Photo by Dave Ramsay

Via Dave Ramsay
TA4G Approach to HMAS Melbourne in 1970s (simulated
because the deck is ‘FOUL’ with an A4G on the catapult,
which is inside the ‘Foul Deck’ painted line). Also the
TA4G was not able to land, 'touch and go' or arrest
Navy News 08 June 1973
08 Apr 1985
Click here to return to OFS page
the Sea
report –
ing A4G
Douglas A-4 badge awarded on A4G OFS first solo. RAN Maintainers wore this cotton badge also,
similar situation in RNZAF as well. ‘Scooter Driver’ badge from USofA, common there in the 1970s.
RAN A4G Skyhawk pilots also usually kept the ‘The Professionals Preference’ tag as shown here.
07 June 1974 edition
Photo by John Bartels — HMAS Creswell — RANC c.1975 —
HMAS Melbourne is operating inside Jervis Bay in strong West to North-Westerly winds
Click the red rectangle for a zoom
view of NAS Nowra airfield today
NAS Nowra, NSW area with
Jervis Bay to the south-east
HMAS Creswell
RAN College
Jervis Bay
NAS Nowra
Click above – A4G
approach video clip
Jump to
(L) Sea
& (R)
The 805 Squadron Crest
depicts blue and white waves
representing navy, sea and
heraldic principles. The
orange represents the desert
of Libya, with the Palm Trees
representing the native trees
of the Libyan area. The motto
‘Over Sea and Sand’ alludes
to the areas flown over by the
squadron in World War II.
Over Sea
and Sand
VC-724 Line Book Page 1975
Photo by Ray Barber
Greenham Common, UK, 1977
Leut B. Hamilton
Leut Jack Mayfield
Leut John Siebert
Leut ‘Shep’
Leut Jerry
Pike USN
Leut B. Rowe WEO or
Lcdr Barrie Daly SP
Leut Nev ‘Froggy’
French LSO
Lcdr Barry Diamond
Leut Andy Sinclair
(perennial duty boy)
‘Club 21’
It looks
like the
want to
even on
their own
page for
VF-805 in
1977 :-)
Image by Robert A. Edwards
Greenham Common Arrival
June 1977?
Photo via Dave Ramsay
Leut David Ramsay,
Greenham Common,
UK 1977
Greenham Common Demo
flown by Leut Dave Ramsay
Greenham Common, UK, 1977 — Photo by M. West
Leut David
Ramsay with
Line Crew,
Common, UK
June 1977
Click above for video clip
International Air
Tattoo 1977
Greenham Common, UK, June 1977
Greenham Common: “...a practice day followed by two display days. My other remaining memories are being involv-
ed in the decision on how to configure the aircraft. We decided that a clean A4 still couldn't compete in a high per-
formance show against the F14/15/16s that would be there so we went for the biggest things we could load 886 with.
The routine was always going to be a flat one, partly because of the possibility of poor vis. It consisted of a depart-
ure to a holding point then high speed run in and one or two turns over the top then the low speed pass with every-
thing out. The camera man got pretty much all of it except the landing which I think followed another high speed
pass & break downwind. I don't remember any problems with visibility although the film makes it look pretty murky.”
Greenham Common, UK 1977 Photo by Martin Stephen
Navy News 29 July 1977
Navy News
29 July 1977 Greenham Common; UK — June 1977 Photo by Fred Willemsen
Air Tattoo
Sea Harrier.
taken about
7 minutes
and twenty
seconds in
this 10 min-
ute long
tary about
the Harrier:
Harrier 3/4
A Skyhawk Pilots Guide to the Sea Harrier
(written by LCDR David Ramsay RAN in 1981)
Like the RAN’s Skyhawk, the Sea Harrier is a successful ground
attack aircraft employed in a primary role of Fleet Air Defence.
There are many similarities between the two aircraft that make
a direct comparison possible. This description of the Sea Harrier
should facilitate an understanding of the aircraft that might well
replace the Skyhawk.
Size, Shape and Weight
It is not easy to mistake an A4 for a Sea Harrier or vice versa.
The aircraft are physically dissimilar in appearance but overall
dimensions are comparable. Sea Harrier is 47’ 7” long with a
25’ 3” wingspan. The undercarriage arrangement of centreline
mainwheels and wingtip outriggers is necessitated by the engine
and nozzle positions. The outriggers are rather like the A4
nosewheel; they look spindly and vulnerable and bend horribly
when landing with drift on, but they are remarkably rugged.
Because only the centreline mainwheels have brakes the nose-
wheel steering is an important asset for taxiing. The cockpit is
higher than on the A4 and between very much larger intakes;
rearward visibility is excellent. Cockpit size is much the same in
both aircraft – small.
