News Round-Up – August 6th 2017

Viking amphibious vehicle royal navy marines

General News

It’s Time To Stop Stigmatising Muslim Recruits to Army
(HuffPost UK)

Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly has read this grim British WWI novel after every promotion since age 25
(Business Insider)

NATO helps Iraq boost civil-military cooperation in dealing with terrorist challenges
(NATO HQ press release)

New Care Home For Veterans In High Wycombe
(Forces Network)

British Army News

Down GAA to use former British army base as new training centre
(Irish Times)

‘Lessons to be learnt’ over cadets’ rescue – MoD
(ITV News)

Rescued Army cadets “British terrorists in training”, claims republican group
(Belfast Newsletter)

British Army’s White Helmets to disband after 90 years
(Country Life)

UK soldier arrested after fatal car crash at Cyprus base
(BBC News)

Gay SAS soldier claims he suffered anti-gay discrimination
(Attitude Magazine)

‘Whistleblowing’ GP loses legal fight after MOD sacking
(BBC News)

Royal Air Force News

Top RAF test pilot died after ‘series of failings’
(The Guardian)

RAF Sentinel Aircraft Helped In Recapture Of Mosul From Daesh

RAF Valley move Hawks to Llanbedr Airfield
(Aviation Wales)

Historic WW1 plane is restored after 100 years
(WTVY, Dothan)

RAF Regiment training at US airport
(Columbia Basin Herald)

RAF to blow £8m on 100th birthday celebrations despite warnings about lack of staff and £20bn MoD black hole
(The Sun)

RAF weighs training balance as new fleet nears use

Royal Navy & Marines News

Portsmouth Naval Base Improvements Start

British Royal Navy’s HMS Montrose completes machinery and weapons trials
(Naval Technology)

Terrorist who infiltrated Royal Marines and built bombs for dissident Irish Republicans jailed for 18 years
(Mail Online)

Two Royal Navy Sea King Mk5 helicopters are set to be redeployed and will be based on Portland
(Dorset Echo)

Rising tensions in Helensburgh’s cold war with neighbouring Faslane naval base
(Herald Scotland)

Steam Tug Celebrates 90th Birthday With Royal Navy Salute
(Forces Network)

UK MoD awards new Royal Navy contracts to Babcock and BAE Systems
(Naval Technology)

Prince Philip retires: Queen Elizabeth’s husband bows out of public life
(ABC Online)

Disclaimer: All news stories are the property of their respective publishers. Any opinions expressed in the articles are of the person making them. An effort is made to vary news sources as much as possible to avoid political bias.

News Round-Up – July 30th 2017


Here are some of the latest British military news stories making the headlines this past week.

Defence of the Realm News

Hello everyone. Thanks again for coming back to Defence of the Realm. You may have noticed that the amount of content being uploaded has dropped off in the last week. This is because with my daughter having now left school for the summer holidays I have very little time left to focus on researching and writing articles as I spend time with her. Therefore the site will be taking something of a summer hiatus until September regarding new articles. However, I will still be putting up a weekly news round-up section over the weekend as normal to keep you updated with the latest developments.

Thank you again. I wish you all a great summer.

General News

UK launches new mini defense and security review
(Defense News)

Michael Fallon: UK ‘equipped’ to deal with terror threats abroad
(ITV News)

Life inside ‘The Glasshouse’ – Britain’s only military prison
(Plymouth Herald)

UK military chiefs praise transgender troops
(BBC News)

The volunteer army fighting ISIS: US, British and local forces on the frontlines in Raqqa, Syria
(ABC News)

NATO Cyber Defence Centre names new director
(Federal Times)

Government failures see defence chiefs pay record sums for stressed out war veterans

Russian spy plane photographed in the skies over the South West
(Cornwall Live)

Stansted Airport becomes first airport in England to sign up to Armed Forces Covenant
(Braintree and Witham Times)

NASA, BP and the UK Ministry of Defence confirmed for the Commercial UAV Show
(Robotics Tomorrow)

British Army News

How the Government’s big austerity plan to replace regular soldiers with reservists has ‘led to crisis’
(The Independent)

British Army commander discusses means of return in visit with Raqqa Council

Ex-IRA terrorist confesses to bombing Army base 21 years ago

Senior British Army officer with PTSD ‘broke girlfriend’s arm in self-defence’, court martial hears

