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Skyline 1:200 Hawker Siddeley Nimrod MR1

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Skyline 1:200 Hawker Siddeley Nimrod MR1

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Skyline 1:200 Hawker Siddeley Nimrod MR1

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Development

 

MR1

 On 4 June 1964, the British Government issued Air Staff Requirement 381 to replace the Avro Shackleton. Such a replacement was necessitated by the rapidly approaching fatigue life limits of the RAF's existing Shackleton fleet. A great deal of interest in the requirement was received from both British and foreign manufacturers, offered aircraft included the Lockheed P-3 Orion, the Breguet Atlantic and derivatives of the Hawker Siddeley Trident, BAC One-Eleven, Vickers VC10 and de Havilland Comet. On 2 February 1965, British Prime Minister Harold Wilson announced the intention to order Hawker Siddeley's maritime patrol version of the Comet, the HS.801.


The Nimrod design was based on that of the Comet 4 civil airliner which had reached the end of its commercial life (the first two prototype Nimrods, XV148 & XV147 were built from two final unfinished Comet 4C airframes). The Comet's turbojet engines were replaced by Rolls-Royce Spey turbofans for better fuel efficiency,

particularly at the low altitudes required for maritime patrol. Major fuselage changes were made, including an internal weapons bay, an extended nose for radar, a new tail with electronic warfare (ESM) sensors mounted in a bulky fairing, and a MAD (Magnetic anomaly detector) boom. After the first flight in May 1967, the RAF ordered a total of 46 Nimrod MR1s.[10] The first example (XV230) entered service in October 1969. A total of five squadrons using the type were established; four were permanently based in the UK and a fifth was initially based in Malta.



Design



Overview

The Nimrod was the first jet-powered maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) to enter service, being powered by the Rolls-Royce Spey turbofan engine. Aircraft in this role have been commonly propelled by piston or turboprop powerplants instead to maximise fuel economy and enable maximum patrol time on station; advantages of the Nimrod's turbofan engines include greater speed and altitude capabilities, it is also more capable to evade detection methods by submarines, whereas propeller-driven aircraft are more detectable underwater to standard acoustic sensors. Inflight, the Nimrods had a flight endurance of ten hours without aerial refuelling; the MR2s were later fitted to receive mid-air refuelling in response to demands in the Falklands War.


At the start of a patrol mission all four engines would normally be running, but as the aircraft's weight is reduced by the consumption of onboard fuel up to two engines may be intentionally shut down, allowing the remaining engines to be operated in a more efficient manner. Instead of relying on ram air to restart an inactive engine, compressor air could be crossfed from a live engine to a starter turbine; the crossfeed duct was later discovered to be a potential fire hazard. Similarly, the two hydraulic systems onboard were designed to be powered by the two inner engines that would always be running. Electrical generation was designed to far exceed the consumption of existing equipment to accommodate additional systems installed over the Nimrod's operational service.


The standard Nimrod fleet carried out three basic operational roles during their RAF service: Anti-Submarine Warfare duties typically involved surveillance over an allocated area of the North Atlantic to detect the presence of Soviet submarines in that area and to track their movements. In the event of war, reconnaissance information gathered during these patrols would be shared with other allied aircraft to enable coordinated strikes at both submarines and surface targets. Search and rescue (SAR) missions were another important duty of the RAF's Nimrod fleet, operating under the Air Rescue Coordination Center at RAF Kinloss, and were a common sight in both military and civil maritime incidents. Throughout the Nimrod's operational life, a minimum of one aircraft was being held in a state of readiness to respond to SAR demands at all times.


Avionics

The Nimrod featured a large crew of up to 25 personnel, although a typical crew numbers roughly 12 members, most of which operate the various onboard sensor suites and specialist detection equipment. A significant proportion of the onboard sensor equipment was housed outside the pressure shell inside the Nimrod's distinctive pannier lower fuselage. Sensor systems included radar, sonar, and the magnetic anomaly detector; a 'sniffer' could detect exhaust fumes from diesel submarines as well. The Nimrod and its detection capabilities was an important component of Britain's military defence during the height of the Cold War.

 

The Nimrod's navigational functions were computerised, and were managed from a central tactical compartment housed in the forward cabin; various aircraft functions such as weapons control and information from sensors such as the large forward doppler radar were displayed and controlled at the tactical station. The flight systems and autopilot could be directly controlled by navigator's stations in the tactical compartment, giving the navigator nearly complete aircraft control. The navigational systems comprised digital, analogue, and electro-mechanical elements; the computers were directly integrated with most of the Nimrod's guidance systems such as the air data computer, astrocompass, inertial guidance and doppler radar, navigation information could also be manually input by the operators.


