Jump to content
  • 0
antarmike

Grand Slam and RAF Scampton

Question

This tale comes from "The Australian Armourers Association" Web page.

 

"Apparently when Lincolnshire County Council were widening the road past RAF Scampton's main gate in about 1958, the 'gate guards' there had to be moved to make way for the new carriageway. Scampton was the WWII home of 617 Sqn, and said "gate guards" were a Lancaster...and a Grand Slam (10 Ton) bomb.

 

When they went to lift the Grand Slam, thought for years to just be an empty casing, with an RAF 8 Ton Coles Crane, it wouldn't budge. "Oh, it must be filled with concrete" they said. Then somebody had a horrible thought .... No!..... Couldn't be? ... Not after all these years out here open to the public to climb over and be photographed sitting astride! .... Could it? .... Then everyone raced off to get the Station ARMO. He carefully scraped off many layers of paint and gingerly unscrewed the base plate.

 

Yes, you guessed it, live 1944 explosive filling! The beast was very gently lifted onto an RAF 'Queen Mary' low loader, using a much larger civvy crane (I often wonder what, if anything, they told the crane driver), then driven slowly under massive police escort to the coastal experimental range at Shoeburyness. There it was rigged for demolition, and when it 'high ordered', it proved in no uncertain terms to anyone within a ten mile radius that the filling was still very much alive!

 

Exhaustive investigations then took place, but nobody could find the long-gone 1944, 1945 or 1946 records which might have shown how a live 22,000 lb bomb became a gate guard for nearly the next decade and a half. Some safety distance calculations were done, however, about the effect of a Grand Slam detonating at ground level in the open. Apart from the entire RAF Station, most of the northern part of the City of Lincoln, including Lincoln Cathedral, which dates back to 1250, would have been flattened. "

 

 

The is clearly a typo with refence to 1944 explosive filling, because Grand Slam was not available until 1945, But can anyone confirm the general accuracy of this tale? Had a live bomb sat by the A15 for 13 or 14 years in plain sight of everyone...?

Edited by antarmike

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

17 answers to this question

Recommended Posts

  • 0

I have heard this story before, although it may be apocryphal. I'm not sure believe the bit at the end about flattening everything within an 8 mile radius either!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • 0

It is a bit cock if they were happy to explode it at Shoeburyness just a few miles from Southend and only three from the still very dangerous wreck of the Richard Montgomery. Unless they planned to steam the explosives out.

 

Maybe it was a Tallboy instead of a Grand Slam?? Dunno.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
It is a bit cock if they were happy to explode it at Shoeburyness just a few miles from Southend and only three from the still very dangerous wreck of the Richard Montgomery. Unless they planned to steam the explosives out.

 

Maybe it was a Tallboy instead of a Grand Slam?? Dunno.

 

That raises an interesting point Mark - wasn't it 2010 when they reckoned the Montgomery's cargo would be so unstable as to be a real risk of detonation from passing ships????

 

Or am I confusing it with another wreck????

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

Some years ago off St Brelade's bay in guess where? There was discovered the wreck of a merachant ship that had been sunk by the RAF containg a large amount of ordnace. It was decided the best thing was blow it place. Dire warnings of possible destruction , headlands closed, and all us kids sneacking about round the states Police and the Honarary's (IT would have been rude not to) So there we were expecting (or hoping for) a tidal wave . One large thud about 30 feet of water spout and a few dead fish. Most disapointing.

It does make you laygh, one small 250kg bomb in England, thousands evacuated , streets closed. In Belgium or Malta, fine we'll send the truck in a couple of days.

Edited by Tony B

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

Hi Mike nice picture I think the smaller bomb is a Tallboy 11,885lb and the larger a Grandslam 22,000lb "Earthquake"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

And to add further confusion the dtae I have for the runway extension being built at Scampton is 1955, By 1958 Nuclear weapons were already at Scampton and the Vulcan V bobers were in placfe by May 1958.

Edited by antarmike

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

In 1953 Scampton became a Master Diversion Airfield and the Watch Office received a glass penthouse for use by the Local Controller.

Scampton was selected in 1955 to be one of ten airfields which were to accommodate part of the RAF ‘V’ Bomber force, in this case the Avro Vulcan. This required an extension of the runway to 9,000ft, which took place in 1955 and the provision of extensive new ground facilities, including a high security area for the storage and maintenance of nuclear weapons and heavy-duty hardstandings for the aircraft.

