It was to be one of the most ambitious operations since 617 Squadron dropped their revolutionary bombs into the dams of the Ruhr Valley in 1943.
When Argentine forces invaded the Falklands in the early hours of 2 April 1982, Britain’s military chiefs were faced with a real-life Mission Impossible. It’s opening shot, they decided, would be Operation BLACK BUCK: to strike a body blow at the occupying army, and make then realise that nothing was safe – not even Buenos Aires.
The idea was simple: to destroy the vital landing strip at Port Stanley. The reality was more complicated. The only aircraft that could possibly do the job was three months from being scrapped, and the distance it had to travel was four thousand miles beyond its maximum range. It would take fifteen Victor tankers and seventeen separate in-flight refuellings to get one Avro Vulcan B2 over the target, and give its crew any chance of coming back alive.
Yet less than a month later, a formation of elderly British jets was launched from a remote island airbase to carry out the longest-range air attack in history. At the tip of the spear was a single airctaft, six men, and twenty-one thousand-pound bombs, facing a hornet’s nest of modern weaponry: the radar-guided guns and missiles of the Argentine defences. There would be no second chances …
It was the end of an era – the last time the RAF flew heavy bombers into combat before they were replaced by their digital, fly-by-wire, laser-guided successors. There were many who believed it couldn’t be done.
Drawing on extensive interviews with the combatants, Falklands residents and British High Command, and with unprecedented access to contemporary military records, Rowland White takes us, for the first time, to the beating heart of the legendary raid. Vulcan 607 is a story of ingenuity, courage and sheer bloody-mindedness that’s destined to become a classic.