Grub Street, Books Reviewed in 2013
Author: Graham Pitchfork
Publishers: Grub Street
Publication Date: 2013
Publisher's Title Information
Twenty-four aircrew who flew the iconic aircraft with the Fleet Air Arm, the Royal Air Force and the South African Air Force (SAAF) relate their experiences and affection for the Blackburn Buccaneer. Arranged in chronological order, the book traces the history of the aircraft and the tasks it fulfilled. In addition to describing events and activities, it provides an insight into the lifestyle of a Buccaneer squadron and the fun and enjoyment of being a 'Buccaneer Boy' in addition to being part of a highly professional and dedicated force.
The introduction into service is fully described before further chapters cover the development of the air force's maritime tactics and the deployment of two squadrons to Germany in the overland strike role. Two chapters deal with the aircraft's stunning successes at the Red Flag and Maple Flag exercises flown in North America which took the USAF hierarchy by storm. A further chapter is devoted to the intensive but little known Bush War operations by 24 SAAF Squadron on the borders of Angola.
Two USAF exchange officers who flew Buccaneers relate their experiences and the aircraft's deployment for the Lebanon crisis and the reinforcement exercise to the Falkland Islands is examined. The introduction of new air-to-surface anti-ship missiles is covered before the Buccaneer left to go to war in the Gulf where it distinguished itself providing precision laser marking for the Tornado force in addition to carrying out its own precision bombing attacks.
This lavishly-illustrated book concludes with accounts of the aircraft's final days in RAF service and some reflections on its impact on maritime and overland air power.
In 2012 author, and ex Buccaneer pilot, Graham Pitchfork received both the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators Award for Aviation Journalism and the Air Power Association Award of the CP Robertson Memorial Trophy for his services to aviation writing
The following information comes from the Commissioning book, “801 SQUADRON Commissioned at RNAS Lossiemouth on 17th. July 1962 and became the first front-line squadron to be equipped with the Royal Navy's low-level strike aircraft, the Blackburn Buccaneer. Before embarking in VICTORIOUS, with the exception of a month in the Ark Royal, they spent time working up. With the rest of the Air Group, they embarked on the 5th August, a week early, and Victorious was soon off Aden and able to start working up again. In due course, as many aircraft as possible were disembarked to RAF Tengah (Singapore) where a flying programme was devised to sort out the temperature problems in the Buccaneer, and a social programme was arranged to remedy the aircrews' temperature problems. So great was the success of this venture, that it was decided to leave behind two aircraft, five sociable officers and a ground party to continue the good work while the remainder re-embarked for the tour around the South China Sea.
Our first visit to Hong Kong found us operating from Kai Tak Airport practising weapon system attacks out at sea and playing with the Army near the border. Play out of working hours included the Squadron Run the first six hundred pints of Tiger were free and then you bought your own; there is no record of the cash sales! And so to Subic, where we had our most intensive period of flying to date, firing missiles and bombing.
When 801 Squadron first embarked in HMS VICTORIOUS the Buccaneer was hardly in an operational state and had been given few clearances, but now the aircraft has begun-to find its feet due to a great extent to the many trials carried out by the Squadron. Although we have not flown as much as we would have liked, there has been a great diversity of roles to fill including photographic reconnaissance, army cooperation, weaponry of various sorts, shipping searches, strikes on the fleet, and on one occasion even bringing the mail on board. A great amount has been achieved by all concerned and we wish all those who follow into the second commission the best of luck.”
As an Intercept Officers' Assistant I spent many happy hours controlling the Buccaneer and I am sure this book will be of interest to ex RAF and RN who remember them well.
More Details on the Grub Street Website