Blackburn Buccaneer, XW533/A ‘Miss Jolly Roger’, RAF No.237 OCU, Operation Granby, 1991
Even though it was in the twilight of its service career, the Buccaneer was called upon to take part in the 1991 Gulf War, but only at the eleventh hour. Tornado and Jaguar crews were carrying out low-level, interdiction strike missions against enemy targets, but the effectiveness of Iraqi anti-aircraft fire resulted in these sorties having to be carried out at a higher level, which reduced their effectiveness. The RAF needed to improve the standard of its precision bombing and the Buccaneer had the ability to laser target mark – twelve aircraft were rushed to the gulf. The ‘Sky Pirates’ were in the war and making a valuable contribution to the success of Operation Granby. Displaying the individual artwork associated with many RAF Gulf War aircraft, XW533 ‘Miss Jolly Roger’ showed that sometimes, older aircraft can show the new boys how the job should be done.
The Blackburn Buccaneer was a brute of an aeroplane, which provided both the Fleet Air Arm and the Royal Air Force with an extremely effective low-level, subsonic strike capability, including the ability to deliver nuclear munitions. Designed initially to operate from Britain’s aircraft carriers, the Buccaneer was very much at home flying at wave-top heights, carrying a package of weapons designed to keep the Soviet navy on their toes, but as the Royal Navy retired their larger carriers, Buccaneers were transferred to RAF use. Indeed, as the RAF now had to maintain this naval strike capability, the Buccaneer was to serve with distinction until 1994. Despite wearing the traditional camouflage of RAF Strike Command, the Buccaneer would always manage to display its naval heritage, as no display appearance was complete without a quick folding of the wings!