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Operation Black Buck - the RAF attacks on the Falkland Isles.

Vulcan XM598Three Vulcans were deployed to Wideawake airfield on Ascension Island, of which two flew Black Buck raids against the Falkland Islands. Eleven Victor tankers, including a standby aircraft were required to refuel the Vulcans before and after their attacks on the Falklands. The attacking Vulcan was refuelled five times on the outward journey and once on the return journey.

These raids, although representing only a small part of the effort directed against the Argentines' on the Falklands, also graphically demonstrated RAF Strike Command's ability to strike the Argentine homeland if it had been necessary. These raids also forced the Argentine Air Force to withdraw their Mirage II fighters to stand defence over the mainland instead of engaging the Royal Navy and RAF Sea Harriers over the Falklands.

The Vulcans were captained by Squadron Leader Neil McDougall, Squadron Leader John Reeve and Flight Lieutenant Martin Withers.

598 turned round on pan and refuelled to 90%. Bowsers a problem particularly due to lack of adequate bulk facility. Aircraft states to be passed to OC Eng Wg nightly for simplified Opstat signal, namely tail number, serviceability state, time to recovery, hours to next servicing. At approx 1300 hours, 6 x Sea Harrier in pale blue scheme with 809 Sqn badges arrived. Tanker trail from Yeovilton to Banjul, Gambia (6 hrs), night stop, then Banjul to ASI (3 hrs 15 mins). They passed over the fleet on arrival to announce their presence. At 1445 hours XH672 landed (Sqn Ldr Milligan) in front of Martin - XH672 had stayed with Martin throughout the whole trip. At about 1452 Martin landed (no victory roll!). Quite a welcoming party for him. Crew whisked off for Int debrief followed by Eng debrief. Defects: No2 Frequency Changer, possible probe leak (no leaks apparent and probe test 'S'). 18146 no run up. (Fledermaus radar threat picked up, MK10 pod switched on and jammed the X-band signal!!!) Night off!!

Diary excerpt courtesy of Sqn Ldr Mel James, Commander of the Vulcan Engineering Detachment on Ascension Island.

Black Buck 1 - Bomb Damage.Major Walter F. DeHoust, United States Mirine Corps, delivered a paper to Marine Corps Command and Staff College, Marine Corps Development and Education Command Quantico, Virginia regarding the background to the Black Buck raids. The full document can be read here.

BLACK BUCK 1 was intended to be a two bomber mission; however, the primary aircraft was forced to abort and the reserve completed the mission. The vulcan carried 21 one thousand pound iron bombs and flew a high, low, high profile, proceeding to the area at 25,000 feet, dropping to 250 feet to avoid Argentine radar and then climbing to 10,000 feet for bomb jettison. The first bombing of Port Stanley airfield took place at 4 A.M. on May 1, with only one of the 21 bombs scoring a direct hit on the runway. The British Vulcan pilots had to reach an acceptable level of skill in both aerial refueling and bombing with only three weeks to train. They had evidently become proficient in refueling but still lacked the skills necessary to bomb a target effectively at night.