This site has been evolving since 2003, having gone through several rebuilds and re-designs to cope with increasing amounts of material.
Finding myself the wrong side of 73, I find that large amounts of white text on a black background, are much easier to read myself, than black text on a bright white background.
I have had no feedback from site visitors about this, so perhaps YOU will disagree. However I have no intention of changing it again.
The site is heavy with photo-images, so those with poor Broadband will suffer with very slow loading I am afraid. Not much I can do about that.
The site is also getting a little out of control as I find more and more semi-relevant material. Often provided by visitors to the site, who send me photo’s and stories.
I even have complete original copies of the RAF Radio-Radar Fitters Bible, the AP3302, but I am certainly not scanning that lot in myself. Though when Googling one evening I did come across it on a PDF somewhere!
(Amazon list the AP3302 among their books, complete with description and page count….. But it is apparently out of stock, and they don’t know if or when it will be back in !!!!)
I attempt to update at least once a month, (given business commitments), although illness thru 2014/2015 have slowed my pace somewhat.
I try to give clues as to where updates have taken place to save visitors looking through every page over and over again. So call back from time to time.
Feedback is always welcome. Mike
Foreword by: Mike Ford.
(An RAF Chief Technician at Aberporth between 1966 to 1975)
These pages have been set aside to remember R.A.F Aberporth and the Royal Air Force, Royal Navy and Army personnel who once called R.A.F Aberporth their home in the second half of the Twentieth Century.
The site will probably be of interest to long retired Royal Air Force, Royal Navy, and Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) Technicians who worked on the Missile systems launched and evaluated at RAE Aberporth, in association with RAE Llanbedr, during the 1960’s, 70’s, and 80’s and the personnel who worked on the Bloodhound Mk 2 Missile Squadrons in the UK and around the world, from Germany, Cyprus, Singapore & Malaysia.
The “technical” pages will mainly be of interest to ex - R.A.F Technicians, and relates to my own career before retailing, when, after completing a three year Radar Apprenticeship at No 1 Radio School at R.A.F Locking from 1959 to 1961, (91st entry). I soon became a Technician working on the Bloodhound Mk 2 Surface to Air Missile system between 1963 and 1975, both at 65 Squadron, R.A.F Seletar in Singapore, and the Bloodhound Firing Unit (BHFU) here at RAF Aberporth near Cardigan. Three years of my RAF career were also spent at RAF Neatishead, a Radar Station in Norfolk.. (Now a Radar Museum)
THE WORK (in the Bloodhound years.)
My own years at the Bloodhound Firing Unit (BHFU) were without doubt the most interesting in my service career. As NCO I/C Instrumentation, my job was unique in the R.A.F, heading a small team of four responsible for preparing and fitting the VERY expensive in-flight Telemetry equipment and Missile Break-up system in the warhead bay, plus installing and testing all the related telemetry antenna and cables in the missile tail end. Then testing it all again, and again when on the launcher.
When MOTE technicians had done their job, the missile was moved to the fuelling and arming sheds, and then to the launcher on a Side Loader
We carried out the same conversions to rounds brought regularly to the BHFU by other UK Bloodhound Mk2 Squadrons and the Swiss Bloodhound Firing Teams.
Pre-trial, my own job involved working closely with R.A.E Aberporth civilian personnel in Telemetry, Doppler, Safety & Arming and Range Safety.
On the day of a Firing Trial, in over forty live firing trials into Cardigan Bay against Jindivik and Meteor targets, I and one of my team were also responsible for monitoring Telemetry Battery Voltages and the WREBUS (Weapons Research Establishment Break-Up system) relays to the very second of launch.
Only ONCE in all that decade, did I have to push the Emergency RED BUTTON to STOP a trial.
With just 3 seconds to Launch, the WREBUS meters jumped into life indicating instant destruction should the missile be fired and the Arming Switch activated when the Boost Motors fell away.
THAT was a close call. It would have proved VERY costly. I earned my pay that day.
