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& Bullets

Musings on the worlds of aviation, military and international affairs.


With reviews of books that cover these topics


My first encounter with the mighty Victor was not auspicious. As a sproglet pilot I happened to be flying a Chipmunk from Wyton in the summer of 1973. To the right of the main runway was a huge blackened gouge in the grass.  It marked where, only six weeks earlier, the crew of a Victor SR2, XL230, had misjudged an asymmetric go-around, and rolled in. It was a potent reminder to a callow youth of the dangers of aviating.

Victor Boys

True Stories from Forty Memorable Years of the Last V Bomber


Tony Blackman with Gary O’Keefe

Grub Street   ISBN    978 1 908117 458

Victor tanking

A year later and the Victor entered my affections because it was the only V bomber I ever got to fly in. I was at Marham this time, and by some good fortune was invited to sit in the sixth seat of a 57 Sqn K1 tanker, XH616. To my eyes, the Victor looked like a slightly malevolent  if cheeky, whale.  If I had realised then how implausible were the escape arrangements for back seaters (albeit much better than those in a Vulcan), I would perhaps have been less keen. Anyway we set off on a typical tanking sortie doing towlines (racetrack refuelling patterns) over the North Sea, up as far as Wick. It was the fastest I had ever flown backwards! I was wide-eyed in bliss - until  there was a cockpit ...

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