I first heard about Operation Black Buck after watching a Channel 4 broadcast in anticipation of the 30th anniversary (April, May, and June of 1982) of the Falkland War. Falklands’ Most Daring Raid was the “humorous, heroic story of how a Cold War-era Vulcan flew the then-longest-range bombing mission in history with a Second World War bomb that changed the outcome of the Falklands War.” It’s a great watch (and is available via torrent HERE).
And now, thanks to BBC Radio 4 (and RadioArchive.cc) there is as a companion to that doc. And it is a very satisfactory BBC Radio 4 dramatization too!
Like the Dam Busters and Doolittle raids, the story of Operation Black Buck strikes me as an inspirational engineering problem. A kind of wartime terrestrial Apollo mission, but done with 1950s technology.
Operation Black Buck was conducted from Ascension Island in the mid-Atlantic to the Falkland Islands as a part of the initial British response to the invasion of the Falkland Islands by Argentina. That 7,500 km distance required an stunning amount of mid-air refueling check out this diagram:
Afternoon Drama: Operation Black Buck
By Robin Glendinning; Performed by a full cast
1 MP3 – Approx. 44 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: BBC R4
Broadcast: June 5, 2012
During the Falklands War 30 years ago, the RAF staged the world’s longest bombing run, in an attempt to damage the runway at Port Stanley. Using ageing Vulcan bombers, crews flew a round trip of 8000 miles from Ascension Island to the South Atlantic. Such a journey required not just in-flight refuelling, but re-fuelling of the refuelling planes – a hazardous undertaking that had never before been attempted on such a scale.
In this drama, Robin Glendinning recreates the nail-biting adventure. Not only were the raids themselves difficult to pull off, but even getting the aircraft ready for the flights was a major task. Aviation museums across the world were raided for spares, and key parts retrieved from junkyards.
But there are those who question whether or not the operation was militarily useful – or whether or not the same job could have been done more effectively using planes attached to the naval task force. Was this really about war, or was it about the RAF trying to carve out a role for itself in a conflict that threatened to be entirely dominated by the Army and Royal Navy? And how successful were the raids anyway?
Producer: Jolyon Jenkins
Posted by Jesse Willis