F-111F, 48th TFW, Lakenheath, Operation El Dorado Canyon, 1986

Discussion in '#6 The Cold War Projects' started by kgambit, May 8, 2010.

  1. kgambit

    kgambit Active Member

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    #1 kgambit, May 8, 2010
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2010
    Username: kgambit
    Name: Dwight
    Category 2 Intermediate
    Model: F-111 F
    Scale: 1:72
    Manufacturer: Hasegawa
    Aftermarket add ons:
    - DP Caspar Decals - Operation El Dorado Canyon
    - Verlinden Upgrade set (resin seats)
    - Eduard PE set
    - Hasegawa Weapons set IV (for the ALQ-131 ECM pod- center fuselage aft station)
    - Hasegawa Weapons set VI (for the 4 GBU-10E Paveway IIs - wing pylons stations 3/6 and 4/5 - Note: The kit instructions has them mislabeled.)

    Camo Scheme: As seen on the decals sheets:
    - upper surfaces: dark green / green / brown (sand) - basically the SEA scheme;
    ------ Dark Green: FS34079 TAC Dark Green
    ------ Green: FS34102 TAC Green
    ------ Brown/sand: FS30219 TAC Tan
    - underside surface and nose - flat black;
    - cockpit: dark gull gray, FS 36231 (mixed with white for scale effect)
    - wheel bays, gear and engine intakes - white;
    - exposed internal portion of flaps - flat red
    - GBU-10Es; main body is an Mk 84 - olive drab with yellow stripe - all but about the last 1/2" of the Mk 84 warhead's 3" yellow band is hidden by the guidance section's adapter collar; gas canister brown FS30117

    The General Dynamics F-111 "Aardvark" or "Vark" is a medium-range interdictor and tactical strike aircraft that also fills the roles of strategic bomber, reconnaissance, and electronic warfare in its various versions. Developed in the 1960s and first entering service in 1967, the United States Air Force (USAF) variants were officially retired by 1998.

    Although conceived as a multi-role fighter, the F-111 became a long-range attack aircraft primarily armed with air-to-surface ordnance, including a nuclear strike capability.

    The F-111F was the final F-111 variant produced for Tactical Air Command, with a modern, but less expensive Mark IIB avionics system. The USAF approved development of the variant in 1969. It also included the more powerful TF30-P-100 engine and strengthened wing carry through box. A total of 106 were produced between 1970 and 1976.

    In the early 1980s, the F-111F began to be equipped with the AVQ-26 Pave Tack forward looking infrared (FLIR) and laser designator system. Pave Tack system provided for the delivery of precision laser-guided munitions and mounted in the internal weapons bay. The Pacer Strike avionics update program replaced analog equipment with new digital equipment and multi-function displays

    The F-111 F is probably best known for it's role in Operation El Dorado Canyon (otherwise known as the Raid on Libya) in April of 1986. Details on the Operation to follow.

    Before I do a core dump on the Operation El Dorado Canyon, I need to get a definitive ruling on whether this qualifies for the Cold War GB or not. The particular markings I am using would have been in use back in the '70's and the "Vark" was definitely designed for a long range attack role, including tactical nukes, against WarPac. The only thing that might work against it is the timing of the particular operation and equipment employed during that op (the weapon load of GBU-10s and the Pave Tack pod are definitely late additions in the broad time frame). If this won't qualify, I'll find a suitable replacement.
     

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  2. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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    Looking very good Dwight.:)
     
  3. kgambit

    kgambit Active Member

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    Thanks Wojtek.. Hopefully it will qualify. If not, I need to go thru my list again. :lol:
     
  4. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Great choice Dwight! I've been waiting for a UK-based F-111.
    As far as I'm concerned, the 48th TFW were based a Lakenheath, Suffolk, during the 1970's and 80's, as part of a long-range strike force whose potential targets would have been in Germany and the FOB in the case of a war with the Soviet Union / Warpac. The fact that they were involved in 'El Dorado' is secondary to their main role - they just happened to be the unit tasked with the mission. Therefore, they, and the model, are a prime candidate for the Cold War GB.
    Incidentally, I used to watch their F-111's at low-level over the North East coast of England, en-route to the bombing ranges at Otterburn and north, and engaging in DACT over the North Sea Ranges. I've got some pics somewhere, but haven't a clue where they're hiding!
     
