Saturday, January 25, 2014

Vulcan 607

I finished reading the book Vulcan 607 this week. It's the story of the RAF's first sortie that opened the Falklands War. The V bombers were developed in the 1950s as Britain's nuclear deterrent fleet of aircraft. There was the Vickers Valiant, the Avro Vulcan and the Handley Page Victor. The book tells the true story of a daring plot to bomb Stanley airfield to prevent it from being used by the Argentinian fast jets. If the airfield was fully operational, the fast jets would be a real threat to ships of the fleet task force and marines on the ground. Strategically then, it was an important target.
The imposing delta wing shape of the Vulcan bomber looks amazing but the range of the Falklands from the nearest neutral base on Ascension Island required several air to air refuelling brackets. The book is largely about the struggle to firstly refit the aircraft to be able to refuel in the air, of training of the pilots in air to air refuelling and low level flying. The bombs for blasting into a runway are very different to nuclear bombs and different bombing tactics are required. The weight of conventional bombs is different as well. The electronic warfare equipment of the 1950s and 1960s was also different to the modern electronics in the 1980s. To jam the Argentine radar, the Vulcan had to be equipped with something called a DASH 10 jamming pod.
The book was a good read and made a nice change from novels. I subsequently found a Youtube video of the story too, you can watch it below.

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