Blackburn (Hawker Siddeley) B-103 Buccaneer

1958

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Blackburn (Hawker Siddeley) B-103 Buccaneer

The Buccaneer was built to fulfil the Naval Staff Requirement NA 39 issued in 1953 for a carrier-borne strike aircraft with a long range capable of carrying a nuclear weapon below enemy radar and attacking ships or ports. Blackburn's design, B.103, won the tender. Due to secrecy the aircraft was called BNA (Blackburn Naval Aircraft) or BANA (Blackburn Advanced Naval Aircraft) in documents leading to the obvious nickname of "Banana Jet".

It was widely regarded as one of the finest low level strike aircraft of its day. It saw war service during the 1991 Gulf War when examples were rushed to the area to provide a laser designation capability for British aircraft. It left FAA service with the decommissioning of HMS Ark Royal in 1978, with the remaining examples being transferred to the RAF. The last squadrons were disbanded in 1993.

South Africa was the only country other than the United Kingdom to operate the Buccaneer, where it was in service with the South African Air Force from 1965 to 1991.

Blackburn (Hawker Siddeley) B-103 Buccaneer

Specification 
 CREW2
 ENGINE2 x RR "Sprey R.B. 168-1A", 50.4kN
 WEIGHTS
  Take-off weight20800 kg45856 lb
 DIMENSIONS
  Wingspan13.0 m43 ft 8 in
  Length19.0 m62 ft 4 in
  Height4.9 m16 ft 1 in
  Wing area46.5 m2500.52 sq ft
 PERFORMANCE
  Max. speed1159 km/h720 mph
  Cruise speed1038 km/h645 mph
  Range w/max.fuel6200 km3853 miles

3-View 
Blackburn (Hawker Siddeley) B-103 BuccaneerA three-view drawing (688 x 472)

Comments
Keith Drewett, e-mail, 02.04.2015 14:05

Worked on Buccaneers one way or another for 13 years, Nav. Inst. at Honington, Laarbruch, Honington again and finally as Tech Author on Buccanneer equipment at Sealand.Great aircraft.

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Ian Dodds, e-mail, 16.03.2015 21:35

Worked at Blackburn's from 1952 to 1961, initially in wind tunnel testing and then as a Flight Test Engineer involved in early performance and flutter testing with Derek Whitehead and Sailor Parker. Emigrated to the US in 1961 to work on the B58 Escape Capsule, and then the Apollo Program but I can remember like it was yesterday the excitement of the first Mach 1 dive from 40,000 feet, and graying out during high g pull ups with Sailor. Over fifty years later i still am looking at a display model given to me by Burt Smith, Head of Aerodynamics when i left. They were exciting times. I remember Austin Lynas.

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David Womby, e-mail, 03.04.2020 Ian Dodds

Do you know if the fuselage was lengthened in XK491 and subsequent airframes by an insert aft of the cockpit, please?

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Austin Lynas, e-mail, 16.03.2015 05:36

Worked on this aircraft as a senior flight development engineer - working on mechanical stuff, landing gear, wheels and brakes, hydraulic systems, etc loved it best experience of my life.

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Dan Shire, e-mail, 24.02.2015 10:51

I spent 5 years 78-83 on Buccs, 12 & 16 sqn, great aircraft lots of great memories.

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Nick Berryman, e-mail, 10.01.2015 10:36

The engine was a "Spey", not a "Sprey"
Hi Bob

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paul coe, e-mail, 09.02.2012 21:01

work on this wonderful aircraft for some 7 years with 12 sqn from 1979 /80 onward. it was a dirty aircraft to work on but nothing could touch it when going low level down some valley.

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colin dow, e-mail, 06.01.2012 14:41

I worked as an electrical harness inspector in the late 60s. I was ground installations electrician at the test drome in E. Yorks in71 /72. been looking for a photo for years. Col.[hat & glasses]

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Roy Lambeth, e-mail, 18.06.2011 10:45

I was part of the supply team that built up the spares stock from the Navy as the RAF built up 12 Sdn and 237 OCU. A wonderful aircraft to be involved with. It had an impressive aerobatic display and was popular wherever it went. We used to call it the "Flying coke bottle" and "40,000 pop rivets flying in close formation". Wonderful memories and many stories of interesting events with this, the last and most successful of Blackburn designs.

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Barry, 21.01.2011 15:41

One of the very few aircraft to survive Duncan Sandys appalling 1957 defense cuts, the Buccaneer, after a shaky start being underpowered with 7000lb thrust D.H. Gyron Junior engines, went on to be one of the finest combat aircraft built. However, politics came to bear again when Dennis Healey was defense secretary and proclaimed that there was "no future in the aircraft carrier" and cancelled the CV 01. You couldn't make it up could you? But there again what would you expect from a man who was resposible (along with his boss Harold Wilson) for cancelling the TSR2. On top of which he then ordered the F111B which had an appallingly slow gestation so that he ended up cancelling the contract. In the end after paying out a fortune the R.A.F. ended up with nothing.

So back to the Buccaneer, which the R.A.F. had been very "sniffy" about. With the Royal Navy not having the ability to fly them off carriers anymore the Royal Air Force was only to pleased to get hold of them. Most of the aircraft transferred to the R.A.F. became S2B models which could fire the Martel missile. Those remaining with the Royal Navy became S2D or S2C if they were not Martel compatible. Eventually all Buccaneers went to the R.A.F. with the decommissioning of H.M.S. Ark Royal, and they in fact signed for 43 new S2Bs.

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Greg McCrea, e-mail, 30.05.2010 05:17

There has been some debate over which was better: the A-6 Intruder or the Buccaneer.

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Cpt. Fucko, e-mail, 24.08.2010 22:22

I like the Bucc...smart and crazy looking plane, but it's no A-6E, which is one of my favorite planes.

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paul scott, e-mail, 17.08.2009 18:58

A classic British bomber, much like (Though not equivalent in superfast, supersonic speed) a jet version of the De Havilland Mosquito. (Bulged bomb bay, long range).

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Boyd Richardson, e-mail, 21.10.2008 01:58

I am retired U.S. Navy. While serving onboard USS LEXINGTON
CVS-16 out of Pensacola, Florida the Royal Navy tested the
Buccaneer, piloted by an officer named Green(e). The tests were most impressing as the low level, high speed bomb runs
conducted close portside to were that close as to worry one
as to whether the bombs were real or "duds".

Again very impressive aircraft for its time.

b. richardson
Capt, USN, ret.

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Robert Scott, e-mail, 12.06.2008 18:15

This was the ultimate low-level strike aircraft. One could fly it all day, as fast and low as desired, and it was an enjoyable, effortless experience. However, in the circuit it was a rather different experience: this time akin to sitting on top of an egg on a pair of roller skates, not quite sure which direction it wanted to go in next! All in all, a fun aeroplane that more than met my expectations and those of all who flew it.

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