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Blackburn Buccaneer: Why Was It So Popular.

Sat Jun 11, 2005 3:08 am

I have read somewhere that RAF pilots often said things like " There's nothing bad about a Buccaneer" or " Only a Buccaneer can replace another".

Why was this airplane so popular amongst pilots? Why didn't the Canberra enjoy the same popularity?


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dl021
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RE: Blackburn Buccaneer: Why Was It So Popular.

Sat Jun 11, 2005 6:07 am

British pilots loved this airplane because it flew beautiful, it looked beautiful, and it was fast on the deck when carrying a serious load. They only retired them because they were getting old and could only really do one useful mission. The Tornado was not a complete replacement, but it did make the Buc redundant.

I saw a flight of them in SW Asia once....low and fast and loud as hell.


Canberra was not the same airplane, but it's still in service.
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bennett123
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RE: Blackburn Buccaneer: Why Was It So Popular.

Sat Jun 11, 2005 7:39 am

To an extent, the Canberra was a piston bomber with jets.

In the Bomber/Strike role the RAF phased it out years ago.
 
dl021
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RE: Blackburn Buccaneer: Why Was It So Popular.

Sat Jun 11, 2005 9:54 am

Quoting Bennett123 (Reply 2):
To an extent, the Canberra was a piston bomber with jets.

I have to disagree....I believe it was an effort to enlarge the basic accepted Meteor shape into a larger aircraft capable of carrying an effective bomb load. It was intended as a mid-size bomber.
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tnsaf
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RE: Blackburn Buccaneer: Why Was It So Popular.

Sat Jun 11, 2005 1:26 pm

Buccaneer - effective sure, but good looking-not!
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bennett123
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RE: Blackburn Buccaneer: Why Was It So Popular.

Sat Jun 11, 2005 3:24 pm

I would say the same thing about the Meteor except that it was not a Bomber.
 
Kukkudrill
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RE: Blackburn Buccaneer: Why Was It So Popular.

Sat Jun 11, 2005 7:26 pm

I recall reading somewhere that not even an F-15 could catch a Buccaneer at low level.
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Contact_tower
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RE: Blackburn Buccaneer: Why Was It So Popular.

Sat Jun 11, 2005 8:09 pm

US F-15 pilots could not even track Bucs during Redflag the first few times, they only way to track them, was to lock for the dust they kicked up........

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I belive the Buc is the fastest ever stike ac in the low level bracket, with warload.
 
f4wso
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RE: Blackburn Buccaneer: Why Was It So Popular.

Sat Jun 11, 2005 8:38 pm

I wonder how it compares to the F-111 for speed.

The Buc did fly low. There was one at a Red Flag in the 1980's that left an 80 foot scar on the ground but kept on flying.
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ghostbase
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RE: Blackburn Buccaneer: Why Was It So Popular.

Sat Jun 11, 2005 10:17 pm

The Bucc was designed from the outset to deliver a range of conventional or nuclear stores at high-speed low-level attack against the Soviet navy and particularly the 'Sverdlov' class cruisers which were seen as a significant threat to the Royal Navy in the 1950's. For her size and weight she had a very small wing and was designed with the 'area rule' principle in mind which meant also that she could carry large quantities of fuel as well as a large rotary bomb bay. She was as tough as old boots with a core structure of steel forgings and many components milled from solid panels.

Apparently, on paper, the F-111F was faster at low level with a max speed of Mach 1.2 as opposed to the Bucc's Mach .92. However, Mach .92 at low level *was* the Bucc's maximum speed!

The source I am using quotes that the Bucc was actually faster and longer-legged at low level with four 1000lb bombs in the rotating-door bomb bay than an F-111 with a similar load. However the 'Vark had a very useful terrain following radar which gave it a great advantage in many conditions.

Regards the Canberra I always thought that most pilots liked flying the type. When she was designed and first flown the Canberra was a real first for a medium bomber in that she could fly as fast as contemporary jet fighters and in fact operate at higher altitudes, she was pretty manoeverable as well though her light wing loading made her a bit bumpy at low level. I am sure I read a story that when one of the Canberras that was bailed to Martin for the B-57 design to be produced it was flown over New York at maximum height and even though it was being tracked by radar no USAF interceptor could engage it.

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dl021
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RE: Blackburn Buccaneer: Why Was It So Popular.

Sat Jun 11, 2005 11:10 pm

The Buc was not as fast as the Aardvark, and could not keep up through terrain as they did not have the TFR which allowed for closer tolerances, but it was faster than a scalded dog on the ground and its useful load was pretty close to the F-111.

