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Aviation Classics – Avro Shackleton


HuNTiNg SubmARiNES Aircrew tell their stories

gRAppLiNg THE NuKES Testing Britain’s H-bombs


The stopgap that became a legend

No.024 ISBN :978-1-909128-31-6 £7.99


Avro Shackleton MR Mk.3, XF707 ‘C’ of 206 Squadron which was based at St Mawgan in 1964.This is a Phase 2 aircraft without the Viper turbojets in the outer nacelles. Editor’s collection


The men and the company



York, Lancastrian, Lincoln and Tudor

Rolls-Royce and the Griffon


Revell competition


The first of the breed


The classic form emerges


Crew Tales Part 1


Crew Tales Part 2


BE RI 9 C 12 BS E SU PAG Editor: Publisher: Contributors:

Tim Callaway Dan Savage

Frank Barrell, John ‘Mo’ Botwood, Neil Cairns, Wg Cdr Allen Callaway, John Cordy, Keith Draycott, Cmdt Billy Durand, Wg Cdr A J Freeborn,Tommy Gough, Sqn Ldr W J Howard, Julian Humphries, Brigadier Chris Lombard, Dinty More, Constance Redgrave, David Ian Roberts, Wg Cdr J. G. Roberts, Stu Ruddock, John Sharratt, Spencer Trickett, Michael Turner

Designer: Reprographics:

Libby Fincham Jonathan Schofield

Group production editor:

Tim Hartley

Divisional advertising manager: Sue Keily Advertising sales executive: Stuart Yule 01507 529455 Subscription manager: Circulation manager: Marketing manager: Production manager: Publishing director: Commercial director:

Paul Deacon Steve O’Hara Charlotte Park Craig Lamb Dan Savage Nigel Hole

Editorial address:

Aviation Classics Mortons Media Group Ltd PO Box 99 Horncastle Lincs LN9 6JR


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A change of stance


Crew Tales Part 3


Interim longevity


Crew Tales Part 4

100 South African Shackletons 104 Inside the Shackleton

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Jane Skayman 01507 529423


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© 2014 Mortons Media Group Ltd. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage retrieval system without prior permission in writing from the publisher ISBN No 978-1-909128-31-6

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could respond to market demand with a range of aircraft, surviving the lean years with the other products and small scale production of aircraft carefully tailored to what market there was. Sopwith began this process in 1934 with the purchase of Gloster Aircraft, but followed this in July 1935 with his masterstroke, the acquisition of the Armstrong Siddeley Group. This brought Hawker, Gloster, Armstrong Whitworth, Armstrong Siddeley, Air Service Training and of course, Avro, together in a single business, the Hawker Siddeley Aircraft Co Ltd. This gave the companies the security of operating within the group, yet the ability to remain autonomous in terms of designs and products, retaining their original company names. They were often in competition for contracts, but were always able to draw on the resources of the group as a whole, a tremendous business advantage. Roy Chadwick joined the board of the newly invigorated Avro, as did one of the great characters, certainly one of the most effective leaders in the history of the British aviation industry, Roy, later Sir Roy, Dobson. Dobson had joined Avro in 1914 after an apprenticeship with a Manchester engineering firm and a spell as an installation engineer for a London based oil engine company. He was fascinated by aircraft and began work in the design office alongside Chadwick. His technical abilities and sheer nononsense approach to engineering and it must be said, engineers, brought him to the attention of ‘A V’ who made him works manager in 1919. Dobson, known widely as ‘Dobbie’, also learned to fly and served the company as a test pilot during the First World War. His practical common sense approach to engineering also extended to his flying. His actions during a demonstration flight of the Avro 523 Pike twin-engined bomber to the Admiralty in January 1917 are a case in point. F P Raynham was flying the aircraft with Dobson in the rear gunner’s cockpit. All went well until Raynham was trying to level out, which the Pike refused to do: the centre of gravity was simply too far aft. Dobson, realising this, climbed out onto the top of the fuselage,


