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1453 Flight Harrier GR3s


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Hi Gents,

I remember (but can't find at the moment, despite searching) a thread about these in 2010 or thereabouts, discussing the various serial numbers of the aircraft that had the V, T, O and L tail codes.

I've got the serial numbers as being (at one time anyway) V - XZ138, T - XV789, O - XZ997 and L - XV778. I see V also appears in decals as XV787 and I think this one crashed in the Falklands in 1983 (replaced by XZ138?).

 

I've been looking for photos of these machines and have found quite a few online.

In quite a few of the shots, they don't have the 1453 flight badges on the nose, whereas in others they do.

Also, in one photo, V is flying past Stanley with a different looking badge on the nose altogether? (again can't find it again at the moment).

 

I thought I'd ask here if there were  particular time periods when they had the nose badges/didn't have the nose badges at all?

I read that XV789 and XZ997 went back down to 1453 Flight in 1984 and previously being there during the war itself and then on the 'Harrier det' at Stanley. Is it right that they rotated the aircraft then, so that

at some stages, the V,T,O and L aircraft might have had different serials to these?

 

I was trying to find any good shots that definitely matched XV997 to the code O and whether at that time it had the nose emblems or not and air to air refuelling probe fitted (sometimes seen fitted in photos).

 

Thanks very much for any help.

Cheers Bob.

 

 

 

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OK, this is stretching my memory a bit but...…..

 

In late '84 I was on the Herc Det, 1312 Flt, and the Harrier detachment was on the opposite side of the runway from us.  As you correctly surmise, they were coded V, T, O, and L.  I did have the serials written down once but goodness knows where that information is now.

 

As regards insignia, I took some photos whilst across the runway one day, and submitted them to Modeldecal.  They subsequently appeared as an "extra" (with the photos) on one of their sheets (again, memory fails me).  Typically, IIRC, the 1453 Flt insignia looked rather like 1 Sqn's markings, plus they carried the Falklands crest, but only on one side.  Perhaps this is the extra marking you refer to?

 

Also worth noting is the fact that the underwing serials were painted over, usually in Dark Green.  This is due to the fact that the fuselage and wing section were transported down south in C-130s as separate items - no room for both in the cargo bay at the same time.  They were then put back together at Stanley before the north bound aircraft was dismantled.  I imagine that the original pairings of wings and fuselage became muddled over time, and therefore the serial on the fuselage was the reference for maintenance.

 

Whilst I was there, the Harriers were permanently fitted with refuelling probes but didn't do a great deal of refuelling from us - the Phantoms of 29 Sqn were our main customers, with the Harriers only rarely taking fuel.

 

I hope that points you in the right direction.

 

Trevor

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PS, a Harrier crashed near the airfield in late '84, following a bird-strike at low level.  Pilot survived the ejection but suffered broken arms.  He landed in the water near the airfield but, luckily for him, two airmen raced out to him in an inflatable, and hauled him to safety.  They subsequently received commendations for their quick thinking and actions.

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Thanks very much for that Trevor.

I'd been searching for the photo showing that odd insignia on the starboard side of the nose on 'V' and although I only came across it yesterday, I can't seem to find it today for love nor money.

It was a good resolution black and white photo of 'V' doing a flypast over Stanley, looking South, going left to right and the emblem was just a shield (no Falklands islands outline) and nothing else either side of it.

 

I've got shots of the '1 Sqn style' 1453 flight emblems in the blue and yellow that you mentioned, thanks, Trevor. 

I'd been trying to pin down which years they were most likely to have the 1453 flight insignia on. I've found a few photos dated 1982 and 1983 that show them with the emblems on and some shots dated

1984 that show them with just clean sides on both sides of the nose section (but with the Yellow tail letters still).

Perhaps they didn't bother marking them up in the period 1984 to 1985?

 

As XZ997 went back down as 'O' in 1984 then, I'm tending to lean to her not having the 1453 flight nose markings then (I did find just the one shot of 'O' taking off by the look of it, with a plain starboard nose side and no in flight refuelling probe fitted, but the serial number wasn't readable). 

Another slightly confusing thing is that there's a photo of XZ997 in the Falklands, showing her coded as 'E' on the tail, underneath what looks like steel matting blown over her front end?

I don't know if this was at the end of her first tour down there (RAF Museum document states minor storm damage in 1982)?

 

 

 

 

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The shield that you mention is a stylised version of the Falkland Islands coat of arms, as seen on the flag. On the Harriers it was a mid-blue shield with a white sheep at the top as the most prominent feature.

 

I will dig out my flying logbooks and see if I can find anything else that may be of use.  Just got to remember where they are!

 

Trevor

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Drop me a PM with your direct email in it and I’ll send you something’s to help you. A good few different GR3s were at Stanley while the HarDet /1453 Flt was there (I don't have the full list) and used 3 different insignia. Photos of the early ones are like hens teeth.

