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From Smoky Green:

Jill and I watched highlights of the celebration in London today. It was my great privilege to fly with you. Congratulations on each of your contributions to 100 eventful years of service to your country and the world. All Best, Smoky
IV(R) Sqn RAF 100 Flypast

IV(R) Sqn RAF 100 Flypast

IV(R) Sqn RAF 100 Flypast

IV(R) Sqn RAF 100 Flypast

Photos: Ian Black @BlickyIan

Tony Chaplin RIP

Late news, I’m afraid, (I’ve been out of internet coverage for a while), but Tony Chaplin passed away on the 18th of April. Kate has let us know that Tony’s funeral will be at Lincoln Crematorium at 12.30 on 15th May, followed by a gathering at Welbourn Village Hall. For those wishing to correspond with the family, Kate’s address is Long Cottage, 50 The Green, Welbourn, Lincolnshire, LN5 0NJ.

Tony was the boss of IV in 1978/79 and then the Harrier OCU in 1983/4.

I only flew with Tony once. In 1982 he was OC 233 OCU, the Harrier OCU, and I was on the QWI course, and we flew the “freefall giveback dual” ride together. As a Germany pilot, freefall wasn’t a familiar event to me, in fact I’d never done any freefall before the QWI course. We only had four practice bombs – my demo was 150 ft long and I was pretty pleased with that. Tony first bomb was 200 ft long and his second 250 ft over. He was obviously making a mistake that I’d failed to notice. Tony then asked if we could “toss” the last bomb, again, an obvious staff pilot trap that I wasn’t going to fall into, so I said we’d be better nailing the last bomb in freefall.

It was unscorable at 12 o’clock.

All the way back to Wittering and throughout the debrief I was racking my brain to try to discover the deliberate error that Tony had introduced and that I had failed to spot. After my debrief it was Tony’s turn to debrief me: “Great trip, Chris, thanks.”

“But hang on, Boss, what were you doing to make each of your bombs worse than the last?”

“No idea, Chris, sorry, I’ve never done freefall before!”

I think this falls into the “I learned about instructing from that” category…

Sqn News – March 2018

Sun, sea, sand and… snow?

IV Sqn 6 Ship

IV Sqn 6 Ship

The Beast from the East has arrived… no, we aren’t referring to Lt Fahad Al Qarni, but the unseasonable wintry weather we have been blessed with through the early part of the year. The newly re-designated IV Squadron have enjoyed a particularly busy couple of months, with a much improved picture on jet availability thanks to some excellent work from our partners at BAe Systems. Whilst the weather has been challenging at times, the Squadron has made great progress, with the joint graduation of course 22 and 23 sending 6 newly qualified fighter pilots to their OCUs (or for the lucky one, back to CFS to learn the black arts of becoming an instructor). A wealth of new qualifications have also been gained, with B1 upgrades for Flt Lts Pearce, Critchell and Crickmore, the Typhoon Tripod, aka Flt Lts James Critchmore, James Critchmore and James Critchmore. Flt Lt Osborne and Flt Lt Van Hessing are currently deep in the throes of their A2 workup, some say they currently see only in the regulation 4 colours of CFS and have nightmares about giant airborne manuals chasing them about the Squadron, we wish them well in their exams and hope they return to the real world soon.

[Read more]

The RAF Centenary Campaign

From the HFA:

