For aircraft enthusiasts: when the Royal Air Force flew stopgaps or were refused planes they deserved.

Cyberi4n

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Interesting.

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My uncle, Henry Archer "Harry" Womack, is buried in the back corner of St. Deiniol's graveyard (Hawarden No. 1) in the RAF/RCAF section, right by the back gate onto Crosstree Lane. We visited in 1997 and discovered that someone was still putting flowers on his grave. A girlfriend? Who knows. I'm gratified to see that someone puts in the effort to clean the gravestone.

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I'm on the right. My father, Harry's brother, is beside and behind me. With the death of my uncle and grandfather within six months, my father was whisked into the role of man of the house at fifteen years old. Three years later he joined the Navy. While standing at Harry's grave in 1997 he just fell silent. That evening he told me that it had suddenly occurred to him that his brother was never coming back. Harry had walked out of their lives and my father had never gotten the chance to process things. Standing at the grave, the finality of it all hit him.

Bob
Lovely story - I’ll go find the headstone and take a pic if you like, just so you can see how it looks these days?
 

Knows3Chords

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What a great thread. I love anything I can get on the subject. I'm am big into military flight simulators. The DCS Spitfire is beautiful in game.

 

Cyberi4n

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A short muse will take you back to the fact that both the Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire were privately, independently developed by concerned aircraft manufacturers during the time leading up to WWII because the government didn't see the need to fund the projects. Of course, on the other side of the pond, Boeing did the same with the B-17. They gambled their entire fortune on the plane because they could see that their country were going to need it.

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In the 1980s I went to an airshow in the USA Mid-Atlantic and saw one of Britain's premiere stopgap aircraft, the Handley Page B.1A Victor Tanker. Well, it was just about as close a design to a guppy as you could ever have seen. It was converted from a bomber to a tanker after the demise of the previous stop-gap, the tanker mod of the Vickers Valiant bomber. The Victor stood in until tanker versions of the Vickers VC10 and Lockheed Tristar could be worked up. It was retired in 1993.

The crew door was "ducted." It opened on the port side, just ahead of the engine intake, and was hinged at the top. The door had side panels that forced the crew downwards if they had to bail out, instead of back into the engines. Yeah. Good idea. Not a joke, either.

Bob
If you can get your hands on a copy, the book “Vulcan 607” by Rowland White is a great read.
 

PhoenixBill

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The short answer: there isn’t such a thing as the “finest” military airplane (or rifle, or whatever). Every option available has advantages and disadvantages. Even trying to judge an aircraft on its “performance” is difficult. One airplane may have a higher speed, another may have a tighter turning ability, another may offer better firepower (which of course is its own debate). Initial procurement costs are a factor, but so is the cost of implementation, maintenance, training, spare parts commonality, etc. The P-40 wasn’t the greatest aircraft of WW2 (though it wasn’t as bad as its critics make it out to be: it performed well when used correctly) but it was immediately available and that was more important than its service ceiling.
 

Bob Womack

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Until about 6 years ago my neighbour owned this and flew it from his little field behind the pub in North Moreton...
View attachment 1038265
I've got this one living down the street:

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It is a lovely kite, a Canadian-Built MK.XIIA, essentially a Mk.I with a Merlin 29 engine that was routed to the RCAF. It is interesting that Hurris outnumbered Spits by 2-1 during the Battle. Of course, they were a much quicker-to-build bird. They were also a much more stable gun platform and were more robust under fire.

Bob
 

Blazer

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russv

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When I was 13 and in the Air Training Corp cadets I spent a week at RAF Waddington, then a Vulcan bomber base. They seemed to take off every few minutes on some days. I got to see inside a Vulcan flight simulator (we are talking around 1969), it had all the flight controls etc but the view from the cockpit was several large TV screens and the image was generated by a camera moving over a very very small 3d landscape which was on a huge roll. No computer generated images! I also got to sit in a life size Vulcan training cockpit, it was very cramped. My favorite memory though is going inside what is now the 'RAF Memorial Flight' Lancaster Bomber. The plane was then based at Waddington. Everyone else went up front to look at the cockpit but I clambered back over the bomb bay and sat in the rear gunners turret. It made me realise how brave you had to be for that position in particular. The gunner had to sit with knees up, the gun between his legs, and very little protection from incoming fire, it must have been terrifying in combat. They were extremely brave men, we owe them a lot.
 

