The Grim Reapers of VF-101

Marshall Lefavor reports on the US Navy’s only unit tasked with providing combat ready F-14 crews to the Fleet.

THE US NAVY’S restructuring programme has mode Fighter Squadron 101 (VF-101) the world’s largest squadron. Budget cuts, base closures and other shuffling forced the west coast F-14 Fleet Replacement Sqn (FRS) at NAS Miramar to fold, leaving VF-101 as the single site headquarters for providing combat ready F-14 Tomcat crews to the Fleet.

VF-101 Grim Reopen is at the heart of ‘Fighter Country’ at NAS Oceana’s Fighter Wing Atlantic. It operates at Oceana with nine Fleet VF squadrons. Besides feeding replacement

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Taking the Strain in the Middle East

THE RAF’S Hercules fleet is seeing a major surge in the tempo of its operations in the Middle East to support simultaneous British Army combat deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan. It comes at a time when almost half the RAF’s C-130K fleet is undergoing urgent modifications.

As a result, the RAF’s C-130J fleet, operated by 24 and 30 Squadrons, is being heavily tasked during the current rotation of army brigades, totalling more than 20,000 troops, into Afghanistan and Iraq. C-130Js are used to shuttle troops to and from Basra so that RAF Tristars and chartered airliners can land at Al

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Sri Lankas Air War

Alan Warnes returned to Sri Lanka during March to see how the SLAF is faring.

THE BLOODY CONFLICT in Sri Lanka continues (see Sri Lanka’s Unique Air Force, July 96, p47-55). It does not make the national papers regularly because the government restricts the passage of journalists, but it still rages on. Battles between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) — whose leader Vellupilli Prabhakaran is also wanted in India for the alleged LTTE slaying of Premier Rajiv Gandhi in 1989 — and government troops are seemingly a daily occurrence. Only last August, the Army camp at Mallaittivu (see

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CHINA 1405-1433

The first of seven daring maritime journeys for the Chinese Treasure Fleet got underway in 1405. From this first expedition to the fleet’s final trip in 1431, these voyages — led by explorer Zheng He — would expand the influence of the Chinese empire throughout the world from Indonesia to Africa.

The fleet was commissioned in 1403 by Emperor Chengzu, who appointed the eunuch Zheng He as its leader. Zheng He was an imposing captain at 1.8 metres (six foot) tall who, after being taken prisoner at the age of ten, had gained the favour of the emperor


R&W Febry & Sons Ltd

Individually, the Fabry’s most prominent (arm would have been that of R8W Febry of Chipping Sod bury, which at its height was operating a fleet of 150 haulage vehicles. Although in partnership with his brother, William, the firm was spearheaded by the chairman and managing director Richard (Dick) Febry.

Dick was the eldest of six sons and six daughters born to Albert and Alice Febry at Old Sod bury. He started work at the age of 12 at the Cross Hands Farm. Old Sod bury.

As a 17-year-old in 1921 Dick went to work for a local coal-merchant where he

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Pentagon Slashes C-5 Modernisation

THE US Air Force has pulled the plug on the long-standing scheme to re-engine its entire fleet of C-5 Galaxy airlifters and convert them to C-5M versions. The ‘M’ suffix signifies ‘modernised’.

Under the reliability enhancement and re-engining programme (RERP), antiquated General Electric TF39-GE-1C turbofan engines, which are costly to maintain and supply, are being replaced by new, General Electric CF6^0C2 engines. Air Force leaders badly wanted to put new engines on all Galaxys; the decision will force them to operate a fleet of C-5s with two engine types.

In November 2007, a quarterly Pentagon report confirmed what many had

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Nimrod MRA4 Trials Fleet Passes 1,000 Flying Hours

DURING ICING trials in the USA, the three-strong Nimrod MRA4 development fleet passed the milestone 1,000 flying hour mark in February. The icing certification flights are the latest step in the MRA4 trials programme and involved the first prototype, ZJ516 (PA01). The aircraft arrived at Nashville International Airport, Tennessee, on February 1 for the month-long test programme, having flown more than 4,500nm (8,325km) from the UK, via overnight stops in the Azores and Bermuda. A wide range of test conditions were experienced, with up to 2in (5cm) of ice accreted on the wings and ground conditions ranging from snowfalls to

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Indian Air Force Jaguar Fleet Temporarily Grounded

AS A result of the investigation into the take-off crash at Ambala on May 7 of Indian Air Force (IAF)/6 Squadron Jaguar IS JS148, the entire IAF Jaguar fleet was temporarily grounded for checks on May 30. Investigators discovered the cause of the crash was a missing split pin in the engine, as a result of which the fleet was grounded for thorough checks before flying could be resumed. A similar problem was discovered in another operational aircraft at Ambala. A team from BAE Systems, HAL and the IAF began inspections on the IAF Jaguar fleet, believed to comprise around

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Facing the Future Pari 2

CHANGING PRIORITIES have required the South African Air Force (SAAF — or Suid-Afrikaanse lugmaa — SALM) to re orientate and to scale down, in the light of new needs and strengths. The successfully prosecuted war in Namibia proved beyond doubt to the SAAF the value of its helicopter force. While the SAAF has reduced its rotary wing inventory to two types, the ‘new’ SAAF will rely heavily on helicopters for a wide variety of support tasks, essential to the need for rapid — and varied — response.

Helitopler Forte

With the withdrawal of the Frelons and Wasps, the SAAF now

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Exhibition Opens at the Fleet Air Arm Museum

News of the opening of a new exhibition in a military history museum is always of interest to enthusiasts and militaria collectors who are keen to see displays of items and learn more about the aspects of a campaign or battle. The new display which opened at the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton in Somerset on 11 July tells the history of the campaign known as the Battle of the Atlantic and when The Armourer was invited we eagerly accepted and went along to see for ourselves.

The Battle of the Atlantic can be said to have begun on

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