Buccaneer S2B of 809 squadron RN in the colours it wore when based at Lossiemouth in 1968. Excellent detail on this model including opening airbrakes, armament, optional undercarriage positions and authentic livery. Now hard to find. Perfect companion for the Gemini Aces Phantom FG1 (item number GARNS4001) in 892 Sqn RN livery. Now very hard to find.
The Blackburn Buccaneer was a British low-level subsonic strike aircraft with nuclear weapon delivery capability serving with the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force between 1962 and 1994, including service in the 1991 Gulf War. Designed and initially produced by Blackburn Aircraft at Brough it was later known as the Hawker Siddeley Buccaneer when Blackburn became a part of the Hawker Siddeley group.
The Buccaneer was a mid-wing, twin-engine monoplane with a crew of two seated in tandem under a sliding canopy. To meet the demands of the specification, the Buccaneer featured a number of advanced design features. The fuselage was area ruled; meaning it was designed to reduce drag at transonic speeds. This gives rise to the characteristic curvy “Coke bottle” shape. It featured a variable incidence tailplane that could be trimmed to suit the particular requirements of low-speed handling or high-speed flight. At low levels and high speeds traditional bomb bay doors could not be opened safely into the air stream; therefore, doors were developed that rotated into the fuselage to expose the payload. This configuration was also useful in assisting ground-level access.
The Buccaneer had been designed specifically as a maritime nuclear strike aircraft. Its intended weapon was a nuclear air-to-surface missile codenamed Green Cheese, but this weapon’s development was cancelled, and in its place was the unguided 2,000 pound (900 kg) Red Beard, which had been developed for the Canberra. Red Beard had an explosive yield in the 10 to 20 kiloton range. It was mounted on a special bomb bay door into which it nested neatly to reduce aerodynamic buffet on the launch aircraft. Red Beard was an unsophisticated weapon and had to be armed before takeoff instead of in flight, clearly an undesirable feature.
The bomb bay could also accommodate a 2,000 litre ferry tank, as well as a photo-reconnaissance “crate” or a cargo container. The reconnaissance crate could accommodate a photoflash flare dispenser and up to six cameras, in various configurations of long-range, wide angle, and night vision cameras that could be mounted in vertical, oblique, or (using a blister in the pack) forward-looking orientations. The photoflash unit was rarely used, with the Royal Navy preferring to use the Gloworm rocket, with eight mounted on the Buccaneer’s stores pylons, for night operations.
The cargo container would prove useful for transporting golf clubs and other essentials. There had been plans to develop a bomb bay tanker pack, but the underwing pack proved adequate. There was also a plan for a pack with twin Aden 30 mm cannon, but it was abandoned and the Buccaneer would never carry gun armament.
The small wing of the Buccaneer was suited to high-speed flight at low level. Such a wing, however, did not generate the lift that was essential for carrier operations. Therefore the wing and horizontal stabiliser were “blown” by bleeding compressor gas from the engine through surface vents; this was known as Boundary layer control or BLC, and had the effect of energising and smoothing the boundary layer airflow, which significantly reduced airflow separation at the back of the wing (and therefore decreased stall speed) and increased effectiveness of trailing edge control surfaces including flaps and ailerons. Before landing, the pilot would open the BLC vents as well as lower the flaps to achieve slow, stable flight. A consequence of the blown wing was that the engines were required to run at high power for low-speed flight in order to generate sufficient compressor gas for blowing. Blackburn’s solution to this situation was to provide a large air brake. The tail cone was formed from two leaves that could be hydraulically opened into the airstream to decelerate the aircraft. The nose cone and radar antenna could also be swung around by 180° to reduce the length of the aircraft in the carrier hangar. This feature was particularly important due to the small size of the aircraft carriers that the Buccaneer typically operated from.
During the 1980 Red Flag exercises in America one of the RAF Buccaneers lost a wing due to a fatigue induced crack and crashed, killing its crew. The entire RAF Buccaneer fleet was grounded in February 1980 and investigation discovered serious metal fatigue problems. A total of 60 aircraft were selected to receive new spar rings and the moved to RAF Lossiemouth in the anti-shipping role, armed with Martel missiles.
The Buccaneer was deployed in combat operations during the 1991 Gulf War when 12 examples were rushed to the area to provide a laser designation capability for British aircraft. RAF Tornados attacking with anti-runway munitions were being lost to the large amounts of light anti-aircraft weaponry defending the airfields. As a result attacks changed to attacking from 20,000 ft with guided bombs.
Buccaneers flew 218 missions, both designating for other aircraft and dropping 48 laser-guided bombs themselves. The last Buccaneer missions were on 27 February 1991. On that day a pair of Buccaneers knocked out two Iraqi transport aircraft on the Shayka Mazhar airfield. The last Buccaneers were withdrawn in March 1994 when 208 Squadron disbanded.