Former British army commander does not consider ‘taig’ as a ‘term of abuse’
(Irish News)

Royal Air Force News

RAF Typhoon and Tornado jets destroy an ISIS warehouse packed with explosives
(Daily Mail)

RAF Typhoons scrambled to see off two Russian jets racing towards Nato airspace in the Black Sea
(The Sun)

Russia to raise firepower in south to neuter NATO air ‘threat’

US Navy to routinely use RAF Lossiemouth for Poseidon training
(Press and Journal)

RAF upgrading HC4 Chinooks to new HC6A standard
(IHS Jane’s 360)

RAF tanker and US fighter jets nearly crashed as flight controller was distracted by phone call

New leadership for Royal Air Forces Association
(Charity Today News)

Royal Navy & Marines News

HMS America model one of a kind
(Sea Coast Online)

HMS Gleaner ends its survey work in Island waters
(Jersey Evening Post)

Sea Vixen future In question following analysis of belly landing damage
(The Aviationist)

Construction begins on next-gen Royal Navy frigate

Disclaimer: All news stories are the property of their respective publishers. Any opinions expressed in the articles are of the person making them. An effort is made to vary news sources as much as possible to avoid political bias.

News Round-Up – July 23rd 2017

Royal Navy submarine service

Here are some of the latest British military news stories making the headlines this past week.

General News

Amid Brexit, Germany and UK to expand defense cooperation
(Defense News)

Ministers ‘undermined law’ over Iraq war crimes allegations

US ‘closely tracking’ as Chinese navy in the Baltics for war games with Russia

USAFE and European partners seek common ground in integrating F-35
(Stars & Stripes)

A Ministry of Defence official accidentally dropped a £1000 submachine gun off the side of a boat
(Business Insider UK)

Britain risked offending Saudi Arabia by smuggling in Christmas trees ahead of Gulf War
(Daily Express)

British Army News

How British soldiers are protecting endangered elephants from vile extremist poachers
(Daily Express)

Royal Welsh Regiment to head to Estonia
(IHS Jane’s 360)

Terror fears as jihadis try to join British Army – 250 recruits fail security checks
(Daily Star)

Newly released FCO files reveal British Army had direct involvement in June 1984 Sikh genocide

Royal Air Force News

RAF to allow women to serve in close combat roles
(IHS Jane’s 360)

UK to drive down Typhoon operating costs to match F-16

Red Arrows pay touching tribute to brave Bradley Lowery by making blue heart in the sky to remember the brave football mascot
(Daily Mail)

Centre wing box replacement deal supports RAF’s Hercules

Inzpire to support Protector RPAS training development
(Shepard Media)

Corrie McKeague father left heartbroken as landfill search for missing son ends
(Herald Scotland)

Prince Harry presents new Colour to RAF regiment in anniversary year
(Daily Express)

Royal Navy & Marines News

HMS Duncan in show of force for Russian spy ship in the Black Sea
(The Times)

Royal Navy escorts China’s warships ready for Russian war drills out of English Channel
(Daily Express)

Construction begins on £3.5bn fleet of Royal Navy frigates – and the first to sail will be HMS Glasgow
(The Sun)

BAE Systems and Tods Defence announce the award of the Type 26 Frigate bow sonar dome contract 

Royal Navy divers recover famed “Bouncing Bombs”

Royal Navy Wildcat helicopter returns after training aboard German Navy frigate
(Naval Technology)

Emotional farewell to the Royal Navy’s ‘Good Boat’ HMS Torbay
(Devon Live)

Disclaimer: All news stories are the property of their respective publishers. Any opinions expressed in the articles are of the person making them. An effort is made to vary news sources as much as possible to avoid political bias.

Forgotten Aircraft: Avro’s First Bombers (Part 2)

<Avro’s First Bombers (Part 1)

The Avro 549 Aldershot

AvroHaving expanded exponentially over the previous four years, the end of the war in 1918 and the vicious cull of advanced aircraft projects for the still infant Royal Air Force threatened the very existence of the plethora of British aircraft manufacturers that had emerged. Even producing some of the war’s most legendary aircraft was no guarantee of survival as was proven by Sopwith who having made a name for themselves with their Camel and Pup fighters, disappeared in 1920 after entering voluntary liquidation and then having their assets absorbed by Hawker.

