Thunder & Lightnings

Blackburn Buccaneer

Survivor XN979

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XN979 - Bill Fern, Aeroventure, Lakeside and Leisure Complex, Doncaster, South Yorkshire

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Buccaneer S.2 XN979 at Newark, 15th June 2002; author

Originally to be built as an S.1, XN979 ended up being built as an S.2 and delivered to the RN (700B Flight) in April 1965. When 700B disbanded in September, she was stored and then transferred to 801 NAS the next month, and began a cruise on HMS Victorious in June 1966. Days later on 9th June she was catapulted off the ship, stalled and crashed into the sea - the RN's first Buccaneer S.2 loss. The crew escaped successfully. The wreckage was recovered from 300ft of water - one rather silly story being that she was carrying a 'sensitive' weapon at the time and thus warranted that extra bit of effort - the official and rather more likely reason being that the RN particularly wanted to investigate the reasons behind the crash (Boscombe Down blamed the pilot - a Boscombe pilot trying to replicate the launch conditions some months later also crashed in a similar manner!). It turned out that airflow could be disrupted around the slipper tanks and stores pylons under certain conditions, and this had caused the pitch-up and stall. Launch procedures were modified afterwards, including leaving the undercarriage down longer. XN979 was massively damaged, being reduced to a centre section including engines and wing stubs with separated nose and tail. The wreckage was later scrapped but the forward part of the nose survived as an instructional trainer and is now owned by Bill Fern.

Information on this page current as of 06/04/2009

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