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Phantom F4K - Trans-Atlantic Air Race

& USS Saratoga

Air Race Phantom and maintenance team

Phantom F4K 001, Serial No. XT 858 after the final run for
Project 'Royal Blue'
The 1969 Trans-Atlantic Air Race, with the maintenance crew who helped make it all possible. Photo (most probably): HMS Heron Photographic Section.

Let me try to put some names to those faces - e-mail me with additions and corrections please):

Back Row left to right : Al Wickes, Ron Bridgeman, Keith Abnett, John Ricketts, Charlie Kunz, Andy Crouch, Colin Yarwood, Bernie Frankland.

Front Row left to right : Tony Bridgeland, Tony (Buggsy) Breed, Ralph Wintle, Nick Carter, Doug Mitchell (AEO), Graham (Charlie) Probert, George Barrass, Les Sturgess, Bert Kimber.


A special thank you to Andy Crouch for getting in touch by email and putting more names to faces and to Keith Abnett for providing the last name, Buggsy Breed.

I would like to thank Graham (Charlie) Probert for contacting me with the sad news that Buggsy Breed 'Crossed the Bar' last year.

For the record the details of 001's successful Trans-Atlantic bid were: Date 11 June 1969, Crew Lt.Cdr. Brian Davies (P) and Lt.Cdr. Peter Goddard (O), Runway to runway time 4 hours 46 minutes 57 seconds, Overall time 5 hours 11 minutes 22 seconds, Average true air speed (to Lundy Island) 1,100mph.

Phantom F4k on USS Saratoga catapult

Phantom 013 about to be launched from the USS Saratoga, October 1969.

Photo: Ronald Linkfield

The visitation of the UK Phantoms was not without cost to the Saratoga. The 40 inch nose leg extension and more fierce afterburner took a toll of the Sara's deck.

The Ark Royal had been fitted with a completely redesigned water-cooled jet-blast-deflector (JBD) to obviate this problem. Those Ark JBDs were noticeably bigger than those on previous UK carrier fits.

I know as I once had occasion to hang on to a Sea Vixen's (XS586 246V) wing-fold jury strut like grim death behind the much smaller starboard JBD on HMS Victorious whilst a Buc' was being launched. This all because an officer thought he knew better. Long story - swing the lamps time - he got his come-upance the following day, with XS586 in the same position, when a Gannet nearly blew him off the deck when he ignored my warnings.

Feel free to e-mail me with any comments and feedback.


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