The name A. V. Roe (Avro), had become most associated with trainer aircraft during the war and so was less of a household name than the more glamorous manufacturers like Bristol, Sopwith or the Royal Aircraft Factory. This overshadows the importance of types such as the Avro 504 trainer to the war effort which as well as being used as a warplane in its own right, produced thousands of pilots for the front. Avro used this experience after the war to begin producing sporting aircraft for the civil market to be bought up by many of the demobilised military pilots who wanted to keep flying. This would then generate the money to keep it functioning while waiting for impending lucrative government contracts.

An early success story for the company came in the form of the Avro 534 Baby which went on to take part in numerous races and set distance records at the hands of the “Australian Lone Eagle” Bert Hinkler. On May 31st 1920 he made a non-stop flight from Croydon to Turin, a distance of 655 miles, in 9 hours 30 minutes. Another Avro Baby made the first ever flight between London and Moscow in 1922 while another example was expected to support Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated Antarctic expedition but vital components for the aircraft failed to arrive in time before he set off.

Avro 555 Bison carrier aircraftUnfortunately, these technological successes failed to truly translate in to financial success and Avro was forced to sell off much of its land holdings it acquired during the war in order to keep the company going. In 1921, Avro secured one of the few highly coveted government contracts when it’s Avro 555 was selected to meet a requirement for a carrier-capable reconnaissance and gunnery spotting aircraft. A total of 53 Avro 555 Bisons were eventually built in two main variants and helped keep Avro’s foot in the government’s door.

In 1920, the Air Ministry began finalising the specifications for a new interim bomber to replace a number of the RAF’s wartime types still in service. The new specification was quietly centred around a possible war breaking out with France now that Germany and Austro-Hungary ceased to be any real influence on the continent. France was increasingly feeling threatened by the influence the British Empire’s economy had on the world stage much to her own detriment while Britain was suspicious of France’s resistance to disarmament efforts. As a result the specification envisioned a bomber powered by the Rolls Royce Condor engine that was capable of carrying a 1,800lb bomb in excess of 500 miles so that it could attack targets in and around Paris from bases in south-east England.

Whereas during the war, the time between drawing board to prototype to production order could be measured in just a few months there was now less urgency which allowed engineers more time to perfect their designs before construction began. It also allowed the Air Ministry to be a little more fussy about selecting designs to be funded at prototype level. Avro was one of a small number of companies who responded to the requirement which had garnered some controversy amongst RAF and aviation industry leaders over its use of only one, albeit powerful, engine when at least two was the norm for an aircraft of this type.

The thinking behind the Air Ministry’s decision was that the single-engine shape should allow for higher levels of performance while aircraft with two or more engines were often more costly, more problematic, more unreliable or in some cases their performance was simply lacking compared to single-engined types. Opponents argued however that two or more engines increased reliability and survivability in the air and that the technology was advancing to overcome these shortcomings albeit at greater expense.

Avro and De Havilland were both shortlisted and given contracts to produce prototypes for testing. Avro’s design was for a three bay biplane with wooden wings and a steel-framed fuselage covered in plywood and fabric. It had a wingspan of 68ft, a length of 39ft and was nearly 15.5ft tall sitting on four large main wheels when on the ground. The crew comprised of a pilot, navigator/bomb-aimer and up to two defensive gunners armed with .303 (7.7mm) Lewis machine guns; one in the rear fuselage and one in the ventral position although the latter position would seldom be used. As dictated by the Air Ministry, the new aircraft was fitted with the Rolls Royce Condor V-12 engine. This was a more powerful development of the earlier Rolls Royce Eagle which powered the Vickers Vimy bomber but could churn out around 650hp.

The new Avro aircraft was given the in-house number of 549 before adopting the name “Aldershot” and the prototype, J6952 made its first flight during October 1921 from Hamble Aerodrome in Southampton. There was little time to celebrate however for De Havilland’s aircraft, which was now known as the DH.27 Derby, achieved its first flight within days of the Aldershot. Testing of both aircraft began which for Avro revealed poor directional control from the tail resulting in the aircraft being taken back to the factory to have a 6ft extension added to the rear fuselage to alleviate the problem. The landing gear was also later revised which saw the two inner wheels removed.

