Blackburn Buccaneer S.2 XW538/S, RAF No.16 Squadron, Gutersloh, November 1977
As one of the most capable low-level strike aircraft of the Cold War period, the Blackburn Buccaneer originally entered service with the Royal Navy to counter the threat of a massive Soviet Naval expansion programme. Rather than build new ships of their own, the thinking at the time was to use their new strike jet to destroy the new Soviet ships with a combination of conventional and nuclear weapons. Following the cancellation of the TSR.2 project and a decision not to purchase the US F-111 jet, the RAF rather reluctantly accepted the Buccaneer into Squadron service some seven years after it entered service with the Navy, but quickly learned to appreciate the qualities of this exceptional aircraft. Capable of extremely high speeds at low level, the Buccaneer proved to be the ideal aircraft to keep the Warsaw Pact countries on their toes, with RAF crews regularly demonstrating their bombing prowess at exercises in the US and Canada. As the Royal Navy retired their larger carriers, their Buccaneers were transferred to the Royal Air Force and at its peak strength in the early 1970s, the Buccaneer equipped no fewer than six RAF Squadrons.