An Avro Nineteen Series II, a civilian postwar transport version of the Anson fitted with a metal wing.This one was delivered in 1946 and is kept airworthy today as part of the BAE Systems historic collection housed with the Shuttleworth Collection. Constance Redgrave

crawling carefully between the pusher propellers whirling close alongside, over Raynham’s cockpit and down into the nose gunner’s position. The balance of the aircraft restored, Raynham landed safely. Dobson also used to test and deliver aircraft to customers during the 1920s and early 30s, his faith in Avro products being unshakeable, his passion making him an excellent salesman as well as a manager. By 1941, Dobson was managing director of Avro and, working in close cooperation with Roy Chadwick, was the driving force behind turning the twin engined Avro Manchester into the four engined Avro Lancaster, despite a great deal of official resistance to the concept. He also visited

Canada during the Second World War, his acquisition of the Victory Aircraft Plant in Malton, Ontario, starting A V Roe Canada Ltd. Knighted for his services to aviation in 1945, Sir Roy Dobson became managing director of the whole Hawker Siddeley Group in 1958 and its chairman in 1963. He also served two terms as the President of the Society of British Aircraft Constructors (SBAC) from 1948 to 1949 and again from 1962 to 1963. Despite his success and high positions, Sir Roy remained a pragmatist with a hatred of red tape, his bluff Yorkshire character giving vent to his opinions in an often forceful rather than tactful manner, finding ways to circumvent bureaucracy wherever he could. Having said this, he also had an infectious sense of humour and the greatest regard for the welfare of all who worked for him. In

1935, he was exactly the leader Avro needed, his example of management by effective leadership and engineering pragmatism, combined with Roy Chadwick’s genius for design, were to create some of the most famous British aircraft in history. In 1933, before the acquisition by Hawker Siddeley, Avro had been approached by Imperial Airways with a request to develop a new small airliner for up to four passengers and capable of carrying mail. Roy Chadwick responded with a small twin engined monoplane, the first flying at Woodford on January 7, 1935, in the hands of F B Tomkins. This was an adaptation of many of the concepts embodied in the earlier Fokker licence built trimotor and Avro’s developments of them, the Avro 618 Ten, 619 Five and 642. The new aircraft, the Avro 652, had a one piece wooden wing, but in this case mounted at the bottom of the metal framed fuselage, rather than at the top as had been the case with the earlier aircraft. A pair of 270hp Armstrong Siddeley Cheetah V engines were mounted in neat cowlings faired into the wing, fairings which also housed the unusual feature of a retractable undercarriage. The undercarriage was retracted by a hand crank in the cockpit, 140 turns being needed to fully bring the gear up. It was said on shorter flights that crews used to leave it down as the difference in cruising speed was only about 10mph. Only two Avro 652s were built, serving with Imperial Airways as ‘Avalon’ and ‘Avatar’ at Croydon on routes into Europe, largely to Brindisi in Italy. Both were purchased by Air Service Training and were impressed as trainers with the RAF and Fleet Air Arm during the war, both being ‘struck off charge’, the military euphemism for being scrapped or otherwise disposed of, in March 1942. The rise of fascism in Europe was beginning to

point ominously towards war and steps were being taken to expand the British armed forces in response to this. As the 652 was being designed, the Air Ministry invited tenders for a contract to supply a coastal patrol aircraft, Avro submitting a militarised version of the 652, the 652A, in May 1934. The prototype Avro 652A was first flown by S A Thorn on March 24 with the military serial K4771 and taken to Martlesham Heath for trials. The only recommendation from these tests was to increase the size of the tailplane by roughly 25%. This larger tailplane was fitted to the first production prototype, K6152, first flown at Woodford by Geoffrey Tyson on December 31, 1935, powered by a pair of 350hp Cheetah IXs in the now familiar NACA cowlings with seven bulges over the engine cylinder heads. Armed with a single Vickers .303 machine gun in the port forward fuselage fired by the pilot, a single Lewis in the upper rear fuselage either in a flexible mount or a hand operated turret and the ability to carry a 360lb bomb load under the centre section, the new aircraft was named Anson Mk I. An amazing 11,020 Ansons were built in 23 major versions and would serve with 34 countries in both military and civilian roles. The first production Anson Mk.Is were delivered to RAF Manston for 48 Squadron on March 6, 1936, so becoming the first monoplane and the first retractable undercarriage equipped aircraft in RAF service. Beginning with both Coastal and Bomber Command, they were soon superseded in their combat roles by more modern types, but were to become the backbone of the aircrew training system throughout the war, training gunners, bomb aimers, navigators, wireless operators and pilots as well as serving as a useful transport.

