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    • Mike

      PhotoBucket are no longer permitting 3rd party hosting   01/07/17

      As most of you are now painfully aware, Photobucket (PB) are stopping/have stopped allowing their members to link their accumulated years of photos into forums and the like, which they call 3rd party linking.  You can give them a non-refundable $399 a year to allow links, but I doubt that many will be rushing to take them up on that offer.  If you've previously paid them for the Pro account, it looks like you've got until your renewal to find another place to host your files, but you too will be subject to this ban unless you fork over a lot of cash.   PB seem to be making a concerted move to another type of customer, having been the butt of much displeasure over the years of a constantly worsening user interface, sloth and advertising pop-ups, with the result that they clearly don't give a hoot about the free members anymore.  If you don't have web space included in your internet package, you need to start looking for another photo host, but choose carefully, as some may follow suit and ditch their "free" members at some point.  The lesson there is keep local backups on your hard drive of everything you upload, so you can walk away if the same thing happens.   There's a thread on the subject here, so please use that to curse them, look for solutions or generall grouse about their mental capacity.   Not a nice situation for the forum users that hosted all their photos there, and there will now be a host of useless threads that relied heavily on photos from PB, but as there's not much we can do other than petition for a more equitable solution, I suggest we make the best of what we have and move on.  One thing is for certain.  It won't win them any friends, but they may not care at this point.    Mike.

XV107

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  1. Or a Hurricane 'ace': James MacLachlan for any readers who haven't encountered him before...
  2. Sorry, I could've put that a bit better; I meant I took this as a warning sign of something being afoot, and a precursor to the change to concessions - the Hobbycrafts near my house, near my place of work and near my parents' house all stopped stocking Airfix/running the stock down ages ago, with Revell taking over in all three (although their kits were present, playing second fiddle, in one of the stores, IIRC), albeit with slightly reduced stock holding.
  3. It'll probably be a result of Hornby deciding to withdraw the various concessions about the place which they did some months ago. This was done as part of their new financial approach, IIRC (there was a thread on it somewhere here). Hobbycraft hasn't held much in the way of Airfix stock for some time now, at least not in the one which is two minutes' drive from my front door (near-permanent roadworks permitting); pretty much the whole rear wall of the store held a mixture of Airfix and Revell; now it's two shelves width of Revell. The other recent casualty near to me of this policy was Boswells in Oxford. They had an entire section of their toy department (pretty much all of the first floor) devoted to Airfix, Revell, 00 Scale, Scalectrix, Corgi cars, etc, etc. Hornby decided not to go on with this, and the modelling/train/die-cast department is now one shelving run of Revell kits. I wouldn't be remotely surprised if these don't disappear in due course to make room for more Lego, or Cars 3-related stuff.
  4. That was the whole point of Seedcorn - make sure that skills weren't lost amongst a cadre of Nimrod operators so that when the capability was reconstituted, we weren't starting from scratch. Despite large amounts of behind-the-scenes moaning from another service [clue: not the RN] about how MPA weren't needed and the funding should be going on other, much more relevant things [things which we are no longer doing and won't be for the foreseeable future}, rather than irrelevant stuff such as recognising we live on an island, the RAF, with support from 1st Sea Lord, was immovable, and won the argument... The reason you'd have a dedicated OCU in the UK would be because of the cost of using the US system. This may be perfectly OK, but it's the little things which add up over time to make the cost open to scrutiny; this isn't to say that staying in the US would be a bad thing necessarily, just that it's worth looking at. The first question is how many instructors would you want embedded in the US system? We would almost certainly want to have some over there, with a permanent posting. They would need to be accommodated, with families, for a 3-year tour. What happens if life in the US then proves far more attractive than going to Lossie and your experienced people start to PVR, taking jobs with Boeing instead (yes, green card issues, etc, but...). Then the students would have to be posted; if the course is longer than a certain amount of time, allowances become an issue for the Treasury, and the OCU might end up as an accompanied posting (more cost) if it goes on long enough, even if only by [say] three days. We have enough issues with one of the staff courses taught in this country coming very close to tipping the students into being resident on the course (and entitled to housing, etc) rather than attending the course and living in the mess for its duration... Then you have the question of whether the training, tactics and procedures (TTPs) that the USN follows are those which the RAF would wish to follow; if there are any variations, these have to be learned post-OCU. Again, this may not be a bad thing, but it is something which will be considered. Likewise, if the OCU is at Lossiemouth, then you have the instructors available to form crews as required; if you have any instructors over in the US and a crew is (say) short of people because of illness and someone is needed to fill one of the seats, or more people are required because the Russians get a bit active and the aircraft are flying almost constantly, you can't just grab that instructor and put them onto an aircraft to go and fly a sortie... Now, all of these things are 'to be considered'. There is a balance at work here. I don't know the details sufficiently to make any judgement call as to whether remaining under the auspices of the US training system makes more sense financially/operationally/both, or whether it would be better to establish an OCU over here in due course (note that establishing the OCU first isn't always the first step - 617 will form on the F-35 before 207 takes on the OCU role, of course). All of this will have to be considered over the coming months before a decision is made as to whether we have a national OCU, or whether we stay with the current model. I suspect that we will, in due course, form an OCU here in the UK; indeed, it may well be that one of 120 and 201 has an OCU capability to begin with and this then evolves into a separate unit (and a third, retention-friendly set of command opportunities...)
  5. Maquette (via Novo) did a rehash; from what I can recall, the emphasis was very much on the 'hash' bit of rehash (both in that the kit was a bit of a mess and whoever oversaw its production might very well have been smoking the stuff)
  6. I think the answer to your opening question is 'yes'. The reason being that it was pretty clear by the late 60s that we had to replace most of the Lightning force sooner rather than later, and the only viable options were the Phantom or the Buccaneer. Given the state of the economy at the time - foreign exchange for the Phantom would've been tricky - and the political imperative to work with France to try to get them - or more accurately, to begin with, DeGaulle - behind entry to the EEC, then the Jag was necessary under the fourth of Sir Sydney's aircraft dimensions. Arguably, the alternative is an uplift in the Buccaneer buy, giving at least one extra squadron in Germany alongside 15 and 16, plus more Phantoms (most of the latter being obtained by the simple expedient of not cancelling them...). You might faff about a little more, by - say - two extra Buccaneer squadrons in RAFG, with one of those coming from re-equipping an RAFG FBSA¹ Phantom squadron and transferring the airframes to 11 Gp back in the UK, but you need 4 squadrons'-worth of Phantoms to re-equip the fighter force to make it credible for the environment predicted for the 1970s/early 1980s; while Lightnings could form part of the defences, an AD system based entirely on the Lighting by the late 1970s wasn't an AD system worthy of the name. The complicating factor is that the RAFG Lightnings also have to go by the end of the 1970s. That, in turn, means that you look at what might do the job out there - you're not going to get the MRCA ADV in time, so - do you (a.) buy a small number of F-15s, worrying that doing so may kill off your aircraft industry or (b.) say to hell with full sovereign design capacity for fighters, and buy the F-15 to do the full job in RAFG and the UK, despite concerns that it won't handle the anticipated ECM environment in the UKADR as well as you'd like; will need to be the two-seater for that role; will require either a probe adding [more cost as its developed in lieu of the refuelling receptacle] or the purchase of boom-equipped tankers if used in the UK? The answer, probably, is 'no' because of the cost, so you either buy a small number of F-15s (say 60) to do Germany, provide an OCU and a single squadron back in the UK for overseas deployment and supporting the UKADR QRA when not sent off overseas (and where do you base those, and if at an F-15 only airfield, which one, and how much is that extra airfield going to cost?) The end result is that you probably look to have all your fighter, FBSA and FR squadrons equipped with Phantoms and all your attack squadrons equipped with Buccaneers, apart from the 4 (going down to three) Harriers which will provide a different form of offensive support and - if the balloon goes up - a few squadrons of Vulcans lobbing buckets of sunshine about. So as well as that complexity, you also have the fact that the Jaguar was actually pretty good - the original plans, if you look at Flight from the time, had the Tornado GRs replacing the Vulcan squadrons and taking over the strike role in RAFG from the Buccs, thus freeing up airframes for 12, 208 and 216, and enabling the Bucc's service life to be stretched as far as possible.² Thus, our ORBAT by the late 80s under that plan (which didn't survive contact with the Treasury or the loss of Buccs which couldn't be repaired after the 1980 grounding) would've been: 1 - Harrier 2 - Jaguar 3 - Harrier 4 - Harrier 5 - Lightning 6 - Jaguar 9 - Tornado 11 - Lightning 12 - Buccaneer [13 - no-one had really thought about a second TGR recce squadron simply because they'd not thought about a first one at that point] 14 - Jaguar 15 - Tornado 16 - Tornado 17 - Jaguar 19 - Phantom 20 - Jaguar 23 - Phantom 27 - Tornado 29 - Phantom 31 - Jaguar 35 - Tornado 41 - Jaguar 43 - Phantom 44 - Tornado 50 - Tornado 54 - Jaguar 56 - Phantom 64 - Phantom OCU 101 - Tornado 208 - Buccaneer 617 - Tornado What happened, of course, was that the economy was such that the Vulcan squadrons couldn't be replaced - the RAF had to downsize, which meant that there were TGR airframes going spare, which meant that the least capable of the CTOL attack aircraft was always going to be vulnerable in RAFG. Replacing the Jag for nuclear strike with a more powerful aircraft with better avionics was always going to happen, not least since you then had the entire force using one airframe, which was good for maintenance (less good if that type was grounded, but hey-ho..). Throw in the fact that the RAF was always mildly uncomfortable with the thought of part of the RAFG QRA force being maintained by a single-seater (without a navigator to ensure that he set his cockpit switches just so...), and taking the Jag out of service after a fairly short career in RAFG was always likely. Had the Vulcan squadrons re-equipped with the TGR, then I daresay that we'd have seen one of them move to RAFG with a Jag squadron returning to create a 4-squadron force at Coltishall, while the RAFG Jag force concentrated upon conventional weapons delivery and becoming more like the UK-based force. The versatility of the Jag was such that the retention of the three UK squadrons was not in doubt. If the Jag GR3 had materialised in the early 1980s with something like the RB409 (an RB199 derivative which Tony Buttler mentions in the 2nd edition of the British Secret Projects book on fighters), thus giving it more Oomph than the Adour possessed... we can but wonder. ¹ FBSA = Fighter Bomber Strike Attack ² 12 and 216 were the maritime strike squadrons, while 208 had an overland strike capability for the northern flank; to meet (in theory, whether this would have happened in reality is open to question) this, we'd have sent a squadron of Harriers (1 Sqn) to Norway/Denmark, plus some or all of 6, 41 and 54 Sqns, plus 208
  7. Not really, when said jets are plastering the proverbial seven shades out of IS at the moment... The identity of the squadrons involved isn't that hard to work out - it's one of five at the moment¹, possibly gusting to eight over the next couple of years - but there is sufficient aptitude amongst some of our home-grown would-be-jihadi warriors to be able to make an educated guess about individuals whose PERSEC isn't quite as tight as it might be being involved in Op SHADER. The threat can be to families - if I may be forgiven a mildly political observation, let's not forget that these heroes are quite happy to murder and maim children - not least since it's families who sometimes put stuff on Facebook (despite being told not to) about their relatives flying about in Typhoons and Tornados. Also, you'll notice that an awful lot of interviews in Air Forces Monthly these days tend to refer to aircrew by their nicknames or first names. Although squadron bosses tend to get named, not all of them do. Judging threat levels - and these can, under certain circumstances, change within the space of 10 minutes from one to the other and then back again - is a dark art, particularly these days. Better safe, rather than sorry, even if it leads to a spot less colour... ¹ - Obviously, that's just the Typhoons about which we're talking here; but it isn't rocket science to discover the ID of the GR4 and Reaper units either!
  8. It may be a deal along the lines of the RAF's Harriers to the USMC - that the airframes are going to be used as a source of cheap spare parts, etc, to support the current Jag force. That said, HAL has the ability to rework the airframes, as it's arguable that the Indian Jaguar programme is the most successful one they've undertaken to date. If the French Jags aren't too far gone in terms of their fatigue index, it might well be worthwhile subjecting them to the DARIN programme.