Upon its introduction to service, the Nimrod was hailed as possessing advanced electronic equipment such as onboard digital computers; the increased capability of these electronic systems allowed the RAF's fleet of 46 Nimrod aircraft to provide equal coverage to that of the larger fleet of retiring Avro Shackletons. The design philosophy of these computerised systems was that of a 'man-machine partnership'; while onboard computers performed much of the data sift and analysis processes,

 

decisions and actions on the basis of that data remained in the operator's hands. To support the Nimrod's anticipated long lifespan, onboard computers were designed to be capable of integrating with various new components, systems, and sensors that could be added in future upgrades. After a mission, gathered information could be extracted for review purposes and for further analysis.

 

Armaments and equipment

The Nimrod features a sizeable bomb bay in which, in addition to armaments such as torpedos and missiles, could be housed a wide variety of specialist equipment for many purposes, such as up to 150 sonobuoys for ASW purposes or multiple air-deployed dinghies and droppable survival packs such as Lindholme Gear for SAR missions; additional fuel tanks and cargo could also be carried in the bomb bay during ferrying flights. Other armaments equippable in the bomb bay include mines, bombs, and nuclear depth charges; later munitions included the Sting Ray torpedo and Harpoon missile for increased capabilities.


The Nimrod could also be fitted with two detachable pylons mounted underneath the wings to be used with missiles such as the Martel; two specialised pylons were later added to enable the equipping of Sidewinder missiles, used for self-defence purposes from hostile aircraft. A powerful remote-controlled searchlight was installed underneath the starboard wing for SAR operations. For reconnaissance missions, a pair of downward-facing cameras suited to low and high-altitude photography were also equipped on the Nimrod; in later years a newer electro-optical camera system was installed for greater imaging quality.


Various new ECMs and electronic support systems were retrofitted onto the Nimrod fleet in response to new challenges and to increase the type's defensive capabilities; additional equipment also provided more effective means of identification and communication. A number of modifications were introduced during the 1991 Gulf War, a small number of MR2s were fitted with improved Link 11 datalinks, new defensive ECM equipment including the first operational use of a towed radar decoy, and a forward looking infrared turret under the starboard wing.


Operational history


Introduction to service

The Nimrod first entered squadron service with the RAF at RAF St Mawgan in October 1969. These initial aircraft, designated as Nimrod MR1, were intended as a stop-gap measure, and thus were initially equipped with many of the same sensors and equipment as the Shackletons they were supplementing. While some improvements were implemented on the MR1 fleet to enhance their detection capabilities, the improved Nimrod MR2 variant entered service in August 1979 following a lengthy development process. The majority of the Nimrod fleet operated from RAF Kinloss.


Operationally, each active Nimrod would form a single piece of a complex submarine detection and monitoring mission. An emphasis on real-time intelligence sharing was paramount to these operations; upon detecting a submarine, Nimrod aircrews would inform Royal Navy frigates and other NATO-aligned vessels to pursuit in an effort to continuously monitor Soviet submarines. The safeguarding of the Royal Navy's Resolution-class ballistic missile submarines, which were the launch platform for Britain's nuclear deterrent, was viewed as being of the upmost priority.


Falklands War

Nimrods were first deployed to Wideawake airfield on Ascension Island on 5 April 1982, the type at first being used to fly local patrols around Ascension to guard against potential Argentine attacks, and to escort the British Task Force as it sailed south towards the Falkands, with Nimrods also being used to provide search and rescue as well as communications relay support of the Operation Black Buck bombing raids by Avro Vulcans. As the Task Force neared what would become the combat theatre and the threat from Argentine submarines rose, the more capable Nimrod MR2s took on operations initially performed by older Nimrod MR1s. Aviation author Chris Chant has claimed that the Nimrod R1 also conducted electronic intelligence missions operating from Punta Arenas in neutral Chile.


The addition of air-to-air refuelling probes allowed operations to be carried out in the vicinity of the Falklands, while the aircraft's armament was supplemented by the addition of 1,000 lb (450 kg) general purpose bombs, BL755 cluster bombs and AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles. The use of air-to-air refuelling allowed extremely long reconnaissance missions to be mounted, one example being a 19-hour 15-minute patrol conducted on 15 May 1982, which passed within 60 miles (97 km) of the Argentine coast to confirm that Argentine surface vessels were not at sea. Another long-range flight was carried out by an MR2 on the night of 20/21 May, covering a total of 8,453 miles (13,609 km), the longest distance flight carried out during the Falklands War. In all, Nimrods flew 111 missions from Ascension in support of British operations during the Falklands War.


