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canberraman

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About canberraman

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  • Birthday 02/16/1962

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    Huntingdonshire, U.K.
  • Interests
    Bombers, tankers, recce, transports, most multi engine types

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  1. Chaps Thanks for the comments and likes. Jabba - that's an interesting story regarding XH170's tailplane, especially the hidden bird's nest! I wonder how long she will remain on gate guard duty given the elements causing corrosion and the Joint Forces Command's occupancy of Wyton now. Mark
  2. Part 3 of my 6 part series on the aircraft and operators at RAF Wyton - 1980-1995, covers No 1 PRU/39 Sqn and the ultimate production Canberra, the PR.9 reconnaissance platform. 39 Sqn arrived at RAF Wyton in September 1970 following relocation from RAF Luqa, Malta. In its various guises, it was the longest serving Canberra unit at Wyton remaining there until December 1993. With Wyton’s closure as a flying station looming, the then 39(1 PRU) Sqn, moved to RAF Marham where it served for a further 13 years, being the last RAF operator of this venerable aircraft. By the early '80s, from when this article covers, 39 Sqn had 15 examples on strength. In January 1982 following a round of UK defence cuts, 39 Squadron was reduced to half strength before formally disbanding in May that year. Following the end of the Falklands War, three ex 39 Sqn PR.9s were supplied to the Chilean Air Force. The remaining flight strength unit at Wyton (with an establishment of five PR.9s) was redesignated as 1 PRU (Photo Reconnaissance Unit) and continued much as before, though it lost its tactical reconnaissance commitments. Much of the unit’s role during the 80s was primarily survey photography, the majority of which was at medium and high altitudes. The unit regained its traditional identity as 39 (1 PRU) Sqn on July 1st 1992 and moved to RAF Marham in December 1993. Although by then in the twilight of its career, with successive capability upgrades, the PR.9 then served until retirement in 2006, in a range of operational or humanitarian theatres including Rwanda, Kosovo/Bosnia and Afghanistan. Canberra PR.9 XH175 in original 39 Sqn markings, seen on exercise at Eggebek in June 1980. Another shot of XH175 from June 1980, this time at its home station RAF Wyton. 39 sqn Canberra PR.9 XH168 at the 1980 Mildenhall Air Show held 23/24 August that year. Canberra PR.9 ‘341’ (ex XH166) was one of three such former 39 Sqn aircraft supplied to the Chilean Air Force (FACh) Escuadrilla de Reconocimiento / Grupo de Aviación 2, on 15 October 1982. The type served the FACh until retirement in the mid 90s. Although one aircraft (342) was lost in FACh service, the remaining two have been preserved at Santiago Los Cerillos Chilean National Air and Space Museum. 341 is seen in 2000 awaiting restoration. By now wearing 1 PRU badges, XH165 is seen at Wyton in May 1987. Also wearing 1 PRU badges, and in the former gloss dk green, dark sea grey, medium sea grey scheme, is XH174 photographed at Wyton in November 1988. XH168/AB of 1 PRU in the later hemp over Light Aircraft grey c/s seen at Wyton in May 1989. XH169/AC of 1 PRU at Wyton in May 1989. A quite rare photo that shows this particular PR.9 fitted with the US supplied System III border surveillance photo recce fit in the enlarged fuselage centre section. XH134/AA of 1 PRU seen at RAF Alconbury Air Tattoo in August 1990. This undated photo shows 1 PRU PR.9 XH135/AG taxying out for a Runway 27 departure at RAF Wyton. PR.9 XH135 seen at Wyton in November 1991 wearing a 13 Sqn fin badge. These markings were only retained for a couple of weeks to allow an air to air photo shoot with a 13 Sqn Tornado to commemorate the squadron anniversary. XH131/AF of 39(1 PRU) Sqn at RAF Mildenhall Air Fete in May 93. Note the forward opening hinged nose to allow access to the navigator’s station. The winged bomb emblem of 39 sqn seen on the fin of XH131. XH131/AF seen arriving at RAF Mildenhall Air Fete 1993. XH134/AA in July 93. Note the line up of Canberras in the background that had recently been withdrawn from use and were in open storage at Wyton. Wyton Gate Guard. Former 39 sqn PR.9 XH170 as she looked in July 2001. Hope you're not getting too bored of Canberras yet! Just another 3 more instalments to go. As always c&c is greatly appreciated. Mark
  3. Smashing! A terrific rendition of the old growler. Mark
  4. Thanks for the comments Timbo. Regarding further close up airframe shots, I think I've got some 100 Sqn and 1 PRU tail shots that will appears in Parts 3 and 4. Mark
  5. Jabba Thanks for the reply. Gutersloh makes sense and is a good suggestion. Chris, AD210, and all who have left 'likes' or 'thanks', many thanks also for your support and responses. Glad to say I'm still improving and in less than a month I'll be back at work Regards Mark
