Operating from the decks of Britain’s relatively small aircraft carriers, the Buccaneer had to be tough and its rugged, no nonsense design approach was underlined rather effectively by the aircraft’s manufacture and flight testing procedure. Constructed at Blackburn Aviation’s Brough facility, each assembled Buccaneer was transported by road, pulled behind a truck on its own undercarriage. They would make a journey of around 16 miles down winding country lanes and across bridges with sharp bends to the company’s Holme-on-Spalding Moor facility, where they would undergo final checks and flight testing.
Addressing most of the issues which prevented the early aircraft from realizing their full potential, the Buccaneer S.2 was a much improved platform, boasting a modified wing, increased fuel capacity and a pair of powerful Rolls Royce Spey engines. This new variant provided the Fleet Air Arm with a truly exceptional strike aircraft, which excelled in the low level environment in which it was tasked to operate. One particularly useful design feature for an aircraft which operated mainly over water was the type of ejection seat fitted in the Buccaneer – in the event of a ditching, the seat would still fire even if the aircraft was submerging. As the Royal Navy retired their larger carriers in 1978, their much loved Buccaneers were transferred to the care of the Royal Air Force, who were already admirers of the many qualities possessed by this aircraft and grateful for this increase in their inventory. At its peak strength towards the end of the 1970s, the Blackburn Buccaneer equipped no fewer than six Royal Air Force Squadrons.
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