  9. There are several lists in the National Archives at Kew which discuss future (i.e. in the 1960s and 1970s) force laydown for the RAF (with some very interesting ideas as to which squadron should get what type of aircraft) which never came to pass. The listing of seniority invariably have some indication as to which squadrons have a standard, so as to allow those reading the documentation to work out instantly which squadrons couldn't be in the running for reformation. In terms of the date of award of standard, this requires a little more digging, but the information is out there. I forget, off the top of my head, whether there is a single consolidated list which tells you that (say) 1 Squadron had its standard awarded in 1943 [but not presented until 1953], while 112's was awarded in 1971 [presented 1972]. Date of actual presentation of the standard could come some time after the date of qualification; in 112's case, the 25 year period was reached in 1969, but the squadron didn't request the award until 1971. The easiest way of checking without a list is to go to http://www.rafweb.org/Organsation/Org-index.htm#Squadrons and go through the histories, noting which units were awarded standards and when. Some squadrons have question marks in the relevant bit of their entry, for example, 37 Squadron (which received its standard in 1964, so the award must have been around 1960).
  10. The rules are always open to flexibility, but the principle that to be considered for reformation, a squadron had to have a standard was laid out in the late 1960s.The rules for Reserve squadrons have always been slightly different, so it isn't impossible - as long as the notion of the Reserve number plate endures - that you might see a squadron which hasn't been awarded its standard re-emerging. I forget if 76 Squadron fits the bill here; when it reformed, it was far from the top of the seniority list and I think lacking a standard - but because it was formed for a specific purpose at Linton on Ouse, the numberplate was chosen on the basis that 76 had an historic link with the station.
  11. On form to date, it'll go like this: Dassault will demand design leadership Germany will say that it requires 400 aircraft so as to get a significant amount of the workshare. Dassault will dig its heels in and say that this is quite unacceptable, since France has greater recent experience of designing fighters than Germany and to give in to the German demands will lead to job losses in France. The programme will come close to collapse. Someone will then realise that the German contribution will involve Airbus, which is, of course, not just a German concern, and whose involvement will benefit both partners, which will in turn lead to Dassault being told to crack on with it. About five years into the programme, rumours will circulate that Airbus doesn't know what it's doing, and that the cost has gone up. About ten years into the progrramme, rumours will circulate that Airbus builds really nice commercial jets, but that it really doesn't know what it's doing with military aircraft. About twelve years into the programme, a minister from one of the two partners will concede that Airbus had some problems with the A400M, but will point out that DASA (as was) was part of the Typhoon programme and is ideally suited to this project. Cynics will observe that the Typhoon took nearly 25 years to get from project MOU to front line service. About fifteen years into the programme, Carlo Kopp will write an article explaining that the new Franco-German fighter is rubbish and that Australia shouldn't even think about buying anything other than the F-22 to replace the Super Hornet. This will be accompanied by another article on Air Power Australia explaining that the cost of putting the F-22 back into production would be entirely worth it. The Germans will then confess that they actually require no more than 150 aircraft, and Dassault will demand a renegotiation of the workshare. Airbus will disagree. The programme will be delayed a little bit further. India signs up to the project. Dassault trumpets that this proves its fighters are the finest in the world, and that it looks forward to negotiating with the Indian MoD. And then gets Airbus to do this so as to avoid the inevitable blame. Reports of a disagreement over workshare for the avionics emerge. The Germans demand that a German company be involved in a critical part of the project, such as the FCS, something which German engineering delivered very quickly on the Typhoon. Press comments that it was delivered quickly simply because it was then handed over to Ferranti, who did know what they were doing, are dismissed as unhelpful Anglo-Saxon propaganda. The first prototype flies. All seems well. A reporter for Flight International claims that the new aeroplane is better than any fighter that has ever flown, and the internet goes into meltdown. The second prototype flies. India announces that HAL will be building all but three of the airframes for the IAF. The Franco-German partnership demurs. India cancels the aircraft on the grounds that the contract award was made as the result of corruption, only for the next government to reinstate it, buying 25% of the originally planned number and reopening the fighter contest. Airbus is blamed for the debacle. Lockheed Martin takes a brochure from the shelf and suggests that it will seek to sell the F-16 Block 250 to the IAF. The first aircraft finally reach the French air force and turn out to be pretty good. The Luftwaffe complains that a piece of masking tape found