The first nuclear weapons to be delivered to Scampton during 1958 were the twenty kiloton atomic bombs given the Rainbow Code, ‘Blue Danube’. They were replaced by the smaller ‘Yellow Sun’ Stage 1 (Mk. 1s) which were the first of the UK’s operational thermonuclear weapons.

The development of the ‘stand-off’ nuclear missile ‘Blue Steel’ required the construction of new specialist buildings: the Missile Servicing and Storage Building (MSSB) which was erected between the main hangars and the airfield, and the highly volatile High Test Peroxide (HTP) and kerosene fuel storage buildings which were located at some distance from the MSSB.

Additional structures and parts of the layout relate to changes made during the Cold War. In particular the runway was rearranged to a NE/SW alignment, and extended by 3,000 yards to project beyond the north east corner of the base, requiring the diversion of Ermine Street. Areas of hard standing with associated operational readiness platforms (ORPs) were also provided.

Technical buildings were also added to in this period. The Unit Storage to the far north of the site were constructed for storage and maintenance of nuclear bombs. Upon the introduction of the Blue Steel stand-off missile, new buildings were constructed just to the north-east of the hangars, to develop, maintain and fuel the missiles. A new Control Tower was constructed close to these buildings to provide a view of the newly expanded runway.

Domestic areas were developed as a response to the increased numbers of personnel using the site. These included new barrack blocks to the southeast of the hangar crescent and larger areas of family accommodation, built during the 1950s to the south of Pollyplatt Lane and in the 1960s at the far western end of Pollyplatt Lane.

On 30th June 1968, Blue Steel operations at Scampton were terminated, as the Royal Navy, with the submarine launched ‘Polaris’ missile, assumed responsibility for the UK nuclear deterrent.

Scampton.jpg

RAF Scampton in 1978. Taken from Blake, RNE, 1984 Airfields of Lincolnshire since 1912

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

It seems to me the dates in the Aussie webpage are all to cock. If the A15 was re-alighened in 1955 to go round the extenteded runway, why on earth only three years alter would the council be addinng a carraigeway?. I have my doubts about this story....

Edited by antarmike

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0
In 1953 Scampton became a Master Diversion Airfield and the Watch Office received a glass penthouse for use by the Local Controller.

Scampton was selected in 1955 to be one of ten airfields which were to accommodate part of the RAF ‘V’ Bomber force, in this case the Avro Vulcan. This required an extension of the runway to 9,000ft, which took place in 1955 and the provision of extensive new ground facilities, including a high security area for the storage and maintenance of nuclear weapons and heavy-duty hardstandings for the aircraft.

The first nuclear weapons to be delivered to Scampton during 1958 were the twenty kiloton atomic bombs given the Rainbow Code, ‘Blue Danube’. They were replaced by the smaller ‘Yellow Sun’ Stage 1 (Mk. 1s) which were the first of the UK’s operational thermonuclear weapons.

The development of the ‘stand-off’ nuclear missile ‘Blue Steel’ required the construction of new specialist buildings: the Missile Servicing and Storage Building (MSSB) which was erected between the main hangars and the airfield, and the highly volatile High Test Peroxide (HTP) and kerosene fuel storage buildings which were located at some distance from the MSSB.

Additional structures and parts of the layout relate to changes made during the Cold War. In particular the runway was rearranged to a NE/SW alignment, and extended by 3,000 yards to project beyond the north east corner of the base, requiring the diversion of Ermine Street. Areas of hard standing with associated operational readiness platforms (ORPs) were also provided.

Technical buildings were also added to in this period. The Unit Storage to the far north of the site were constructed for storage and maintenance of nuclear bombs. Upon the introduction of the Blue Steel stand-off missile, new buildings were constructed just to the north-east of the hangars, to develop, maintain and fuel the missiles. A new Control Tower was constructed close to these buildings to provide a view of the newly expanded runway.

Domestic areas were developed as a response to the increased numbers of personnel using the site. These included new barrack blocks to the southeast of the hangar crescent and larger areas of family accommodation, built during the 1950s to the south of Pollyplatt Lane and in the 1960s at the far western end of Pollyplatt Lane.

