Fairey Gordon Mk.I: Tiggerty-boo !!

The robust Gordon was essentially a Fairey IIIF with a radial 525hp AS Panther IIa engine in place of the IIIF’s slightly higher powered -but heavier, dated and more complicated- Napier Lion. First flown in 1931, a few were converted from IIIF’s while the main bulk were new production. They soldiered well into WW2, in fact, in the Spring of 1941 some Gordons used for training were hastily converted back into bombers in Iraq where they took part in the defence of Habbaniya against Iraqi forces. The RAF got their money worth with their Gordons.

This lavish photograph shows the Gordons of the 35 Sqn and 207 Sqn smartly presented for some unidentified event. Michael Thornton-Jones’s archives.

BAC TSR.2: Chiaroscuro.

The TSR.2 is a still bleeding wound to a lot of people in the UK, just like the previous M.52. This incredible design was a world beating tactical, strike and reconnaissance aircraft (T.S.R) years ahead of its time when it saw the light in the middle 1960’s. Utterly sophisticated, it was conceived with multiple on-board digital computers to process the data available by its innovative radar and sensors. Those gizmos were placed inside a superb airframe capable of long distance weapon delivery (to a target 1000 nautical miles away) with relatively short take-off/landing performances. Very fast, it was conceived for supersonic flight at ultra low level to pass under Soviet radar/air defence screen. All in all, potentially one of the most powerful weapon for the NATO arsenal to have. And yet it was destined never to see service. The reasons?. Well, there were various, all intricate and still controversial….and they’ve been discussed and re-discussed endlessly.

This wonderful photo of the only complete survivor (XR220) depicts magnificently the awesomeness of the TRS.2. Such an elegant piece of machinery.

Photo: © Mike Freer.

EE Canberra PR.Mk.9: Nosey Old Boy.

The British seem to have always had an eye for bizarre crew members “accommodation”. The PR.9 was the ultimate Canberra photo-reconnaissance version. Taking the B(I).8 interdictor as a basis, the guys of English Electric stretched the fuselage, increased the wingspan and added the more powerful Avon R.A.27  Avon engines. All that in order to improve the already notorious high-altitude performance of the basic Canberra. Just 23 of them were produced and they were not retired from the RAF until 2006. Not bad from a design whose roots were in the middle 1940’s.

The PR.9 retained the cool offset canopy of the B(I).8 and to be a bit more peculiar they conceived this hinged nose to the navigator station and his ejection seat. Gorgeous, but the hilarity is more than deserved.


EE Lightning F.3: Ready for anything.

A well-posed photo of a 111 Sqn pilot and his F3 (XP741) at RAF Wattisham in 1965. The trusty “square” is handling our knight hero the superb Taylor Type “E” high-altitude helmet. The red opening in that helmet is the mouth port…..used for drinking or vomiting, depending upon the wearer physical condition.

The imposing coolness of the Lightning, never get tired of it.

Photo: Ian Proctor.