Buccaneer, Blackburn / Hawker Siddeley
Low-altitude attack aircraft of extremely strong construction,
originally designed for the RN but later, after all carriers were
retired, used by the RAF. The Buccaneer is a mid-wing aircraft; its
appearance is determined by an area-ruled fuselage, circular
engine bays flanking the fuselage, a bulged rotating bomb bay
door, and a T-tail. It is intended to keep them in service into
the mid-90's. The longevity of the type due to its high subsonic
speed at low altitude, as well as the cancellation of the TSR.2.
The Buccaneer was also used, until 1991, by South Africa. A few Buccaneers
remain in private hands in South Africa, and can be hired out for exhilarating
pleasure flights around the coast.
The Blackburn Buccaneer was a British attack aircraft serving with the Royal Air
Force and the Fleet Air Arm. 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,
and dropping small numbers of laser-guided bombs themselves. 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.
Type: Buccaneer S.2B
Engines: 2 * 5105 kg R.R. RB.168 Spey Mk.101
Wing Span: 13.41 m
Length: 19.33 m
Height: 4.97 m
Wing Area: 47.82 m2
Empty Weight: 13608 kg
Max.Weight: 28123 kg
Speed: Mach 0.92
Ceiling: 12190 m
Range: 6440 km
Armament: 7260 kg
Blackburn (BAC) 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".
The tail cone was split and could be hydraulically opened to the sides to act as a variable air brake. It also helped reduced the length of the aircraft in the confined space on an aircraft carrier.
The bomb bay was a novel design at the time; instead of doors projecting out into the airflow or being retracted into the fuselage, the whole unit rotated to expose the payload.
The Buccaneer, designed to fulfill a Royal Navy requirement for a long-range carrier-
based attack aircraft, first entered service in July 1962. From its first operational missions to its
last in 1992, it remained one of the fastest low-level aircraft in any service. This was due in part to
its high-thrust engine and small wings, the latter made possible by the use of Boundary-Layer Control.
BLC gave the wings more lift than would be otherwise possible by channeling air over the wings and tail
through full-span slits in the surfaces.
The first Buccaneer S.1s were replaced in 1965 with Spey-engined S.2
s, and soon after, the Royal Air Force inherited all the Navy's Buccaneers when a political
decision was made to remove all fixed-wing carriers from Naval service. The RAF re-designated some of the
aircraft as S.2As and later, after more modifications, as S.2B
s. A small number of new production S.2Bs were also built, beginning in early 1970, and all earlier
unmodified Buccs were updated and redesignated S.2C and S.2D.
Meanwhile, the Buccaneer Mk 50 version had been supplied to the South African Air
Force (SAAF) in 1965, these fitted with a supplementary twin-chamber rocket motor in the aft fuselage to
facilitate takeoffs from hot, high-altitude airfields. The Buccaneer first saw combat in the 1970s and 1980s
with the SAAF, but it was not until the very end of the type's RAF service that the Buccaneer was able to
prove itself in the service of its "home country." In 1991, Buccaneers fought very successfully
in Iraq and Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm.
At least two Buccaneers have been acquired by private collectors, and one is actively flying with Mike Beachy
Head's impressive operation in South Africa
Engines: Two 11,255-pound thrust Rolls-Royce RB.168 Spey Mk 101 turbofans
Weight: Empty 30,000 lbs.; Max Takeoff 62,000 lbs.
Wing Span: 44ft. 0in.
Length: 63ft. 5in.
Height: 16ft. 3in.
Maximum Speed at 200 ft AGL: 646 mph
Ceiling: Over 40,000 ft.
Range: 2,300 miles with weapons
Four 1,000-pound bombs, fuel tank or reconnaissance pack on inside of rotary bomb door;
Up to 12,000 pounds of bombs on four underwing hardpoints
Number Built: ~170
Number Still Airworthy: At least two