The last production Anson, a T Mk.21 WJ561, was delivered to the RAF on May 27, 1952, after 17 years of continuous production, the type not leaving RAF service until June 29, 1968, a remarkable 32-year record. Like the Avro 504, to tell the full story of this remarkable machine will comfortably take the rest of the magazine, but suffice to say that the ‘Faithfull Annie’ as the Anson was nicknamed, will feature in its own edition of Aviation Classics in the future. The threat of war caused a massive expansion in the demand for aircraft production and facilities in the mid 1930s. In response, and to aid the aircraft companies in a rapid programme of growth, the British Government built a range of new aircraft factories, one of which was at Chadderton near Manchester. This was handed over to the control of Avro in 1938 and joined the Newton Heath factory in producing aircraft components which were then assembled at the new large hangars built at Woodford, activity that expanded to include hangars at Ringwood airport. Still this was not enough, and eventually a shadow factory was built at Yeadon, near Leeds, in 1941. Initially these facilities built the Anson and the Bristol Blenheim under licence, but they were soon tooling up to build the next major Avro design, an aircraft that can be seen as the starting point of the story of the Shackleton, the Avro 679 Manchester. ➤

Avro 652A Anson Mk.I K6183, beautifully restored to flying condition in New Zealand and owned by Bill and Robyn Reid of Nelson. Note the extensive cabin glazing on the early Ansons allowing an uninterrupted view in all directions, vital in a patrol aircraft. L-Bit

Avro Shackelton 27

The unique lines of the Avro Shackleton MR Mk.1 by Spencer Trickett.

Crew Tales W

ith the Shackleton MR Mk.1 in service, stories about the aircraft began almost immediately as the Shackleton’s undoubted character began to assert itself, along with that of its air and ground crews. As proof of this, and to begin with, a short extract from a Form 700, the aircraft record of maintenance. This particular one having been filled out by a pilot at RAF Ballykelly… Fault: ‘Something loose in the tail.’ Rectification: ‘Something loose in the tail, tightened!’


In December 1951, I was posted to 224/269 Squadron at Gibraltar. This was a Meteorological Reconnaissance Squadron operating Halifax VIs. Shortly after my arrival, rumours were rife that we would shortly be re-equipped with Hastings to carry out the same role. We then heard that this had all been changed, we were to receive brand new Shackleton aircraft. Early in March 1952, two crews including myself flew up to Kinloss to start maritime reconnaissance training and to convert on to the Shackleton. Alas – there were no Shackletons there, but we all set to with a will, learning the intricacies and mysteries of the GR world. A green canvas nav bag and a sextant became part of us, to be carried around at all times and the sextant was to be exercised at every opportunity, day and night. We soon became adept at taking and working out sextant sights but the awful weather and continually overcast skies made 44 CREW TALES PART 1

part 1

The early years In the first of four articles in this magazine, the gentlemen of the Shackleton Association recount their experiences of operating the Grey Lady. These stories are all taken from the Association’s quarterly magazine, appropriately named The Growler, and are reproduced with the kind assistance of the association’s staff and the permission of the individual members where these are known. For more information about the Shackleton Association, visit the tasks almost impossible to obtain. However, the art of ‘cooking’ shots was soon mastered and by not making the results too accurate, most of us managed to avoid detection. All, that is, except one navigator who foolishly managed his star sights on a night of 8/8 overcast and heavy snow. This was apparently a most serious misdemeanour and an interview with the senior navigation instructor resulted. The engineering lectures were well prepared and all the instructors appeared familiar with the intricacies of the Shackleton. The Griffon 57s seemed wonderful, with boundless power, water/meth injection, automatic boost control and 25lb of boost and, of course, the contra-rotating propellors. We learned to draw the hydraulic system off by heart, together with the fuel injectors,

water/meth system, oil system, cooling and air intakes and the radiators. We could not wait to see an actual Griffon in real life! Come the day when the first Shackleton arrived and, of course, it immediately disappeared into a tech wing hangar. Aircrews were not allowed near it and all we could get was an occasional peep through a door, past a throng of technicians intent on pulling it to bits. At long last the news broke, the Shackleton was going to fly! I recall the event, I believe it was late afternoon. The roar of the engines, the aeroplane appeared over the hangar roofs, airborne in no time at all and climbing away bravely. We held the crew in awe. Imaginations ran rife. Everyone on board must have been frantically busy; pilots reeling off after take-off checks, leaving circuit