Avro Aldershot III J6952

These improvements were made to the second prototype whilst it was under construction. At this time, the Air Ministry began revising its specification regarding the offensive armament the aircraft was expected to carry. Originally it was expected to carry a single 1,800lb bomb but this was changed to either four 500lbs or eight 250lbs. Fortunately, this didn’t require major modifications and the Aldershot could carry the four 500 pounders externally while a bomb bay allowed it to carry the smaller weapons internally which decreased drag significantly.

The De Havilland Derby on the other hand had to carry all its weapons externally which hampered the aircraft’s performance that was already at a disadvantage to the Aldershot being 420lbs heavier while powered by the same engine. Comparing the two aircraft through 1921 it was obvious the Aldershot was the superior type and on January 26th 1922, Avro was awarded a contract for 15 production aircraft built to Aldershot III specification that was essentially the same as the second prototype.

With the conclusion of the test programme, it was decided to adapt the first prototype to undertake trials with the Napier Cub engine. This had the potential to be an awesomely powerful aeroengine for the time being the first in the world to churn out 1,000hp and like the Aldershot was developed in response to the Air Ministry’s interest in large, powerful single-engined bomber types. It achieved this figure with 16 cylinders arranged in an “X” pattern with the bottom rows angled more narrowly than the ones on top to Avro Aldershot II Napier Cubease the pressure on the crankshaft.

In order to accept the 35% more powerful engine, the Aldershot’s airframe had to be considerably strengthened and the nose section had an extra set of exhaust pipes to expel the gases from the lower bank of cylinders (Right). The original two-blade propeller was replaced with a large four-bladed prop each blade of which was 18in at its widest point.

Known as the Aldershot II, the Cub-powered aircraft first flew on December 15th 1922 and was at that time the most powerful single-engined aircraft in the world; something Avro was quick to publicise. Some of Avro’s own literature started referring to the aircraft as the Avro “Cub” although this was not officially adopted and they claimed a top speed in the region of 140mph. This was 30mph faster than the regular Condor-powered Aldershot III that the RAF was taking on charge but this speed came at the cost of reduced endurance.

The RAF began to receive their first operational Aldershot IIIs in July 1924 with the aircraft being taken on charge with No.99 Squadron based at RAF Bircham Newton. Delivery had been delayed by the adoption of the newer Condor III engine but the 15 aircraft ordered was enough for the squadron to form two separate flights during that summer. No.99 Squadron used the aircraft primarily for the night bombing role although unusually they flew in the silver colour scheme that was adopted by day units of the time.

Avro Aldershot III

Conceived as an interim type until more advanced aircraft were available, the Aldershot was never going to have a stellar career in the RAF but the increasing dissatisfaction with both it and the thinking behind its conception conspired to doom the aircraft to having one of the shortest frontline careers in the service’s history. Confidence in the single-engined heavy bomber concept proved short lived but even more damning was that for all its technical innovation, the Aldershot was little better (and sometimes worse) than the wartime types it was expected to replace. With the RAF deciding against any further acquisitions,  No.99 Squadron would gain the somewhat unique distinction of being the only frontline operator of the type in history. They would relinquish their last Aldershots in March 1926, just 20 months after they first arrived, replacing them with Handley Page Hyderabads.

The first prototype and the sole Aldershot II, J6952 would actually outlive the production types it spawned. It continued testing the Napier Cub engine until late 1926 by which time its development was cancelled after just six engines had been built. J6952 was then re-engined once again, this time with the Beardmore Typhoon I slow-revving engine. This engine aimed to produce higher power with lower revolutions than a standard aeroengine. J6952 was redesignated as an Aldershot IV and first flew with the Typhoon on January 10th 1927. Testing showed that the new engine gave the aircraft a much smoother ride than either the Condor or Cub engines but government support for it was already fizzling out and no production order was made.

This brought an end to the story of the Avro Aldershot itself. It formed the basis for the Avro Andover flying ambulance and transport aircraft but like its forebear, the Andover was less than spectacular and only four were built. Experience gained with the Aldershot would influence some of Avro’s later design work but the aircraft itself occupies a mere footnote in aviation history.


News Round-Up – July 15th 2017

Eurofighter Typhoon FGR.4 Brimstone

Here are some of the latest British military news stories making the headlines this past week.

