In the mid 1950's the RN identified a requirement for a low-level high-speed nuclear strike aircraft capable of attacking the Soviet fleet. The contract for these aircraft was won in 1955 by Blackburn (later Hawker Siddeley) with their B.109 design. The B.109 was developed into the NA.39 which was the prototype for the Buccaneer. A boundary-layer control system allowed exceptional low-level agility, ideal for the delivery of weapons against enemy warships.
The Blackburn Buccaneer, affectionately known as the Banana Jet as a result of its distinctive curved profile, first flew on 30th April 1958. On 26 Aug 1960 the new aircraft was formally named the Buccaneer S Mk1 - up to this time the aircraft was known as the Blackburn Aircraft Naval Aircraft or BANA for short and entered service in 1961, partially replacing the Supermarine Scimitar. Towards the end of the 1960's the S1 was gradually replaced with the S2 which was powered by Rolls-Royce Spey engines.
Due to the Labour goverments cancellation of the TSR2 the RAF was indesperate need of strike aircraft so thus turned to the Buccaneer to fulfill this role.It proved to be an outstanding combat aircraft. The RAF inherited 64 more Buccaneer S.2s from the FAA as the Royal Navy's carrier force was drawn down, with these aircraft given some minor tweaks to adapt them to RAF service, and even bought 19 more new-build Buccaneers. The last Buccaneer built was delivered in October 1977. British Buccaneer strength was at its highest point in 1978, when five RAF and FAA operational squadrons flew the type.
In 1990, 12 Buccaneers were modified with secure radios, an updated IFF transponder and a "desert pink" (really a sand) color scheme. The eight hour rnon-stop trip from RAF Lossiemouth in an aircraft which was controlled entirely manually was tiring and the pilots were exhausted by the time they reached their destination, Muharraq airbase in Bahrain.They received additional modification in the form of classic and often artful combat nose art, accompanied with names such as "Laser Lips Laura", "Flying Mermaid", "Sea Witch", "Hello Sailor", and "Guinness Girl". These aircraft were assigned to perform Pave Spike target designation for other aircraft, and proved highly successful in that role. After air superiority was established, Buccaneers carried laser guided bombs themselves to perform attacks.The Buccaneer was designed to be flown at low level but it performed magnificently at high level too, out-performing the Tornado in many respects - cruising faster and climbing faster.The Gulf War showed that the Bucc was a phenomenally capable aircraft.
The last military Buccaneer flights took place in early 1995.A total of 206 Buccaneers were built in all, with the aircraft giving over 30 years of reliable service and gained the nick name of ' the flying brick ' due to its rugged construction which gave it a very impressive low level attack capability. While the aircraft was designed for the Royal Navy, it gave its longest service with the Royal Air Force.
The painting depicts Buccaneer S.Mk2.B ' Sea Witch ' of 208 squadron during the 1991 Gulf War.
Artist Paul Howard.
Available as an A3 size or 20x16 print.