The RAF Centenary Campaign was launched in October 2017 and concludes in September 2018. Our Centenary provides a unique opportunity to showcase our Service by commemorating our past, celebrating our considerable achievements, and inspiring people about our future as we move into our next century. Key objectives of the RAF100 Campaign will be to raise awareness of the RAF, to deepen understanding of our roles and capabilities, and to engage with those who might traditionally have had limited contact with us. We will do this by delivering an ambitious programme of complementary events and initiatives at national, regional and local levels. A key part of this programme will be a tour of aircraft around major cities within the United Kingdom. The Chief of the Air Staff is keen to use this as a vehicle to reach out to new audiences, especially our youth, and to excite them about careers in aviation and aerospace. Our concept is to include a range of aircraft covering our history from WW1, WW2, the Cold War, to the modern age and in recognition of our key anniversaries, the RAF has traditionally organised a display of static aircraft on London Horse Guards. These exhibitions have always been tremendously popular with the public and we hope to capture their imagination again this year from the 6th to 10th July. This Central London display will complement our key RAF Centenary event on 10 July 2018, involving a church service, a parade of service personnel, the consecration of a new Queen’s Colour for the RAF in the United Kingdom, a Centenary flypast and concurrent receptions at Buckingham Palace and Horse Guards.

The RAF100 Programme Team invite Association members to assist with the delivery of these events. Volunteers are invited to talk to the public and invited guests at all venues (please see RAF100 Aircraft Tour event graphic which can accompany the request) about their own experiences with the aircraft detailed below. Travel, accommodation and daily subsistence will be provided for this fantastic opportunity to contribute to the Service’s Centenary message of Commemorate, Celebrate and Inspire at these extremely high profile events.

London 6-10 July – Meteor F4 (Pilot or enthusiast)

London 6-10 July – Dakota – Representing the Service’s contribution to the Berlin Airlift 1948-49 (Aircrew, ground crew, enthusiast)

London 6-10 July – Chinook – MERT experienced medical staff

All Tour Dates – Harrier GR3 – (Pilot)

London 6-10 July – Tornado GR4 – (Pilot / Navigator)

All Tour Dates – BAE Typhoon Full Scale Replica (Pilot)

London 6-10 July – LMUK F35 Full Scale Replica (Pilot or presentation team member)

Birmingham 25-27 Aug – LMUK F35 Full Scale Replica (Pilot or presentation team member)

Glasgow 31 Aug – 2 Sep 18 – LMUK F35 Full Scale Replica (Pilot or presentation team member)

Volunteers are requested to go contact the RAF100 Programme Team with their availability or to obtain more information.

Volunteer deadlines are 3 Apr 18 for Cardiff and 2 May 18 for all other events.


Tel: 020-8833-8737 / 020-8833-8772 / 020-8833-8975

Sqn News – Jan 2018

New year, new Squadron! (or is it?).



Winter has most definitely arrived, and Happy IV(R) Squadron have returned after the Christmas break full of energy after the disappointing December weather kept all but the most seasoned flight commanders on the ground. Starting as we mean to go on, with more jets on the flight line and even the met office playing ball with a favourable weather system in charge we are all looking forward to a productive year training the next generation of fighter pilots.

[Read more]

The 4 Sqn Collection

From Jim Sharples:

I would like to introduce myself. Over the years I have been collecting 4 Squadron Items and have now built up a reasonable collection of artefacts, ranging in scale from aircrew equipment to full aircraft.

The current focus of this collection is around any 4 Squadron artefacts dating from World War 2 and up to the end of the Cold War. It is intended to add artefacts from more current conflicts as and when they become available.

With regards to aircraft and cockpit sections, the current interest of the collection is around those that were used by 4 Squadron and produced by Hawker Aircraft/Hawker Siddeley Aircraft.

Unfortunately, the collection is not currently open for public viewing, so I have created a website that serves as the virtual home of the collection, The website has only been live over a week or so and I’ve still got lots of additions to make.

The choice of name for the collection represents what the collection contains, and I must stress, as I do on the website, that I have no affiliation or association with the Royal Air Force or No. 4 Squadron itself. What I do have is a genuine and sincere interest in 4 Squadron and in preserving items relating to it.

Should you ever require anything bringing to an event or reunion, then I will always endeavour to assist where I can.

I may need a little assistance from your excellent site and its members in the future, relating to two pieces of Nose Art, one on the cockpit of XV806 and one on the cockpit XZ131.