General News

Watch: Highlights from day one of Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford
(Gloucestershire Live)

North Korea’s biological WAR: Jong-un’s kingdom weaponises deadly diseases to smash enemy
(Daily Express)

HMS Queen Elizabeth will go ‘straight to the bottom of the ocean’ without greater protection, retired RAF chiefs warn
(Daily Telegraph)

UK Defence Ministry to modernise information infrastructure

British, Israeli militaries conduct joint emergency drill

Leonardo, Airbus to bid for UK ‘Top Gun’ training deal

British Army News

British Army to keep vehicle depot in Germany
(IHS Janes)

British Army slams misuse of band uniform during Twelfth parade
(The Irish News)

Germany tries ex-IRA terrorist for ‘trying to bomb Army base’
(Daily Express)

Memorial moment for Welsh fallen in three conflicts

Royal Air Force News

Air Power 2017: RAF looks to regain competitive edge
(Shepard Media)

Fallon to announce defensive upgrades for Typhoon fighters

British RAF to begin recruiting women for ground close combat roles for first time
(Airforce Technology)

Squadrons for RAF Lossiemouth’s new aircraft announced

Sir Michael Fallon hails £120m investment in UK air power
(Belfast Telegraph)

Eurofighter Typhoon Test Fires Brimstone Air-to-Surface Missile

Royal Navy & Marines News

BAE Systems awards contracts to 14 companies for British Royal Navy’s Type 26 ships
(Naval Technology)

UK’s most expensive military assets ‘increasingly vulnerable’ to cheap missile attacks by Russia and China

Trident factory upgrades costs double original budget

British navy vessel arrives in Doha to take part in joint exercise
(The Baltic Post)

Navy minesweeper back at home port after ‘very successful’ NATO deployment
(Herald Scotland)

Eastney Falklands Yomper statue move to museum dropped

Disclaimer: All news stories are the property of their respective publishers. Any opinions expressed in the articles are of the person making them. An effort is made to vary news sources as much as possible to avoid political bias.

News Round-Up – July 9th 2017

HMS Ocean

Here are some of the latest British military news stories making the headlines this past week.

General News

Argentinians plot to raid Falklands and plant their flag on British soil

Fallon: Break with European Union gives UK more flexibility to deal with Russia

This is why women in the armed forces are celebrating today
(Marie Claire)

Tight budgets and imminent Brexit threaten Britain’s armed forces

Lawrence of Arabia fans solve WWI mystery
(Rutland Herald)

British Army News

Army intelligence targets Russia’s fake news in Poland and the Baltic states

The British Army, ATDU, and DSTL to discuss survivability for combat vehicles
(EU Business)

Ex-British Army chief accuses defence chiefs of breaking the law by failing battle-scarred troops with PTSD
(The Sun)

Public viewing soldiers as victims risks damaging Army, says Chief of the General Staff

Ruth Davidson hits out at SNP over ‘vitriolic tirades’ after she was made honorary colonel

Deadly Legionnaire’s disease found in showers at barracks of Queen’s Buckingham Palace guards where hundreds of soldiers live

Policeman speaks of abuse at hands of evil Army Cadet boss
(Birmingham Mail)

Royal Air Force News

Weapons in the Tornado-Typhoon Transition: Shaping a Way Ahead
(Second Line of Defence)

Italian Typhoons to replace RAF on NATO southern policing duties

Squadron which will train F-35 Lightning pilots at RAF Marham announced
(Eastern Daily Press)

Bangladesh to buy two RAF C130J transport planes
(Defense World)

Norfolk firms benefiting as contracts are handed out for £27m RAF Marham upgrade
(Eastern Daily Press)

Royal Navy & Marines News

Royal Navy’s Fleet Flagship HMS Ocean make final voyage through Sunderland
(The Sun)

Merlin first to land on Royal Navy’s biggest warship

HMS Montrose completes refit
(Plymouth Herald)

Royal Marines participate in Exercise Green Dragon to test battlefield logistics
(Naval Technology)

Faulty doors on new £3billion Royal Navy warship injure sailors
(Daily Record)

The Royal Navy photographer of the year 2017 – In pictures

Disclaimer: All news stories are the property of their respective publishers. Any opinions expressed in the articles are of the person making them. An effort is made to vary news sources as much as possible to avoid political bias.