in the cockpit of one of its first deliveries could cause a fatal accident, and grounds the whole fleet for three months while technicians are given the task of seeing if any more masking tape can be found in places they shouldn't be. Cynics suggest that this may be an attempt by the German government to delay having to pay for the aeroplane. The Germans deny this. A small war breaks out, and the French send their aircraft to the warzone amid much trumpeting and triumph. The new aeroplane flies several well-publicised combat sorties. Only later does everyone realise that some rather ancient Rafales released the bombs because the new fighter isn't cleared for any air to ground weapons yet, and the new aircraft were responsible for taking photographs of each other over some dramatic landscape, while a Rafale can just be discerned somewhere in one of the photos. This is dismissed as unhelpful Anglo-Saxon propaganda. In due course, the German government confirms that the concern over the masking tape was misplaced, and the new jet's safety is not compromised by this. However, the investigation into the masking tape has revealed another serious fault which - oddly - doesn't appear to be found on any of the French aeroplanes, leading to another brief grounding (of the French aircraft) and suggestions that the German government is looking to delay paying for the aircraft. JG71 eventually reaches IOC some 26 years after the start of the programme and 10 years after IOC was envisaged. The first Indian squadron turns up at Ex Cope Thunder 2071, which marks the first occasion upon which the RAF and USAF have the opportunity to see how their new Incom Corporation F-65B Starfighters perform. The Indian media duly reports that their aircraft have a 120-0 kill ratio against the F-65B. The RAF diplomatically suggests that the score might be a teensy bit exaggerated, while the USAF has a serious sense of humour failure and says that the Indians will never be invited to another exercise if they don't stop doing this sort of thing. The Indian defence minister chides the press for misrepresenting the exercise (despite the fact it was his department which fee the press the detail). Commentators suggest that for security reasons, the F-65Bs hadn't been alllowed to switch their cloaking device on, or to use any directed energy weapons, noting that this means that the F-65s didn't, in fact, have any armament options available and were rendered about as threatening as a Goodyear blimp under the exercise ROE. This is dismissed as nothing but a set of excuses by an unlikely combination of a virulently nationalist Indian blogger and the comments page in The Guardian. Aviation and Space Technology Weekly runs an exclusive based upon a leaked email from one of the participants. The world is somewhat alarmed to discover that the email was in fact written by one of the F-65B Starfighters - which is found to have also just set up an Instagram account - rather than by one of the humans involved. Dassault issues a press release claiming that the Franco-German aircraft has been sentient since 2026, long before the Anglo-American aircraft, but is too shy to have a social media presence. Approximately 30 years into the type's service, a balanced analysis of the aircraft finally appears in Volume 28 of International Air Power Review (released with apologies from the publisher about the five decade delay between volumes 27 and 28) and it turns out that the aircraft wasn't as good as the brochure claimed, but not as bad as the internet suggested. A bear, seen exiting some woods with a copy of the Times and a roll of Andrex, is heard to observe that, yes, it is true... the Pope is Catholic.
  12. Hopefully, 120 will make their hangar roof less readily accessible to 201 this time round if they choose to paint the squadron number there...
  13. For those who know what I'm about to say from a previous thread, apologies for the repetition... It's because 120 (along with 617) was awarded its standard by royal command - George VI, no less - ahead of the normal 25 years' accumulated service qualifying limit (only squadrons which have the 25 years can have a standard awarded; these days, no standard means no reformation as a squadron). This has given both 120 and 617 special status, whereby the award of the standard trumps the usual seniority rule. Now, the early award of the standard was, of course, because of its performance in WW2, but the status for both squadrons, while not 100% formal, can be seen throughout the 1950s, 60s and 70s in decisions over squadron numberplates. Phrases along the lines of '120/617 is the most junior of the numberplates under consideration, but the early award of its standard means that...' abound. Of course, what this means is that 120 will be near to the top of the seniority list in the end because it survives/gets reformed and accrues more service, and thus... Also, because of role association, the numberplates available for MPA units are fairly limited unless a numberplate not associated with the maritime role at all is chosen, or 230 is re-equipped with MPA (remember that it used to be a flying boat squadron)
  14. A fair amount. If it forms (there is a debate as to whether it's required) it would be for the instructors; the question of how the instruction/conversion to type is done is the source of the discussion as to whether a third numberplate will be required...
  15. And watch as the UK importer then added further to the price so that a weapons set would cost about the same as an actual precision-guided weapon....