RAF Sharjah

Located in the Trucial States (now part of the United Arab Emirates), some 200 miles from Bahrain and 12 miles east of Dubai, RAF Sharjah played an increasingly important role during the final decade of the RAFís tenure in the Persian Gulf, not only in its capacity as a major route station for aircraft flying within and beyond the MEC area, but as host to the AFME Hunter squadrons partaking in Armament Practice Camps on the Jeb-a-Jib range. With the closure of the station in December 1971, the task of providing Hunter training and routing facilities fell on Masirah.

The following gallery contains images taken during several APC detachments to Sharjah by 8 Squadron.

This 1963 view of the Control Tower at Sharjah depicts a building that had changed little since it was constructed before the war (Taff John)

In 1963, the only indication that this was the main entrance to Sharjah Camp was the standard RAF sign (Taff John)

Sand flies up under a pair of FGA.9s, XE651-M+XG128-Q, as their Avpin starters ignite during the first 8 Squadron Hunter detachment to Sharjah in March 1960 (Roy Hollow)

Prototype FGA.9, XG135-P, on the compacted-sand apron at Sharjah in March 1960 (Roy Hollow)

It did not take long for the first incident to occur, FGA.9, XE649-S, suffering the ignomy of a two-wheel landing at Sharjah in 1960 (Mike Halpin)

The Hunter line at Sharjah is almost deserted in this November 1963 view, taken in a rare period of inclement weather (author)

The line at Sharjah as seen in November 1963 when four Hunters from CFE flew out from the UK to assess the Squadron's capabilities (author)

Two 8 Sqn FGA.9s, XG154-E and XE620-B, roll down the Sharjah runway prior to a cannon and rocket sortie on Jeb-a-Jib range, November 1963 (author)

CFE F.6, XG204-B, and 8 Sqn FGA.9, XE618-D, taking off for a cannon and rocket assault on the Jeb-a-Jib range in November 1963 (author)

An 8 Sqn FGA.9 swoops in low on the target as the pilot unleashes a 'pneumatic drill-like' volley of 30 mm cannon fire .....

..... and pulls up and away from ricocheting shells on the Jeb-a-Jib range, November 1963 (both, author)

Diving down at a steeper angle, the smoke trail behind the aircraft indicates that the pilot has just fired his rockets, Jeb-a-Jib, November 1963 (author)

In addition to canvas screens mounted on scaffolding, Bill Shephard inspects the damage done to an ex-Army 3-tonner used as a target, Jeb-a-Jib, November 1963 (author)

A couple of Armourers load a concrete headed rocket onto XF440-S at Sharjah, prior to a training sortie on Jeb-a-Jib in December 1963 (author)

Bearing the nosewheel door markings of the 'Boss' Tammy Syme's aircraft, FGA.9, XE620-B, prepares to land at Sharjah in November 1963 (author)

One of two 8 Sqn FGA.9s to bear the lower camouflage cheat line, XE618-D comes into land at Sharjah in November 1963 (author)

Approaching low over the Sharjah threshold, the pilot of 8 Sqn FGA.9, XF440-L, lifts the nose to ensure he reaches the runway, November 1963 (author)

Wearing his distinctive yellow helmet, Bill Shephard drops 8 Sqn FGA.9, XG255-G, onto the Sharjah runway in November 1963 (author)

Of note is the new nose cone and nosewheel door, the result of a two-wheeled landing at Bahrain a few day earlier.

Looking across the line towards Sharjah Control Tower in November 1963, with recently refurbished 8 Sqn FGA.9, XF376-K, in the foreground (author)

With no hangar available, all servicing at Sharjah was carried out under a scorching sun as with the undercarriage checks seen here (author)

The compacted-sand apron having been flooded the previous day, Kuwait Airways Viscount 754, OD-ACT, makes use of a vacant space on the 8 Squadron Hunter line at Sharjah, November, 1963 (author)

After the closure of Ksar, 8 Sqn continued to use Sharjah for its APC commitment, as depicted in this August 1970 view (Ken Parry)

The Squadron continued with an allocation of four FR.10s, XJ714 seen here, being fresh from refurbishment in the UK.

