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charlie_c67

RAF weapons of the 70's and 80's

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Just something I've been thinking on and struggling to find clear answers to.

What were the RAF's primary Anti-shipping and radar weapons of the above time period? As far as I can see we gained some AGM-45's for the Falklands, but had no specific weapon until the introduction of ALARM in 1990. The same goes for Anti-shipping, apparently nothing in the 70's until the introduction of Martel (which could also be used for SEAD) and Sea Eagle in the 80's.

Does anyone know what was used before then? Rely on the RN? Torpedos from helicopters? Or were there American supplied missiles that were used instead?

Thanks!

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Wasn't the primary 1970s anti-ship weapon a Red Beard/WE177 RN Buccaneer ? Presumably if nuking it wasn't an option then it was down to iron bombs or 2" rockets ! IIRC the RAF only got the maritime strike role when the RN relinquished it got it taken off them.

Edited by stuartp

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AS-30s from Canberras were one option, but the reliance was on free-fall bombs, rockets and napalm. The FAA had Bullpup missiles and AS missiles from helicopters

The anti-radar Martel wasn't intended for SEAD per se, but as a targeting missile against shiips (The combination of TV and Radar Martel was designed to place an enemy in a no-win situation - leave the AA radar switched on, and get targetted by the anti-radar Martels, switch it off and the Buccaneers were free to guide in the TV version

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Anti ship RAF and RN was basically 1000lb and 540lb bombs remember effective anti aircraft missiles didn't really happen until the late 70's , The RN also had Bullpup in the 60's. The RAF had AS 30 fired off Canberras but as the SAAF proved this was not a great anti ship missile.

The only proper anti radar /anti ship missile around that time was martel i think the British forces relied more on radar jamming rather than "destroying" at that time,

Selwyn

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I shouldn't over-analyse this. There weren't that many anti-shipping missiles anywhere in the 1960s. If you didn't want to convert a fighter design into a missile, as the Russians did, the default option everywhere in the west was the atom bomb. The precision missile designed to leave the fish edible was a relatively late invention everywhere; the first the US fielded that was truly useful was the AGM-84, and France's Exocet was about the same timeframe. By those standards Martel (part-French, of course) wasn't exactly tardy.

As for anti-radar, it was invented in the USA, so it's not surprising if the rest of us were a little behind them. The Alarm does seem a little late, mind, although its search mode is damn cunning.

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It took a while for the RAF to work that flying near targets to kill them inevitably killed the aircraft. Luckily during the 70s and 80s there were no real tests.

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Didn't the AGM-119 and Exocet come out in the 70's though? I know the RN had shipboard Exocets, but were they introduced too late for air-launched variants to be bought?

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Sea Eagle ? (mid 80s) oh wait, you've already got that one... RN had exocets but used them to arm frigates rather than airframes...

Sea Skuas on the RN Lynxes

Edited by IanHx

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1967, 2 days of bombing with 42 x 1000lb & napalm, sitting duck and they eventually sank it!

You can see why they weren't the preferred option. Nuking the Scilly Isles would have disrupted the tourist trade though.

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1967, 2 days of bombing with 42 x 1000lb & napalm, sitting duck and they eventually sank it!

Wasn't the idea to break the bulkheads & ignite the oil to try & stop it spreading? IIRC it was the latter objective that they struggled with? (Bit pointless trying to sing a grounded ship!)

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Nimrods carried Harpoon in the anti-ship role as well as nuclear BDU depth charges,iirc they were also trialled for SHRIKE or HARM around the time of the Falklands war.

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I shouldn't over-analyse this. There weren't that many anti-shipping missiles anywhere in the 1960s. If you didn't want to convert a fighter design into a missile, as the Russians did, the default option everywhere in the west was the atom bomb. The precision missile designed to leave the fish edible was a relatively late invention everywhere; the first the US fielded that was truly useful was the AGM-84, and France's Exocet was about the same timeframe. By those standards Martel (part-French, of course) wasn't exactly tardy.

As for anti-radar, it was invented in the USA, so it's not surprising if the rest of us were a little behind them. The Alarm does seem a little late, mind, although its search mode is damn cunning.

The Soviets had also designed smaller missiles, although not for air-to-surface use.

All Western countries were clearly behind the Soviets in the development of such weapons, for undestandeable reasons: Western fleets were expected to enjoy air superiority over the seas, the need for missiles was not really felt much. Different story for the Soviets who, not having air superiority, could not rely on aircrafts to attack other ships and for this reasons started to look into missiles. The ultra-large missiles carried by Soviet bombers were designed this way for the very same reason, they were the only way to attack a carrier without having to deal with the escorting aircrafts.

It was only after the sinking of the Israeli destroyer Eilat during the Six Days War that things started to change in the West and a number of types started being developed. Even then, the Navies that showed most support for the missiles were those expected to fight mainly in littoral waters, as they saw the potential of the missile in this kind of theatre. It took a while for missiles to be appreciated by everybody. It should be said however that most US SAM types could be used against ships if needed, not sure of the effectiveness against such targets though.

For all the reasons above, I don't think the RAF and RN were really much behind what most other navies were doing. Apart from the Soviets of course, but the operational requirements were very different

Edited by Giorgio N

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Must take the chance to boast a little. The Swedish Air Force introduced the sea skimming anti-shipping missile Rb 04, in 1961.

Robot_04_Lansen.jpg

It was the primary weapon for the A 32 Lansen, and later the AJ 37 Viggen, against an invasion fleet. Range 32 km, later increased considerably with a new rocket engine. The missile was inteneded to pass very low over the target where a proximity fuse would detonate the 300 kg (660 lb) shaped charge warhead wich more or less would cut a destroyer sized ship in half..

Later this missile was developed into the Robotsystem 15, today used both by the Swedish Navy annd Air Force as well as several other nations.

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Nice! And where does one get that in 1/72?!

You mean the Rb-04 ? The Matchbox, Airfix and Hasegawa Viggen kits all included these missiles.

Sten makes a very good point about the early use of antiship missiles by Sweden. This country had also developed an SSM version of the French CT.20 target drone for use from ships in the early '60s.

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Was thinking more the younger brother, have seen something about there being one in the Gripen set? But thanks for the info. I do like the Draken and Viggen, maybe this is a good excuse to get one :)

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Must take the chance to boast a little. The Swedish Air Force introduced the sea skimming anti-shipping missile Rb 04, in 1961.

Robot_04_Lansen.jpg

Are you certain the designer was not a fan of Fireball XL5?

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Was AIM-9L the first Sidewinder variant to be used by the RAF, or were earlier versions also employed?

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Was AIM-9L the first Sidewinder variant to be used by the RAF, or were earlier versions also employed?

They also used versions of the AIM-9B and AIM-9J.

Regards,

Murph

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I think Gs were used as well - certainly the Falklands reinforcement harrier Grs carried a mix of Gs and Ls IIRC

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If they were on any craft I'd imagine it'd be the Phantoms. Been trying to find something on the subject, but nothing concrete.

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