Sea Harrier has the same layout for its 5 store pylons; the out-
boards carry stores up to the 3,000 lb ferry tanks and are plumbed
for fuel but not wired for Sidewinders. The centreline pylon takes
a 1,000 lb bomb but is not plumbed for fuel. Guns attach in pods on
the underside of the fuselage, either side of the centreline pylon. The
30 mm Aden guns are heavier and impose a higher drag penalty
than the A4 installation but they are more reliable, hit harder and
improve VSTOL and slow speed ACM (Air Combat Manoeuvring)
performance. The rate of fire is the same but each gun can be fired
individually – max ammo load is 130 rounds/gun.
The Sea Harrier’s basic weight is heavier than an A4 at 13,300 lbs
with 5 pylons but so is the max AUW at 26,200 lbs. Internal fuel
capacity is similar at 5,000 lbs (2,800 wing & 2,200 fuselage). There
are only 800lb drop tanks available in the RN or RAF inventory for
operational use – they weigh 205 lbs per pair and impose no IAS,
MACH or handling limitations. The long range ferry tanks contain
2,600 lbs, weigh 350 lbs each and impose tactically unacceptable
handling limitations so they are used for transit flights only.
By way of a summary here is a breakdown of each aircraft in its
Air Defence configuration.
Sea Harrier Skyhawk
Basic weight 13,250 with 5 pylons 10,700 with 5 pylons
Pilot 200 200
External Fuel tanks 205 2x800 lbs DTs inboard 136 1xB tank C/L
Guns 919 including 2x130x30mm 433 including 2x100x20mm
Launchers 227 2xLAU7 adapters 444 4xLAU 7a
Missiles 370 2xAim 9L 740 4x Aim 9B
Fuel int/ext 5,000/1600 + 500 H
O = 6,600 5,800/1000 = 6,300
22,271 at start up 18,953 at start up
Hydraulic Services
The hydraulic services are quite similar: No.1 Hydraulic system
does everything while No.2 does the flying controls. The rudder
is not powered and no facility exists to disconnect the hydraulic
jacks in the event of a failure of both systems. A Ram Air Turbine
(RAT) operates automatically if No.2 system fails and will get you
home… as long as fluid loss was not the problem! The main utility
services are:
a. Flaps – 3 position up, mid or down.
b. Gear – Blown down by 3,000 psi N
if Hyd No.1 fails.
c. Airbrakes – Little thing behind main oleo.
d. NWS – important so has an accumulator.
e. Brakes – also have an accumulator and ‘hold on’ type
park brake. Anti-skid is fitted.
f. Autostabs – each of the three axis autostabs is hydraulic-
ally powered and operates (below 250 Kts) just like A4
stabaug – dampening excursions. Only used in VSTOL.
g. Autopilot – not yet fitted but will work through the
autostab jacks with consequent limited authority. Will be
similar to A4 in capability.
There has never been a double hydraulic failure in the Harrier fleet
so the RAT has not saved anyone – in fact it is the source of most
of the hydraulic snags in the aircraft by virtue of the sequencing
and priority valves which decide when it should come out. Even
with the RAT working the Sea Harrier is not recoverable aboard
ship with a double HYD failure (130Kts to drive it) so there is a
move afoot to delete the RAT entirely.
Electrical Systems
The Sea Harrier has a 12Kva alternator which runs the AC services
and, through a Transformer Rectifier Unit (TRU), the DC services
including charging the 2 batteries. In addition the GTS/APU has a
6Kva alternator and it will work in the air should you be in danger
of flattening the batteries before you can recover after a main alter-
nator failure. Clearly there is not much comparison with the A4
The Cockpit
The Sea Harrier cockpit is similar in size to that in the A4. It is
accessed from the right via a neat little ladder and the canopy
opens by sliding rearwards on rails. The ejection seat is the latest
Martin Baker Mk10, it is comfortable and easier to strap in to than
a Macchi because of the combined harness which requires only
two tongues to be inserted into the QRB (Quick Release Box). The
pins are reduced to two – seat pan firing handle and Miniature
Detonating Cord (MDC) – there is no face blind firing handle. The
seat goes through the canopy which is shattered by the MDC as
the seat is initiated. The MDC can also be fired as a means of
emergency egress on the ground.
Once seated in the cockpit the A4 pilot would find the layout
similar but a little more cluttered than in the Skyhawk. The throttle
has an erect grip instead of a T-bar and beside it is the Nozzle lever…
a single lever which, combined with the nozzle angle indicator
and the nozzle stop device, is all that sets this cockpit apart from
any other single seat cockpit. The nozzle stop is a spring loaded
device used to facilitate preselecting a nozzle angle for takeoff so
you don’t have to look down.