Four Hunters perform a Hi-Lo take off from Sharjah in November 1970, the leading pair going high .....

..... as the rear pair hug the ground (Lo) in order to quickly build up speed (both, Ken Parry)

A typical middle-eastern sunset frames this 8 Squadron T.7 on the line at Sharjah in November 1970 (Ken Parry)

Servicing facilities at Sharjah in 1963 were non-existent and rectification work was carried out on the pan. Here, Ron (?) and Pete Cussels build up their energy prior to changing the engine on XF435 behind them (Taff John)

In 1963, six former Royal Navy Hawker Sea Hawks were sold to the Indian Navy and passed through Sharjah during their ferry to India in pairs. Painted in an all-over black colour scheme, two of them made a 'stop-over' during an 8 Squadron APC detachment in late November 1963, and these are pictured in the following gallery. As 8 Squadron exchanged pilot, Lt Tim Notley (RN), knew the pilots, the squadron undertook the responsibility of looking after them.

Indian Navy Sea Hawk FGA.6, IN181, being parked alongside 8 Squadron FGA.9, XE618-D, provides a chance to compare the two Hawker products (author)

IN181 was formerly XE378 with the Royal Navy.

Birds-eye, frontal view of Indian Navy Sea Hawk, IN181, on the Hunter pan at Sharjah (author)

Pete Marshall and Jona Jones look on as the two Indian Navy Sea Hawks, IN181+IN184 start up at Sharjah in December 1963 (author)

IN184 taxies out from Sharjah under the watchful eye of Lt Tim Notley, a Royal Navy pilot on an exchanged tour with 8 Squadron (author)

IN184 was formerly XE394 with the Royal Navy.

The two black Sea Hawks take off as a pair from Sharjah for an early morning departure to their next stop in Pakistan (author)

Apart from the nearby beaches, leisure pursuits at Sharjah were almost non-existent, sport being the main physical activity.

Paul Constable is about to pounce as Taff Evans tussles for the ball while Jock(?), Bill Sheppard and Tam Syme look on - Officers v Airmen basketball match, Sharjah, 11-63 (author)

Pete Wotton, Taff Evans, Pete Hall watch as Tammy Syme tussles with Jock Harman and Paul Constable waits for a loose ball, Sharjah, 11-63 (author)

The Airmen must be on the attack here as Merv Patterson forms their last line of defence (Taff John)

Another shot of the infamous basketball match as it moves towards its climax. Officers stand rooted to the spot as one of the groundcrew increases the Airmen's tally (Taff John)

Officers' goalminder Jock McVie casually watches his team push the airmen back during an Officers v Airmen hockey match at Sharjah, 11-63 (author)

Officers v Airmen Hockey at Sharjah in 1963 with Tom Banks (left) about to pounce on the loose ball as Roger Cox and Tim Notley crunch sticks (author)

8 Squadron EO, Owen Truelove, dashes along the wing in anticipation of receiving the ball from a colleague, Sharjah, November 1963 (author)

Torrential rain hammering down on the tin-roofed Tyneham huts providing the airmen's accommodation at Sharjah in November, 1963 (Vic Cozens)

It was around this time that the announcement of the assassination of President Kennedy came through.

The flooded aftermath of the storm at Sharjah, November, 1963 (author)

Keeping out of the Sharjah downpour, Taff John relaxes by standing up to read a 'sexy' magazine of the period (author)

Pictured on the beach at Sharjah Creek in 1963, a group of 8 Squadron airmen consider whether they can beat the tide and get back across (Vic Cozens)

Having buried their beer on Sharjah Beach to keep it cool, 8 Squadron airmen try to find it under the watchful eye of a few locals (Vic Cozens)

A sequence of three photographs taken on a 'safari' by 3-tonner by 208 Squadron airmen (names?) .....

