Heart-stopping moments of a daring mission to bomb Port Stanley airfield during the Falklands War were recalled at a meeting in Uckfield last night.
Retired Squadron Leader Bob Tuxford told the story of Black Buck 1, an overnight raid involving 18 Victor tanker refuelling flights to keep a Vulcan bomber in the air as it completed a round trip of 8,000 miles to drop bombs on Port Stanley airfield.
This was the longest bombing run in history and Bob’s Victor ended up being the last to refuel the Vulcan on the outbound flight from Ascension Island. His aeroplane was seriously short of fuel as it began the journey home.
But all ended well. The raid was a success and Bob’s Victor was refuelled in the nick of time. He was later awarded the Air Force Cross for Gallantry for completing the mission and his crew received Queen’s Commendations for Valuable Services in the Air.
Hawker Typhoon Preservation Group
Bob, who lives in Uckfield, told the story to members of the Uckfield-based Hawker Typhoon Preservation Group which is restoring a World War 2 Typhoon to flying condition.
He joined the group two years ago, is keen to see the project completed, and offered to give the talk so that ticket money could go towards restoration funds.
Bob has flown 71 different aeroplanes himself, most recently, the Spitfire.
He has also flown the Sea Fury which, like the Typhoon and then the Tempest, was built by Hawker.
Restoration of RB396
Good progress is being made on the restoration of Typhoon RB396.
Preservation group member Dave Hands said its fuselage is now in the Isle of Wight where a specialist company has begun pulling off the skin, and renovating the skeleton underneath. Finally the skin will be reformed.
About five more tons of Tempest aircraft parts have arrived recently at the Ridgewood base of the Hawker Typhoon Preservation Group.
The Tempest was made on the same production line as the Typhoon and many of the parts are duplicates.
When their condition means they cannot be used during the restoration they will be useful as patterns for replacements.
One find the group is particularly pleased with is the tail of a Tempest. This is in very good condition and a lot of it is expected to be used on the Typhoon.
The haul also includes tyres and, while they can’t be used, samples will be taken to find their chemical compound so that either new ones can be made or something compatible can be found.
• Interested in joining the Hawker Typhoon Preservation Group supporters club? Details of membership can be found on the group’s website here.
• Bob Tuxford has written a book about his 20-year career within the RAF as pilot, instructor and test pilot and includes details of Black Buck 1. The book is called Contact! and is available via Amazon.
Read more about the RB396 restoration project in previous Uckfield News stories: