(Author’s comment: The Avpin starter was a notorious weakness of the later Hunters single seaters).
I was the Corporal in charge of that morning’s early battle flight and was just getting up at about 0330 the following day, when a RAF policeman and John Gough, our Sergeant armourer, walked into our billet. He told all three Battle Flights to get to work immediately. The rest of the squadron was to pack enough kit for a couple of day’s detachment, get down to the mess and after breakfast they were to go to the station armoury and draw personal weapons.
On arriving at the Squadron the battle flights were met by Flying Officer Clark, our Engineering officer, who handed out a list of equipment to be assembled for the detachment. The Squadron had drawn up equipment lists for various numbers of aircraft and duration's of deployments when it arrived at Nicosia. Our shift prepared the battle flight pair that where sent over to the QRA pan: the armament load for battle flight was 4 x 135 HE.
By about 0600 the rest of the troops had arrived at the squadron and the battle flights where told to go and pack, get breakfast and get their personal weapons. On returning to the squadron at about 0830 they found that all aircraft where having their gun packs changed to HE. By mid morning the groundcrew were sitting beside the Beverley transports (5) waiting to go, with at least 8 Hunters suitably armed and serviceable.
There was no MU at Nicosia other than 113 MU and this was a storage unit. With about 100 ground crew, 208 was self-contained and did not require any outside assistance. In all we were ready to go to Jordan, fully armed, both aircraft and men and with our spares pack-up loaded onto transport aircraft only 6 or so hours after we where called out. We then sat around until late afternoon because Israel would not allow us to cross its air space!
Concerning our Pilots, we had 24, one Squadron Leader, 8 Flight Lieutenants and 15 Flying Officers which was much the same for other Hunter squadrons I worked on. Our serviceability was about the same as other Hunter 6 squadrons operating in the Middle East. We did have problems with the heat affecting the disc brakes, instrument panels that where prone to fall on to the pilots knees because the fixings fell to pieces in the heat and the Avpin starter didn’t like the heat either. But we got over these problems.