Letters to the Editor
From Air Commodore S A Baldwin MBE
I enjoyed the article titled “Vulcans Versus Air Defence Radars in the Falklands” in the last Newsletter. There was a nicely written preface to the article, for which you gave me the credit. I did not write it, and modesty, and the fact that the real scribe is a good friend dissuade me from accepting the plaudit. The preface was written by Group Captain Barry Smith, who was the navigator plotter on the Vulcan Black Buck Shrike sorties.
I can, though, offer a little more background information on the Vulcan’s Shrike sorties. The sorties were launched at the behest of the Royal Navy Task Force Commander, Rear-Admiral Woodward. The Argentinians had a TPS-43 Search Radar deployed on the Falklands, and Admiral Woodward was desperate for it to be put out of action. The radar was being used to track our Sea Harriers, and this gave the Argentinians a very good indication of the position of our Naval Task Force. This information was used to direct the Argentinian aircraft towards the Task Force, and if possible away from the Sea Harriers.
The AGM-45 Shrike was an American Anti-Radar Missile that was used extensively in the Vietnam War from the mid-1960s. It was a relatively small weapon with a warhead containing only 149lbs of explosives and burning phosphorus. Our weapon of choice for the Vulcan would have been the Martel Anti-Radar Missile, which was a much larger weapon with a 330lb warhead, and which would have obliterated the TPS-43 Radar. Unfortunately, the missile had a serious deficiency. The missile had been designed for carriage on relatively short range aircraft, and the long cold soak during the transit on the Vulcan’s wing from Ascension Island to the Falkland Islands would have been very likely to adversely affect the missile’s systems. The Martel would probably have malfunctioned. The TPS-43 Radar was located very close to Port Stanley town, and a malfunctioning missile might have hit the town, and that would have been a serious and possibly tragic own goal.
Destruction of Enemy Air Defences (DEAD) was a completely new role for the Vulcan, and to achieve a high probability of hitting the target with the Shrike, the Vulcan had to be flown more like a tactical fighter than a strategic bomber. The Shrike attacks were at night, and the Shrike had to be released in a 20 degree dive attack with the aircraft aimed at the target.
Editor’s note: mea culpa. That will teach me to read emails more carefully. My apologies to Barry Smith for the error in attribution.
From Mr Don Gibson (by email)
I was privileged to be given a flight in a Vulcan Mk2 during a summer ATC camp in 1967 and wondered if any of your members can recall the occasion. I was 19 and a cadet Flt Sgt at the time . The flight was in July or August 1967 and we were buzzed by some Lightnings. We flew at1900 hrs for 5 hours after eating in the QRA mess. The experience is envied by both of my sons who were in the RAF as was my dad. He served for 37 yrs including tours on Wellingtons during the war. He finished as a Navigator instructor at Finningly.
From Adrian van Zantvoort (by email)
Subject: Proposed 44 Sqn memorial 22 June 2019 Riethoven
Glad I found you. With the Riethoven historical Society we will erect a memorial in memory of a 44 Sqn Lancaster LM592 lost 21/22 June 1944 on his way to the target area Wesseling oil plant. The entire crew was killed. I am in touch with almost the entire crew relatives and many of them are attending the unveiling of the memorial. We hope that a representative of 44 Sqn will also attend the memorial unveiling.
Best regards and I look forward to hearing from you.
Adrian van Zantvoort
Editor: if anyone would like to attend this event at Riethoven on 22 June 2019, please contact Adrian van Zantvoort at email@example.com.
From Dave Wrighton (by email)
I’m not sure if these pictures are of use to you. My uncle, Pilot Officer Leslie Prendergast was navigator (I think) on the final flight to Penemunde. I have found some old pictures in my mothers belonging (she was his elder sister) that I have enclosed of the crew. I think the first one may include fitters. My uncle is in all four (obviously).
From our Twitter Feed
The following was posted on our Twitter page by Mark Mandale.@Thunderbolts_44.
My grandad (below centre) flew with 44 Squadron as Air Gunner. Here is his log book the night Hampden P2123 ditched off the Norfolk coast 01/09/40. Pilot D A A Romans’ (DFC) account also included (via a link on Twitter to the book Through Footless Halls of Air). One of the engines was dredged up and is in Norfolk & Suffolk air museum!
Corporals Cross, Mandale and Scott
The entry in Cpl Mandale’s log book
From Mike Hines
Tony Smith (9 Sqn Waddington, 1976-1982), now retired, is organising a Vulcan ‘Get Together’ for all ex- Vulcan personnel on Saturday 6th July 2019 at the Lincoln Rugby Football Club, Longsdale Park, Lodge Lane, Lincoln, LN2 2RS. There will be advertisements in the Lincoln Echo and Supplements closer the time. There is likely to be a nominal charge of about £5 per person to cover the cost of food etc. He will wish to know if you will be attending alone or accompanied by your wife or partner. If you are interested would you please contact Tony Smith by telephone on his home number of 01243 553079, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, for more information.