The early aircraft of 1(F) Sqn which deployed straight off Hermes had no Sqn markings.

Then in late 82/83 the first Falklands badge was applied below the windscreen about halfway down - a pale blue shield with a pale grey sheep on it near the top a white wavy line under the sheep then a pale orange 3-masted sailing ship centrally with another white wavy line below it, the bottom of the shield being pale blue. The aircraft had code letters in yellow on the fin and starboard outrigger. XV778 was H.

The later 1453 Flt badge was like the 1(F) Sqn insignia - two dark blue outlined in golden yellow triangles in the centre of which was a shield, in a thin yellow strip at the top was 1453 in dk blue, the rest of the shield being dark blue with a map of the islands in yellow on it.

There was also a HarDet badge which I'm not even going to tray and describe here!

On XZ997 yellow-E, I have a photo of her taxying out with the original shield type badge on her nose in late 82.

Having photobucket issues so struggling to upload anything here. Hope that helps.

 

Nick

Edited by NG899
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Hi Nick, 

Thanks very much for that. The sheep badge sounds very much like the one I'd seen for the Phantoms of 1435 flight (I'm still wondering if it's just a coincidence that the Harriers were with 1453 flt and the Phantoms 1435 flt, or if it was

some sort of mistake - a bit like the XXX 299 sqn thing - and somewhere where a number got swapped?).

Great information thank you and I've sent a PM. 

Thanks again Bob.

 

 

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On 31/07/2020 at 15:51, bobsyouruncle said:

Hi Gents,

I remember (but can't find at the moment, despite searching) a thread about these in 2010 or thereabouts, discussing the various serial numbers of the aircraft that had the V, T, O and L tail codes.

I've got the serial numbers as being (at one time anyway) V - XZ138, T - XV789, O - XZ997 and L - XV778. I see V also appears in decals as XV787 and I think this one crashed in the Falklands in 1983 (replaced by XZ138?).

 

Finally managed to find my logbook for that period and I have the same serials as you, except that T was XV798 (not 789).  

 

The following pictures were taken on 26th December 1984 when we were airborne with all four Harriers.

 

spacer.png

 

From left to right the codes read VTOL.

 

spacer.png

 

This is O, close up on our starboard side.  As you can see, no 1453 Flt emblem.

 

spacer.png

 

This is L, on the ground after the sortie.  The 1453 Flt emblem is present plus, just below the windshield, the pilot's name, in this case F/O Meade (who I met again in the late nineties when he was leader of the Red Arrows).  The external tank is in the old colours, whilst that on the port wing was dark green all over.  The aircraft is fitted with the standard load of sidewinders on the outer pylons and Aden cannons on the fuselage.

 

I hope these help.  Apologies for the poor quality of the air-to-air shots.

 

Trevor

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Thanks very much for going to that trouble for me, Trevor and for putting the photos up, it's very much appreciated.

It's great to be able to match a date to the photos and to see how the aircraft looked for that specific time slot.

Don't apologise at all for the air to air shots at all as In most of the other photos I've seen of 'O', she wasn't fitted with the IFR probe, so these are great for showing this. Not great for you to be having to work on a boxing day, but you got some great shots that I'm very grateful for.

 

I've recently been looking at this video clip on youtube of Stanley Harriers wondering what the two fingered signal at 23-27 seconds, between liney and pilot would refer to (no, not that two-fingered gesture). A post flight check of some sort, I'm thinking?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-er6C3ATFt4

 

Much appreciated and many thanks Trevor

Cheers Bob.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Glad the pictures were of use to you.  It brought back quite a few memories sorting through photos and my old logbooks, as you might imagine.

 

With reference to the two-finger gesture between liney and pilot, I suspect that it is some kind of Harrier specific marshalling signal.  In my ground crew incarnation a few years before, I was an airframe technician on the Buccs of 237 OCU.  To tell the pilot to rotate the bomb bay prior to shut-down, we linked the fingers of both hands and made a rocking gesture left and right, a bit like rocking a baby.  Perhaps a former Harrier ground crew type can enlighten us?

 

Trevor

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Just to drop this in here, here’s another shot of Lima, looks almost identical - except I’m sure this is a different airframe. When I built this for the Harrier SIG display  I was using these two photos as reference. It was when trying to paint the disruptive pattern I realised it wasn’t the same in both photos!

 

1642px-Lima_Falklands_1984.jpg

 

I did ‘my’ Lima as XV778 (not 788 as Airfix would have you do it!)

 

 

 

Edited by Dave Fleming
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When was "your" L photo taken?  It's not the same frame as "my" L (XV778), which has soft edged demarcation between green and grey.

 

Just goes to show how important one's research can be.

 

Trevor

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Good morning all,

 

Really good to see some photos of the HarDet / 1453 Flt emerging after all these years; thank you! 