  5. imalko

    imalko Well-Known Member

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    Cool choice Dwight. Looking forward to your build.
     
  6. kgambit

    kgambit Active Member

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    #6 kgambit, May 8, 2010
    Last edited: May 8, 2010
    WOOT! We have a winner! :)

    Would love to see those pics Terry. :)

    Okay here we go then - for those of you who remember the mission and for those who don't, here is the background, the operational details and aftermath of Operation El Dorado Canyon (also known as "Gaddafi gets hosed")

    The first of two parts:

    Prelude to Operation El Dorado Canyon


    After years of occasional skirmishes with Libya over Libyan territorial claims to the Gulf of Sidra, the United States contemplated a military attack to strike targets within Libyan land territory. In March 1986, the United States, asserting the 12-nautical-mile (22 km; 14 mi) limit to territorial waters recognized by the international community, sent a carrier task force to the region. Libya responded with aggressive counter-maneuvers on March 24 that led to an engagement during which a Libyan patrol boat and 2 Nanchuka class frigates were sunk by USN aircraft and several SA-5 surface-to-air missiles sites near the coastal town of Surt were destroyed after firing SAMs at US aircraft. (see photo at the bottom of the post). Less than two weeks later on April 5, a bomb exploded in a West Berlin disco, La Belle, killing two American servicemen and a Turkish woman and wounding 200 others. The United States claimed to have obtained cable transcripts from Libyan agents in East Germany involved in the attack.

    After several days of diplomatic talks with European and Arab partners, President Ronald Reagan ordered the strike on Libya on April 14. Eighteen F-111F strike aircraft of the 48th Tactical Fighter Wing, flying from RAF Lakenheath supported by four EF-111A Ravens of the 20th Tactical Fighter Wing, from RAF Upper Heyford in England, in conjunction with A-6, A-7, F/A-18 attack aircraft and EA-6B Prowler Electronic Warfare Aircraft from the aircraft carriers USS Saratoga, USS America and USS Coral Sea on station in the Gulf of Sidra, struck five targets at 02:00 on April 15, with the stated objective that their destruction would send a message and reduce Libya's ability to support and train terrorists.

    For the Libyan raid, the United States was denied overflight rights by France, Spain and Italy as well as the use of European continental bases, forcing the Air Force portion of the operation to be flown around France, Spain and through the Straits of Gibraltar, adding 1,300 miles (2,100 km) each way and requiring multiple aerial refuelings.

    Operation El Dorado Canyon

    THE NAVAL STRIKE

    As the F-111Fs neared Libya, the carriers USS America and USS Coral Sea started to ready for their part of strikes. Around 22:20, they finally turned into the wind, and then launched a total of three E-2Cs and six F-14s, which were, together with at least one EP-3A from Rota, Spain to cover the USAF strike. Around 22:35, these planes were in the air some 200km north of Tripolis, while two other Tomcats and at least two EA-6Bs, launched at 22:30, deployed towards Benghazi, to cover the USN strike.

    Between 22:45 and 23:15hrs, 18 F/A-18As of VFA-131 "Wildcats", VFA-132 "Privateers", VMFA-351 and VFMA-323 "Death Rattlers", all armed with AGM-88b HARMs, together with eight A-6Es and one EA-6B. were launched from USS Coral Sea, The USS America simultaneously launched six A-7Es of the VA-46 "Clansmen" and VA-72 "Blue Hawks", armed with HARMs and AGM-45 Shrikes, six A-6Es of VA-34 "Blue Blasters", one EA-6B and eight F-14As of VF-33 "Tarsiers" and VF 102 "Diamondbacks". The whole operation was controlled by a single E-3A of the 960th AWCS/552nd AWCW, while at least one RC-135E also monitored the Libyan radio communications.

    The Naval strike force was tasked with destroying the following targets:

    - SAM sites surrounding the Beghazi target area
    - Jamahiriyah Guard Barracks / Benghazi Military Barracks in Benghazi, - a terrorist command post. Like Aziziyah Barracks, it was a billeting area for Gadhafi’s elite Jamahiriyah Guard. It also contained a warehouse for storage of MiG components.
    - Benina Military Airfield southeast of Benghazi. Although not directly related to terrorism, Benina Military Airfield was selected for attack to ensure that its MiG fighters would not intercept or pursue US strike forces.