The panels down both sides of the seat are about as wide as in
the A4 but do not go as far aft. There is also a smaller shelf above
and extending partially over the main consoles.
Looking ahead, the reflector glass of the HUD is much larger
than the A4 gunsight; so is the unit itself which thus absorbs
quite a lot of space in the top centre portion of the instrument
panel. The glare shield is very similar to the A4 panel. The glare
shield is very similar to the A4 with warning lights arranged
all along the underside of it. The Sea Harrier has red primary
warnings on the left glare shield (Fire AC or DC fail and other such
nasties) and amber secondary warnings on the right. Grouped
with the secondaries are some blue status lights advising things
like airbrake out, NWS on, CAM running, APU online, etc. The
instrument panel layout is pretty conventional: Flight instruments
at centre but low because of the large HUD. Radar video screen
on the right. Engine instruments left.
The main Weapons Control Panel is below the left instrument
panel with a few more behind the control stick below the centre
panel. The British philosophy is a little different to the American
system of armament switchology. Function, fuzing and pylon
selection is much the same as in the Skyhawk, but the Arm Master
is a rotary switch made just prior to TakeOff and final safety is
provided by a safety catch over the trigger and a flap over the
bomb button.
At the bottom edge of the left glare shield is the array of switches
for the HUD and also the radar controls. In a similar position on
the right are 3 switches for the cameras and an autopilot authority
The Engine
There are not many similarities between the Pegasus 104 and the
J52 P8A. What is much the same is the way the pilot can throttle
bash with relative freedom from compressor stalls. The flight test
schedule includes slams from idle to full power at 40,000 feet at
an almost unattainable 18 units AOA (angle of attack) [8 units is
optimum]. Slam performance is critical to takeoffs particularly for
the RAF off short dirt strips and for the RN off flight decks. The
Pegasus accelerates from ground idle (25–27% LP RPM) to 55% in
3–4.5 secs and from 55%–100% in 2.2–2.8 secs. The engine is twin
spool like the J52 but spools contrarotate to nullify gyroscopic
effects on hover manoeuvrability.
The engine has a manual fuel system which is selectable by
a guarded hard-to-reach switch. Primary fuel control is rather
complicated. Basically the engine has three controllers in addition
to your left hand. The RPM you attempt to select by pushing the
throttle to the wall is governed by the LP Mechanical Governor
(all same Macchi). The JPT resulting from your RPM setting is
governed by a JPT limiter which reduces fuel and therefore RPM
to keep within limits (max 13% authority). Finally a pressure ratio
limiter acts to cut back full power RPM above 10,000 feet to prevent
engine surge due to compressor blade tip stalling. Pretty simple
eh? Wait for it.
The engine also has a water injection system which when you
select it ON sprays the turbine blades, effectively reducing JPT by
30°C. You can promptly put it back up again by increasing RPM
because the LP Mech Governor redatums when the water switch
is made from 103.5% to 107% LP RPM. At the same time the JPT
limit redatums from 715° to 745°C so you effectively get an extra
60°C with water flowing. Nozzles aft conventional flight JPT limit
is 610°C.
What does all this – (remember that was the simple explanation)
– mean to the pilot? Well – Take off is simple. Obviously gear is
down and you are looking at the Short Lift Ratings of 103.5% or
107% depending on whether you use water. Whatever you choose
you slam from 55%, release the brakes, unscramble your brain and
pull in the preselected nozzle angle at the precalculated speed (or
as you exit the ski-jump ramp). Those with the capacity to observe
such things will have seen the RPM hit the appropriate figure
within the advertised 2.2–2.8 second band and will then observe
the JPT rising as the engine heat soaks. While you are nozzling
away to wingborne flight you will observe the 15 second light
on the secondary warning panel illuminate; it tells you that the
JPT is passing 700° dry or 715° if water is ON and indicates that
the limiters will act soon to maintain 715°/745°. But by this time
you are wingborne, nozzles aft, water off, gear travelling and the
JPT limiter is redatumed to 610° anyway. Without you moving the
throttle from the wall where you left it, the RPM will be back at
the book limit of 95.5% because of the JPTL action.
The Harrier is probably the world’s fastest aircraft off the mark
up to 400 Kts, by which time the F15s or 16s would be cruising on
by. However the advantage taken of heat soaking time in take off
situations is no use for hovering and so vertical landings require
you to have sustainable power in hand.