On 30th June 1968, Blue Steel operations at Scampton were terminated, as the Royal Navy, with the submarine launched ‘Polaris’ missile, assumed responsibility for the UK nuclear deterrent.

Scampton.jpg

RAF Scampton in 1978. Taken from Blake, RNE, 1984 Airfields of Lincolnshire since 1912

 

 

Mike I have just read this thread with great interest having been at Scampton december 1967 to september 1970. shivers down the spine at the mention of HTP part of the arrival course was to watch one drop of HTP being put onto a pair of battledress trousers whooooosssshhhhh bang gone !!

Somewhere I have photos of the Lanc on the gate during my tour there I will have to dig and see if the big beast was still there I think it was.

I do not believe the re-alignment of the A15 affect the portion of the road outside the main gate in the area of the Lanc::: as you left the station the guardroom was on your left and the Lanc on your right. I believe the road was then in 67 as it was before re-alignment. The realignment commenced about 100yardss north of the main gate. AS for taking the bomb by road to Shoeburyness ??? Mnnn From Scampton I went to Akrotiri and worked on the maintenance of weapon handling and loading equipment including the gear of the NEAF BD team I used to look after their steam generator with loving care as I knew one day the lad's lives might depend on it.

The format for disposing of a HE bomb was to remove the fuses dets pistols etc. Once you were 100% all such items were removed, a trepanning tool was clamped to the bomb and a couple of holes trepanned through the casing , then you connected the steam generator and steamed the explosive out. It could then be safely taken away for disposal either by dumping at sea or by burning. I left Cyprus in sept 1973, The Greek Cypriot community had, for the last 12 months of my tour been tearing itself apart, In July 74 I was back out there with the Victor tankers when the full blown civil war within the Greek Cypriot community kicked off, this culminated in the Turkish invasion. When I left Akrotiri in 73 my Flt commander was Flt Lt Caustick amongst the SNCOs that worked with me were 3 Chief Technician Armourers: Mick Sharpe, Andy Anderson and Fred Knox. They all received awards for bravery in BD work in rendering safe Turkish bombs that had failed to explode they are legends in the RAF BD world. I will try and find the photos .

regards TED

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

Mike just found some info on the gate guards at Scampton ; Q Queenie serial R5868 went to Scampton during 1959 after the 1955-58 expansion and A15 re-alignment had been completed , she remained there until Nov 1970 dismantled and taken to RAF Bicester where a 2 year refurb undertaken before being put on show at Hendon.

Q Queenie was subsequently replaced By NX 611 in 1973 she remained at Scampton until 1988 when she was transported to East Kirkby where she can be seen taxying under her own steam; So by my reckoning, up to the period of Scampton's expansion and the A15 re-alignment there has never been a Gate Guard ??

TED

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

I reckon you are right, Q Queenie is variously said to have come to Scampton in 1958 or 1959 from Bicester where she had been in storage since 1947.

 

The whole story is just a load of BLOCKS isn't it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

Mike I second that motion, most reference material gives 59 and most give Wroughton as the pre Scampton storage, With Bicester being the make- over location between Scampton and Hendon. , I did some searches last night The Aussie story seems to have been doing the rounds for several years on numerous forums;; they will do anything to get the lamp swinging and earn a free beer, in fact they are only beaten by the Canadians !! Why did we ever join europe in preference to the Commonwealth ? sorry I digress

regards TED

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

The other thing that doesnt ring true is the difficulty the crane operator had trying to lift the bomb to remove it, surely when it was placed, that sort of thing would of been noticed!

I spent 15 years in the RAF and i have a mate who is now a retired BD, and does it in civvy street, it sounds like a load of carp to me!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

I think what Ted explained killed off the story for me when he said what I was thinking -why take a live bomb 200 plus miles down to Shoeburyness in Kent when you could make it safe on site! And assuming it could not be defused, then getting rid of it in The Wash would have made better sense.

Edited by LarryH57

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 0

And what would the bomb be doing there anyway? The base had been lent to the Americans as a B29 Super Fortress base because of its strong long runway, The RAF had not long got it back. Surely all British Munitions from the war would have been cleared before the base was handed over to the Yanks?

 

The B29's were there from July 1948 to 1953. After that Canberra's operated out of Scampton, and they couldn't use Grand Slam.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now



×