A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: David Pike
Date: 2020 Dec 4, 02:44 -0800
You’ve been badgering me to talk about my flying career. My operational flying comprised three tours as Navigator (Radar) in the Vulcan B Mk2, a big tin triangle which magically managed to fly without a back wing. I also completed a Staff Tour and Specialist Navigation Training, the highlights of which included a US and Canada tour and a flight to Thule and the North Pole in a Britannia. Navigator training and holding jobs involved flying in the Valetta, Varsity, Dominie, and Hastings. See RAF Navigator Training in the 1960s: My Initial Training July1967-June1968 with Dave Pike - YouTube . I also flew a couple of times as an umpire in the B52. My last tour was as the Navigational Guidance Specialist Lecturer at the RAF School of Navigation.
By the time I arrived with the V Force (1968), they’d been Hi-Lo-Hi for a while. When the V Bombers were first conceived (around 1947), Germany being out of the running, Britain and the US were well in the lead with aircraft design and production, and Britain was in the lead with jet engine design. Therefore, I suppose it was assumed anything the UK could produce could fly higher and use better ECM devices than anything the Russians could produce. That all worked fine until 1960 when the Russians managed to shoot down Gary Powers’ U2 with a SA-2 Guideline Missile, albeit after launching 14 missiles in total one of which shot down one of their own fighters.
After that Hi-Lo-Hi sorties became essential to creep under the envelope of the defence systems of the time. Fatigue wise, the Vulcan promised greater longevity at low level than the Valiant and Victor and lasted longest as a bomber. Avro Vulcan XH558 in the Mach Loop (Cad East) take 2 - YouTube There were also night operations to think about, and by 1966 the UK had settled on a rudimentary by modern standards sled type TFR for the aircraft. There was also the H2S and Radar altimeters for the Nav-Radar to watch like a hawk and the radio altimeter for the non-flying pilot. I seem to remember the hill behind a hill situation was reputed to be able to fool the TFR and the pilots but not the navigators with their 500K route books. They also gave us a swept gain control for the H2S to remove the blooming of the radar picture close to the aircraft close to the ground.
If anyone wishes to know more about the history of the V Force, I recommend “V Force- The History of Britain’s Airborne Deterrent” by my friend Andrew Brookes, available SH on Abe Books for around $5 (£3 in the UK) plus postage V Force by Brookes - AbeBooks , or for the conspiracy merchants When Britain Nuked America....Twice! - YouTube . Pleaase can I play with my birthday presents now Frank? DaveP