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Fifty Years On

By patspeirs  
Fifty Years On

Just 50 yrs ago this week the QRA Squadrons of 2TAF in Germany stood at enhanced alert as the Cuban crisis played out. Equipped with nuclear capable Canberra BI8 aircraft the four RAF squadrons assigned to NATO were tasked with low-level missions ‘somewhere in the East’. With less than 30mins flying time to the then East German border it was a fair bet that the Canberras would be the pointy end of the lance if hostilities commenced.

The image, untouched apart from some filtering, was taken from an accompanying aircraft during the almost daily low level practice missions over the West German countryside - the murky October weather wasn’t a great help for the photography! The camera was, and still is, an Agfa Silette with Ilford HP4 film loaded, home processed. The aircraft is a Canberra BI8 of 3Squdaron based at Geilenkirchen at that time - posted in recognition of all the good and often ’scary’ times that long 50 yrs ago. See you in the bar, guys.

Tags: Photo journalism

Voters: Jazzyjack, RonnieAG, adonoghue and 11 more

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RonnieAG Plus
8 154 118 Scotland
19 Oct 2012 11:13AM
Quite a nostalgic one for you, Pat, and an original from a low level exercise: hard to believe it's 50 years since the Cuban crisis which sticks in my memory so clearly.
How times passes.

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adonoghue 14 519 England
19 Oct 2012 11:13AM
Nice bit of history Smile
salopian Plus
6 3 27 United Kingdom
19 Oct 2012 11:16AM
Great shot and very nostalgic for me particularly as my brother, John Field, was C.O of 3 Squadron at Geilenkirchen at the time and flew on many of these Canberra practice missions- right, single malt for me please!

NaturesHaven 6 283 6 England
19 Oct 2012 11:24AM
Thanks for the info..........very interesting, great image from all those years ago..........terrific........GrinGrinGrin
19 Oct 2012 11:37AM
Thanks for the input/comment guys, good to hear from you all. Guess I had gone by the time your brother arrived, Geoff, W/C Ross was CO at my time, after we transferred from 59 Sqdn in 1961. A single malt with pleasure - wish we could get it at RAF Mess prices in Germany - no tax there!!
Jestertheclown 9 7.7k 252 England
19 Oct 2012 12:11PM
A great, if somewhat aged, shot Pat.
I was born in 1954 but I can recall the Cuban crisis and watching it unfold on a TV set (one of only two in the street. The other belonging to my Aunt!) at a friend's house.
I can remember my friend's father patiently explaining the situation in terms that we'd understand.
Dave_Collier 12 236 2 England
19 Oct 2012 1:33PM
A touch of nostalgia with this image, and I had forgotten how flat the terrain is in that part of Germany. My late father was based at Geilenkirchen at that time working in the Photographic section, my mother and I joined him in October 1963 after my elder brother and sister had left school and embarked upon their respective careers. If I remember correctly there were two squadrons of Gloster Javelins based there as well.
User_Removed 8 48 1 United Kingdom
19 Oct 2012 3:15PM
Nice image, and yes you are right it is a hurricane, i will put one of both of them together tomorrow, regards, Alf.
19 Oct 2012 5:20PM
Dave - thanks for your input, Geilers was a busy place for photographers it seems. Think only one squadron of Javelins (noisy brutes, too) there - 5 or 11 Sqdn depending on the dates. Good to hear from you....................Pat
dakasuju 9 6
20 Oct 2012 1:36PM
I was reminded this week by the supersonic sky dive, that about 50 years ago, a canberra of 39 Sqn (Pilot Fl.Lt de Sallis) when boosted towards 65,000 feet by a Napier Rocket "exploded" over MoneyAsh Moor in Derbyshire with the 2 man crew doing the highest operational freefall (unintentional) down to about 8000 feet when their chutes, operated on a pressure release, brought them safely down onto the moor. The record drop stood until that of Gary Powers in a U2. Was a good aircraft the canberra.
pablophotographer 6 951 334
12 May 2014 11:15AM
I salute your skill.

Thanks for showing that you can take a picture of a jet with a film camera and get a good result.

We must be thankful to all of these unknown men who handled the crisis and the operations didn't escalate to war.


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