Blackburn Buccaneer - 12 Squadron
Blackburn Buccaneer S.2b – RAF Low Level Strike Aircraft Pencil Drawing
As an aircraft originally built to admiralty specifications, the Blackburn Buccaneer was not initially wanted by the RAF, High Command much preferring either the defunct TSR.2 project or F-111. The aircraft would however prove itself as one of the most effective low-level strike aircraft during its deployment to the Gulf in 1991.
While the prototype first flew in April 1958, service trials did not begin until 1960 when the aircraft was shown to be slightly underpowered. Despite this, the initial S.Mk.1 entered squadron service in 1962 and the much-improved S.Mk.2 variant arrived in 1965. The first RAF squadron, no.12, was equipped with the aircraft in 1969. In a strange twist of fate more aircraft became available to RAF squadrons when the aircraft was withdrawn from Naval service with the retirement of HMS Ark Royal. These extra aircraft brought the total number up to 102.
In the Gulf, Buccaneers were used to mark hard-to-hit targets and completed several near-ground level bombing raids themselves. The rugged, reliable design would eventually be retired in 1993, having won over its many critics.