F-111F, 25,000 pounds (11,250 kilograms) with afterburners.
F-111F -- Mach 1.2 at sea level; Mach 2.5 at 60,000 feet.
Up to four nuclear bombs on four pivoting wing pylons, and two in internal weapons bay. Wing pylons carry total external load of 25,000 pounds (11,250 kilograms) of bombs, rockets, missiles, or fuel tanks.

Buc maximum speed 1,000 KPH 620 MPH / 540 KT
Buc weapons...4 Sea Eagles or Martel/AS.30 missile(SAAF) plus 4 1000lb bombs in the rotary weapons bay..LGB capable

Basically the Buc preceded the F-111 in development, and the advantages of the Vark can be accounted for by its relative modernity.

That said, the Buc was a successful carrier aircraft, which the F-111 never was even though it was designed to be, and the Buc was pretty near capable of everything the Vark was under 40kft.

It was a beautiful airplane and faster than hell down on the deck loaded for bear. Worth repeating.
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whitehatter
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RE: Blackburn Buccaneer: Why Was It So Popular.

Sun Jun 12, 2005 6:38 am

Think of the Buccaneer as the SUV of the sky. Go anywhere, do anything and on an extremely stable platform. The design and build people got it just about right when they set out to make a plane which had upgrade potential as well as that much-vaunted construction from solid metal billets.

They were equally successful off the carriers as from the tarmac. Great aircraft.
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bsergonomics
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RE: Blackburn Buccaneer: Why Was It So Popular.

Sun Jun 12, 2005 10:57 pm

According to one of my colleagues (ex-Buccaneer pilot) the aircraft was almost universally loved because when you wanted to have fun, you could, but you could also stick it 6 feet above the waves at 500kts and, "sit back and relax". In the cruise (even at low level) it was an incredibly stable platform, with no 'surprises'. Also, even though it didn't break very often (compared to its contemporaries), if it did then the handling characteristics didn't change much and the failures were easily manageable.

Also, from a pilot's perspective, it's usually more fun flying fast and low than fast and high. Since the Buccaneer was intended to be a low-level aircraft, a large percentage of the training flights were performed at low level. Result: thrilled pilots...
The definition of a 'Pessimist': an Optimist with experience...
 
GDB
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RE: Blackburn Buccaneer: Why Was It So Popular.

Mon Jun 13, 2005 12:15 am

Buccaneer suffered from the 'British curse', not enough updating during it's service life.
To be fair, it was seen as an 'interim' type once the RN's big carriers were phased out.

The Air Staff made a huge error in rejecting the Buccaneer until, after TSR-2 and then F-111K cancellation, they had no choice.

However, once established in RAF service, some improvements happened, in the mid 70's the bulged rotating bomb bay (to carry yet more fuel), Pave-Spike LGB capability, tweaking of the Blue Parrot radar to improve overland performance (this is the point a comprehensive avionic update should have taken place).

A decade later, to see them continue in the maritime strike role until the late 1990's, Sea Eagle ASM and some limited avionic updates happened, however it was never fully funded, so a plan to further upgrade avionics and even to convert some for a 'Wild Weasel' style SEAD role, never happened.

The end of the Cold War looked to spell the end of the Buccaneer with it's main mission of attacking the Soviet surface fleet, but the 1991 Gulf War provided a swan-song, in it's secondary role.
Once the need had been established to concentrate on medium level delivery of LGB's, there was a problem, the Tornado was still awaiting their own designator pods (though the two prototypes of the TIALD pod were sent and used successfully), so the Buccaneers went out to designate using their older 'Pave Spike' system, 6 later 12 aircraft were deployed, later the Buccaneers would swap the self protection AIM-9L for it's own LGB, and start dropping as well as just designating for others.

Going back, the refusal of the RAF to order the Buccaneer sooner, badly affected sales abroad, Germany was very keen for the Maritime role, but asked the question 'if it's so good, why has the RAF not brought it?' as well as a desire to standardize on the F-104 across the board, meant efforts there came to nothing. India was another potential buyer that never ordered.

In 1965/66, when the RN were converting to the S.2 Buccaneer, RAF Germany still relied on Canberra's in the strike role, in a shooting war they'd have been latter day Fairey Battle's, eventually the combination of F-4M and Buccaneers would replace the Canberra's in the 1969-72 period.

In 1966, a RN Buccaneer gave a dramatic demonstration of it's payload/range capability, launched from HMS Victorious in the Irish Sea, flew to and simulated attacking Gibraltar, then back to the carrier, with no in flight refueling.

