Fighter All Weather (FAW) of the Fleet Air Arm.

Air to Air Refuelling

Article by Lt. Martyn H. Dean RN. 1965/1977

  • The Sea Vixen used the Buddy System of Air to Air Refuelling. The trials started in 1961 with 899 Sqn and the CO Lt.Cdr. Jack Carter. Most of the work was done during this time. The trials continued with the new CO. Cdr D.M.A.H "Shorty" Hamilton in March 1962.
  • The Tanker Pod would be fitted on the starboard wing of the tanker. The Tanker Pod was larger than a drop tank normally fitted on the starboard wing. This would cause a slight asymmetric effect when in flight. The basket would be electrically deployed from a reel within the pod, pulling the refuelling line to its full extent. The Receiver aircraft would position close astern, slightly down to avoid slipstream and slightly right. The Sea Vixen had an In Flight Refuelling Probe situated half way down the port wing. To line up this probe with the basket, it required an unusual visual perceptive. The basket would move at the last moment because of aerodynamic forces and this had to be allowed for by a non aligned contact. On contact, the Receiver would advance forward a metre or so to achieve the fuel flow position. Fuel would then flow as per the quantity set by the Tanker Observer who controlled the pod. The close formation position was extremely close.
  • Withdrawal required a small power reduction in order to drop back and break contact with the Basket.
  • The proximity of the Receiver would be felt as an airflow disturbance by the pilot of the Tanker. The Tanker flying had to be particularly smooth in spite of these external forces. Receiver withdrawal would make the Tanker Aircraft lurch.
  • This procedure was practiced at night and as low as 500 ft over the sea.
  • Silent procedure was practiced to avoid breaking radio silence. This was done by hand signals on initial close formation, and then by light indications on the pod.
  • A Division of four aircraft or Section of two aircraft would take up station in echelon port and all move individually over to starboard to refuel. Reforming formation on completion the Receivers would continue their mission. The Tanker would land back on the Aircraft Carrier having given away most of its fuel.

(above) Sea
Vixen to Scimitar

(above) Sea
Sea Vixen to Sea Vixen. 899 Sqn. Tanker with VL on the tail denoting  RNAS Yeovilton.
Receiver aircraft with H on the tail denoting HMS Hermes.

899 Sqn Sea Vixen of 899 Sqn refuelling a Javelin of 64 Sqn RAF

Sea Vixen to RAF.English Electric Lightning.

Supporting the long range mission of the RAF "V" Force !

I had a date with an RAF Valiant tanker at 30,000ft to try out some flight refueling "plug ins." After I had finished I asked the pilot if he would like a go. The enterprizing "crab" said yes. One of 899 Observers with good camera skills, Steve Lazenby, was in an accompanying Vixen and took some photos. All I could see in my rearview mirror was the Valiants windscreen!! One of the other snaps, at a different angle, appeared the Flight Refueling Company magazine. (Seen Below)

-- Personal Testimony Hamilton, March 2007: 16 April 1962.

Photo archive of the Flight Refuelling Company.

And Finally a Mk 1 Sea Vixen of 899 Squadron in support of the USAF !

All pictures archive Cdr. (F) D.M.A.H.(Shorty) Hamilton. RN.

1962 Farnborough. Hamilton Tony Pearson 899 Sqn(Right) 1962 Farnborough. 899 Sqn.Lt Cdr David "Shorty" Hamilton leads as Tanker with Lt.Tony Pearson plugged in as Receiver.

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