The last Avro Shackleton MR Mk.1A built, WG529, seen on April 22, 1953, when A-H of 42 Squadron detached to Aden. Editor’s collection

checks and, as they went out over the Moray Firth, crossing coast out checks. How could they remember them all? We imagined the navigators setting up the Ground Position Indicator, taking drifts, WFA winds, sun shots and frantically selecting the weapons. The ASV 13 was no doubt switched on and contacts were being reported; the mysterious piece of equipment – whose name we had to know, plus what it did, was presumably working overtime (double rumbatrum klystron, oscillating on the same frequency as the suppressor, is burnt into my memory). The wireless operator was no doubt tuned in to the 18 Group broadcast and perhaps he was selecting the appropriate three numeral group for his first enemy sighting report (from an orange coloured code book – whose name escapes me now). The engineer would anxiously be watching a myriad of gauges, working charge temperature controls, cross feeding fuel, checking consumption on his gallons gone meters and then finding time to select the colours of the day for the Very pistol. Of the guns, there were none – Column 9 deficiency no doubt – so the radar/gunner could find time to exercise his skills in the galley. Eventually the Shackleton returned and disappeared into a hangar. We completed the maritime reconnaissance conversion course – doing the navigation trips in Lancasters – and the Shackleton Engineering Syllabus and then returned to Gibraltar. Before leaving I recall a young sprog on a subsequent course, one J Elias who later joined our squadron – he looked quite boyish in those days! Back at Gibraltar we entered

The crew board Avro Shackleton MR Mk 1A WG510, A-F of 42 Squadron through the rear door.The long sorties the aircraft was capable of meant a great many bags and other kit needed to be stowed. Editor’s collection

with gusto into maritime reconnaissance operations in our old Halifaxes. Eight and a half pound practice bombs appeared and systems that had long been inactive were put into working order. Interspersed with the normal ‘coastal’ operations we carried out high-level dust collecting sorties whenever atom-bomb tests were carried out and flew the canisters straight back to Lyneham. I also did a fair amount of target towing in a Miles Martinet, for the Army to shoot at.

In the summer of 1951, one of the original maritime reconnaissance conversion course crews returned to Kinloss to do the flying conversion (Bill Kilburn and Ron Rosie were the pilots) and they ferried the first aircraft back to Gibraltar. We all turned out to see it land; a bright sunny day with a southerly wind of about 25 knots right across the runway. As the Shack passed the road we could see that a fair amount of left boot was being applied to keep her straight and intermittent puffs of blue tyre smoke emanated from the ➤ Avro Shackelton 45


OF THE SEAS Avro Shackleton AEW Mk 2 WL747 of No. 8 Squadron Royal Air Force over Gibraltar, the home of several units that operated the Shackleton in the maritime patrol, anti-submarine and air/sea rescue roles. WL747 was built as an MR Mk 2 in 1953 then converted to an Airborne Early Warning aircraft in January 1972. The Shackleton AEW aircraft were to be the longest serving examples of the type, not being retired until 1991.WL747 still exists today and is currently stored in the open at Paphos Airport in Cyprus. Aviation Classics is indebted to the great aviation artist Michael Turner for permission to use his artwork. You can ďŹ nd out more about Michael’s work and how to order a print on page 95.

The nose secTion

Looking aft from the nose at the rudder and brake pedals below the main instrument panel in the cockpit. In the upper centre is the fuse panel, below which is a taped pad to avoid head banging accidents getting in and out of the nose!

The nose compartment, showing the gunner/observers seat facing to port and the floor where the crew member laid flat to aim the weapons through the lower window.The 20mm cannon were fitted either side of the chair, but were removed along with their ammunition tanks during the conversion to an AEW aircraft.To replace the weight of the guns, oxygen tanks were fitted in the spaces.The lower rack on the port side of the nose is the pneumatics crate containing the light grey air bottles for the brake system.

