England

'V Force' reunion at Newark Air Museum attracts 400 veterans

  • 29 April 2012
  • From the section England
Rodger Barker and his grand-daughter
Image caption Rodger Barker wanted to share his experiences with his grand-daughter

Nearly 400 veterans from the RAF's former nuclear strike force have attended a reunion at a Nottinghamshire air museum.

Air crews and ground staff, members of what was known as the "V Force" during the 1950s and 1960s, were invited to the event at Newark Air Museum.

The force, made up of Vulcans, Valiants and Victor bombers, were Britain's main deterrent during the Cold War.

Many crew members would have trained in the area near the museum.

Rodger Barker, who piloted Vulcans for five years as part of the force, said: "I'm here to show my grand-daughter where I sat when I used to fly these planes and to take some photos of her sitting in the seat.

"It's a very special day."

'Missile crisis'

Howard Healey, from the air museum, said the East Midlands had a "strong connection" with the force.

"There are a lot of contacts at bases such as Cottesmore (Rutland), Waddington (Lincolnshire), Wittering (Cambridgeshire) and Scampton (Lincolnshire)," he said.

"This weekend is a great opportunity for them to reminisce and for members of the public to catch a few stories as well."

V Force crews were kept on standby for deployment to carry out nuclear strikes at short notice during the tense post-World War II era.

Mr Healey said: "The V Force was Britain's nuclear deterrent. They were basically our front line of defence should we have a conflict with the Eastern European countries led by Russia.

"During the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, a lot of these crew could have been dispersed to individual aircraft sites across the UK, maybe with two or three minutes notice, to go and possibly attack Russia.

"It needed a very special kind of person to undertake that role and I think the British public should be very grateful for what these air crews and ground crews did to protect our freedom."

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