    The attack against targets in Benghazi area was initiated around 23;45, when, supported by heavy jamming from EA-6Bs, Hornets fired a number of AGM-88 HARMs against active Libyan radars and SAM-sites from long range. This was followed by more HARMs - as well as some AGM-45 Shrikes - fired by Corsairs. Reportedly, up to 30 missiles were fired in less than three minutes, and around 23:49, the RC-135E intercepted the communication between one of Libyan SAM-sites and its superiors, that they are under "murderous" fire and that "all radars are destroyed".

    In the wake of the SEAD-assets, and the salvo of ARMs, USN bombers supported by additional EA-6Bs approached their targets. Exactly at 00:01, A-6E Intruders of VA-55 from the Coral Sea crossed the Libyan coast. Guided by their Norden AN/APQ-148 radars and TRAMs, and closely escorted by EA-6Bs, they found the Benina AB, and plastered it with Mk.82s and Mk.83s. Four MiG-23s were instantly confirmed destroyed and 12 were either badly damaged or disabled, two Fokker F.27s and two Mi-8s were also destroyed. Simultaneously, A-6Es from USS America obliterated the al-Jamahuriyah barracks with Mk.82s and Mk.83s, destroying most of larger buildings. At least 80 Libyans were said to have been killed in these two strikes, and the inflicted damage was heavy. The USN suffered no losses and by 01:58 all were back on their carriers.

    Photo of a Nunchaka Class Corvette of the Libyan Navy burning before sinking
     

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  7. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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  8. kgambit

    kgambit Active Member

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    #8 kgambit, May 8, 2010
    Last edited: May 8, 2010
    part 2:

    THE USAF STRIKE

    The USAF Strike consisted of 24 F-111F strike aircraft of the 48th Tactical Fighter Wing, flying from RAF Lakenheath supported by 5 EF-111A Ravens of the 20th Tactical Fighter Wing, from RAF Upper Heyford in England. This would be the combat debut of the Paveway II (also known as the GBU-10 and GBU-12) LGB and the Pave Tack targeting pod systems.

    The first aircraft to launch were the 28 Eighth Air Force KC-135s and KC-10s tankers from the Royal Air Force (RAF) bases at Fairford and Mildenhall, England followed closely by the F/EF-111s. At the first refueling 6 of the F-111Fs, which had been designated as spares, returned to base with the 18 remaining F-111's continuing on. 3 more refuelings and several hours later, these planes rounded the tip of Tunisia and were integrated into the Navy’s airborne armada by an Air Force officer aboard a KC-10 tanker which had been modified to function as an airborne command coordination center. The mission took 14 hours to cover 5,500 miles nautical miles because France, Spain and Italy would not allow the formation to fly over their territory. Eighth Air Force's refueling support made the longest mission ever accomplished by tactical aircraft a success.

    At the moment the break down of the Libyan air defence near Benghazi was reported, the 18 F-111Fs, flying at a level of 60 meters and a speed of 600km/h and escorted closely by four EF-111As and, from a distance, by several F-14As were short of entering the Libyan airspace.

    Strict RoEs were in effect which prevented any F-111 frpm continuing the mission if all three targeting and navigational systems were not fully functional. This decision was to insure that no civilians were to be hit. As a result, two F-111Fs aborted when already inside the Libyan airspace.

    The remaining F-111Fs crossed the beach around 00:01hrs, west of Tripolis, accelerated to 800km/h and then the formation parted in three sections in order to attack three different targets:

    - Aziziyah [Tarabulas] Barracks in Tripoli - command and control headquarters for Libyan terrorism.
    - Murrat Side Bilal base - This combat naval commando school, in the Tripoli area, was where PLO and other terrorist organization frogmen were trained.
    - military facilities at Tripoli’s main airport. The IL-76 Candid transports used to support Gadhafi’s export of terrorism were the primary targets.

    After activating their APQ-130 radars, three other F-111Fs had to abort, due to additional technical problems. Despite this, the attackers were obviously still not detected, and the strike was a complete surprise.

    Recce-photos shot by SR-71s, showed the following damage (see last two pics for two of the BDA recon shots):

    - six Il-76s, one Boeing 737 and one G.222 destroyed at Tripoli Military Airport
    - 4 MiG-23s, two F.27s and three Mi-8s destroyed at Benina. An additional 12 Mig 23s were either destroyed or severly damaged.
    - Azziziyah barracks destroyed
    - Sidi Billal terrorist camp destroyed
    - al-Jamahuriyah barracks destroyed.
    - 5 SAM-sites destroyed and an additional 5 severly damaged.