Gulf War

A detachment of three Nimrod MR2s was deployed to Seeb in Oman in August 1990 as a result of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, carrying out patrols over the Gulf of Oman and Persian Gulf. Due to the level of threats present in the Gulf theatre, operational Nimrods were quickly retrofitted with a Marconi towed active decoy. Once hostilities commenced, the Nimrod detachment, by now increased to five aircraft, concentrated on night patrols, with daylight patrols carried out by US Navy Lockheed P-3 Orions. Nimrods were used to guide Westland Lynx helicopters and Grumman A-6 Intruder attack aircraft against Iraqi patrol vessels, being credited with assisting in sinking or damaging 16 Iraqi vessels.


After the ground offensive against Iraqi forces had ended, Britain elected to maintain an RAF presence in the region through assets such as the Nimrod and other aircraft. Nimrod R1s operated from August 1990 to March 1991 from Cyprus, providing almost continuous flying operations from the start of the ground offensive. Each R1 was retrofitted with the same Marconi towed active decoy as well as under wing chaff/flare dispensers, reportedly sourced from the Tornado fleet.


Afghanistan and Iraq War

Nimrods were again deployed to the Middle East as part of the British contribution to the US-led invasion of Afghanistan; missions in this theatre involved the Nimrods performing lengthy overland flights for intelligence-gathering purposes. On 2 September 2006, 12 RAF personnel were killed when a Nimrod MR2 was destroyed in a midair explosion following an onboard fire over Afghanistan, it was the single greatest loss of British life since the Falklands War. The outbreak of the Iraq War in March 2003 saw the RAF's Nimrods being used for operations over Iraq, using the aircraft's sensors to detect hostile forces and to direct attacks by friendly coalition forces.


Search and rescue

While the Nimrod MR1/MR2 was in service, one aircraft from each of the squadrons on rotation was available for search and rescue operations at one-hour standby. The standby aircraft carried two sets of Lindholme Gear in the weapons bay. Usually one other Nimrod airborne on a training mission would also carry a set of Lindholme Gear. As well as using the aircraft sensors to find aircraft or ships in trouble, it was used to find survivors in the water, with a capability to search areas of up to 20,000 square miles (52,000 km2). The main role would normally be to act as on-scene rescue coordinator to control ships, fixed-wing aircraft, and helicopters in the search area.


The Nimrod was most often featured in the media in relation to its search and rescue role, such as in the reporting of major rescue incidents. In August 1979, several Nimrods were involved in locating yachting competitors during the disaster-stricken 1979 Fastnet race and coordinated with helicopters in searches for survivors from lost vessels. In March 1980, the Alexander L. Kielland was a Norwegian semi-submersible drilling rig that capsized whilst working in the Ekofisk oil field killing 123 people; six different Nimrods searched for survivors and took turns to provide rescue co-ordination, involving the control of 80 surface ships and 20 British and Norwegian helicopters. In an example of the search capabilities, in September 1977 when an attempted crossing of the North Atlantic in a Zodiac inflatable dinghy went wrong, a Nimrod found the collapsed dinghy and directed a ship to it.

 

Operation Tapestry

The Nimrods were often used to enforce Operation Tapestry. Tapestry is a codeword for the activities by ships and aircraft that protect the United Kingdom's Sovereign Sea Areas, including the protection of fishing rights and oil and gas extraction. Following the establishment of a 200 nautical miles (370 km) Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) at the beginning of 1977 the Nimrod fleet was given the task of patrolling the 270,000 square miles (700,000 km2) area. The aircraft would locate, identify, and photograph vessels operating in the EEZ. The whole area was routinely patrolled; in addition to surveillance, the aircraft would communicate with all oil and gas platforms. In 1978, an airborne Nimrod arrested an illegal fishing vessel in the Western Approaches and made the vessel proceed to Milford Haven for further investigation. During the Icelandic Cod Wars of 1972 and 1975–1976, the Nimrod fleet closely cooperated with Royal Navy surface vessels to protect British civilian fishing ships.

Additional Information

Show on Homepage Diecast
Diecast Toy Manufacturer Skyline
Manufacturer No
Country United Kingdom
Scale 1:200
Type Jet Aircraft
Series No
Color Multi-Colored