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Artefact of the Month

RAF VULCAN ‘BLACK BUCK’ MISSIONS THIRTY YEARS AGO

During the Falklands War in 1982, five attacks were made on Argentine occupied East Falkland by RAF Vulcan B Mk 2 bombers. These attacks were code-named ‘Black Buck’ and each flight from Ascension Island required numerous in-flight refueling sorties by Victor K Mk 2 aircraft. Vulcan XM607 of No 101 Squadron, which flew three of the five missions, made the first attack on 1 May 1982, successfully dropping heavy explosive bombs on Port Stanley airfield. This required the Vulcan to descend to 250 feet and accelerate to 400 mph on the run-in to the target, in order to get below Argentine radar coverage, before climbing to 10,000 feet to drop its bombs – this raid was codenamed Black Buck 1.

Black Buck 2 was tasked with the same mission but was not as successful and missed the airfield with its bombs. The next two sorties were against radar sites at Port Stanley, the Vulcans being armed with AGM-45A Shrike anti-radar missiles. On Black Buck 4, the Vulcan’s refueling probe broke on the return flight resulting in an embarrassing emergency diversion to Rio de Janeiro. The final sortie targeting aircraft and vehicles on Port Stanley’s airfield was successfully carried out just before hostilities ended on 14 June.

A LARGE MODEL OF VULCAN B Mk 2 XM607, IN FALKLANDS WAR PAINT SCHEME, CAN BE SEEN ABOVE THE FALKLANDS WAR EXHIBITION IN THE MUSEUM’S MERSTON AIRCRAFT HALL

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