Friday, 7 January 2011

Speak softly and carry a big stick (and even if the stick isn't that big, wave it like it is)

I've been stewing a bit, since I heard of the instant withdrawal from service of our force of Harrier aircraft. I was equally miffed when I waved goodbye to the last two HMS Ark Royal's, the big one, pictured above (or maybe its HMS Eagle - yes we had more than one) as well as the `mini-me` version recently. I am currently reading a fascinating book about the last major Op by the last fast jet squadron to operate from the former Ark Royal. It is a tale from the last days of `Empire` and a fine testament to our Naval aviators. This review does a much better job than I could.

I guess we just don't do this stuff anymore.


CI-Roller Dude said...

Wasn't it one of the Ark Royals that launched aircraft to stop the Bismark in 1941?
The Harrier is one of the jets classified as "Cool."

Sage said...

Happy New Year Hogday... I love the old planes, and the memories they bring.. it seems sad not to have an ark royal any more or not to hear the harrier engines... time moves on and leaves them behind but surely there is still a valid place for these wonderful beasts xx

Kennyo said...

I have been doing more reading recently, that top pic would look good on my
hows the new yr goig so far..

TonyF said...

Another blow to the armed services. The Bucc was a spectacular a/c. and another that could have been developed much further than it was. I haven't been able to find them, but I suspect the Red Flag exercise videos are on Youtube somewhere. The ones when the Flat Irons and Buccs worked together. The Flats running interference and the Buccs beneath them taking on SAM sites and all comers.

One of my contemporaries was out on that exercise, and one tale that he told was one of a Flat Iron being jumped by two F18s (?). As they lined up on the sitting duck, it manoeuvred hard exposing the two Buccs it had been shielding. Bucc one 'lobbed' a couple of missiles at the aggressors, Bucc 2 took out another threat, and the Flat Iron got to it's target too. Now remember, this was at low level, and the Buccs were 'ground effecting'. There was a superb video taken of one of the Buccs attacking a SAM site, taken through the site's sight. The audio is hilarious.

Sometimes, reliability and skill beat technology hands down.

Oh, Flat Irons = Vucan

Conan the Librarian™ said...

I saw HMS Eagle being chopped up for scrap at Stranraer back in the seventies when I was going to Norn Iron for the first time.

Hogdayafternoon said...

CI-RD: Nice one Sir. You know your history. 2 carriers launched against Bismarck, HMS Ark Royal's and HMS Victorious. The Vics crews were raw rookies - first time off a carrier in a North Atlantic gale all bombed up. The Ark's were more experienced but same conditions - what a story (don't get me started). Harriers! Any plane that the US asks to build under licence has got to be good.

Sage: A HNY2U2! Like TonyF said, this is quality kit, unlike our politicians. I once heard of a Buccaneer pilot, when asked what he'd like to replace it, replied , `Just another Buccaneer, with updated avionics`.

KennyO: Hey KO. Get the pic from Google Images. I'm good. Haven't been in your city for a while tho`. How's the job?

TonyF: I knew I'd wind you up with this one! Fucking politicians. I bet the 1960's ones, mainly labourites, are chuffed that what they started has finally happened - a toothless surface fleet. As for Red Flag's, the American pilots seemed to have a rather respectful response to our kit flying underneath their best. Praise indeed. `Flat Iron`? I thought you meant a Gloster Javelin. Heard a great presentation at the Army Staff College in `92 about how one of those managed to scare off rebel forces in a very nasty backs to the wall Borneo incident, without any munitions on board! Have stuck on a bit of You Tube for you.

Conan: I was glad to have lived through such an era.

TonyF said...

Nice video, shows the Bucc well.

The Javelin was a bit of an odd ball a/c. It could have been more developed, and indeed the 'thin wing' Javelin was nearly made. In theory, it would have been supersonic, possibly be able to supercruise, however it got caught in the 'Sandys Storm'. It was a big a/c, possibly a bit too big, but it could carry a lot of stuff. 4 Firestreak AAMs (If replaced with sidewinder, for example,it could have carried at least 8 AAMs)
The wing had 4 30mm ADEN cannon buried in it, and the ammo tanks were HUGE, you could just about get in them and pull the lid back on. Oddly, one thing I remember about the ammo tanks is that they were stainless steel. And of course the two external fuel tanks (Sabrinas), named after a well endowed lady of the time!

I looked after the one in the museum at Cosford for a while. Took some polishing!

All in all, another fine machine buggered by Labour.

Hogdayafternoon said...

Excellent comments, thanks Tony. As for Sabrina, a mate at work can still quote her vital stats off pat, as his eyes glaze over!

Blue Eyes said...

"Wave it like it is"

A recipe for disappointment later on, I find.

Hogdayafternoon said...

Blue: Get it out in the open (I know I have)