Buccaneer 1974 - 1981 (2)

…… was a novelty we decided not to dispense with. An annual event for the Honington Buccaneer Wing (12 and 208 Squadrons, 237 OCU and 809 Squadron FAA) was the Gilroy Trophy weapons competition (10).  On our first showing, the ten participating crews soundly thrashed the others – a feat that was to be repeated the following year. An exhausting two-week

detachment to Aalborg in Denmark, when we also endeavoured to do a spot of flying, was soon followed by the squadron’s first visit to Goose Bay (11 and 12) under the command of the new Boss, Phil Pinney.  This provided an outstanding opportunity to fly long distances at very low level over terrain similar to that of the Kola Peninsula, one of the squadron’s most likely war zones. Goose Bay also provided the ideal training ground to perfect operating at 100 feet prior to participating in 1977 in the USAF’s Exercise Red Flag at Nellis AFB (13), near Las Vegas. Red Flag was a unique exercise designed to provide tactical squadrons with the most realistic operational scenarios against modern SAM and fighter air defence systems.  Flown over the vast Nevada Desert, the aim was for each crew to fly eight ‘combat’ missions in an increasingly demanding threat environment.  208 Squadron had the great distinction of being the first non-US squadron to be invited to participate (14). Depending on the results, a decision would be taken for future participation by other RAF and NATO squadrons.  The legacy of 208’s brilliant performance, which attracted extremely flattering comments from the USAF’s top generals, has been over 30 years of participation by squadrons from almost all NATO air forces. A regular feature of the squadron’s annual training programme was the visit to Decimomannu in Sardinia for the Armament Practice Camp.  Flying short intensive sorties to the weapons range at Capa Frasca was interspersed by some very serious fun.  Local, and very smart, holiday resorts, hotels, bars and golf courses benefitted from the generosity, social skills and bonhomie of 208 Squadron personnel. A feature of Deci was the adornment of barrack block walls and dispersal blast pens with ‘artwork’ (17 & 18). 208 was blessed with some outstanding


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