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April 30, 2007

The English...

...always muddling through.

The first thought that crossed the mind of Flt Lt Martin Withers, precisely 25 years ago today as he brought Black Buck 1 up to attack height for his bombing run on Stanley airfield, was: "This isn't cricket."

The lights were on all around the only concrete runway on the Falkland Islands, and it was clear to the RAF bomber pilot that he had taken the Argentine invaders completely by surprise.

"It somehow seemed wrong to be dropping 10 tons of bombs on these people who apparently had no idea we were coming," Mr Withers, now 61, remembered.

"It seemed a rather nasty, cold-blooded thing to do."

...

To fly a Vulcan to Stanley required the help of all of the 14 Victor refuelling tankers that the RAF possessed.

The V-bomber was intended only for low-level attacks carrying nuclear weapons against the Soviet Union.

To adapt the Vulcan to air-to-air refuelling and to conventional bombing - required finding various bits and pieces that had not been used for decades.

Some were reclaimed from museums.

"One part they needed for the bomb-aiming equipment was being used as an ashtray in the engineers' mess at Waddington," said Mr Withers, who is now a pilot for Zoom, a new no-frills airline flying across the Atlantic from Gatwick.

"Elements of the preparation for those flights were Heath Robinson in character."


April 30, 2007 in The English | Permalink

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Comments

""It somehow seemed wrong to be dropping 10 tons of bombs on these people who apparently had no idea we were coming," Mr Withers, now 61, remembered."

It might feel 'wrong', but it's a hell of a lot safer than dropping them on people who do know you're coming!

Posted by: JuliaM | Apr 30, 2007 9:29:28 AM

If that was a description of the sad state of the British military 25 years ago, what about now? With the newly-announced initiative to bludgeon the Navy down to 3rd world status, the UK will soon be at the mercy of France. meh.

Posted by: skh.pcola | Apr 30, 2007 4:09:03 PM

"The V-bomber was intended only for low-level attacks carrying nuclear weapons against the Soviet Union"

Much fairer. Even fewer civilian casualties.

Posted by: dave heasman | May 1, 2007 12:33:28 PM