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G-AMSV Returns to Coventry

An old friend returned to Coventry yesterday when G-AMSV, in her striking Indian Air force livery, landed here for extensive maintenance by our engineers. Sierra Victor was part of the Air Altantique fleet here for many years. She'll...

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Baginton Air Pageant

The initial details for the Baginton Air Pageant are up on the website! As we don't have the space for a full-on air show attracting 20,000 or so people, we're aiming for low-key, themed days like this. A couple of thousand people,...

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Newquay Pleasure flights

We promised we'd be back to fly in Cornwall, and here we are. We'll be heading south with a Rapide and Chipmunk to spend a week at Newquay from 25th July, with a further visit planned in August. The flights are bookable in the normal...

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New Dakota Book

Geoff Jones just told me that his new book on the DC-3, released to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Dak's appearance, is now available. The cover sports a lovely shot of G-ANAF, shot by Simon Westwood before her radome goiter was...

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Nimrod Engine Run

We've just confirmed plans by NPT to run all four of the Nimrod's Rolls-Royce Speys on Saturday 9th May. We expect the thunder to start just after lunchtime. Come along and enjoy some audio power - and please dip into your pockets...

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Become a member of the Classic Air Force
Status: Walk-in Exhibit
Owned by: Air Atlantique
Current location: Coventry
Available for pleasure flights: No

Nimrod MR.2P XV232 - Falklands Veteran

Like most of the heavy (non-carrier) aircraft used during the Falklands War, the Nimrod fleet operated out of Wideawake airfield on Ascension Island.  However, the Nimrod was not designed with air to air refuelling capability so eight aircraft were fitted with ex-Vulcan refuelling probes to help overcome the vast distances of the South Atlantic. 

The first MR2.P (P for Probed) to deploy to Wideawake was XV227 and it arrived on May 7. A few days later, on May 15 the Classic Air Force's Nimrod (XV232) took off from Wideawake with a 201 Sqn crew at the helm.  It flew to a point 150 miles north of Port Stanley, then west until only 60 miles from the coast of Argentina, turning to fly north east, parallel to the coastline. The mission required three air to air refuellings by Victor tankers and the aircraft flew at altitudes of between 7,000 to 12,000ft so as to be a visual deterrent to ensure the Argentine fleet remained in port.  Some feat for an unarmed aircraft...

XV232 flew another such sortie on May 21 in search of Argentine warships just prior to the British landings at San Carlos, this time with a 206 Sqn crew at the controls, and logged 8,453 miles in the 18 hour 50 minute flight.  This distance record has not been broken to this day.

In May XV232 returned to the UK briefly and was fitted with a 'Heath-Robinson' method of carrying and launching Sidewinder missiles - resulting in the aircraft earning the name  "the world's largest jet fighter" in various national newspapers of the day!  One has to wonder if the sudden modification was requested by the crews who had been sitting ducks off the Argentine coast for 18 hours at a time...?

Other Nimrods were later converted to carry Sidewinders (intended mostly to counter Argentine Boeing 707 sea patrols) but they were never fired in anger during the war.

Compared with the Vulcan, the Nimrod story in the Falklands is largely untold to the wider public, which is a shame. From the little I have read today, it sounds like the Nimrod went through many similar challenges as the Vulcans to support operations in the South Atlantic with respect to equipment, training and human endurance, and I'm sure there are many more stories out there. Maybe it's time for Rowland White to write another book...

After the war XV232 continued in RAF service, in the anti-submarine and search and rescue roles, until May 11, 2010 when it was acquired by the Classic Flight - the forerunner of the Classic Air Force.