Buccaneer S2B XX885 at St Mawgan 1991

Buccaneer S2B XX885 leaving St Mawgan after IAD on the 8th August 1991

The first gulf war of 1991 was kicked off by a huge air offensive that involved the launch of over 100,000 sorties expending 88,500 tons of ordinance. During that time the coalition air force lost 75 aircraft, but the resultant air superiority provided the opportunity for a swift victory through a short ground offensive that lasted but 100 hours until the ceasefire was called from Washington.

A great decision was taken by air forces operating during that conflict in deciding to leave a great many airframes in the colours they successfully returned home in (with a couple of additions to avoid embarrassment for some of the painted ladies adorning the RAF aircraft). There were many excited enthusiasts attending the shows that year as heavily worn ‘pink’ Tonkas, Jags, Buccs, Pumas, Chinooks, Lynx, and even Tristars appeared in the circuit to break on arrival days, offering the chance to capture that nose art and mission mark detail before it disappeared forever.

XX885 marked as ‘Hello Sailor / Caroline’ arrived at St Mawgan in pretty grim conditions on the 6th for the IAD (and was accompanied by XV863 who was named ‘Sea Witch / Debbie’), sat it out in the static on the 7th, and departed in great conditions on the Thursday. XX885 carried out 7 successful missions during the air war spiking for Tonkas, then herself. On 21st February she became on of two buccaneers with a ‘kill’ as she took out an AN-12 Cub with her wingman after they spotted an opportune chance to kill on the ground. (The fully fuelled Cub going up in a fireball and making it onto our television screens at home).

This shot was taken from the garden of the house on the western side of the field next to the taxi way for the main runway (that was actually a camp site as well with prior notice). This shot was effectively taken stood outside the caravan awning, making that particular ‘pitch’ one of the best I think I’ve ever stayed on!!!!

The picture was taken with the Ricoh KR-10X and 400mm telephoto lens and this image has been scanned from the original negative taken 21 years ago this year.

XX885 is currently owned by HHA and is listed on the UK civil register as G-HHAA.

This months article on the site will look into the wonderful markings that were strutting their stuff around the country in 1991, and will be made available on the articles page in the coming days.