The Buccaneer resulted from a 1950s Royal Navy requirement (NA39) for a sub-sonic, strike/attack aircraft capable of delivering conventional and nuclear payloads at ultra-low level from both aircraft carriers and land bases. The Blackburn design first flew in 1958 and incorporated many unique and advanced features. These included an area ruled, “coke bottle”, shaped fuselage to facilitate sub sonic flight; boundary layer control, (blowing air across the wings and tail surfaces to increase lift at lower speeds), a revolving bomb bay enabling ordnance to be carried internally, and folding wings and nose cone to maximise storage space in the hangars and on the flight decks of aircraft carriers.
The Buccaneer S2 served with number 800, 801, 803 and 809 Squadrons of the Fleet Air Arm, serving on the aircraft carriers HMS Hermes, Eagle, Victorious and Ark Royal until 1978 when the Royal Navy withdrew its aircraft carrier force. The RAF were in need of a strike aircraft at the time and took the Buccaneer fleet on charge. The Buccaneer proved itself to be a highly capable strike attack aircraft and excelled in the low level role. However, it was becoming outdated by the time of first Gulf War in Iraq in 1991 and was due to be retired from service. Nevertheless, its ability to illuminate ground targets via laser designation resulted in the Buccaneer being successfully deployed in that campaign, enabling the Tornado force to attack key targets with pinpoint accuracy. This proved to be the type’s swansong and it was eventually retired from service in 1994.
Our Buccaneer, serial number XT280, was delivered on 2nd November 1965. Allocated to 809 Squadron, it served aboard H.M.S. Hermes. Re-assigned to HMS Ark Royal in 1970, XT280 was subsequently modified to S2B standard before being retired from Royal Navy service in 1978.
Transferred to RAF service, XT280 joined 16 Squadron at Laarbruch, West Germany, on 3rd August 1981. It later went on to serve with 12 and 208 Squadrons based at RAF Lossiemouth. XT280 was withdrawn from service and scrapped at RAF Lossiemouth in March 1994 – only the cockpit section you see here being preserved.
Painted in its 1970’s 809 Squadron Fleet Air Arm colours, it can be found displayed undercover opposite the memorial garden.