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The Comet and Nimrod

by
Ray Williams




MR2P - XV229 - RAF Kinloss MR Wing
On finals to land at RAF Kinloss in Scotland, the Nimrod bristles with all manner of aerials and antennae, MAD equipment being in the extended tail.


TYPE
long range maritime reconnaissance aircraft


MANUFACTURER
de Havilland - British Aerospace


ENGINE
four Rolls-Royce Spey RB168-20/250 turbofans, 12,140lb (5,506kg) thrust


DIMENSIONS
  • span : 114'10"(35m)
  • length : 126'9"(38.63m)
  • height : 28'6"(8.69m)
  • wing area : 2,059sqft(191.28m²)



WEIGHTS

  • empty : 73,816lb(33,483kg)
  • maximum : 177,500lb(80,510kg)



PERFORMANCE

  • max speed : 575mph(926km/h)
  • ceiling : 42,000ft(12,800m)
  • range : 5,755miles(9,265km)



FIRST FLIGHT

  • prototype Comet : 27th July 1949
  • first production : 9th January 1951
  • entered service as Nimrod : September 1969



AVIONICS

  • EMI Searchwater radar
  • Ferranti 1600D computer
  • TacNav - Tactical Navigation system
  • Marconi Avionics AQS901 processor with 8 sonobuoys
  • sonics system & Anglo Australian Barra long range sonobuoy
  • Smiths SEP 6 autopilot
  • MAD - Magnetic Anomaly Detector
  • Loral ESM - Electronic Support Measure pods



WEAPONS

  • four AIM-9G Sidewinder AAM
  • mines & depth charges in the weapons bay
  • Mk.46 homing torpedo
  • Stingray torpedo
  • 1,000lb bombs
  • McDonnell Douglas Harpoon anti-ship missile



NOTES
Developed from the Comet airliner, designed to combine high altitude performance and fast transit speed with low wing loading and low speed manoeuvring to provide anti-shipping strike, submarine hunting and surveillance. They have taken part in two conflicts, the Falklands and the Gulf Wars. Capable of searching and destroying submarines using the MAD system and torpedoes dropped by parachute, the Nimrod finds frequent work these days assisting in long range Air/Sea rescue operations. A version designated AEW.3 very nearly became Britain's Airborne Early Warning aircraft, eventually costs and technical difficulties with the systems resulted in our purchasing American AWACS instead. The flight refuelling probes fitted to Nimrods were salvaged from the Vulcan fleet as they were being scrapped.

The Marconi Avionics AQS901 was a dual fit system, each system capable of processing 8 sonobuoys. The 'sonics system' mentioned above consisted of a chart recorder that burnt submarine signatures onto paper, apparently a smelly process. The aircraft has a galley, essential morale-boosting equipment and the focus of all activity on long flights. The Nimrod can refuel from a variety of tankers including the Hercules, which has to go into a shallow dive while the Nimrod throttles right back. There is a powerful searchlight on the starboard wing, mounted on a fuel tank called the 4A tank. The searchlight is 7 million candle power and cannot be struck on the ground for more than a few seconds or the heat generated destroys the searchlight. The 4A tank is fitted with a black plastic cover which breaks off in a under-carriage-up landing to reveal a small wheel which protects the tank and hopefully stops it rupturing.

UPDATE 1998

21 Nimrods are to be upgraded to 'Nimrod 2000' standard, at a total cost of 1.8 billion pounds. They will have BMW/Rolls-Royce BR710 engines, a new centre wing section, a new mission system, avionics, cabin interior and cockpit, and are due in service around 2002.

Squadrons using the Nimrod:

  • No.42 (Reserve) Squadron, RAF Kinloss (MR.2P)
  • No.51 Squadron, RAF Waddington (R.1)
  • No.120 Squadron, RAF Kinloss (MR.2P)
  • No.201 Squadron, RAF Kinloss (MR.2P)
  • No.206 Squadron, RAF Kinloss (MR.2P)
UPDATE 2010

Nimrod MR2s have now been withdrawn from service. Disposals of the last remaining airframes are as follows:
Serial Going to...
XV226 For Bruntingthorpe
XV229 For Solway Aviation Museum, Carlisle
XV231 Manchester Airport Aviation Viewing Park
XV232 For Coventry Air Atlantique Classic Flight
XV235 Stored at RAF Kinloss
XV240 RAF Kinloss gate guard, see here
XV241 Stored RAF Kinloss
XV244 Stored RAF Kinloss
XV248 Nose to Higland Aviation Museum, Inverness
XV250 Elvington North Yorkshire Air Museum
XV252 Stored RAF Kinloss
XV254 Stored RAF Kinloss
XV255 For RAF Cosford
XV260 Stored RAF Kinloss
XW664 (R1) East Midlands Aeropark

see pictures of some of the above airframes here : 2009 Gallery and 2010 Gallery

2010 - Latest news appears to be that the entire MRA4 project has been cancelled by the UK government as a cost cutting exercise, causing enormous grief, no doubt, in many RAF establishments involved with the aircraft, notably RAF Kinloss. The new aircraft, costing millions, are being cut up for scrap. Seems madness, let's hope 'they' know what they're doing!



MR2P - XV232 - RAF Kinloss MR Wing
Close-up of the Nimrod's nose with the hefty flight refuelling probe above the cockpit, and massive bomb bay doors open below the engine intake. Just visible is one of two aerials for SARBE (Search And Rescue Bearing/Beacon Equipment) used to detect the personal locator beacons of crew in the water after ejecting. An instrument in the cockpit gives the first pilot (left hand seat, by his left leg) fly left/right instructions and an audible bleep from the PLB.