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Flightline Friday: a British Diversity June 24, 2016

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, awesomeness, Flightline Friday, fun, history, non squitur, silliness, Society, technology.

I didn’t really intend to cover British aircraft today – I had thought of doing a post of some Lockheed Blackbird vids – but I found some old links sitting in a long forgotten e-mail and decided to change tack.

Three tales of three different, but contemporaneous, British aircraft.  Bad design limited one, bad policy killed another, while the third went on to a long and relatively successful life in British (and South African) service.

The three aircraft are the English Electric Lightning – which survived the disastrous 1957 Defense White paper of Winston Churchill’s son-in-law Duncan Sandys – the BAC TSR.2, and the Blackburn Buccaneer.

Lightning wasn’t a bad design, per se, but it was a necessarily limited, or compromised, design.  Evolved from a concept for a high-speed research aircraft, while the video below is absolutely correct that Lightning was very fast and could accelerate brilliantly, it doesn’t quite convey how limited the type was by it’s negative combination of two enormously thirsty Avon engines and a tiny fuel capacity.  Not until enormous bulged-on fuel tanks were added in the F.6 marks and above did the fuel situation more than marginally improve (while decreasing performance quite a bit), but the aircraft always had a totally inadequate radius of action.  Nevertheless, it did remain in service for over two decades.

TSR.2 has already been covered a bit on this blog, so I’ll skip over that for now. A really advanced (but terribly expensive) design, there was nothing inherently wrong with the design, really, except that Labour wanted it dead, and had the bad misfortune to get elected at an inopportune time.  If anyone particularly likes the type, a couple more good videos on the BAC product below.  The first is a 75 minute general history of the type, including its tortured political history:

The next is more or less just some fan footage with a bit of audio commentary:

Finally a couple of lovely videos on the Blackburn Buccaneer.  The beginning of the first is most interesting in that it shows both the relatively unknown early mark Buccaneer S.1 (with much smaller Gyron Junior engines, instead of the Spey turbofans that came later), AND my favorite “post-war” British aircraft carrier, HMS Victorious (ordered in 1937!! and serving throughout WWII, it was extensively rebuilt at great cost over the course of the 1950s).  Lovely footage of Victorious, which unfortunately wound up being a little too small even with her extensive additions and modifications.  Note the angle of attack of the Buccaneer S.1 at launch @~0:40:

That blue over white paint job was certainly striking. This last video is more of an overall history of the Buccaneer program:

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