Hover performance is dependant on OAT and pressure, and
varies from engine to engine. The planning graph gives everything
on one page with correction factors for engines which are better or
worse than the mean. Before flying you calculate the fuel weight
at which you expect to be able to bring your a/c to a dry power
hover at 670°C JPT. This gives a 45° margin below the limit for the
JPT rise caused by the bleed air demands of the flight controls. If
you require to land above dry hover weight then wet hovers are
planned by the same method for 695°C.
The way it works is this:- you drive on around the circuit and
point at your landing pad at 165Kts, gear and flap down and 40°
nozzles selected. Power will be about 65% and the hoons amongst
us will drive on in like this until the very last possible moment, then
use full braking stop to decelerate. I myself sedately take the hover
stop at about 0.8Nm. So now all the thrust points down and the
slick aerodynamic qualities of the Harrier manifest themselves as
a marked deceleration. This in turn means wing lift is decreasing
(attitude is held constant at 8 units AOA) so you increase power
to keep the ground at bay. It is a fact of life that as you decellerate
through 90Kts the lack of wing lift and the trim change induced
control inputs require an engine power and therefore JPT that is
pretty well just what you will have in a nice steady hover. Therefore
90Kts is a very good time to look at the JPT because if you see
more than 670° Dry or 695° Wet than you have an exciting time
ahead of you. It is not however the end of the world. Water can
be selected ON if not yet in use. By minimising control inputs to
those essential to keeping body and soul together the JPT bleed
rise can be reduced.
Finally – the limiters do not act until 710°/745° and they can be
turned off by the reflex action of pushing the throttle harder against
a spring which when overcome allows the switch to be pushed off
by the throttle itself – very neat. In that unlimited situation you
will put up the primary red JPT warning at about 770° Dry or 780°
Wet. (You can’t BS the engineers because it won’t reset.) Even then
the engine won’t throw in the claw and you should be able to put
the a/c down before the blades melt.
Of course the prudent aviator would have foreseen the problem
at 90Kts, nozzled away into wingborne flight and reduced his
AUW by burning off, or fuel or stores jettison.
To take the case of the Air Defence configuration for which I
tabulated weights on page 2; the launch weight is 22,271 lbs and
the basic weight for landing would be 15,171 lbs if missiles were
not fired and full 30mm ammo load retained. On a nil wind 35°C,
1,000 Mb tropical day the aircraft can launch from a 500 foot deck
run given a WOD of 20Kts. Assuming a mean engine the dry hover
weight is 14,150 lbs and the wet hover weight is 16,100 lbs. Clearly
we are “water committed” and the combined fuel/water weight
of 900 lb for landing is not huge however the normal calculated
dry/wet hover weights include generous QFI type allowances for
control inputs so 600 lb fuel + 300 lb H
O in the hover is not a
problem. Our normal criteria is to land from a hover when the fuel
low level warning flashes (at 500 lb) and to aim to be downwind
with a minimum of 1,000 lbs so all pilots are used to flying with
low fuel levels – and you don’t bolter in this aircraft.
The worst problem you can face in these conditions is a water
system failure. In that situation the pilot would have to jettison
the Aim 9s, tanks and any remaining water and fire out the guns.
You can’t get rid of the LAU 7s so you end up with a basic weight
of about 14,300 lbs so you haven’t got a lot going for you. This
is the time to turn off the limiters and risk cooking the engine
to get her down commencing the decel at about 500 lbs of fuel
and landing with about 300 lbs. It can be done and it should be
remembered that its not always 35°C and 1,000 Mb at sea and faint
hearted squadrons could operate without guns in which case the
basic weight comes down 650 lbs. ±10Mb is worth 100 lbs of hover
performance and ±5°C OAT is worth 600 lbs.
Avionic Systems
The avionic systems in the Sea Harrier are remarkably comparable
to those in the A4 – generally more modern, mainly better but
in some cases inferior. The heart of the system is the Navigation
Heading and Altitude Reference System – HAVHARS. There is no
comparison between HAVHARS and anything in the A4, except
perhaps the Squat Switch because both seem to have a hand in
everything. The NAVHARS is closely linked with the radar, the
HUD and it is the navigation computer. The doppler ground speed
and drift can only be read through the NAVHARS display which
is also the only practical place to read off the fuel flow. There is
a fuel flow gauge but – you guessed it – it is on the right hand
console behind the seat and can only be viewed by raising your
right arm and looking past your armpit.