    Despite advance warning of the impending strike given to the Libyans by members of the Italian government, the operation was highly successful with one notable exception. One of the F-111Fs, Karma 52, was lost for reasons which remain uncertain. Possible explanations include AAA, SAM, and even friendly fire from one of F-14s. The crew, Capt. Ribas-Dominici, and Capt. Lorence, was killed. Autopsy of Ribas-Dominici (whose body was returned by Libyans years later), showed that he drowned, possibly still inside the capsule (the F-111F has no ejection seats, but the whole cockpit is ejected from the rest of the plane).
     

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  9. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Nice background dwight. I'll have a look for the pics, although they might have been in the batch lost to fire damage some years back. From what I remember, there were a couple of a two-ship formation low over the sea, with the beach and dunes in the shot, and at least one of another pair doing a banking turn above the ancient castle remains at Warkworth, Northumberland. Both of these are 'long shots', so no detail showing, but...er... 'atmospheric', shall we say!
     
  10. rochie

    rochie Well-Known Member

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    great choice Dwight

    i remember this strike as i was 15 years old and on annual camp with the army cadets when the alert stage for all camps went up and as there were only two adult instructors on the camp with us (the rest were in the pub somewhere) i was put on guard duty with the cadet version of the SA 80 with a magazine of live round in my pocket.

    yes my butt was twitching, what i was supposed to do if anybody tried anything i dont know, but i was s******g myself
     
  11. Catch22

    Catch22 Well-Known Member

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  12. A4K

    A4K Well-Known Member

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    Great subject Dwight!
     
  13. T Bolt

    T Bolt Well-Known Member

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    Great background! Should be an interesting build with all the aftermarket parts. :thumbright: The F-111 was one of the first kits I ever built back in the early 70's. I remember my mother had to help me put it together and I put the USAF on the wings upside down. :oops: No idea what kit it was but I remember the wings moved.
     
  14. kgambit

    kgambit Active Member

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    #14 kgambit, May 8, 2010
    Last edited: May 8, 2010
    Thanks guys. :)

    Here are two more background shots- first one is of the F-111F cockpit and the second is one of the 48th TFW GBU-10 laden F-111Fs before takeoff for Libya. :)

    (Apologies as these pics are a bit oversized but I couldn't resist .....)

    Terry, that shot with Warkworth Castle in the background would be AWESOME!
     

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  15. Vic Balshaw

    Vic Balshaw Well-Known Member

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    Fantastic choice Dwight, one of my all time favourite aircraft, which naturally for an Aussie has nostalgic attachments with our fleet nearing retirement, I believe this year. A favourite at air shows and many other occasions here and would always have the audience standing with bated breath waiting for the 'dump and burn', day or night it's a sight to see.

    Really looking forward to you doing this one.

    :hotsun: :hotsun:
     
  16. dirkpitt289

    dirkpitt289 Active Member

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    Another good choice. We have quite a selection of aircraft coming into play. This is going to be a top notch GB
     
  17. Wildcat

    Wildcat Well-Known Member

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    Great choice Mate! It'll be a sad day when we see no more pigs flying down here.
     
  18. Wayne Little

    Wayne Little Well-Known Member

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    Cool choice Dwight, should look great when done!:D
     
  19. kgambit

    kgambit Active Member

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    #19 kgambit, May 9, 2010
    Last edited: May 9, 2010
    The wrist is healing nicely and slightly ahead of schedule too it would appear. I'm just waiting on a couple of the extra goodies to get here before I start on it actually. The Weapon sets and the Verlinden cockpit upgrade to be precise. Those should be here on Monday. The extra decals are coming from Hannants but that's not a worry.

    Thanks Wildcat. :) I never quite figured out WHY the "Varks" got the nickname "Pigs". I think the lines on the plane are gorgeous actually. Always been one of my favorite planes.
     
  20. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    I'll try and find the pics Dwight, but I have a feeling they were among those lost, as I haven't seen that batch for some time. I'll keep looking though.
    That second pic you posted made me laugh! It looks like the guy in front has been 'speared' by the F111, two blokes under the wing are playing ice hockey, and a small fella hanging off the end of the wing!!
    I've probably got some more cokpit shots if you need them BTW.
     
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