  6. A great idea in principle but possibly a few years too late. Had this museum been conceived back in around 2013, it might have been possible to gather together examples of some of the RAF 'heavies' that were then leaving service - VC10, Tristar, C130K etc. Not sure what types they would attract now even if the dream became a reality. Mark
  7. Part 2 of my planned 6 part series on the aircraft and operators at RAF Wyton - 1980-1995, covers 231 Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) and the Canberra trainers. 231 OCU can trace its history back to 1947 when formed to trained Mosquito crews, and as the RAF’s principal Canberra training unit since 1951, when it reformed at RAF Bassingbourn to train high level bomber and reconnaissance crews. The OCU remained at Bassingbourn until 1969 whereupon it relocated to RAF Cottesmore. Seven years later the OCU moved again, this time to RAF Marham, where it celebrated its 30th year of continuous service with the same type of aircraft in February 1982. A few months later, in July 1982, following the RAF’s decision to consolidate all remaining Canberra operators on a single site, 231 OCU moved to its final home at RAF Wyton. It remained there until disbandment in April 1983; due to the reduction in demand for pilot conversion, for the last 12 months 231 OCU was retitled the Canberra Training and Standards Flight (CTSF). In its latter years, 231 OCU/CTSF was solely concerned with pilot conversion to type, with operational training conducted by 100 Sqn, 360 Sqn and 1 PRU as appropriate. Six courses were provided each year from 1985 onward for RAF and RN crews, involving over 30 flying sorties to a total of 55 hrs of aircraft handling and navigation. Most of the conversion flying took place in the dual control Canberra T.4s of which 9 were variously available. In addition, the unit had two B.2Ts for solo flying and navigation exercises, and latterly an E.15 to train airways flying and a pair of PR.7s. It is reckoned over 8,000 aircrew graduated from 231 OCU since 1952 from at least 16 countries, probably a record to this day. The aircraft assigned to 231 OCU 1982-1993. Pictured here Is B.2T WJ731 in May 1977, while 231 OCU was still resident at RAF Marham. Note the large fuselage serials evident at the time. For the Canberra 40th anniversary celebrations held at RAF Wyton in May 1989, Canberra T.4 WT478 of 231 OCU was painted in an overall blue c/s to represent the prototype aircraft B.1 VN799. A spare aircraft, T.4 WJ877 was similarly decorated. A pair of photos of B.2T WE113/BJ. The first is at Wyton in September 1987, the second at an unidentified location and taken in June 1991. Canberra T.4 WH849/BE as seen in the static line up at the RAF Wyton Open Day on 14 July 1984. Another shot of B.2T WJ731, now coded BK, and seen at Wyton in May 1993 just after 231 OCU’s disbandment in April of that year. Upon the cessation of Canberra flying by 100 Sqn in December 1991, some of that sqn’s E.15 and PR.7 aircraft were issued to the remaining Canberra operators. This photo shows former 100 Sqn E.15 WJ756/BB, with 231 OCU in April 1993. Canberra T.4 WJ861/BF at RAF Wyton in September 1987. 231 OCU would regularly conduct nav exercises to a number of other NATO countries as part of the training syllabus. This photo depicts T.4 WJ874 at the Italian AF base at Grazzanise in October 1991. T.4 WJ877/BG at Wyton in May 1989. Tragically, this aircraft together with its crew of 3, was lost in an accident at the base on 18 March 1991. The crew that died were RAF Wyton Station Commander Group Captain Reg McKendrick, Staff Navigator Flt Lt David Adam and QFI Flt Lt Stephen 'Eddie' Wilkinson. Immaculate T.4 WJ879/BH, at Wyton in December 1989. Seen landing on Runway 27 at RAF Wyton in Aug 87 is T.4 WT478/BA. A later shot of WT478 at rest at Wyton in June 1989. A couple of shots photographs of T.4 WT480/BC (alongside T.4 WJ874) seen at Wyton in May 1992. A year later in April 1993, T.4 WT480/BC is seen with PR.7 WT509/BR in the background. From the mid 1980s onward, 231 OCU had an unofficial 4 aircraft display team – ‘The Green Marrows’, that performed at the annual RAF Wyton Open Day and other events including the Canberra 40th anniversary. Courtesy of Ian Powell, these first 2 shots show the ‘Marrows’ performing at Wyton Open Day in 1984; note the large underwing serial. The last shot, and apologies for the quality, is one of mine taken at the 40th anniversary event on May 12th 1989, where it can be seen that by then the serials had been replaced by large Type B underwing roundels. Thanks for looking, c&c always appreciated. Mark
  8. Thanks everyone for the likes, comments, and extra info. Pt 2 to follow at the weekend. Mark
  9. Jabba I may be mistaken on location. It could have been Leuchars but that is a shot I acquired from a colleague so not exactly sure.. Anybody? Mark
  10. Yep, still very much on the mend thanks and enjoying the time off work to allow me to catch up some photo scanning and hopefully soon some modelling. I too think 'Echo Mike' was a fantastic looking Canberra and as mentioned before I still think its a shame she wasn't preserved at the RAF Museum. Thanks for the kind words Mark
