in a 'horseshoe' to maximize crew co-ordination. These photos illustrate the MRA4 cockpit
BAE Systems Nimrod MRA4
Prior to 1955, all Coastal Command aircraft were painted white on the undersurfaces and sides with surfaces viewed from immediately above finished in a dark slate grey and extra dark sea grey camouflage pattern. MR.2 WL791 served with Nos.37 and 38 Sqns and the Ballykelly Wing, Northern Ireland, before being sold for scrap in May 1967.
Shackleton MR.2 WL752/T of 224 Sqn was photographed over Jebel Akhdar, Oman, in March 1959, where it had been used over the previous ten weeks for medium-level bombing missions in the Jebel Akhdar conflict.
As a result of procrastination over the choice of a common airborne early warning aircraft for NATO members, the UK decided to modify 12 of its Shackleton fleet for the role. When the aircraft first entered service with 8 Sqn in April 1972, they were perceived as an interim solution to the UK's need for an AEW aircraft. In the event they served for almost 20 years. AEW.2 WL790 is owned by Air Atlantique and based in Midland, Texas.
This rare colour photograph of Shackleton MR.1, taken at RAF Gan in the Maldives circa 1960, clearly illustrates the huge bomb bay. During 1961 this aircraft was delivered to 236 Operational Conversion Unit at RAF St Mawgan, Cornwall.
Some of the Shackleton AEW.2 crew stations, looking forward to the cockpit.
Avro Shackleton MR.1A