Blackburn Buccaneer

St'Truiden AFB Belgium 1989 RAF Blackburn Buccaneer (Marcel van Leeuwen)

The Buccaneer, designed to fulfil a Royal Navy requirement for a long-range carrier-based attack aircraft, first entered service in July 1962. From its first operational missions to its last in 1992, it remained one of the fastest low-level aircraft in any service. This was due in part to its high-thrust engine and small wings, the latter made possible by the use of Boundary-Layer Control. BLC gave the wings more lift than would be otherwise possible by channelling air over the wings and tail through full-span slits in the surfaces.

The first Buccaneer S.1s were replaced in 1965 with Spey-engined S.2s, and soon after, the Royal Air Force inherited all the Navy's Buccaneers when a political decision was made to remove all fixed-wing carriers from Naval service. The RAF re-designated some of the aircraft as S.2As and later, after more modifications, as S.2Bs. A small number of new production S.2Bs were also built, beginning in early 1970, and all earlier unmodified Buccs were updated and redesignated S.2C and S.2D.

Meanwhile, the Buccaneer Mk 50 version had been supplied to the South African Air Force (SAAF) in 1965, these fitted with a supplementary twin-chamber rocket motor in the aft fuselage to facilitate takeoffs from hot, high-altitude airfields. The Buccaneer first saw combat in the 1970s and 1980s with the SAAF, but it was not until the very end of the type's RAF service that the Buccaneer was able to prove itself in the service of its "home country." In 1991, Buccaneers fought very successfully in Iraq and Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm.

At least three airworthy Buccaneers exist; all are actively flying with Mike Beachy Head's impressive operation in South Africa. (See Links below).

Nicknames: Banana Bomber / 'Nana / Peeled Banana; Brick; Bucc; Easy Rider; Dirt Eater

Specifications (S.2B):
        Engines: Two 11,255-pound thrust Rolls-Royce RB.168 Spey Mk 101 turbofans
        Weight: Empty 30,000 lbs., Max Takeoff 62,000 lbs.
        Wing Span: 44ft. 0in.
        Length: 63ft. 5in.
        Height: 16ft. 3in.
            Maximum Speed at 200 ft AGL: 646 mph
            Ceiling: Over 40,000 ft.
            Range: 2,300 miles with weapons
            Four 1,000-pound bombs, fuel tank or reconnaissance pack on inside of rotary bomb door;
            Up to 12,000 pounds of bombs on four underwing hardpoints

Number Built: ~170

Number Still Airworthy:  Three