  11. Being local to RAF Wyton, and with 2020 marking the 25th anniversary of operational flying ending at this famous Pathfinder station, I though it might be of interest if I scanned my photo collection for details of the aircraft and squadrons based here during the period 1980-1995. I will present these as a series of six instalments covering the following: Part 1 – 360 Sqn and the ECM Canberra T.17; Pt 2 Canberra Trainers - 231 OCU and the CTSF; Pt 3 Recce - 39 Sqn/1 PRU; Pt 4 Target Facilities - 100 Sqn Canberras and Hawks; Pt 5 all other flying squadrons; and finally Pt 6, the aircraft preserved or scrapped on site. 360 Sqn was a joint RAF/RN (75%/25%) squadron that moved to RAF Wyton from its previous home at RAF Cottesmore in August 1975. The main role of the squadron was to provide EW environment training for air, land and sea units. Essentially this meant making life as difficult as possible for the GCI controller of the fighter pilot, by jamming radar and communications, and by spoofing. Initially 24 Canberra B.2s were converted to the specialist T.17 ECM variant in 1965/66, and 6 were later updated in 1987 to the more capable T.17A with an improved EW fit. 360 was the last Canberra squadron to disband at RAF Wyton on 31 October 1994, its role being taken over by the contractorised Falcon 20s of FR Aviation. From 1982 when RAF Canberra operations were consolidated at RAF Wyton, a revised aircraft coding system was introduced. 1 PRU used the ‘A’ prefix to aircraft code, 231 OCU ‘B’, 100 Sqn ‘C’, 207 Sqn Devons ‘D’ and 360 Sqn ‘E’. See below a table of the aircraft operated by 360 sqn. The 360 Sqn HQ sign that is currently preserved at the Flixton Air Museum in Suffolk. Perhaps the most famous Canberra T.7 of them all was WD955/EM, the 27th of some 900 Canberras built in the UK. At the time of her retirement on 31 Oct 94, she was the longest serving aircraft the RAF had ever operated having been delivered on 7 Dec 1951. Although it was disappointing that she was not preserved in the UK, at least she does now reside with the Royal Norwegian AF Museum at Bodo. Am old slide from July 1971 of Canberra T.17 WF890 at RAF Cottesmore, seen without sqn codes and wearing D type roundels. A later image of WF890 at Wyton, 20 years later in July 1991, now in hemp/LAG camo and coded EJ. Canberra T.17 WH646/G seen on approach to Runway 09 at RAF Wyton in Feb 1981. WH646 seen again at Wyton in November 1991, by then converted to T.17A, and in the final colour scheme worn by the type. Upon retirement from 100 Sqn service, this PR.7 WH779/BP was briefly assigned to 360 Sqn. It is seen here at Wyton in July 1993. Canberra T.17 WJ607/EB in the toned down camo and Type B roundels seen at Wyton in June 1983. WJ607/EB, by now converted to T.17A spec, and in the hemp/LAG scheme with toned down national markings, seen taxiing out to Runway 27 at Wyton in August 1993. T.17 WJ625/C seen at Wyton in March 1982. Unfortunately this machine crashed into the sea on take off from Gibraltar in August 1983. Canberra T.17A WJ633/EF which acted as the spare red finned sqn boss’ aircraft while WD955, the usual mount, was undergoing servicing at Hurn. It is seen here at Leuchars BoB display in Sep 1991. Another image of WJ633 in her usual sqn livery, seen at the RAF Alconbury Air Day in Aug 1992. Canberra T.4 WJ874/BM had been transferred to 360 Sqn upon the disbandment of 231 OCU in April 1993. It served briefly with 360 until the sqn’s own disbandment in October of that year, after which it was to continue service with 39(1 PRU) Sqn at Marham. Canberra T.17 WJ986/T at Wyton in April 1980 Canberra T.17 WK111/EA at Wyton in Feb 1989. From around 1985 360 had added sqn markings of red bars with yellow lightning stripes either side of the fuselage roundel. Another 231 OCU cast off that 360 acquired, was PR.7 WT509/BR, seen here at Wyton in July 1993. It too was to see further service with 39 Sqn after 360’s disbandment. A few of my personal artifacts and 360 Sqn mementoes. Hope these are of interest. Part 2 to follow soon. C&C always welcome. Mark
  12. Great shots Sven and nice to see Sluffs in both standard and wrap around camo. Can't ever remember the TL tail code, I think they had changed to OK when the deployed to the UK. Mark
  13. Glen The Mount Pleasant shot was from a C130J, as I recall all others were from another VC10. Mark
  14. An excellent and unusual diorama. I well remember the dramatic photos in Aircraft Illustrated. Mark
  15. BZN20. Thanks for the update on the various Command and Groups under which the VC10 served at Brize. I've not seen many shots of the 75th anniversary scheme either, I guess it wasn't displayed very often. The holy grail scheme for which I would love to get a photo is XV102 which wore the short lived 1000 years of Oxfordshire special markings in 2007. Don't suppose you or any other members have a copy they could spare? Mark
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