James Sharples BA(Hons) MIFireE MIFSM MIIRSM TechIOSH

jim-sharp [at]

Harrier Engineers’ Annual Reunion 2018

To coincide with the “Harrier Engineers’ Annual Reunion 8” at the Green Man pub in Stamford on Saturday 3rd March 2018, Phil Willsher will be arranging to open the Harrier Heritage Centre at RAF Wittering at 11.00 on that day.

Ex Harrier Force members and their guests are welcome to visit the Centre. Please notify him no later than 28th February 2018 on Facebook, mobile (07971 566851) or email (philwillsher [at] so that access to the site can be arranged. The visit will last for about two hours. He will need full names of all visitors along with make, colour and registration of vehicles. If you have never paid the Centre a visit, please try and make it; you won’t be disappointed. Those attending will need to have a means of identification.

Royal Air Force Day at the RAF Museum Hendon

From Malcolm White:

1000 to 1600 on Thursday 10 May 2018

The RAF Museum will host a “Royal Air Force Day” on Thursday 10 May 2018. Held in the Museum’s main and new Exhibition Hall at Hendon, and before the whole site is formally opened to the public in June; it promises to be a splendid day and an opportunity to reflect on the past and catch up with chums, friends and families: a “re-union” not to be missed.

This Day will be part of the RAF 100 Programme of Events for 2018; events which aim to Commemorate, Celebrate and Inspire future generations – and build on Lord Trenchard’s founding principles of training and education excellence, both of which are so relevant today. In support, The Museum would be delighted to welcome those who serve today; those who have retired, and importantly to extend a very warm welcome to family and friends.

Age has no barrier in this, as Primary School Children to Veterans in their 90’s (and a few in between) will be there. So on behalf of all involved may I say that it would be a delight to welcome you to Hendon. I know it’s a working day, but please try and join us if you can – if only for a couple of hours

If you are interested or know of someone who might be, then please register your interest with Anji Patel & Odette Harris at Anji will ensure that you receive full details in early March.

Thank you

Malcolm White Trustee

Royal Air Force Museum Grahame Park Way London NW9 5LL

SatNav NW9 5QW

Where’s This Castle? (Yes, Germany!)


@BAESystemsAir Here’s a challenge for you on a Thursday night, Twitter. Name the castle in this Harrier picture? We’ve tried to find it and come up with nothing. Any ideas? #avgeeks @Frostblade_

Snow Falcon Harriers

From John Wolstenholm:

Hello. Is there any possibility one of your members might be able to help regarding the Snow Falcon Harriers, I and IV squadrons in 2004?

I’m nearing completion of a detailed 1:32 model of one of these GR.7s. Both this picture:

and even more so the one on your site:

seem to show a staining (brown) on the fuselage spine and stbd wing, which at first I thought was caused by the low angle of the sun. Your photo appears to be taken in overcast conditions and the ‘staining’ is even more pronounced.

Thank you for your time and any help you may offer.

[Ed: APU exhaust?]

World War II Allied Aircraft Crashes in the Netherlands website

This will be of interest to many historians:

From Jan Nieuwenhuis

Dear Sir, 

Perhaps you’re interested in the following:

On 1 October 2017 my new “World War II Allied Aircraft Crashes in the Netherlands & North Sea” (also English Channel) website was launched!

The purpose of the website is to help researchers, family members and any one interested, to search for detailed information about Allied Aircraft Crashes in The Netherlands and North Sea in the Second World War.

Please note that not (yet) all crashes are available in the database, though it is gradually filled with more data… (See “Modifications” button on the website).

At present the database lists the information on 1385 crashed aircraft, 6573 crew members, and 660 cemeteries/memorials…

The address to go to is:

Greetings from Texel island, Holland

Jan (John in English)

A Message from OC IV


Before I hang my flying helmet and gloves for Christmas and 2017, I really wanted to take the time to pen an email to you and the Association. I was acutely aware that the Sqn and I could not attend the get together over the Remembrance Weekend and I was very sad that we could not meet properly. It is my intent to come over and meet the members at the next opportunity and tell them what we are doing on the Sqn, there are many challenges but much to be proud of. We also have RAF100 to look forward to in 2018 – RAF Valley and IV Sqn will be heavily involved including the full RAF Flypast in July in London and then at RIAT.