Blue Fox Radar
My experience with the radar to date is limited to a 2 day simulator
course and one sortie in another squadron’s aircraft. My squadron
drew the short straw and don’t get a radar until ‘next month’
which is a procurement term for ‘perhaps next year’. However the
screen is about the same size and in about the same place as in
the A4 . The hand controller is also in about the same place on
the left console as the A4 radar panel and most of your inflight
fiddling will be done there. However the major on/off switches and
warning panel is up under the left glareshield. You can have a PPI
or B scan presentation on the video screen and max range scale is
100 miles. It is a pulse radar like the A4’s but being optimised for
A-A the scan angles are greater and you can lock onto designated
targets. It is stabilised by the NAVHARS and feeds through it
to give intercept steering commands in the HUD. You can also
update your navigation on radar discrete points of land.
The Navigation Computer
The NAVHARS consists of an inertial platform (which is a bit
smaller than the AJB3 black box in the aft hell hole of the A4),
a doppler radar, an Air Data Computer and a computer which
controls the lot and spits out what the pilot wants to know. Apart
from the on/off switch for the doppler you can only play with this
lot through the Display, Navigation Computer which consists of a
multifunction switch, keyboard and digital readout windows. As
with the A4 you tell the kit where it is at startup and it computes
once you hit a certain speed on takeoff. You can type in the lat &
long of various destinations and read off range and bearing in the
digital windows or follow a steering command in the HUD. Unlike
the A4 you can easily update the nav computer if it is incorrect, by
hitting a fix switch as you overfly the selected destination. You
can also update your nav if you insert the lat long of a TACAN
station or radar discrete point of land and select TACAN or Radar
update before fixing.
The DNC will display vast amounts of information for you if
you play with the rotary switch. As I said it is where you read off
ground speed, drift, fuel flow and range and bearing to selected
destinations. It will also tell you the wind velocity and direction
(just like the A4) and the time it will take to reach the selected
destination at your present speed. It is the only place where you
can read the TACAN. This is one of my major grievances – after
the fuel flow gauge – there is no equivalent of the A4 BDHI and you
cannot fly a TACAN approach on a digital readout. Furthermore
the compass card on the instrument panel is worse than the
one in the Macchi. It is described as being loosely slaved to the
NAVHARS heading, and loose is a pretty loose description. It is
absolutely useless at the best of times and worse still during or
after combat. The other aspect of having TACAN and fuel flow
only available for display on the DNC is that you have to look
down and physically select the switch. I find that maddening for
what, to me, are two primary sources of information.
The accuracy of the Nav computer is obviously better than that
in the A4 most of the time. The ADC is for more reliable and it
boils down to a function of the heading accuracy of the inertial
platform. Although you can slave it to the magnetic flux valve we
normally fly with the platform in a doppler damped inertial mode.
This requires the pilot to tell the computer the aircraft heading at
some stage before takeoff. At Yeovilton all our line headings are
known and you type in the true heading to the nearest tenth of
a degree. On return from a sortie you compare the NAVHARS
heading with the known line heading and note the error. In general
we would U/S a system that drifted more than a degree. Now we
have a mod whereby the maintainers can take out the drift rate if it
shows up consistently so heading accuracy has been improved to
0.2 or 0.3° per hour and navigation accuracy is around 0.5-2Nm.
Onboard ship it is much harder to get the heading right and
even harder to check it after land-on although we do have a digital
readout of ships head outside the FlyCo window. It is equally hard
to get an accurate position to tell the computer for take off and of
course the ship is never at the briefed recovery position anyway.
In short there is no hope of monitoring system accuracy at sea.
The radio is located on the left side ahead of the throttle and the
preset channel change is easy to get at. Unfortunately, however,
the manual frequency knob at the far left of the set is not. There is
a remote digital frequency readout on the glareshield so you don’t
have to bend your head as you fiddle.
The IFF is on the right console and is quite similar to the A4
panel; extensive use is made of IFF in all our flying, especially
mode ‘C’ height readout, and the panel is a bitch to see and use at
night or in conditions of high contrast – i.e. bright outside, dark in
the cockpit. There are no white floodlights such as in the A4.
There is an onboard tape recorder which is excellent for taping
pilot comments and or RT and ECM. It also plays back to you
so Linda Ronstadt can assist you on the long and boring CAP
The Sea Harrier has an ECM set which puts it one up on the A4.
The kit was rejected by the RAF because of its poor performance
on trials. It was therefore going cheap. It was therefore bought
by the RN. We are doing trials on it. Its performance is poor….
Nevertheless it works most of the time and gives good training
value. You get audio indications and a strobe of light on a little
screen which indicates the threat bearing (±180° in this set). It is
certainly better than nothing.
The F95 reconnaissance camera is permanently fitted and looks
out a little window to the right side of the aircraft forward of the
cockpit. It is a great device with auto exposure, a window washer
and a choice of camera speeds. It looks much the same size as the
minipan job in the A4 and I strongly suspect it would be cheaper.
