September 2020

Buccaneer S.2 801 Sqn RN

Buccaneer S.2A 12 Sqn RAF

Link to Website Index:

Hawker Siddeley Buccaneer S.2

801 Naval Air Squadron, HMS HERMES, Mediterranean 1968

FROG 1/72  with Xtradecal markings

Link to Website Index:

<<Link to Last Month  Link to Next Month >>

As the smallest of the RN’s modernised carriers, HMS HERMES was never able to operate the F-4 and could only carry a limited air group of Buccaneers and Sea Vixens.  Once the Sea Vixen became obsolete, her days as a conventional fixed wing carrier were numbered, cost outnumbering her operational usefulness, but she remained a modern and reliable ship, even though her keel had first been laid down in 1944.

After a period of service as a Commando and then ASW carrier, “The Happy H” finally regained a fixed wing complement in the form of the Sea Harrier and saw her most important operations as Flagship of the 1982 Falklands  Task Force. Although her RN days ended in 1984, she went on to serve for even longer with the Indian Navy as the INS VIRAAT until 2017.

HERMES’ saw 3 Buccaneer squadrons during the brief period that she carried them - firstly 809 Sqn then 801, with 803 joining for  a short period in the far east to prove the feasibility of deploying a Squadron directly from the UK to the ship.  The Buccaneer S.2 currently on display at  the FAA Museum at Yeovilton is  painted in the colours it wore whilst part of HERMES’ air group.

Building FROG’s Buccaneer:

Once again, both of this months builds are the same kit but in different markings.  Out the box, FROG provides markings for a South African Buccaneer and for an early S.2A of 12 Sqn RAF at Honnington.  The S.2A variants were minimally modified ex-RN machines transferred to the RAF.  

The FROG kit is now hopelessly surpassed by the new Airfix offering, although IMHO it remains better than the older Airfix issue.  The fuselage is an empty hulk, with basic cockpit, no interior to the wheel wells and intakes that allow you to see into the cockpit and out of the jet pipes.  In its defence, it is easily available, normally cheap to buy and can make for a fun build challenge with a little scratch building thrown in.  

Fit is so-so - definitely not FROG’s finest.  The see-through undercarriage bays, jet pipes and intakes need to be resolved in some way.  I used spare plastic card to box in the main bays, then rolled paper for the intakes and straws for the jet pipes. This simple approach worked well with my last build, but this time I had real troubles with the intake shapes and edges which were of uneven thickness.   

Decals are simple and the RAF ones a little misleading (I know nothing about the SAAF ones)- the RAF S-2A would not have carried the Martel Missile (that was the S.2B) and by the time this airframe was converted to an S.2B, it had passed to XV Sqn in RAF Germany.  I have kept them purely for nostalgia’s sake!

The Xtradecal markings come from their older Buccaneer set (X014-72).  

It is also worth pointing out that XV348, the RAF aircraft depicted by FROG was lost in 1977 over Norway after striking power cables, resulting in the death of pilot (RN Lt D J H Owen), although the Navigator (RAF Flt Lt P D Locke) was able to eject successfully.

The RN weapons (Bullpup missile and 1000lb bomb) come from my spares box.

Fun, but now I’m really looking forward to my build of the new Airfix kit!

The real thing:  RNAS Yeovilton’s Buccaneer S.2 in similar markings with a WE-177 nuclear weapon for carriage by the Buccaneer. HERMES, with her deep armoured magazines, was certified to carry these during peacetime.   

As this machine saw RAF service after the RN, it still bears some post RN mods, such as the tail bullet ECM pods.


Hawker Siddeley Buccaneer S.2A

12 Squadron, RAF Honnington, 1970

FROG 1/72

The real thing:

Crown Copyright © IWM MH 33794:  HERMES leads ARK ROYAL and VICTORIOUS

Many more RN Jets (and Buccaneers) on my RN Jets pages:

During the late 1960s, RAF planners convinced the UK government that it could cover the entire world from shore bases.  Anecdotally, it is believed that this included the use of a special briefing map that moved some countries to be within range.  This flawed theory was to be disproven with dire consequences for British servicemen’s lives in the Falklands, in early operations in Afghanistan and even the 2011 Libyan campaign, where the ability and most importantly the operational flexibility of the RAF proved severely limited.

As a result, the RN’s carrier force, already decimated by the withdrawal from “East of Suez”, was further reduced with the intention not to replace HMS ARK ROYAL when she left service.   Although the RAF wanted different aircraft (F-111Ks), what the country could afford were the RN’s surplus Buccaneers, plus some new RAF-specific builds.   To be fair, the Buccaneer had been designed for specific naval tasks and at first it was not well suited to overland operations.  As a result, whilst transferred and new aircraft were modified, the RAF’s first Buccaneer unit was used to replace the RN squadrons, with no. 12 Sqn at RAF Honington being declared operational to NATO in 1969 in an anti-shipping role.  For this the Buccaneers were armed with the Anglo-French MARTEL missile (Missile Anti Radar/TELevision).  

XV348, the subject of the FROG kit, was one of the first 4 ex-RN aircraft delivered to 12 Sqn.  Modified to S.2A standard to include basic RAF specific equipment, it also received interim modifications to allow limited carriage of the MARTEL anti-radar variant (full conversion to include the television guidance systems only arrived with the S.2B).  By 1973 it had revived the full mods to S.2B and was transferred to 15 Sqn in RAF Germany in the Quick Reaction Alert nuclear strike role at RAF Laarbruch, serving subsequently with 16 Sqn, 2 Sqn, then back to Honington to join 237 OCU in 1977.

On 31 October 1977, XV348 struck power cables at Glomfijord, Norway and crashed.  Navigator Flt Lt PD Locke RAF was able to eject safely, but sadly the pilot, Lt DHJ Owen RN, was killed.

The real thing:

© IWM TR 35833

© IWM CT823

© IWM TR 34539

Many more RAF Jets (and Buccaneers) on my Friends and Allies pages: