My favourite aeroplane in 200 words #2: Blackburn Buccaneer by Dr. Raymond N. Wolejko, MD

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Blackburn Aircraft Limited produced some of the worst aeroplanes ever made. From the TB of 1915 (an engine start set the float on fire), the Sidecar of 1919 (sold at Harrods, but couldn’t fly), the Roc (a fighter of 1938, that was slower than any bomber), and the pathetic Botha (underpowered, impossible to see out of in rain), through to the shameful Firebrand (late, extremely dangerous to pilots- but scandalously pushed into service with a hush-up that resulted in many deaths)- their track record was pretty appalling, so it is all the more impressive that they went on to make the wonderful ‘Bucc’, a masterpiece from 1958.

The Buccaneer was designed to counter the threat of Sverdlov-class cruisers. It was prepared in great secrecy, as a fast, low-level maritime attack aircraft capable of using nuclear weapons. The S. Mk.1 was underpowered, as test pilot Dave Eagles quipped in his recent Hush-Kit interview it “relied on the curvature of the earth to get airborne ”. This was solved when the S.Mk 2 was introduced in 1962, powered by the Spey. The result was a superb low-level aircraft with a long-range (longer even than the Tornado), a virtually indestructible construction and a rock-steady low-level ride. The type proved its worth in Desert Storm, and remained to the end of its life a potent weapon.

 

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