It serves us very well as ground and sea recce targets. In addition
to the F95 we have a Pilot Display Record (PDR) camera which is
the Brit name for a gunsight camera. It is a magnificent training
aid because of the wealth of information on the HUD which it
photographs. When we get 45 min video cassette coverage to replace
the 2.5 mins of film we will really be able to debrief people. In the
meantime it is still he who wins the debrief that won the fight.
Flying the Sea Harrier
To deal with the easy bits first – the Sea Harrier flies just like an
A4 in the instrument patterns and at academic weaponry. You can
hit 600Kts plus on the deck with a clean bird and even with DTs
(which impose no limitations). With gunpods and 2, 3 or 5x1,000
lb bombs she seems to brickwall at 550–560Kts. So there is not
much difference at the top end. We climb at 400/.8 except when
very light when 300/.8 is recommended. During our recent 1,000
lb bomb trials we averaged 7.30 from brakes release to FL350 with
gunpods and 3 bombs plus D/Ts or with 5 bombs. The lightweight
climb after weapon delivery was an eyewatering 4.30 to FL400
from a 400Kts start. So climb performance could be said to be a
bit better than an A4.
Considering the devastating drag of the airframe and the in-
credible power of the engine the Sea Harrier is quite an economical
machine. Ground and flight idle is 20 lb/min =1,200 pph. (The Brits
use lb/min on the gauges which took a bit of getting used to but
has distinct advantages – if you could find the gauge to read it.) In
conventional forward flight full power gives 210 lb/min =12,600
pph for probably 14,000 lbs thrust. You can put the engine up to
270 ppm = 16,200 pph for very brief periods during takeoff with
water on and 107% RPM – that is giving you around 20,000 lbs
installed thrust. At the standard cruise speed of 400Kts we burn
85-90 lb/min clean and not more than 100 lb/min with guns and
5x1,000 lb bombs i.e. up to 6,000 lb/hr where I recall the A4 giving
420Kts for 4,200 lb/hr with 2xCharlie tanks. At altitude during the
bombing trial we were averaging 55 lb/min = 3,300 lb/hr for M .8
which is pretty well the standard cruise speed at FL300–FL350.
With bombs gone and light weight at FL400 we got back to 36 lb/
min = 2,100-2,200 lb/hr so not quite as slick as an A4 but certainly
closer at altitude than on the deck, and the higher Mach number
would probably mean the ANM/lb were very similar.
Outside the instrument patterns and QFI type flying you would
notice the difference when turning the Sea Harrier. The ‘G’ limits
are pretty similar but the S.H. corners at about 420KIAS, and loses
speed far quicker in a hard turn at medium altitudes and above.
At low level in a strikepro type scenario the vast power output
makes up for the wing and you can very quickly regain speed
lost in a prolonged turn: “Buster” really means something. When
swanning about at less than 300Kts you can really feel the ‘mush’
when you try and pull out from dives – but again power is the
answer and dropping 20–60° nozzles pitches the nose up far faster
than you can pull it with the stick.
There is a place in the world for QFIs. It is not the sort of machine
you read the flight manual for and then leap aboard and takeoff.
The average A4 pilot would abort his first engine start, for example,
convinced that 2/3 of the fan blades were missing because of the
vibration – it is most agricultural because of the size of the fan and
the jet blast on the tailplane. Even the most experienced convertees
admit that their brain is scrambled by the acceleration on takeoff
and just as they get it unscrambled it is time to pull in 50° nozzle,
radically changing the thrust vector and rescrambling the brain.
It is emphasised throughout the course that the Harrier can bite
the overconfident and it does – regularly. As I’ve written before
I think – of my course of six guys – one is dead and two have
ejected from situations of their own making.
It is very hard to make an objective comparison of the pilot
safety factors of both aircraft. After 1,000 hours in the A4 I was
obviously pretty comfortable. I am sure I won’t feel the same
way after 1,000 hours in the Harrier (700 to go). The reduced
aerodynamic authority in slow speed flight near the ground is one
thing. Mainly the difference lies in the proximity to the limits of
control at which you must operate the Harrier in transition to and
from the ultimate short field performance of which it is capable.
Takeoff is no problem especially from the ramp as you have 1,500
fpm ROC to play with before the ground/sea gets your attention.
It is mainly I think the landing approaches that keep you honest.
The combination of minimal power reserves to arrest a sink rate
and the inherent directional instability during transition makes
for a high work load. In IMC and on a dark night the disorientation
that occurs when you play with the nozzles during an approach
is a problem that is bound to kill people. It is bad enough with a
serviceable HUD with inertial flight path but come the day when
you are on the second rate secondary instruments just standby.
