Saturday, 28 April 2012

A rant about Vulcans

Sorry but I feel the need to try and correct the re-writers of history.  It started with a Channel 4 documentary and was repeated this morning on the Radio 2 news.  Quote: 'today is the anniversary of the Vulcan raid on Port Stanley - it was necessary to deny the use of the runway by fast jets before the Task Force arrived.'
CRAP, the runway was always too short for any of the Argie jets.  In fact the Vulcan only got one bomb on the runway the rest missed.  This was actually an accepted tactic - to drop them at an angle because if you tried to get them all on you had to be incredibly accurate or they all missed.  They filled in the crater within hours and the runway was in action throughout the war and that is after repeated raids by our Harriers as well.  If anyone wants to take me to task over this - I was the first British helicopter pilot to fly down the runway on the day of the surrender and it was all in one piece.  The photo below was taken on that sortie and you can just about see it in the distance - intact.  If the jets story was true - er, where are they then??  Lots of helicopters and Pucaras but not even an A4 in sight.  I feel strongly about this because we were so disappointed when we saw how intact everything was - we believed the propaganda too.  I actually saw some aerial photos in Hermes a few weeks before showing loads of craters, Harrier made ones that is. What the Argies had were large chalk circles and they shovelled earth in them by day and cleared them by night.  Fooled us all.
Don't get me wrong the RAF guys did an outstanding job and it scared the Bejesus out of the Argies.  But why the repeated claim that it achieved anything more?  What is interesting is that there were actually several more Vulcan raids using an American 'Shrike' anti radiation missiles to try and take out Argie radars.  I don't know how much success these had, we were going to get airborne one night to try and see if some of them had dropped off line using out Orange Crop but is was too foggy.  I can only assume that as they are never mentioned that they can't make up some feasible story as to why they were worthwhile.

The standing joke at the time was 'What's the difference between Mr Spock (Star Trek) and Port Stanley runway.  Answer:  only one's been f****ed by a Vulcan.'

Right rant over.  I've got a bit ahead of myself but more to come about Exocet and some very hair raising flying and that's before we even sail south.


  1. I suspect the Black Buck raids are popular with the media because they were such a major logistical operation. The Victor tankers had to be refuelled in-air, as well as the Vulcans.

    As for the Shrike attacks, two of the Black Buck raids used Shrike. They damaged a long-range radar and a fire-control radar, so not an outstanding success.

    The raids were a massive amount of effort for little real effect, but they probably did have a positive morale effect on the British public.

    1. Yes and then there is the one where the weapon didn't launch and the aircraft diverted to a civilian airfield in Brazil with a hung up anti radar missile hanging off it.............

  2. I have written what is I hope a balanced view on Black Buck including a detailed look at the engineering aspects of runway repair

    Would be interested to hear your views

    You might also be interested in these

    1. Very thorough analysis. I only reported what I saw and my frustration with the publicity (propaganda?) that the Black Buck raids generate to this day. The failed raids never get a mention - do they??!! Even if the runway was long enough for fast jets to take off and land (and we were told it was far too short) there was absolutely no infrastructure to support them. One only has to see how badly the Pucaras fared stuck out in the open to realise it would never have worked. But I think there is another issue. When researching for my book 'Sea Skimmer' I found several references to the Argies original intentions which were to withdraw after about six weeks having 'made their point'. Of course this idea didn't last, as once the UK dug their toes in they couldn't withdraw without losing face. However I suspect this was one major factor why no pre-planning was made and by the time things got serious it was too late.