KeithDavies 100

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When I was 13 and in the Air Training Corp cadets I spent a week at RAF Waddington, then a Vulcan bomber base. They seemed to take off every few minutes on some days. I got to see inside a Vulcan flight simulator (we are talking around 1969), it had all the flight controls etc but the view from the cockpit was several large TV screens and the image was generated by a camera moving over a very very small 3d landscape which was on a huge roll. No computer generated images! I also got to sit in a life size Vulcan training cockpit, it was very cramped. My favorite memory though is going inside what is now the 'RAF Memorial Flight' Lancaster Bomber. The plane was then based at Waddington. Everyone else went up front to look at the cockpit but I clambered back over the bomb bay and sat in the rear gunners turret. It made me realise how brave you had to be for that position in particular. The gunner had to sit with knees up, the gun between his legs, and very little protection from incoming fire, it must have been terrifying in combat. They were extremely brave men, we owe them a lot.
Was it the Lancaster where the access was too narrow to get through there with your parachute on, so the gunners left their parachute in the main body of the plane? I read that somewhere - I think about the Lancaster.
 

russv

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Was it the Lancaster where the access was too narrow to get through there with your parachute on, so the gunners left their parachute in the main body of the plane? I read that somewhere - I think about the Lancaster.
Its such a long time ago I can't remember. I do remember it was difficult to get back there. I'm pretty sure the seat didn't have a back, and it was only just above the floor of the turret, so like I said, he sat with his knees up. Not very comfortable.
 

Blazer

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When I was 13 and in the Air Training Corp cadets I spent a week at RAF Waddington, then a Vulcan bomber base. They seemed to take off every few minutes on some days. I got to see inside a Vulcan flight simulator (we are talking around 1969), it had all the flight controls etc but the view from the cockpit was several large TV screens and the image was generated by a camera moving over a very very small 3d landscape which was on a huge roll. No computer generated images! I also got to sit in a life size Vulcan training cockpit, it was very cramped. My favorite memory though is going inside what is now the 'RAF Memorial Flight' Lancaster Bomber. The plane was then based at Waddington. Everyone else went up front to look at the cockpit but I clambered back over the bomb bay and sat in the rear gunners turret. It made me realise how brave you had to be for that position in particular. The gunner had to sit with knees up, the gun between his legs, and very little protection from incoming fire, it must have been terrifying in combat. They were extremely brave men, we owe them a lot.
I remember seeing the Lancaster in Hendon and a man in his nineties standing next to it. I saw those turrets and mused out loud, “Oh my lord, those are so tiny, I feel sorry for those guys who had to operate them.”

At which the guy went, “Well now nobody is asking YOU to get in that, are they?”

At which I clarified that I had so much admiration for them and thanked them for their service. He gave me a wry smile and continued on his way.
 

tubedude

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Yeah, I guess everybody, even the ones who don't know a thing about aviation, knows this roundel or at least is aware of it existing. If only for the MOD culture adopting it in the sixties, and it has been plastered on clothing scooters and cars ever since.
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The Who, with Keith Moon brandishing an RAF roundel on his sweater.

The Royal Air Force is the world's oldest independent Air arm which still survives today, having evolved from the Royal Flying corps into the RAF at the ending of the first world war in 1918. Throughout its existence, the RAF has flown some legendary planes.

But what also happened throughout its history is that it was flying stopgap hand-me-downs, of were DENIED what could have been some really groundbreaking planes. And that happened quite often, in fact it happened so many times that it makes one wonder what they hell those people in the UK Parliament were drinking, certainly not tea…

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This is the Gloster Meteor, a first generation Jet fighter which was the only Jet on the allied side which saw action in the second world war. It was while I was reading up on the history of this jet that I came up with the idea for this thread.

Because as groundbreaking as the Meteor was, it quickly became apparent that it was hopelessly obsolete when conflicts such as the Suez Crisis and the Korean War saw it going into battle again. It simply couldn't compete with the more advanced types it was going up against, such as the MiG-15 and the IL-28 jet bomber, which were both faster and could fly higher than the Meteor could muster.

And after mock scramble interceptions against the English Electric Canberra (More about that later…) and the Boeing B-47 showed that even strapping on more powerful engines to the Meteor didn't make a difference, the writing was on the wall. But the RAF didn't have a replacement for the meteor yet, as both the Hawker Hunter and the Supermarine Swift were still in development and wouldn't be available for a couple of years. Leaving a serious gap in the RAF's capabilities.
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And so, using the Mutual Defence Assistance Act, the RAF had to eat crow and got their hands on Off-the-shelf Canadian made F-86 Sabres to fill the gap. Which, although far superior to the meteor, was quite the compromise, certainly for an Air Force who prided themselves on flying indigenous types.

Here's something that not many people are aware of.
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Yes, the RAF operated the B-29, naming theirs the “Washington.” Well, nothing wrong with that, right, the B-29 was a good plane, can't blame the RAF for adopting them.

Except for the fact that the RAF didn't WANT the Washington. Because, as the case was with the Sabre, it was an off-the shelf stopgap which was financed by that Mutual Defence Assistance Act I mentioned earlier. The Washington entered service because the Avro Lincoln, which was a development of the famous Lancaster Bomber was readily obsolete and the types that were developed to replace it weren't ready yet.

