In 1982 Lyneham
housed as well as the four squadrons, the Hercules Operational
Conversion Unit (OCU), No 242, and as Wing Commander David
Hawkins explained, it is now the normal practice for all
crews to fly both types during their conversion, and there
after to remain available to fly whichever version is tasked
for a particular mission.
The standard Hercules C130K crew
comprises the captain, co-pilot, navigator and engineer,
plus an air loadmaster to look after cabin loads and - if
supplies or personnel are to be air-dropped - an Army despatcher
(from No 47 Air Despatch Squadron of the Royal Corps of Transport
- another Lyneham-based unit that plays an important role
in all Hercules operations and made a vital contribution
during "Operation Corporate" in respect of loads
that were to be dropped to the Task Force at sea).
as well as its continuing commitment to train crews converting
onto the Hercules, also had to take on at short notice
the training of crews for air-to-air refuelling, both as
and receivers, and for the mail-snatch missions described
later. This responsibility devolved in particular upon
the Support Training Squadron, one of the OCU's five sub-units.
The organisation of the OCU is related, of course, to the
various tasks to which the Hercules is committed in fulfilling
the missions assigned to No 38 Group. There was a degree
of specialisation among the squadrons in that the crews of
No’s 24 and 30 are not trained for air dropping, thus
leaving No’s 47 and 70 to provide the tactical support
So far as "Operation Corporate” was
concerned, this meant that No’s 47 and 70 Squadron
crews became involved in the missions south from Ascension
Island while those of No’s 24 and 30 concentrated on
the UK- Ascension pipeline - and also took charge of the
Hercules tankers in due course.
Prior to the development of long-range variants and the
application of air-to-air refuelling, Lyneham's Hercules
were of only two types, the C Mk 1 and C Mk 3, as already
described. The aircraft at Lyneham are in pool for central
servicing and do not carry individual squadron markings.
The two marks receive their regular first-line servicing
from either one of the two Line Servicing Squadrons at Lyneham.
As Wing Commander O'Neill explained, the Engineering Wing,
like other units at Lyneham, was called upon to make an intensive
extra effort during the period of the conflict, not only
because of the rapid increase in flying hours but also because
of the several modification schemes introduced, some of which
were in-house responsibilities.
The surge in the work load
was to some extent alleviated by the fact that the cycle
of regular maintenance checks was increased at about the
same time; these are performed on a calendar basis (with
a flying hours backstop) and the major check is made by
Marshall of Cambridge every four years, with a minor check
one-year and three year interval and a minor star check
at the two-year interval.
Nevertheless, the engineering staff
at Lyneham contributed some 54,000 hrs of work outside
normal planned duty time during the period of the conflict.
Servicing and maintenance tasks were made somewhat more
complicated by the introduction of Hercules tankers and
of long range tanks and of AAR probes in some aircraft.