Happy 25th Anniversary.
On 19th November 1993 Squadron Leader Steve Jenkins, former 55 Squadron Flight Commander, flew our Victor XM715 from RAF Marham to Bruntingthorpe and handed over the aircraft maintenance log, the Form 700, completing the purchase by the Walton family and adding to the Cold War Jets Museum.
XM715 is unique. Over the thirty year operational life it served in all roles assigned to the Victor Mk2 – bomber, missile carrier, reconnaissance and air to air tanker. It equipped Nos 100, 139(Jamaica), 543, 55 and 57 Squadrons and No 232 Operational Conversion Unit. 715 took part in two wars, Operation Corporate flying from Ascension and Operation Granby based in Bahrain, providing vital aerial refuelling support.
John Allam flew it on its maiden flight from Radlett on 31st December 1962 and delivered the Victor BMk2 to No 100 Squadron, RAF Wittering early the following year. The first operational role was as a high level, high speed free fall nuclear bomber in anti radiation white livery – part of the UK deterrent, termed Mutually Assured Destruction – aptly MAD.
In 1963 XM715 was modified to carry the Blue Steel stand off missile with a megaton nuclear warhead, to be launched from high level beyond the range early warning Soviet radars thus increasing mission survivability.
Further modifications and a paint job – to increase the chances of success, in early 1964 the tactic switched to low level penetration of air defences and a Blue Steel release from low level.
In 1968 a further modification to the payload in the bomb bay saw a change in role to strategic reconnaissance- both photographic and radar.
After an exhaustive refurbishment by HSA, 715 returned to RAF service in April 1975 at RAF Marham as an air to air tanker, until retirement from operational service in November 1993.
XM715, with the nose art Teasin’ Tina gained during the 38 war missions during Operation Granby, now regularly struts her stuff at the Cold War Jets Open Days. But all flight was not over as Bob Prothero flew a very short demo in May 2009.
Thank you 715 for your service and the pleasure you give your enthusiastic support team and your aviation admirers – many more demos to come.