Power & Dimensions

In October 1962, 16 aircraft were ordered by the South African Air Force, as the Buccaneer S Mk 50.

These were S.2 aircraft with the addition of Bristol Siddeley BS.605 rocket engines to provide additional thrust for the "hot and high" African airfields. The S.50 was also equipped with strengthened undercarriage and higher capacity wheel brakes, and had manually folded wings.

Due to the need to patrol the vast coastline, they also specified In-flight refuelling and larger under-wing tanks. Once in service, the extra thrust of the BS.605 rocket engines proved to be unnecessary and thus the rockets were very rarely operated and were eventually removed from all aircraft.

Description Specification
Two Rolls Royce RB. 168-1A Spey Mk 101 Turbofans 11 100 lb (5 035 kg) thrust.
Bristol BS. 605 twin chamber rocket engine (RATO) 8 000 lb (3 630 kg) thrust. Housed in retractable panels in lower part of rear fuselage just forward of air brakes.
Wingspan 44 ft (13,41 m)
Height 16 ft 3 in (4,95 m)
Length 63 ft 5 in (19,33 m) 6 inches shorter than a DC 3!
Empty Weight  29 980 lbs (13 599 kg)
Maximum take-off weight 62 000 lbs (28 123 kg)

Performance Figures

Fuselage and Structure

The fuselage of the Buccaneer was designed using the area rule technique, which had the effect of reducing drag while travelling at high subsonic and transonic speeds, and gave rise to the characteristic curvy shape of the fuselage. The majority of the airframe and fuselage was machined from solid casting to give great strength to endure the stress of low level operations. Considerable effort went into ensuring that metal fatigue would not be a limiting factor of the Buccaneer's operational life even under the formidable conditions imposed of continuous low level flight.

A large air brake was built into the tail cone of the aircraft. The hydraulically operated air brake formed two leaves that could be opened into the airstream to quickly decelerate the aircraft. The style of air brake chosen by Blackburn was highly effective in the dive-attack profile that the Buccaneer was intended to perform, as well as effectively balancing out induced drag from operating the Boundary Layer Control (BLC system). It featured a variable incidence tail plane that could be trimmed to suit the particular requirements of low-speed handling or high-speed flight; the tail plane had to be high mounted due to the positioning and functionality of the Buccaneer's air brake.

The wing design of the Buccaneer was a compromise between two requirements: a low aspect ratio for gust response and high aspect ratio to give good range performance. The small wing was suited to high-speed flight at low altitude; however, a small wing did not generate sufficient lift that was essential for carrier operations. Therefore, BLC was used upon both the wing and horizontal stabilizer, having the effect of energising and smoothing the boundary layer airflow, which significantly reduced airflow separation at the back of the wing, and therefore decreased stall speed, and increased effectiveness of trailing edge control surfaces including flaps and ailerons.

Boundary Layer Control (BLC)

In order to dramatically improve aerodynamic performance at slow speeds, such as during take-off and landing, Blackburn adopted a new aerodynamic control technology, known as boundary layer control (BLC). BLC bled high pressure air directly from the engines, which was "blown" against various parts of the aircraft's wing surfaces. A full-span slit along the part of the wing's trailing edge was found to give almost 50% more lift than any contemporary scheme. In order to counteract the severe pitch movements that would otherwise be generated by use of BLC, a self- trimming system was interconnected with the BLC system and additional blowing of the wing's leading edge was also introduced. The use of BLC allowed the use of slats to be entirely discarded in the design.

Before landing, the pilot would open the BLC vents as well as lower the flaps to achieve slow, stable flight. A consequence of the blown wing was that the engines were required to run at high power for low-speed flight in order to generate sufficient compressor gas for blowing. Blackburn's solution to this situation was the adoption of a large air brake; this also allowed an overshooting aircraft to pull away more quickly during a failed landing attempt. The nose cone and radar antenna could also be swung around by 180° to reduce the length of the aircraft in the carrier hangar. This feature was particularly important due to the small size of the aircraft carriers that the Buccaneer typically operated from.

The Buccaneer took off in 3,000 feet (914 m) at 144 knots (267 km/h; 166 mph) with blown air, the figures become 3,700 ft (1,128 m) at 175 knots (324 km/h; 201 mph) without blown air.

Description Specification
Operational Ceiling 40 000 ft
Design Speed 560 knots (645 mph or 1 038 km/h or Mach 0,85)
Maximum Speed (Clean Configuration) 580 knots (668 mph or 1 238 km/h or Mach 0.95
Basic Range (No IFR or extra tanks) 2 000 nautical miles (3 700 km)
Bomb Bay Tank 440 Imp Gallons (2 000 litres)
Under-wing Slipper Tank 430 Imp Gallons (1 955 litres)