..... to a fort some way out in the desert. When they came across a small village .....

..... they took the opportunity to explore the surrounding bondu (Les Dunnett)

These two views of Dubai Creek, in the first of which the fisherman seems to think the camera is a gun, .....

..... were taken by Les Dunnett while on detachment to Sharjah in 1963 (Les Dunnett)

Ray Deacon and Jock Harman leaving one of the Twyneham huts during the late 1963 detachment (Taff John)

A rare picture of Ron (Surname anyone please?) outside the 8 Sqn detachment accommodation in 1963 (Taff John)

Cyril Glidden strides past the Squadron hut as Neil Mason prepares to enter (Taff John)

The baren insides of a typical Twineham hut at Sharjah comprising mainly of pits and lockers. Can anyone name the airman? (Taff John)

A selection of various military aircraft to be seen at RAF Sharjah is depicted in the gallery below.

Having flown in from its home base at Akrotiri, NEAF Strike Wing Canberra B.15, WH971, made an overnight stop at Sharjah in November 1963 (author)

The cartridge in the port Avon fires up as NEAF Strike Wing Canberra B.15, WH984, prepares to depart Sharjah for Akrotiri, November 1963 (author)

The AOC's private high-speed transport, Khormaksar-based Canberra B.2, WJ580, pays a visit to Sharjah in November 1963 (author)

Another NEAF Strike Wing Canberra, this time B.16, WT374, awaiting its crew before returning to its base at Akrotiri, Cyprus (author's collection)

The ubiquitous Beverley was regularly used to transport Hunter groundcrews and equipment between Bahrain and Sharjah. On this occasion, XH121 has unloaded the 8 Squadron crew and is about to return to Bahrain, 16-11-63 (author)

During the summer of 1967, 84 Squadron relinquished its Beverleys for Andover C.1s, XS643 being depicted here at Sharjah (author's collection)

Seen receiving attention to its outboard propeller in the scorching heat of the Sharjah summer of 1965 is 37 Squadron's WR959-F (Simon Morrison)

Shackleton MR.3, WR975-A, is parked on the pan at Sharjah in late 1967 (author's collection)

When 37 Squadron disbanded at Khormaksar in September 1967, the MEC maritime and SAR roles were taken over by rotating detachments of pairs of Shackleton MR.3s, based at Sharjah and drawn from UK squadrons.

Another detached Shackleton, WR993-E, on the Sharjah pan. The jet pipe for the Viper engine, visible below and behind the starboard outer Griffon, identifies this as a Mark3, Phase 3 aircraft (author's collection)

Like other Shackletons on the Sharjah detachment, the squadron markings on MR.3, XF701-T, were removed before their departure from the UK (author's collection)

A air-to-air view of a Shackleton MR.3 flying low over the desert near Sharjah in 1967 (Richard Grevatte-Ball)

The jet wash from the two integrated Viper engines can be clearly seen in this view of a Shackleton MR.3 as it takes off from Sharjah in 1967 (Richard Grevatte-Ball)

Following the closure of Khormaksar in November 1967, Sharjah continued to offer APC detachments to both 8 and 208 Squadrons, the following gallery illustrating one such detachment by 208 Squadron in 1968. It is interesting to note that by this time, the Hunter FAG.9 had been modified to carry SNEB rocket pods on the outer pylons. One wonders what pilots would have given to have that option in Aden!

XG261-L, of 208 Squadron at Sharjah in 1968 (author's collection)

XJ687-E, of 208 Squadron at Sharjah in 1968 (author's collection)

XK140-D, of 208 Squadron at Sharjah in 1968 (author's collection)

XL566-Y, of 208 Squadron at Sharjah in 1968 (author's collection)

XL613-Z, of 208 Squadron at Sharjah in 1968 (author's collection)