From 1964, for 20+ years, many Millions of Pounds were spent on 60+ Evaluation Trials. Every missile had just ONE job to do, on it’s ONE and only flight, so EVERYTHING had to be spot on in it’s preparation. There was no second chance to put something right once the LCP Controller had pushed the Fire Button.
Which is why you will see an over abundance of Engineering Senior NCO’s and Officers in the BHFU Squadron Photograph’s. Too many Chiefs etc…..? Comes to mind.
Aberporth was the one and only Bloodhound Mk2 RAF posting where the job was rarely boring, except for Welsh weather delays, because we actually fired the things off with a big bang!
And it WAS a BIG bang! Like NASA, but on a QUIET day!
The late Flt Lt Jim Muir was the O.C Missile Servicing Flight during my first three years at Aberporth, and Flt Lt Dick Whitington during my last three.
You will find them both with all the other ranks involved at that time, on the “BHFU Squadron Photograph” page.
Retired RAE range civilian personnel whom I came to know well in those far off days, are John Armstrong (Doppler), Dave Pegram (Launcher Officer-Missiles) and sadly no longer with us, Bill Birchenough (Telemetry), and Dennis Wetherall (In-Flight-Safety Officer).
Among manufacturer’s who visited us regularly were Chris Haslam and John Louch of Rank-Bush-Murphy, at Welwyn Garden City, (The WREBUS manufacturer).
Sadly John died in a road accident in the late 60’s.
(By sheer co-incidence I actually worked on that same Rank-Bush-Murphy Electronics Division production line at Welwyn, that later manufactured the WREBUS modules. I started assembling components for the Comet 4.
As a new radio apprentice straight from school in 1958, I working alongside a crew of mostly chatty women, who liked taking the piss out of 16 year old boys. I enjoyed the experience, but after about 8 months,for some reason I cannot recall, I joined the RAF at Locking in early 1959)
I left the R.A.F as a Chief Technician in 1975, settled locally, and became self employed servicing Colour TV’s and Hi-fi from home. (Somewhat of a BIG anticlimax.)
A job with British Aerospace in the same building 247 was considered, but the likelihood of being transferred at some time to their Stevenage factory did not appeal to me.
About the same time as I was leaving, the BloodHound Firing Unit went under the control of R.A.F Brawdy on a Care and Maintenance basis for a time, with firing trials continuing on a much reduced scale until RAF Aberporth closed down in 1984. All such trials stopped when the Berlin Wall came down.
In 1980, with my business well established, I opened our shop in Chancery Lane. The rest as they say, is history. We are still “trading”, but with a much altered business than when I started it in 1975.
Forty years on, it’s known as Mike’s Shop under the trading names Mikes of Cardigan & Cardigan Electronics.
Now, still in business and approaching 74, I, along with my son Chris and wife Margaret, no longer sell or repair TV’s or Computers. We just sell “Really Useful Stuff” across the board.
With the help of ex-RAE Aberporth employees , ex-RAF Personnel, and 1429 ATC Sqn, (who saved most of the stations artefacts when it closed in 1984), I have been slowly putting together the story of RAF Aberporth and the BHFU along with the story of the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) where many of us worked. Putting it on-line seemed the obvious thing to do.
In addition to RAF Aberporth, I am adding pages relating RAF Locking and to other Bloodhound Mk2 sites including 65 Squadron at RAF Seletar in Singapore which saw operational service from 1964 to 1971 when it was then handed over to the Republic of Singapore Air Force.
To add to these pages I am asking for input from visitors with a similar career.
I have several superb images of Missile Firings which unfortunately I cannot reproduce here from those days because they could still be crown copyright, but I have acquired many other Public Domain images from various local and international sources over the years, and include a few of them here .
( Some of them can also be found on other web-sites.) Mike
Please respect our “Original” site copyright.
With my own original copyright, I might be able to give permission to reproduce selected articles or images on other web sites. But please ask first.
Anyone having such requests, or other copyright concerns, should click the “Contact Us” button and follow the anti-spam guidance there.
Also, if by some fluke our paths have crossed, or you have a tale to tell, drop me a line, again using the “Contact Mike” button, or drop in our shop for a chat if you are ever near Cardigan on holiday.