Website Home             Airfields Home            Snapshots Home


Fairey Fireflash Service Trials At RAF Valley 1958

Fairey Fireflash Trials At RAF Valley. Swift Aircraft. Aberporth Range

For the past eighteen months the Royal Air Force has been accumulating experience in the squadron use of air-to-air missiles at R.A.F. Station Valley, in Anglesey, where No. 1 Guided Weapon Development Squadron (W/C. J. O. Dailey) has been flying Swift F. 7s and carrying out a planned programme of Fairey Fireflash firings over the Aberporth range. At least 40 Fireflashes were to be seen in various stages of preparation and storage during a visit last week and a demonstration firing was made alongside a Hastings.

Since Fireflash is not destined for general service, the trials are not intended to prove or disprove this weapon but rather to give a Service squadron the experience and know-how they will require when the later Firestreak comes into service with G.W.D.S. next year. Though each Fireflash firing may at present cost several thousand pounds, the G.W.D.S. programme has in fact saved much more money by allowing the Service to finalise all the number drills and installation requirements for missile handling. Each Fireflash carries a telemetry head which transmits some 24 channels of information on its behaviour. The actual results of testing, assembly and storage can thus be assessed; and two scientists are collecting statistical data far future reference.

Fireflash has proved accurate, easy to use and lethal though, because of the expense involved, very few domes have been deliberately destroyed. The firings are generallyy made with the target out of range, the telemetry results showing whether success would have been achieved.

The sequence of Fireflash handling has now been established as follows. The dart, its boost or "stork" motors and the wings and fins arrive in shockproof packings and are taken to the electronic check-out laboratory. There the interior-components are extracted from the dart to be fitted with potted batteries, while the wings are screwed to the cylindrical body. The weapon is then assembled with fins and placed on the oats table (Operational Airfield Test Set) for a complete "Go - No Go" check with the missile rolling and turning on its mounting. Electrical, gyro air, cooling air and servo air supplies are connected. The assembly next receives its telemetry head and goes to the telemetry test cradle where operation is checked by actual transmissions to special receivers in another room.

The completely checked darts are taken to the fenced-off explosives area, which is safeguarded by stringent regulations and drills. Here the boost motors are individually checked for electrical integrity before being assembled to the missile on a universal transporter trolley, and final electrical checks of fusing and firing circuits are made with photo-electric voltages. During checking the assembly is isolated on an anchoring stand. Brick huts are specially designed to dissipate blast from accidental explosions, and assembly rooms have special doors to allow rapid escape in case of trouble. Following this the complete, checked missiles are mounted on racks in warmed storage rooms until required. They can alternatively be stored in special cases in the open.

Before Fireflash is loaded on the aircraft, the pylons and firing circuits are checked according to a precise drill. The missiles, on their universal trailers, are then run up to the pylons and secured according to further strict drills. After that they can be left in situ under special fabric covers. The aircraft is treated as if it had loaded guns.

Range work is under close G.C.I. control, though an audio tone normally tells the pilot when he is at correct firing range.

Range work is under close G.C.I. control, though an audio tone normally tells the pilot when he is at correct firing range. After that he holds the guiding beam on target with a visual sight and tracks it accurately for the five seconds or so of missile flight-time. The boost motors separate after two seconds, by which time the missile is travelling at a speed higher than Mach 2. Incidentally, the first Fireflash firing was made from a modified Meteor NF.11 in the summer of 1951 by Mr. I. R. Ryall of Fairey, who now manages the site for the R.A.F. His observer was Mr. P. H. Clark. The G.W.D. squadron is in fact a Central Fighter Establishment unit coming under the direction of the Group Captain Operations, G/C. W. Pitt-Brown.


Mr. I. R. Ryall and his flight observer, Mr. P. H. Clark, stand beside the Meteor NF.11 from
Mr. I. R. Ryall and his flight observer, Mr. P. H. Clark, stand beside the Meteor NF.11 Fairey Fireflash
 which they made the first Fireflash firing during the summer of 1951.
 

The electronic check-out laboratory where the dart of Fireflash is unpacked, assembled and fully checked before joining with its boost motors.
The electronic check-out laboratory where the dart of Fireflash is unpacked, assembled and fully checked before joining with its boost motors.

The sequence of Fireflash preparation:

Telemetry checking; "Go- No-Go"
Telemetry checking; "Go- No-Go"
Checking of the headless dart;

  .Boost motor electrical test.
Boost motor electrical test -
 Boost motor final assembly and test

Final checks with photo- electric voltages, the missile
Final checks with photo- electric voltages, the missile mounted on its universal trolley Topping-up nitrogen for the servos;

 Approaching the aircraft in drill sequence
Approaching the aircraft in drill sequence - Final connection before removing wing guards.

Storage on the aircraft - Storage in heated rooms
Storage on the aircraft - Storage in heated rooms


From A "Flight" Article October 1958