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  • Blackburn Buccaneer Carrier-Borne Low-Level Strike Bomber Aircraft

    South Africa joined the British Royal Navy and Royal Air Force as the only operators of the excellent Blackburn Buccaneer strike bomber.

     Updated: 7/3/2016; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.MilitaryFactory.com

    The Blackburn Buccaneer was a low-level, high-speed, carrier-borne strike aircraft utilized by the British Royal Air Force and its Royal Navy (South Africa proved the only foreign operator of the type). Designed to a Royal Navy requirement, the Buccaneer featured a crew of two seated in tandem, an internal weapons bay to complement the external stores and a tailcone that split vertically to act as a large-area airbrake. The prototype Buccaneer first flew on April 30th, 1958 and would become the lead to twenty total "NA-39" pre-production forms.

    Beginning in 1962, the 40 initial production quality Buccaneers - designated as "S.Mk 1" - were delivered with de Havilland Gyron Junior 7,100lb thrust turbojet engines where as performance issues were then addressed with the 80 examples of the upcoming "S.Mk 2"mark to feature the Rolls-Royce Spey Mk 101 turbofan engine of 11,200lbs standard thrust. Blackburn Aircraft handled production of the first 10 of this type before manufacture shifted under the Hawker Siddeley Aviation brand label. Future innovations included use of rocket-assisted take-off (ROTA) for carrier operations, incorporating a Bristol Siddeley Stentor rocket motor of 8,000lbs thrust.

    Overall design of the Buccaneer centered around a tubular fuselage with pointed nose cone and tapered empennage. Wings were monoplane assemblies and fitted high along the fuselage sides. The fuselage was straddled by a pair of circular engine nacelles with intakes at the front and exhaust rings at the rear. The empennage was capped by a "T" style tail assembly atop its vertical fin. The framed cockpit was well-forward in the design, offering good views of the action ahead. The undercarriage was of a conventional tricycle arrangement. An in-flight refueling probe broadened operational ranges.

    Performance for the definitive S.Mk 2 models included a maximum speed of 667 miles per hour with a service range of 2,300 miles and service ceiling of 40,000 feet. When empty, the aircraft weighed 30,000lbs and could take-off under a 62,000lb load. Length was 63 feet, 5 inches with a wingspan of 44 feet and height of 16 feet, 3 inches.

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    Blackburn Buccaneer Technical Specifications

    Service Year: 1962
    Type: Carrier-Borne Low-Level Strike Bomber Aircraft
    National Origin: United Kingdom
    Manufacturer(s): Blackburn / Hawker Siddeley - UK
    Production Total: 190

    Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)

    Operating Crew: 2
    Weight (Empty): 29,800 lb (13,517 kg)
    Weight (MTOW): 62,001 lb (28,123 kg)

    Installed Power and Standard Day Performance

    Engine(s): 2 x Rolls-Royce Spey Mk 101 turbofan engines developing 11,100 lb of standard thrust each.

    Maximum Speed: 646 mph (1,040 kph; 562 knots)
    Maximum Range: 1,108 miles (1,783 km)
    Service Ceiling: 41,998 feet (12,801 meters; 7.95 miles)

    Armament / Mission Payload

    Mission-specific armament includes:

    2 x Martel anti-ship missiles
    2 x Sea Eagle anti-ship missiles

    7,000 lb of conventional drop ordnance including 4,000 lb of that carried in an internal weapons bay.

    Global Operators / Customers

    South Africa; United Kingdom

    Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

    NA.39 - Preproduction Model Designation; 20 examples produced.

    S.Mk 1 - Initial Production Model of which forty were produced; fitted with 2 x Gyron Junior 101 turbojet engines delivering 7,100lbs of standard thrust.

    S.Mk 2 - Improved production model of 1962 fitted with 2 x Rolls-Royce Spey Mk 101 turbofans; 84 produced - 10 by Blackburn and 74 by Hawker Siddeley.

    S.Mk 2A - Royal Navy Buccaneers reallocated and modified for Royal Air Force usage.

    S.Mk 2B - Improved S.Mk 2 Buccaneers for RAF with provision for Martel air-to-surface anti-ship missile systems; 49 examples produced from 1973 to 1977 (46 to the RAF, 3 for MoD weapons testing).

    S.Mk 2C - Royal Navy aircraft modified to S.Mk 2A standard

    S.Mk 2D - Royal Navy aircraft modified to S.Mk 2B standard with Martel missile support.

    S.Mk 50 - South African model featuring Bristol Siddeley Stentor rocket motor for increased take-off performance; manually-folding wings; anti-ship/strike capability; 16 examples delivered (one loss to accident en route); operation from 1965 to 1991.