FR in action

In order for the FGA.9 Hunter pilots to carry out their missions effectively, they needed to be able to locate and identify their targets, and receive assessments on the likelihood of being fired on from the ground. Providing the bulk of this information were the fighter reconnaissance (FR) Hunters whose pilots spent much of their day flying at high speed and at 50 feet over rugged, hostile terrain. Weaving their way through wadi after wadi, while avoiding random gunfire from tribesmen squatting on the hillsides above, required a high level of concentration and was not a job for first-time tourists. FR pilots assigned to 8 Squadron and 1417 Flight were selected on the basis of having had at least one previous operational tour, preferably in the fighter-recce role.

During the six years in which the FR.10 operated out of Khormaksar, thousands of photographs were taken through the F95 Vinten nose-mounted cameras and a small selection of images is replicated on this page. It should be remembered that the FR.10 was not just a splendid camera platform for the environment in which it flew; it was also armed with four Aden canon and these were used for target marking for the ground attack pilots and on occasions, attacking the actual targets.

8 Squadron

Flt Lt Mac McLauchlan

Mac McLauchlan served on the Squadron from April 1961 to April 1963 and flew the FR.10 for most of his tour in Aden. Mac occasionally took his own camera with him and captured some of the wide variety and colourful landscapes Hunter pilots encountered. These are just some of the photographs he took while flying over the countrys hinterland.

Mac captured this view through the windscreen in 1962 as he follows the lead Hunter as it banks left through the ragged mountain peaks.

There sheer face on the escarpement below it dwarfs the tiny Hunter as it zooms over the ridge near the Wadi Duan in the Hadramaut in 1962.

Getting down low over the Lodar Plain in 1962.

An up country village with its own cooling system in 1962! The towers sucked in the slightly cooler air from above ground and fed it round the houses.

Two nose-camera views of Dhala Camp and the tented accommodation provided for the troops. This view was taken on 23 March 1962 .....

..... whereas this one of Dhala Camp was captured on 19 July 1962

Rebel hideouts were not the only targets for FR.10 cameras, this FNG fort near Dhala filling the nose camera lens on this sortie on 19 July 1962.

A fine low-level view taken through the nose camera of a fort at Jebel Habush in Wadi Abyan, to the south of Masana, on 7 January 1963.

No two forts look alike as yet another passes beneath Mac's port camera at Qalatiyah on the Lodar Plain on 13 March 1962.

Known as Khudayrah Pool, this oasis was located on the Lodar Plain and was photographed from the starboard camera on 1 August 1962.

A number of people and several camels can be clearly seen around the pool.

Taken on 18 July 1962, this nose-camera image depicts a ruin located some 6 miles north of Lahej on the road to Nobat Dukaim.

The town of Saiyun attracted Mac's attention as this sequence of three images from his starboard camera taken on 24 July 1962 shows .....

..... Saiyun in the Western Hadramaut

..... Saiyun in the Western Hadramaut

The occupants of these up-country dwellings are about to experience a rude awakening as Mac's Hunter flies fast and low overhead on 18 July 1962.

A typical up-country village as seen through the starboard lens on 5 January 1963.

This country villa was located between Saiyun and Shibam in the Western Hadramaut and was photographed using the FR.10's nose camera on 23 July 1962

Another splendid villa this time located in the midst of a village in the Western Hadramaut, 7 August 1962

1417 Flight

Flt Lt Roger Pyrah

Having been posted to 43 Squadron in August 1963, it was soon recognised that Rogers previous experience flying Vampire 9s and Venom 1s and 4s with 8 Squadron in the mid-fifties and subsequently as a photo-recce pilot on Swift FR.5s in Germany, was an invaluable asset to be fully utilised and he was quickly transferred to 1417 Flight. Like many of his contemporaries, Roger retained a number of prints from some of the operational sorties he flew on plus others that he took using his own camera and a selection from both sets of lenses are contained in the following gallery.

Fort Ataq gets a rude awakening from XE599-JD as it flies in fast and low from the surrounding desert

The imposing Bakri Ridge, scene of fierce battles between British troops and dissident tribesman during the Radfan War, engulfss XF441-JD as it flies across the valley floor below

Another view of Bakri Ridge captures XE589-RC as it zooms low over the huge cave at the foot of the escarpement

The impenitrable hill-top town of Al Qara in the Lower Yaffa area, made it an ideal HQ and stronghold for dissident tribesmen

Pre-strike close-up view of Fort Harib, some 3 miles north of the border with Yemen, a day or so before it was on the morning of 28 March 1964.

Of interest is the heavy artillery positioned outside the main gate.

.

No sooner had the dust settled than a series of post-strike photographs were taken by a 1417 Flight FR.10 to assess the damage, a subsequent report describing it as 'almost completely destroyed'

Flt Lt Ken Simpson

During his tour as a pilot on 1417 Flight from 1965 to 1967, Ken Simpson took a keen interest in the subjects he captured through the lens of his Hunters F95 lenses and he retained copies of many of the more interesting subjects. The selection below illustrates some of the more intimate up-country targets that he encountered on his low-level sorties over the Aden hinterland. It may be pertinent to reiterate that although the priority of the Flight was to support both the Hunter ground attack squadrons and Army units operating up country - by taking photographs as directed or using pilot initiative - photographs were also taken during training exercises.

A camel train in the open desert. As rebel arms and ammunition were often carried by camel, a close eye was kept on their movements (Ken Simpson)

A typical cluster of Arab dwellings, built on a rocky outcrop in a defensive circle (Ken Simpson)

One wonders why people lived in such harsh conditions, but they did and large villages were built to house sizeable populations (Ken Simpson)

This smaller settlement has retained the remants of an ancient defensive barrier surrounding it (Ken Simpson)

Others were built high up in the mountains and cut-off from the outside world (Ken Simpson)

Rain water was treated like gold in Aden and dams such as the one shown here, were built to contain it (Ken Simpson)

During the hot season, oases' were the only sources of water and several people can be seen filling their containers at this one (Ken Simpson)

No need to worry about your 4x4 running out of fuel, just pop into your local filling station (Ken Simpson)

This interesting view shows a permanent military encampment way out in the desert. (Ken Simpson)

If you look carefully, you can see two truckloads of troops about to exit the camp through the gate located in the centre of the left hand wall.

The gallery below contains more Up Country images from Ken Simpson (descriptions to be added once identified).

KS01

KS02

KS03

KS04

KS05

KS06

KS07

KS08

KS09

KS10

KS11

KS12

Steamer Point, showing part of the HQ and the RAF Hospital (Ken Simpson)

KS14

KS15

KS16

KS17

KS18

KS19

KS20

KS21

KS22

Back