On the starboard side of the nose just aft of the oxygen tanks is a stowage for an Aldis signalling lamp. Outboard of this is a mesh container for an emergency oxygen bottle.

A close up of the pneumatics crate in its rack on the port side of the nose with the air bottles fitted.

Aft of the pneumatics crate below the pilot’s rudder pedals is an electronics bay containing radio and intercom equipment.

106 inside the shackelton

Below the co-pilot’s rudder pedals in the aft of the nose section is the Mk 9 Autopilot Amplifier Unit and a nitrogen tank.

THE COCKPIT The roof panel showing the emergency escape panel release handles at the rear, then the radio, antenna, intercom and emergency lighting controls. The co-pilot’s side of the cockpit showing his throttle and pitch controls by the starboard side wall, aft of which are his trim controls.

The pilot’s side of the cockpit, the large handle over the throttles is the rudder lock.The elevator lock, a pin to the rear of the tailplane spar, and the aileron lock, a pin in the rear mainplane spar, has to be removed before the rudders can be unlocked.

The main instrument panel showing the main flight instruments on each side for both pilots, the engine instruments in the centre above which is the engine fire warning and extinguisher panel. At the top on the pilot’s side is an angle of attack indicator and G meter.

Looking aft above the co-pilot’s seat, showing the emergency escape hatch and release and the oxygen system master cock and quantity gauges.

The pilot’s and co-pilot’s rudder and brake pedals. Avro Shackelton 107


The McDonnell Douglas

F-4 Phantom II A pair of McDonnell Douglas F-4N Phantom IIs from the US Navy’s VF-301 are seen overflying CV-61, the USS Ranger. National Museum of Naval Aviation



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With a unique design that caused the first RAF engineer who saw one to question if it had been delivered the right way up, the Phantom – or ’Toom as it is popularly known – is a Cold War icon, but one that is still in service with a number of countries today. In 1952, Jim McDonnell appointed aerodynamicist Dave Lewis to the post of McDonnell Aircraft’s design manager, and he began studies into a new fighter to replace its F3H Demon design. Lewis developed a modular concept for an attack fighter for the US Navy, with interchangeable cockpits and noses to suit different missions.This quickly developed into a powerful two seat radar equipped fighter bomber and became the McDonnell F-4 Phantom II. From its first flight on May 27, 1958 the aircraft displayed tremendous performance with a maximum speed of Mach 2.2 and a service ceiling of 60,000 ft (18,300m). During the early 1960s the US Navy set 16 world speed and altitude records with the F-4, five of which were to remain unbroken for over a decade. Such performance meant the type was quickly acquired by the US Air Force in 1963, the US Navy taking the type to war for the first time over Vietnam the following year.The USAF and Marine Corps also used the Phantom over Vietnam in both the fighter and ground attack roles. Aside from the US armed forces the Phantom was exported to 11 countries worldwide, with 5195 being built – a remarkable 130

record that may only be broken by the F-16 later this century. The Phantom also saw combat with the air forces of Israel and Iran during its long career. In the UK, Phantoms flew with the Royal Navy from the last of their large fixed wing aircraft carriers and with the Royal Air Force in both the fighter and fighter bomber roles until the last were replaced by the Tornado in 1992. The last Phantoms produced in the US were delivered to South Korea in 1979, while production continued in Japan by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries for the Japan Air Self Defence Force until the last was delivered in 1981. Such is the potency of the design and its capacity for upgrades that it remains in front line service with air forces in both Europe and the Far East and is still a force to be reckoned with, even against modern adversaries. The Phantom, with its brutish yet somehow oddly elegant lines, has developed a cult following around the world as one of the classic jet fighter designs. This issue of Aviation Classics examines the Phantom legend in war and peace in detail and gets up close and personal with two aircraft still in service with the Turkish Air Force.

Aviation Classics 24 Avro Shackelton preview  

Aviation Classics 24 Avro Shackleton preview

Aviation Classics 24 Avro Shackelton preview  

Aviation Classics 24 Avro Shackleton preview