Regardless, the Washingtons soldiered on until the mid-fifties when they were replaced by the English Electric Canberra jet bomber. The RAF wasn't shedding any tears when the Washington bowed out.
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Ah yes, the Canberra one of the very few times that the UK got it so right that even the USAF bought it and the type is still flying today.

But seeing how fast technology was continuing to advance, the RAF and the Ministry of Defence were already looking at a replacement and as impressive as the Canberra was, the intention was to take it up a notch. All the way to 11, that's one louder, innit?
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Yeah, I guess all the propeller heads will be shuddering when they see the unmistakable shape of the TSR-2. Even almost 60 years later, people are still going, “They shouldn't have cancelled that one.”

So what was the deal?
Well, that all started before TRS-2 even flew, when the infamous 1957 “White Paper” issued by Minister of defence Duncan Sandys stated that guided, surface-to-air missiles were the future of aerial warfare, what do you need manned aircraft for? Senior RAF officers argued against the White Paper's premise, stating the importance of mobility, and that the TSR-2 could not only replace the Canberra, but potentially the entire V-Force bomber fleet. It had THAT much capability.

But another thing that came up were the development costs of the TSR-2, which were running over budget. (Which again is something you will see coming up again in this thread…) Which caused the people in power to get cold feet. The Chief of the defence staff at the time was the famed former Chief of Naval staff, Lord Mountbatten, a WW2 veteran, who was championing the Blackburn Buccaneer to enter RAF service. Because, “One could buy five Buccaneers for the price of one TSR-2!”

The USA was also offering the General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark as an off-the shelf option for the RAF to buy when the Canberra was to be replaced. Both the Buccaneer and the Aardvark, as impressive as they were, couldn't hold a candle to the TSR-2's performance or service ceiling. As both were designed to be low level strike aircraft, not high-flying supersonic, tactical strike and reconnaissance platforms.
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In the end, Lord Mountbatten got his wish, the RAF began flying the Blackburn Buccaneer. But not in the way he envisioned. Because in order to get the air frames, the Royal Navy had to phase out their aircraft carriers, which made the Buccaneers available.
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Even more bitter, was that it took twenty years with the Panavia Tornado that the RAF finally got the supersonic jet bomber they were denied when the TSR-2 was cancelled.

So, am I done? Oh no, there's more and this time it's about THIS plane…
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The Hawker Siddeley Nimrod, maritime patrol aircraft. Developed from the DeHavilland Comet airliner, the Nimrod was a tough and dependable air frame which replaced the Avro Shackleton and gave RAF's coastal command a capable and well liked plane.

Serving for over 30 years, the Nimrod was a great asset, not only in Cold War duties, but also in search and rescue missions, many sailors regarded the Nimrod a very welcome sight indeed.

Having mentioned the fact that the Nimrod replaced the Shackleton in the Maritime patrol role, it was logical that the Nimrod could replace the Shackleton in the airborne early warning role too. And thus the Nimrod was developed into a dedicated AEW platform.
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The Nimrod AEW-3, might look ungainly but for the time it had the most advanced Radars that money could buy, and they certainly weren't cheap. Which meant running over budget and that, once again, led to people in the parliament getting cold feet.

So, the decision was made to buy off-the-shelf Boeing E-3 Sentry aircraft, which was an older design, lacked the capabilities of the Nimrod but was right there.
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… Or was it?

It took over five years before the Sentry entered service, during which the Avro Shackleton continued to provide the airborne early warning duties. Which it had been doing for over 20 years by that point.

So the millennium comes around, and the Nimrod is getting tired and is in need of replacing, the boffins at British Aerospace go: “No problem, we have THIS!”
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The Nimrod MR-4, which updates the design with a glass cockpit, more efficient engines (Note the larger intakes) and even more capabilities to do the Maritime Patrol duties. One ought to think that the politicians would be going “Ah, thanks lads, that will do nicely thank you very much!”

And once again those DREADED words show up, “Running over budget”

After six years of fine-tuning the design and ironing out all the kinks, the project was axed, and the decision was made, to once again…

— Drumroll please -

Buy Off-the-shelf aircraft, which in this case was the Boeing P-8 Poseidon, which again… lacked the capabilities of the Nimrod MR-4 and ended up costing more than the Nimrod MR-4.

AND because Boeing couldn't deliver the Poseidon air frames straight away, it left a NINE YEAR gap in the UK's Maritime patrol capability. So hastily converted Lockheed C-130 Hercules airframes were used as a stopgap, which again ended up costing more than the Nimrod MR-4.

Needless to say, those politicians who made that decision to cancel the Nimrod MR-4 found themselves, quite ironically, in rough seas. As an enquiry into the matter revealed that they never truly got into the matter and flushed £3.4bn down the drain with the cancellation.
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Nimrod MR-4's being scrapped.
The nimrods in power should have been scrapped.
 

teleman1

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Is the yf-23 better than the raptor 22? Politics were involved in the decision. Many say the best aircraft didn't win.
 




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