In June 1952 the detailed specification NA39 for a new aircraft was issued. This called for a two-seat aircraft with folding wings, capable of flying at Mach Number 0.85 at 200ft whilst carrying a nuclear weapon internally over a radius of action exceeding 400 Nautical miles
Known initially as B103 the aircraft had some advanced features for that period such as splitting the rear fuselage in half to act as airbrakes, an internal bomb bay with rotating bomb bay door to reduce drag when dropping ordnance, powered controls, and very compact dimensions when wings and tailcone were folded. Its' primary roll was as a carrier-based bomber on Britain's aircraft carriers.The clean design of the aircraft meant that it could cruise at higher speeds and with lower fuel consumption than the Mirage 3 or Phantom F4.
The B.103 Buccaneer design incorporated the new area rule aerodynamics which gives its destinctive 'coke bottle' fuselage shape. This allows improved high-speed handling and a higher internal storage capacity.
The "Buccaneer' first flew on the 30th of April 1958.In August 1960 the aircraft was officially named the Buccaneer S Mark1. By early 1961 the first Buccaneers were delivered to the Royal Navy at Lossiemouth.On 17th July 1962 801 Squadron became the first operational squadron equiped with Blackburn Buccaneers at Lossiemouth.
The S.2 entered FAA operational service with Number 801 squadron in October 1965. By this time, it was becoming increasingly apparent that the days of the Royal Navy's big carriers were numbered, and that meant an uncertain future for the Buccaneer. Hawker Siddeley, who had taken over Blackburn, proposed a number of improved versions of the Buccaneer, but the Royal Navy was not interested.
The first RAF Buccaneer was delivered in early 1969, and the first operational Buccaneer squadron, Number 12, was formed that year. This initial squadron operated out of the UK for maritime strike. Later RAF Buccaneer squadrons were intended for low-level tactical strike and operated mostly in Germany. Tactical strike aircraft were not fitted with refueling probes, as mid-air refueling was not deemed necessary in the Central European operating environment.
One interesting fact was that the two seats were both offset about 2 inches from the centerline, in opposite directions. This allowed the back-seater a better view forward. As no dual-control Buccaneers were never built, specially-modified two-seat Hawker Hunters with a Buccaneer control layout in the left seat were used to train flight crews and keep up flying hours.
A total of 206 Buccaneers were built in all, with the aircraft giving over 30 years of reliable service. While the aircraft was designed for the Royal Navy, it gave its longest service with the Royal Air Force.
It was fitted with avionics equipment that ensured precision navigation and weapons delivery accuracy.The Buccaneer proved to be a very fine attack aircraft with incredible manoeuvrability and immensely strong. These qualities were spectaculary demonstrated during the 1977 Red Flag bombing competition in Nevada. Buccaneer was flying so low over the desert that it was dragging dust and debris behind it, the gunners who were tasked to defend the target, couldn't get a bead on these Buccaneers because they were too low and fast, the Bucc went on to win the contest.
The painting depicts a Buccaneer in its element , low and fast above a stormy sea.
Artist Paul Howard.
Available as an A3 size or 20x16 print.