It would be doing the Harrier an injustice to wrap up on that
pessimistic note. It is a magnificent aircraft and a classic in its time.
Unfortunately its time was ten years ago and it is a travesty that
the political and military bureaucracies have dithered away for so
long that the aircraft is struggling to compete with the lightweight
fighters and attack aircraft around. As I see it the advanced avionics
and ‘match anything’ subsonic performance of the AV8B should
have been produced by the Brits in the late sixties and we should
now have in service a supersonic follow on in the F16–F18 class.
Hand in hand with the performance and avionic improvements
would come refinement of the handling characteristics which
would reduce the operating risks in the VSTOL regime. From
what I know of it to date the AV8B will be significantly easier and
safer to operate than the GR3 and Sea Harrier. And you can bet
that the fuel flow gauge won’t be behind the seat.
Apologies to USN Safety Magazine Cartoon
that has already apologised to “TOP GUN”
“Splash One” A-4G
Photo via Dave Ramsay
Navy News
31 August 1990
Navy News 26 Oct 1990
Subj: Passing of Capt David
John Ramsay, OAM, RANR
1. Navy is saddened to hear of
the passing of CAPT David John
Ramsay on 4 Sep 12.
2. CAPT Ramsay joined the
Royal Australian Naval College
in Jan 63. He was in the last
group of Australians to undergo
training at the Royal Naval
College. Dartmouth in England
before returning to complete
his bridge watchkeeping
training in HMAS Brisbane
during her 1971 tour of duty
as the last RAN ship to operate
with the US Seventh Fleet in
3. CAPT Ramsay then under-
went fying training with the
Air Force throughout 1972
completrng conversion on to
the Skyhawk Aircraf in Dec 73.
In early 1977 CAPT Ramsay was
the RAN contngent ofcer in
the Royal Yacht Britannia during
that year’s Royal tour,
4. In Dec 79 Captain Ramsay
was posted to exchange duty
with the Royal Navy, fying Sea
Harriers that included training
and trials during and afer the
Falklands Confict.
5. CAPT Ramsay returned
to Australia in 1983 and
completed a number of staf
and sea going postngs,these
included commands of both
HMAS Creswell and Success.
6. Afer leaving HMAS
Success in 1993 CAPT Ramsay
undertook postgraduate
study before completng two
consecutve postngs as the
Naval Atache in Jakarta.
7. In 1997. CAPT Ramsay
was awarded the Medal
of the Order of Australia
for meritorious service to
naval aviaton leading to the
formaton of Commander
Australian Naval Aviaton.
8. He transferred to the
Naval Reserve in 2001 before
joining the Department of
Infrastructure and Transport
where he had a number of roles
in Jakarta. He was instrumental
in enhancing the strong
bilateral relatonship between
the department and their
Indonesian counterparts. As a
testament to his commitment
and skills, CAPT Ramsay was
presented with the Secretary’s
award for excellence in 2011.
13 14 15
RAN FAA Skyhawk A-4G OFS by number 60 Pilots (1 twice - 1 DNF, injured) in total –
others had informal training/conversion
No. 16 OFS photo not
shown - will include
when available later
Click on photos to go to a better quality
version elsewhere in the pages of this PDF history
RAN FAA A-4G OFS (Operational Flying School) list plus other pilots known to have . own A-4G Skyhawk
OFS No.1 1967–68
L–R: (back row) Lcdr Fred
Lane; Leut Ralph McMillan;
Barrie Daly; Barry Diamond;
Lcdr Bill Callan; Leut Clive
Blennerhassett; Keith John-
son; (front row) ALO; Leut
Peter Firth (O); (Instructors)
Lcdr Dusty King; John Da
Costa; Leut Mike Gump USN;
Brian Dutch SAWI; AEO
OFS No.2 1969
L–R: (back row) Sblt Ken
Palmer; Gary Northern;
Midn Peter Cox (front row)
Leut Errol Kavanagh; Dave
OFS No.3 — start Feb ’70
L–R: Leut Barrie Daly (frst
course interrupted by UK AWI
training) Lcdr Col Patterson;
Leut Pete McNair; Aslt Phil
Thompson; John Hamilton
OFS No.4 late in 1970?
L–R: Leut Charlie Rex; Rick
Symons; Sblt Murray Smythe
OFS No.5 1971
L–R: (back) Sblt Graham
Donovan; Tony Der Kinderen;
(front row) Leut George Heron;
Tom Supple
OFS No.6 — June 1972
L–R: Leut Graham
Winterfood; Aslt John Siebert;
Leut Jack Mayfeld plus Leut
Pete Clark (injured in a Macchi
ejection earlier — fnished course
later — perhaps OFS No.7?)
