GROUP BUILDS > The RAF Centenary Group Build

RAF Centenary GB - Finished Builds

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Fairey Zander

IMG_5277 by Buddy Holly, on Flickr

IMG_5280 by Buddy Holly, on Flickr

IMG_5278 by Buddy Holly, on Flickr

F-42B Tempest

Build thread is here:,45444.0.html

Fairey Ultra light helicopter AH.1 and SH.1

IMG_20181015_001237791 by Buddy Holly, on Flickr

David aka 63cpe

Britain's brief but bloody war in Vietnam saw a peak deployment in late 1969-1970.  1968 Saw increased political pressure from the US for the UK to increase the initial deployments to Vietnam.  It also saw the WarPac taking advantage of the resulting UK drawdown in Europe to stage war games in Eastern Europe.  With pressure from both the US and NATO the UK found itself needing additional combat aviation assets.  Hawker Siddeley had already done extensive studies on developments of the successful Gnat trainer, capitalizing on its small size and agility. 

In June 1968 the British Government awarded HS a contract to convert 26 Gnat T.1s to FG.3 standard.  The conversion included a new Orpheus 803 engine providing additional thrust, cockpit armoring,  two ADEN 30mm cannon in the engine intakes with 110 rounds per gun, a 55 gallon ventral fuel tank, combat avionics including a radar ranging gunsight, two additional wing pylons rated at 750lb, the provision for wingtip launch rails for Sidewinder AAMs,  and improved landing gear to handle the addition weight.  Additional modifications to the Gnat's underwing fuel tanks allowed for the fitting of either a M154 7.62mm minigun with 1250 rounds of ammunition or a photo reconnaissance package. 

The first Gnat FG.3s entered service with the RAF in August 1969, with the first combat deployment to Vietnam following in December of that year when 73 Sqn deployed to Phan Rang.  The initial deployment allowed 16 Sqn's Canberras to move back to Europe.  73 Sqn was tasked primarily with CAS, and in this role most often carried US BLU-27 napalm bombs or SNEB rockets in Matra 155 pods and a minigun in the left underwing fuel tank.  If operating in an area with heavy North Vietnamese fighter coverage wingtip sidewinders were fitted, though this was rare.

Though the Gnat was originally viewed with some skepticism as a combat type, its small size and agility made it an effective platform.  In the CAS role its twin ADEN cannons were effective against vehicles, the 7.62mm minigun was effective against soft targets and personnel, and with either SNAB rockets or napalm it made an effective close support weapon. 

Right gentlemen. That's it, we've gone past the deadline everywhere I think so I'm locking the thread now. I will get around to organising the Poll in the next day or two as I'm a little busy at the moment.

Thank you all for taking part  :thumbsup:



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