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Two Griffins holding a 74th shield. The Spirit of the 74th.

Design Work on the Blackburn Buccaneer.

I was taken on, with a couple of other lads, as a Junior Design Draughtsman in the Leeds Design Office in 1961. The job had originally been to work on the design details for the Blackburn version of the TSR 2. A job for life and who would ever want to leave. But soon the bad news was that there was to be no Blackburn version of the TSR 2. We were relieved to learn that we still had a job, thank goodness, on the Buccaneer.

,em>Blackburn TSR 2 is Gone - But the Juniors Stay.

Whilst waiting to get stuck into the TSR 2 (Blackburn version) the Juniors like myself had already been given queries and modifications to do on the Buccaneer drawings for individual prototypes. All development aircraft being slightly different. I became involved with the 17th prototype (I believe) that was carrying out deck landing and catapult take off trials for the Royal Navy. The Buccaneer was prone to a certain amount of instability after catapult launch. Unfortunately the catapult hook was damaged beyond repair at each take off. I think that the hooks cost about 7 shillings, which must have seemed a great deal of money to the Royal Navy at the time. Or was it because the rear of the plane would sometimes hit the catapult equipment and damage the skid at the rear of the fuselage?

Every one in the office had a go at solving the problem but I don't think the Deck Catapult problem was ever totally solved (Certainly not by me unfortunately). If you know differently you could send me feedback.

Solve Your Problems with a Walk in the Park.

There was a full size wooden mockup of the Bucaneer at Brough Airfield. Every part of the aircraft being reproduced in wood. Presumably this made it very easy to modify the design - all one needed was a wood saw some chisels and sandpaper. Athough I had been "good, but can do better" in woodwork at school I never got the chance to try my hand at doing a few mods to the model.

Eagle comic for a cut away illustration of our buccaneer

At least 20 prototypes and surprising how many crashed. Come into the office and boss would say "Prototype 19 has gone" - so we roll up all the drawings for that aircraft and sent them off to stores. Each aircraft was unique built like a ship with bulkheads and lofting drawings. Components (in fact every item including rivets, nuts and bolts) were all positioned relative to the datum point which was at the tip of the nose. Trouble came when the aircraft had 24 inches added to its nose for aerodynamic reasons. The tip of the nose then had co-ordinates -24H, 0V. I helped design attachment and fairings for the Bull Pup missiles.

Worked on design of the rotating bomb bay for the Buccaneer to house one nuclear weapon (the Atom Bomb). Imagine my surprise when one morning, as I was sharpening my old fashioned pencil, I was approached by one of the Aerodynamicists (who was also a woman). She explained that they were having a problem with the bomb bay in flying trials. As the Buccaneer approached its target at very low level the rotating bay doors would open and the aircraft would do a sharp climbing turn so that the bomb would in effect be thrown out of the plane towards the target. This maneuver would also allow the plane to escape quickly to a safe distance from the subsequent blast.

But it didn't. On release the bomb stuck in the bomb bay because of the suction caused by the big empty volume of the bomb bay (simply put). Apparently this could be quite a worry - especially to the aircrew. Then she told me that I had the task of solving the problem. When I recovered - she explained that I was to use a wooden model of the bomb bay with a wooden bomb in situ and work plasticine around the bomb with my fingers to form a close fitting fairing. They could then carefully reproduce the complex shape onto drawings and make a full size fairing for the plane. Didn't take long to do but I never did find out if it worked. I suspect it didn't work and that's why there was no World War 3.

Today the equivalent computer model of my finger work would cost an arm and a leg!

Joe Bosher (74th).


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