OFS No.8 1973
L–R: Aslt Jerry Clark; Barry
Evans; John McCauley
OFS No.9 mid-1973
L–R: Leut Dave Ramsay; Sblt
Ian Shepherd; Leigh Costain
(did not fnish — broken leg
football injury); Andy Sinclair;
Neville French
OFS No.10 1975
L–R: Sblt Ian Shepherd &
Andy Sinclair (both restarted
OFS — defence cutbacks); Midn
Kim Baddams; Mal McCoy
OFS No.11 1976
L–R: Midn Mike Maher; Sblt
Colin Tomlinson; Leut Pete
OFS No.12 1977?
L–R: Aslt M. Measday; Leut
Allan Clark; Murray Coppins;
Sblt Allan Bradtke
OFS No.13 1978?
L–R: Sblt Gary Osmond; Ray
OFS No.14 1980
L–R: Midn Paul Kalade; Dave
Baddams; Aslt Eamon Lines;
Midn Mark Binskin; Leut Rob
Bradshaw RN (exchange)
OFS No.15 — (start July 1981)
L–R: Aslt Dave Coote; Aslt
Mark Boast; Leut John Bartels
OFS No.16 (1982)
L–R: Ray Whitman; Adrian
Wilson; Mark Pearsall; Gary
Standen RAAF (exchange)
Pilots known to have fown A-4G
but not having formal OFS training:
Cmdr N.E. Lee; Lcdr Peter
Marshall; Mike Astbury; Leut
Mick Flynn; Graham Quick;
Mick Curry; Alan Videan (S2)
LSO; (many vacancies...)
Leut Chris Olsson was on
an OFS sometime or maybe
a quick special one in early
1970s - maybe did part of OFS
No.6 or No.8? he did a quick
one to get to sea with 805 as
Senior Pilot.
AMAFTU test pilots in early
70s. Lcdr Gerry O’Day; Peter
USN/USMC exchange pilots:
Leut Mike Gump; Leut/
Lcdr John Park; Leut Mike
Nordeen; Tom LaMay; John
Hershberger; Bob Stumpf;
Paul O’Brien; Kev Finan;
Robert Hanner; Capt Tom
White USMC; Chuck Smith
J.P. Conlon was one pilot completing a convers-
ion course towards the end of fixed wing flying
& Lcdr Al Hickling
ex-RN Sea Vixen/Phantom pilot
Go Back
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MeIbourne FIight
HMAS MeIbourne
(III) FFG 05 Sea ...
FS9 test TA4G
rough circuit
'Shark02' Seaking
Engine Sounds ...
'Shark 02' RAN FIeet
Air Arm Sea...
'FareweII to a Lady'
HMAS MeIbou...
S2E/G Tracker Deck
Landing Instr...
NAS Nowra A4G &
S2E/Gs before th...
'Sea EagIes' doco
Iate 1970s RAN...
A4G WinterfIood
HMAS MeIbourne
30jun84 Last RAN
FAA Jets Taxi T...
1976 HMAS
MeIbourne Fixed
Majestic CIass
HMAS MeIbourne
Last Skyhawk A4G
FIying Day NAS ...
HS748 DispIay FinaI
Fixed Wing D...
S2E/G Trackers finaI
GreenfieId VF-805
A4G HMAS MeIbo...
Morton VF-805 A4G
Skyhawk HMAS M...
Skyhawk Crash
HMAS MeIbourne.
A4G Skyhawk on
HMAS MeIbourne
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Winterflood A4G
Skyhawk on HMAS
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Seaking Helicopter
crash _ videos?
01 Oct 08
***Click any
picture to
go online to
play that
Video itself
*****Many thanks
Dave for provid-
ing much content
for this huge PDF
Please Click on URL opposite /
or above for the Download Page
aboard HMAS
NOW available at
Microsoft SkyDrive
‘SpazSinbad’ page
The Video DVD is in ‘A4G_Video
DVD (42 parts - 4GB total)’ folder
When all 42 parts [OR the entire folder]
have been downloaded into same direct-
ory, run .EXE file. Then you will have a
4GB Video DVD to burn or run from your
computer. The Video DVD is a compilat-
ion of A4G ops aboard HMAS Melbourne
of A4G OPS
Portable Mirror
Landing System
Photos by Dave Ramsay
VF-805 Linebook page
Please click graphic above for video clip

BOLTER = NOT catching an arrestor wire with aircraft hook

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