 

The best I've been able to trace on them is provided above (and below) but I doubt it is 100% accurate when it comes to the shield and 1453 Flt insignia being applied.

 

Aircraft moved back and forth between the UK and the Islands quite rapidly it seems, their refurbishments including repaints, so 778 could be L in both. That said, when it first landed at Stanley and until Dec-82 many of its panels still had the sealant outlines present and, by Dec, it had H as a tail code. In photos that looks very orange, rather than golden yellow. My hypothesis for that is that IV(AC) took over the HarDet duties from 1(F) in November and they replaced 1's red two number codes with their own single letter ones. At the time they used a style which was 1/3rd yellow, 1/3rd red, and 1/3 yellow - a thin red letter inside the yellow one. Could that be why they look orange?

 

The original HarDet aircraft were... "On 26 June, an advance party from 1(F) Squadron took up residence at RAF Stanley prior to four Harriers disembarking from Hermes on 4 July to operate from its very basic facilities: XV778/16, XZ133/10, XZ992/05 and XZ997/31. The four Harriers which had travelled south on the Contender Bezant followed them to Stanley on 6 July: XV762/37, XW767/06, XW924/35 and XZ129/29." 

 

I'm having difficulties with Photobucket so Dave, is it okay if I email some photos to you for uploading here? Thanks.

 

Trevor, please drop me a PM with your direct email address in it and I'll send you something you may find interesting about the Falklands GR3s.

 

Cheers

 

Nick

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2 hours ago, NG899 said:

I'm having difficulties with Photobucket so Dave, is it okay if I email some photos to you for uploading here? Thanks.

Nick

Nick, I'm sure a few of us will benefit from seeing your work here, but avoid Photobucket like the plague, Flickr is a very good and easy to use host site.

 

According to Wiki, that image of L was 'created' 1 Jan 1984.

Edited by 71chally
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4 hours ago, NG899 said:

My hypothesis for that is that IV(AC) took over the HarDet duties from 1(F) in November and they replaced 1's red two number codes with their own single letter ones.

I can confirm this. I was there on IV(AC) at the time. We ended up with six Harriers and their tail codes spelt HARDET when parked correctly.

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Hi st george

 

Can you explain the two-fingered gestures between liney and pilot mentioned earlier in the thread, and seen in the short video clip?

 

Trevor

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6 hours ago, NG899 said:

G

 

I'm having difficulties with Photobucket so Dave, is it okay if I email some photos to you for uploading here? Thanks.

 

 

 

No bother

On 8/2/2020 at 4:53 PM, bobsyouruncle said:

H The sheep badge sounds very much like the one I'd seen for the Phantoms of 1435 flight (I'm still wondering if it's just a coincidence that the Harriers were with 1453 flt and the Phantoms 1435 flt, or if it was some sort of mistake - a bit like the XXX 299 sqn thing - and somewhere where a number got swapped?).

 

 

 

 

Possibly, or maybe they only had 4 numbers for the office door!, But both had fairly important histories, especially 1435. It has caused confusion though, even in some Air Britain publications listed 1435 as having Harriers

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13 hours ago, klubman01 said:

Hi st george

 

Can you explain the two-fingered gestures between liney and pilot mentioned earlier in the thread, and seen in the short video clip?

 

Trevor

Not 100 % sure as it was a while ago, but it may have been for the seat firing handle safety pin and the MDC firing handle pin placed by the pilot. I should know as the guy holding the sidewinder seeker head cover was my Sergeant at the time I was there.

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Thanks for all the great information, Gents, it's very much appreciated. 

Nice to have some choice options with 'O', between plain nosed and 1453 flight emblems and IFR probe or not. 

Thanks again to all.

Cheers Bob.

 

 

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Hi guys,

Sorry been offline until mid-afternoon as the result of the thunderstorms around here last night - 2.5+ hours of continuous lightning; clearly caused BT a few headaches.

James, thanks for the tip about Flickr - I'll see what I can do in the next few days if Dave hasn't done something.

BFN, take care

 

Nick

 

 

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St George is correct on the 2 fingered" gesture for the seat pin and MDC pin.  

Regards

Tim

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After wrestling with Flickr (who had chnaged both my password and user name) I managed to get Nck's photos uploaded. The album is here

https://flic.kr/s/aHsmPZwcFP

 

XV778/H

 

GR3-XV778-H-HarDet-Stanley-Dec82

 

Note the slightly different style of shield in this one - similar to the centre of the HARDET marking seen below

 

GR3-XZ138-V(TBC)Stanley-1983

 

Formation pics via the late Steve Hague (A man who is you asked for a  particular Harrier picture could usually produce it!)

 

 

Four Abreast (ooer matron) b(2) XZ138-V-Flt Lt V

 

Four Abreast (ooer matron) b(2) XZ138-V-Flt Lt V

 

Edited by Dave Fleming
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