In 1975, the tiny UK protectorate of Belize, was threatened by the violent military Junta in neighboring Guatelmala, HMS Ark Royal, in mid Atlantic, outside the range of it's F-4K's or any RAF aircraft, Launched 4 Buccaneers, two were tankers, enabling the other two to half way across the pond, get down low, then fly low and fast along the border with Belize and Guatelmala, (the tankers returned to the Ark, refueled, took off again and topped up the returning bombers), this display made the junta pull back, believing HMS Ark Royal was much nearer than it was.
(Soon RAF Harriers, Rapier SAMs' and a reinforced infantry battalion, were deployed to Belize to deter further aggression).

In late 1983, in the wake of the massive suicide bombs against US and French peacekeepers in Beirut, threats were also made against the smaller UK detachment.
RAF Buccaneers were deployed to Cyprus, and in deliberate view of the the world's media, fly so low over Beirut, they were actually flying in between tower blocks, also overflying suspected camps used by terrorists.
Maybe it was coincidence, but the UK peacekeepers in Beirut was never seriously attacked afterwards, for the remainder of their time there.

Buccaneers were finally retired in 1994, not sure how much longer the remaining South African ones operated for after that, (the second batch of 16 Buccaneers had been embargoed when a change of UK Government in 1964 took a tougher line against apartheid, also that was the end of spares support).
 
 
KennyK
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RE: Blackburn Buccaneer: Why Was It So Popular.

Mon Jun 13, 2005 9:26 am

I recall one quote by a pilot that the Buccaneer wasn't so much built as carved out of the solid. I remember when one crashed due to metal fatigue during Red Flag some film was shown of a Buc maneuvering at very very low level in Nevada with cross hairs unable to lock on and an American accented voice in the background whooping incredibly at how agile and fast it was.

Don't forget either that Buccaneers carried out operational missions in the first Gulf war, initially marking targets for Tornadoes then later dropping LGBs themselves. We always seem to keep the best till last, remember Black Buck at the end of the Vulcans reign.
 
bsergonomics
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RE: Blackburn Buccaneer: Why Was It So Popular.

Tue Jun 14, 2005 4:11 am

KennyK,

just a small point - Desert Storm was not the first Gulf War. The Iranians might have something to say about that terminology...

Also, while the Black Buck raids were a useful exercise for the RAF, getting in on what was essentially an RN/Army war, it sent more of a message to Whitehall and the 'Great British Public' than to the Argentinians.

For those of you who weren't aware, the first Black Buck raid happened on the 1st of May 1982, with the intention of bombing the runway at Port Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands, taking off from Ascension Isalnd.

In total, ten Victor tankers supplied themselves and one Vulcan bomber. There were supposed to be two Vulcans (one lead and one spare), but the lead aircraft failed to pressurise straight after take-off. In addition, one Victor got sick right after take-off, one broke the refuelling probe during turbulence and another had a fuel leak on the way home.

However, the target was hit and all aircraft made it home for tea and medals after a 7,500 mile round-trip.

For more details on these incredible missions, see, "The Falklands War 1982" by Martin Middlebrook, published by Penguin Classic Military History.
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GDB
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RE: Blackburn Buccaneer: Why Was It So Popular.

Tue Jun 14, 2005 4:34 am

While 'Black Buck' might have had a heavy morale focus, it must have concentrated minds in Argentina too.

Whilst Argentine Mirage III interceptors had already come off worse in initial clashes with Sea Harriers, still they had the numbers, to perhaps through eventual attrition, in concert with Daggers and possibly Argentine Navy A-4's, to eventually down enough Sea Harriers to make the Task Force untenable.

The major surface units, carriers and transports, would have to withdraw, no British landing, a de-facto Argentine victory.
But after Black Buck, the Mirage III's were only tasked with defending Argentine air bases, against a possible Vulcan strike.
That might have been politically untenable for the UK, but the Junta could not be sure of this, if the UK was crazy enough to launch Black Buck against the Falklands, who knows what they'd try next.

So the Mirage III's stayed pretty much out of the war, the similar Daggers stuck to strike, with orders not to engage Sea Harriers.
The huge numerical advantages enjoyed by the Argentine air arms, at least in terms against the Sea Harriers directly, was nullified.

Of course, had the replacement CVA-01 carriers been built, allowing for deficiencies in it's design (curable before building), each with 18 F-4K, 18 Buccaneers, 4 E-2C (probably by 1982), there would have been no attempt by Argentina on the Falklands in the first place.

Indeed, in 1977, when similar aggressive intentions to invade were apparent, Prime Minister Jim Callaghan (who had served in the RN in WW2), dispatched the nuclear submarine HMS Dreadnought and two Frigates to the area, but of course in 1977, HMS Ark Royal was still in commission, she might have been old, with sometimes temperamental machinery, but 12 F-4K's, 14 Buccaneers and 4 Gannet AEW.3's was still ultimately a credible deterrent.
 
dl021
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RE: Blackburn Buccaneer: Why Was It So Popular.

