For our February meeting, members of the Brockenhurst and District Probus Club welcomed Group Captain Christopher Finn RAF (Retired),who gave a talk on his experiences as the navigator in an RAF Buccaneer.During his career Group Captain Finn flew in RAF Buccaneers as an electronic warfare,weapons and tactics specialist often deploying with the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm.
The Hawker Siddeley Buccaneer was a British low-level subsonic strike aircraft that served with the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force from 1962.The Buccaneer was designed as a maritime nuclear strike aircraft capable of carrying two 10 kiloton bombs mounted on novel doors which rotated into the fuselage enabling deployments at low levels and high speeds. The bomb bay could also be used for additional fuel tanks and photo reconnaissance packages. Externally the Buccaneer featured four underwing hard points capable of mounting bombs, small missiles or other equipment such as flares. Designed specifically for use from Royal Navy aircraft carriers the Buccaneer had folding wings and a crew of two in a tandem-seat arrangement with the navigator seated higher and offset from the pilot to give a clear view forward. With a typical combat radius of 400 miles the duration of two hours could be extended by inflight refuelling. Group Captain Finn recounted his experiences
practising take offs and landings both onboard HMS Ark Royal and ashore.
Still, winds at sea on a pitch-black night provide many challenges. On oneoccasion smoke from the ship's funnels obscured vision at a critical point just before touchdown resulting in a rather unorthodox landing. Another landing, this time without a nose wheel,resulted in damage to the nose radome at RAF Lossiemouth.On both occasions the aircraft was repaired and flew again. Many routine sorties were carried out at high speed and often only 50 feet above the land or sea.
Videos clearly showed the attack capability of the Buccaneer deploying
Paveway laser guided bombs to destroy the decommissioned HMS Salisbury and successfully targeting road bridges,pontoon bridges and ammunition storages during the first Gulf War. The Buccaneer was retired from Fleet Air Arm service with the decommissioning of the Ark Royal in 1978 and the last RAF Buccaneers were withdrawn in March 1994. Group Captain Finn completed his final flying tour as Officer Commanding the Navigator & Airman Aircrew School. His final years in the RAF were spent at the Defence Academy Shrivenham. He now lectures on military history and works as a volunteer
Guide at the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.