Role: Two seat low level strike aircraft
Manufacturers: Blackburn Aircraft Ltd, Brough and Holme on Spalding Moor
Power Plant: 2x Gyron Junior 101 turbojets (7,100lbs thrust)
Wingspan: 44ft (20ft folded)
Length: 63ft 5ins (51ft 10in folded)
Height: 16ft 3ins
Weight: 45,000lbs (loaded)
Max Speed: 720mph
Range: 500-600 miles
Armament: 8,000lbs (4,000lbs internally/4,000lbs on external pylons)
The Blackburn Buccaneer entered Royal Navy service in 1962 with No.801 NAS and began replacing the Supermarine Scimitar in the strike role. Initially limited to the conventional attack role, from 1965 the aircraft became cleared for the tactical nuclear strike mission carrying Red Beard and WE.177 free-fall nuclear bombs. These weapons were carried internally in the Buccaneer’s small bomb bay. For this role the Buccaneers adopted an all over anti-flash white paint scheme similar to the RAF’s V-Bomber Force. A total of two RN squadrons were equipped with the Buccaneer S.1 as well as a single shore based training unit. More had originally been planned but the drawdown of the carrier force curtailed a large scale acquisition.
Although liked by its pilots the S.1 was not without its problems. The Gyron Junior engines were notoriously underpowered given the weight of the aircraft and the demands of a carrier launch. In some circumstances, such as having a heavy bombload, it lead to the aircraft taking off the deck with half a fuel load and then being immediately having to be refuelled in the air by a Scimitar, Sea Vixen or RAF tanker. This drawback lead to a need to re-engine the aircraft. The new engine was the Rolls-Royce Spey turbofan which was already fitted to the RN’s Phantom FG.1. This necessitated enlarging the intakes and this became a recognition feature for distinguishing between the S.1 and the Spey powered S.2.
The Buccaneer S.1 was replaced entirely by 1970 with the Spey powered S.2 version. A single example can be viewed at the Carrier Experience Exhibit at the Yeovilton Fleet Air Arm Museum.