Tue Jun 14, 2005 5:18 am

Quoting Bsergonomics (Reply 16):
However, the target was hit and all aircraft made it home for tea and medals after a 7,500 mile round-trip

Your post makes it seem that the mission was all tea and crumpets. Wrong. Those guys had to fly one of the longest missions ever to that time over open ocean with little opportunity to divert anywhere about half the time. They were also flying a large and relatively slow bomber into airspace where enemy fighters were known to be operating with numerical superiority.

Quoting GDB (Reply 17):
While 'Black Buck' might have had a heavy morale focus, it must have concentrated minds in Argentina too.

It surely did. The effects of the British displaying their ability to reach out with weapons the Argentines did not have, and the willingness to use these weapons, made the Argentines lose their advantages. There's no way the British should have been able to go that far and take those islands back, but the Argentines were not able to sustain the losses the British were able to dish out first.
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FBU 4EVER!
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RE: Blackburn Buccaneer: Why Was It So Popular.

Tue Jun 14, 2005 6:32 am

Ahhh!... The "Buck"! "Last of the British Bombers"! Aeronautical pulcritude? NOT! "But handsome is as handsome does"! Just a few of the accolades given to this favourite of mine (one of quite a few,actually). An acquaintance of mine flew the "Buck" in the RAF,and the only negative thing he had to say about it was that the cockpit was "an ergonomic slum"! The magnetic compass was located somewhere down,to the left and behind you.Imagine trying to compare your gyro compass with this flying at 50 ft!
The DC-9/MD-80 family of planes has a magnetic compass located somewhere up and behind the co-pilot's head,deeply entrenched in the cockpit ceiling,only viewable through a series of rear-view/forward-view mirrors and a light.Surely the sign of a great airplane! Or am I wrong? Big grin
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KennyK
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RE: Blackburn Buccaneer: Why Was It So Popular.

Tue Jun 14, 2005 8:08 am

There's no point making flying simple or we would all be doing it  stirthepot 
 
JGPH1A
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RE: Blackburn Buccaneer: Why Was It So Popular.

Tue Jun 14, 2005 10:10 pm

When I was in the SAAF (in the 80's), there were Bucc's based at Waterkloof (I can't remember what squadron, possibly 12 Sqn) - I don't remember them ever being tasked with actual combat stuff (although I'm sure they served on the SWA/Angolan border), but they were always going to AFB Pietersburg and Overberg for bombing practise. Loud as hell - sounded like a Mirage III falling down stairs.
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dl021
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RE: Blackburn Buccaneer: Why Was It So Popular.

Tue Jun 14, 2005 11:22 pm

The Bucs did conduct combat missions over Angola, and did well.
http://www.faqs.org/docs/air/avbucc.html
http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/andrewbrooks1/marais.htm

They were used not in their intended role as maritime strike craft but as low level ground attack aircraft, with a reputation for absorbing punishment and bringing the crew home.
Is my Pan Am ticket to the moon still good?
 
GDB
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RE: Blackburn Buccaneer: Why Was It So Popular.

Tue Jun 14, 2005 11:45 pm

Looking at some sites, it seems SAAF retired the Bucc in 1991, about 6 left by then out of 16, (as no support from the UK since the mid 60's probably much of the reduced numbers was for spares rather than all attrition).

The SAAF Buccaneers were a result of the Simonstown agreement, South Africa provided the said naval base for UK use, in turn the UK provided frigates, Shackleton patrol aircraft and maritime strike Buccaneers.
The SAAF Buccaneers differed from UK ones by having two small JATO rockets in the rear fuselage, for hot and high use, as well as provision for French SA)">AS.30 radio command missiles (imagine a larger version of the US Bullpup).

SA)">AS.30 was used by RAF Canberra's in the 60's, deployed to the Mid and Far East, but never fitted to either RAF or RN Buccaneers, they waited for the more modern Anglo French Martel missile.
The AJ-37 anti radar version was used by France, and on Buccaneers, it was on a weapons list for Nimrod and Vulcan, though for the anti-radar later Black Buck missions, US AGM-45 Shrikes were used, Martel had been tested on Vulcan, but not for the hours of cold soak to the Falklands from Ascension Island, so the already heavily combat proven AGM-45 was substituted.
The AJ.168 Martel, was a TV guided version, unique to both the UK and the Buccaneer, imagine a bigger Maverick. The TV/data link for this was carried on one of the wing pylons.
Both were replaced by Sea Eagle.