As part of the initial contract, when the Mirage III aircraft arrived in South Africa in 1963, two air-to-air missile types were supplied for the intercept role and one air-to-surface missile type was supplied for the ground attack role. The forerunner of the AS-30 was the smaller AS-20, and a number of these were supplied with inert warheads to be used as training missiles. At that stage a single AS-30 missile cost R37 000-00 each and each pilot was only allowed to fire (and guide) one AS-20 per year and one AS-30 every two years. The AS-30 was also used in anger during the Bush War when in 1981, four out of five radar stations at Cahama in Southern Angola were knocked out by six Buccaneers firing twelve AS-30 missiles.
Description Specification
NORD AVIATION (Aerospaciale) AS-30 Role: Tactical Air-to-Surface Missile; Maximum range: 11 km; Length: 3,885 m; Wingspan: 1m; Launch Mass: 520 kg; Warhead: 230 kg General Purpose, or 213 kg Semi (Armour) Piercing
1000 lb Bomb Length: 2.3 m (7.55 ft) Explosives: 180 kg (396 lb) Torpex
68mm SNEB Rocket Length: 0.94 m (3.08 ft) Weight: 6.8 kg (15 lb) Explosives: HEAT; HE fragmentation; Marker; Training Slant Range: 1.6 km
Natak 165 mm recce flare
Condib (anti-runway bomb) Length: 1.58 m Weight: 70 kg Explosives: 43kg Typically released from an altitude of 300 ft. A couple of seconds later, the tail section separates allowing the deployment of the retard parachute, once opened this breaks the Condib's decent, steering it at a 60deg angle, with its nose pointed towards the ground. At that precise moment, a rocket which is attached to it, propels the bomb's warhead into its target (e.g. runway), penetrating and piercing through its concrete layer. After a 6 second delay, the warhead is detonated, creating a 5 m wide by 1.6 m deep hole in the runway, preventing its operational status
LOROP The Vinten Long-Range Oblique Photographic (LOROP) system was carried in the bomb bay of the Buccaneer. The 60 inch lens with a 5 inch film gave the ability to do reconnaissance photography at a safe standoff distance. The aircraft went in below the radar, pitched up and photographed the target and then got out of the area before counter-measures could be activated.
Mk 81 250 lb Bomb Length: 1.78 m (5.84 ft) Diameter: 23.0 cm (9.05 ft) Weight: 120 kg (265 lb) Explosives: 113 kg (250 lb)
Mk 82 500lb Bomb Length: 2.14 m (7.02 ft) Diameter: 27.3 cm (10.7 ft) Weight: 241 kg (531 lb) Explosives: 125 kg (275 lb) H-6 high-explosive
H2 Glide Bomb Range: 60+ km (37+ miles) Length: 3.65 m (11.98 ft) Width: 3.7 m (12.1 ft) Diameter: 38 cm (14.9 ft) Weight: 980 kg (2,160 lb) Explosives: HE
ELT-555 (ACS) Electonic Warfare Pod (Bikini) The ELT-555 is a self-contained self protection ECM pod for fighter aircraft. Electrical power generation is ensured by a ram-air turbine located on the nose of the pod. Internal equipment include fore and aft facing antennas which receive pulsed and continuous wave signals and transmit pulsed responses, plus separate fore and aft facing continuous wave transmitter antennas on the under-surface. The system operates in H- to J-band (6 to 20 GHz) and is designed to operate in dense electromagnetic environments. It has multiple target contrast capability and features BITE.


Flown to RSA – 412, 413, 414, 415, 416, 417 (Lost at sea) 418 and 419 on 27 October to 3 November 1965

Shipped – 421, 423, 424 and 426 aboard the SA Simon van der Stel which docked in Cape Town on 5 August 1966. 411, 420, 422, 425 aboard the SA Langkloof which docked in Cape Town on 17 October 1966.
Airframes Details
411 Crashed 4 Jan 1973 near Ermelo, Lt TJ Schroeder (s) & Lt R.I. Roy (s)
412 Displayed as gate guardian, AFB Waterkloof (Pretoria)
413 Burnt-out after ground collision with Aermacchi MB326 Impalas following hydraulic failure, 27 May 1982, AFB Pietersburg flight line Maj F Siebrits (s) & Capt B Daniel (s)
414 On display, SAAF Museum, AFB Swartkop (Pretoria)
415 Crashed 16 Oct 1969, seaward of Eshowe, Maj SS Odendaal (k) & Maj PJ Webb (k)
416 On display, SAAF Museum, AFB Ysterplaat (Cape Town)
417 Crashed into Atlantic Ocean on delivery flight, 30 Oct 1965, Capt CM Jooste (s) & Lt JJA de Klerk (s)
418 Crashed 14 Oct 1970, De Wet bombing range near Bloemfontein, Cmdt JF van Heerden (Squadron OC, k) & Capt GM Joubert (s)
419 Crashed 24 Nov 1973, seaward of Danger Point during training exercise with SAN and RN, collided with 420, Maj JJS Steinberg (k) & Capt H du Preez (k)
420 Crashed 24 Nov 1973, seaward of Danger Point during training exercise with SAN and RN, collided with 419, Capt BM Antonis (k) & Maj CR Vice (k)
421 On display, SAAF Museum, AFB Swartkop (Pretoria)
422 On display, SA National Museum of Military History (Johannesburg)
423 Crashed 03 Aug 1978, seaward of Scottborough, Capt AL Marais (s) & Capt AH Brinkworth (k)
424 Crashed 09 Jan 1979 near Marble Hall, Capt PB Duncan (k) & Lt PP Wahl (k)
425 Crashed 1 Mar 1978 near Lydenburg, Maj AJ Grobbelaar (s) & Maj JJ Botha (s)
426 Crashed 15 May 1975 near Grootfontein, S-W Africa, Capt MGF Morton (s) & Lt AP Rousseau (s)