The Cuban Missile Crisis and the Indonesian confrontation, ‘Western Rangers’ and new tactics — 1962-63 was quite a time to join No XV Squadron on the Victor B1A. In the first of two features this month on life in the ‘V-Force’, one of the RAF’s most experienced navigators recalls his first tour
The age-old traditions of Bomber Command still applied when I arrived on No 232 Operational Conversion Unit at RAF Gaydon in June 1961 for No 36 Victor Course. On the first night, we all gathered in the officers’ mess bar, and the OCU instructors expected us to sort out our five-man crews. Across the room, I recognised a blond-haired chap — David Bywater, who, as a senior cadet, had marched me around the drill square at Cranwell and was coming through as the first first-tourist co-pilot on Victors to make it to captaincy. He looked like a good bet, so I bought him a beer, and we spent the rest of the evening picking out a co-pilot, a nav plotter and an air electronics officer.