Already controversial, arms sales to SA were effectively ended by the Wilson government's harder line on apartheid, the Simonstown arms sale only got approved by the Macmillan government as they were for maritime defence not for 'internal suppression'.
One result of this was the second batch of 16 Buccaneers was cancelled.

I understand that SAAF Buccaneers were used in anger, on bombing raids during the Namiba/Angola conflicts.

They also they would have carried an air dropped version of the SA nuclear weapon, (the small SA Nuke arsenal was dismantled in the early 90's), originally developed in the 70's with Israeli connivance, (how charming of them, helping nuke proliferation to rogue states, with tax $ too!).
A suspected test over the South Atlantic in 1979 set this programme in motion, SA got their test, Israel got to test it's 2nd generation, the first being from the first French tests. before DeGaulle expelled any Israeli involvement.

SAAF Buccaneers also were called upon to lessen the effect of oil spill from a wrecked tanker, by bombing it! Using both SA)">AS.30's and unguided rockets and bombs.
THe RN did the same, using Buccaneers against the Torrey Canyon in 1967, along with RAF Hunters.
To the RN's chagrin, this proved less than effective, the press gleefully reported how many bombs missed too, though enough damage was done with plenty of hits.
Better ways have since been found to deal with these incidents since!

(One of our Concorde Capts, rated as the best BA one by many, who left the fleet in the mid 90's, was in the RN in 1967 and was on the Torrey Canyon sortie. In banter with engineers, the ground guys would wind him up by asking how many of his bombs hit the tanker, knowing full well his aircraft had a 100% miss rate!)

Due to the solid technical capability of the SAAF, UK arms embargos had little direct effect, (a full UN one did not come in until 15 years the UK embargo, ignored again by Israel).
So SAAF were able to operate Buccaneers 25 years after UK support was cut off, SAAF Canberras were able to maintain a larger fleet no doubt due to the wide distribution of the type around the world, leading to many more black market spares opportunities as well as being a much less sophisticated aircraft.

I understand a Buccaneer is still flyable in SA, privately owned, one of a number of British 'heritage jets'.
If money was no object, I'd love to be in the back seat of this Buccaneer, low and fast!
 
bennett123
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RE: Blackburn Buccaneer: Why Was It So Popular.

Wed Jun 15, 2005 5:29 am

Given that the Torrey Canyon was not moving and was not shooting back, I found the efforts of the RN/RAF less than impressive.

If you can't hit that sort of target, what chance have you with the real thing.
 
JGPH1A
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RE: Blackburn Buccaneer: Why Was It So Popular.

Thu Jun 16, 2005 6:26 pm

Quoting GDB (Reply 23):
how charming of them, helping nuke proliferation to rogue states, with tax $ too!).

Rogue state ? That's a little harsh. The SA government was only ever really a threat to their own people, if they'd seriously had ambitions against neighbouring states, they could have taken them out by throwing rocks at them for half an hour. I don't think even PW Botha ever seriously considered using nukes, against anyone. It was just good to have.
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Lurch
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RE: Blackburn Buccaneer: Why Was It So Popular.

Fri Jun 17, 2005 12:15 am

Hi GDB try this for a look at the Buc doing its thing along with the EE lightning's and Hunters of Thunder City!

http://www.thundercity.com/

Speak to you on www.concotdesst.com forum bonedriver
 
SATL382G
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RE: Blackburn Buccaneer: Why Was It So Popular.

Fri Jun 17, 2005 1:55 am

I always felt that the Buc was more a contemporary of the F-105 than the F-111. No?
"There’s nothing quite as exhilarating as being shot at and missed" --Winston Churchill
 
GDB
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RE: Blackburn Buccaneer: Why Was It So Popular.

Fri Jun 17, 2005 2:13 am

Well sort of, I think the timelines of the projects were similar, but with very different specs.
F-105 was a USAF tac nuke bomber, as was Buccaneer, but of course Buccaneer was not only a naval aircraft, but one designed to operate off the smaller RN carriers.
Was the absolute focus on low level a F-105 requirement?
Experience in Vietnam would suggest not.
The real US counterpart was the A-6, again low level attack not a priority, Buccaneer had much greater performance, but not the constant investment that A-6 enjoyed.
 
GDB
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RE: Blackburn Buccaneer: Why Was It So Popular.

Tue Jun 28, 2005 2:27 am

To add to Lurch's post above, here is an account of a tourist going for a spin in a Buccaneer in South Africa;
http://observer.guardian.co.uk/travel/story/0,6903,1514725,00.html

If I had the cash would I do it?
Absolutely, including a go on the Lightning as well!

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