Photograph by Anthony O'Flanagan
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Avro Vulcan B2s XH555 and XJ823 of No 27 Squadron at Kindley AFB, Bermuda, in 1961. Photographer Anthony O'Flanagan was initially unsure of the location after the passing of over 40 years but a 'Skyshield' hint and the line of B-50s opposite suggested Kindley. B-50s had been replaced as bombers by B-47s in the mid-50s but soldiered on as WB-50D weather reconnaissance aircraft. In 1961, a squadron of WB-50D's was indeed resident at Kindley. Subsequently, Anthony confirmed the location with the following memory:
"I took the photographs on Skyshield and we were at Bermuda. The Vulcans did penetrate American airspace on that exercise. If I remember it correctly we landed at Loring AFB at the end of the exercise and had a great time. I was a very young airframe mechanic and only got the trip because no one else wanted to go and I was up for every interesting thing or trip I could find."
Other photographs taken at the same location but in different weather conditions show XJ824 being serviced and taxing out from the ramp. So it can be confirmed that 555, 823 and 824 participated in Skyshield II. The other single 27 Squadron aircraft and the four 83 Squadron aircraft have still to be identified.
'Flatiron' has supplied the following information:
'The US and Canadian air defence systems were merged within the North American Air Defence Command (NORAD) on 12 May 1958. Coordinated from Colorado Springs in the Rocky Mountains, the Americans and Canadians had every right to be proud of NORAD. To prove it fully they decided to mount a massive air defence exercise (Skyshield) in October 1961 which was to be fully realistic and to which Bomber Command was invited. High Wycombe was more than happy to oblige, especially as it gave them an opportunity to test the new Vulcan B2 under virtually operational conditions, and 27 and 83 Sqns were detailed to send four aircraft each. The 83 Sqn aircraft were sent to Lossiemouth to attack from the north while the 27 Sqn element went to Kindley AFB, Bermuda, to penetrate from the south. On October 14 both groups set off. The northerly wave began with B-47s going in at low level from 500ft upwards jamming out the ground radars. Behind them came the B-52s between 35,000ft and 42,000ft supported by B-57s, while finally at 56,000ft came the 83 Sqn Vulcans in stream. Electronic countermeasures proved so effective that only the first Vulcan heard an F-101 Voodoo lock-on, and though numerous fighters were scrambled they all concentrated on the B-52s so that by the time the Vulcans came through the interceptors did not have enough fuel left to climb to 56,000ft for another battle and the British penetrated unscathed to land at Stephenville, Newfoundland. The southern wave too came in "using all jamming equipment and passive defence systems". The 27 Sqn aircraft penetrated on a broad front, but as they approached fifty miles from the coast, when the fighters were unleashed, the southernmost Vulcan turned and flew north behind the jamming screen provided by its compatriots. Thus, while the F-102 Delta Daggers concentrated on the three lead aircraft, the fourth Vulcan crept round to the north and sneaked through to land at Plattsburgh AFB, New York.'
Skyshield hint and identification of 823 (Squadron commander's pennant - Wg Cdr V Cramer) by Craig Bulman.
Copyright © Anthony O'Flanagan
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