Buccaneer, Blackburn / Hawker Siddeley

Blackburn Buccaneer / 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
Country: UK
Function: attack
Year: 1965
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


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Specifications (S.2B):

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

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