I am very proud to be Boss of what is now the largest fast jet Squadron in the UK, and by some margin. We have about 100 pilots, staff and student, who are on our book and about a further ten who regularly fly with us and all are doing amazing front line training using cutting edge technology. Indeed we have hosted some very senior people in my short time in the chair including the Prince of Wales, UK and Welsh Assembly Ministers, ACAS as well as several other foreign and UK 1,2 and 3* officers all of whom have been hugely impressed by the professionalism and performance of our people. I am trying to ensure that IV Sqn is rightly regarded as one of the best places in the world to become a fighter pilot – akin to the Oxford or Cambridge of fighter pilot training. I truly believe that the mixture of technology, in the air and on the ground, staff with recent combat experience and a depth of amazing instructional talent, mountainous flying areas and challenging weather, makes RAF Valley and IV Sqn a truly world leading place to work.

However, this week as I left the Sqn one night, I was struck by the Officer Commanding boards and the huge history of IV Sqn and the feats it has achieved over its long and proud service. I was humbled by the turnover of OCs during the World Wars and how much the Sqn did during the intervening years and in the Cold War – especially with the Harrier. I am so proud to be part of that history, a history that you and the Association represent and guard so well. It is with that in mind for 2018 that I look forward to next year and getting together. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all at FourFax and here is to a very exciting and successful 2018.

Best Regards

Rob Caine

IV Sqn Hunters

IV Sqn Hunters at Jever

IV Sqn Hunters at Jever
Photo: Ian Black @blickyian

Thanks for the photo, Blacky!

Sqn News – Autumn 2017

IV(R) Sqn Hawk T2

IV(R) Sqn Hawk T2

Winter is coming…or is it? Autumn is upon us and the bleak windy winter of RAF Valley is looming, however with temperatures in the high teens and blue skies today you might be forgiven for thinking of the French Riviera rather than the Anglesey coast…but then again we did have an (ex) hurricane pass through a couple of days ago…

It has been a challenging couple of months for Happy IV(R) Sqn, with a significant electrical fault identified at the start of September leading to a short pause in flying activity, and subsequent rectification work on the aircraft having an effect on the flying rate. With our partners from the engineering side at BAe Systems working especially hard to deliver as many aircraft as possible each day, and contractual work going on in the background to address some potential pinch points in aircraft serviceability, things are starting to recover and improve.

[Read more]

New Harrier Book – Help Wanted

From the HFA:

Lon Nordeen is an author and former MDC/Boeing marketing manager, now retired, who is working to document the history of the Harrier. Recently a UK publisher came to Lon about a new book which would be focused on the Harrier II. Lon has done 4 books on this topic but is weak on UK contacts.

Lon made a point to try and include a fair and balanced treatment of the international elements of the overall program in his earlier V/STOL Validation book, including the industrial and political elements plus best overview of operational details at the time of print. However for an expanded book, the level of detail for the RAF/RN, Italy and Spain needs to be expanded–with a focus on first person interviews with decision makers, pilots and support personnel. In the first book V/STOL Validation, Lon received lots of support from BAE and RR types, and still has good data from their interviews done in 2003.

Lon hopes you and he can trade e-mails on this topic! Your insights would be appreciated…


  • What was the transition process and experience like going from the GR 3 to 5 to 7 for flying?

  • What did you like about flying the Harrier II? and not really enjoy?

  • Guys who flew and supported Northern Watch out of Turkey 1992-6

  • Operations in Deliberate Force/Allied Force

  • Operations in Telic in Iraq

  • Operations in Afghanistan.

  • Lon would like to talk to RAF and other industry people involved with producing and supporting the GR Mk 5, 7, 9 and RR Pegasus

  • Photos of good quality and technical drawings – Lon would like to secure permission to include in the book to support interviews and text points/messages?

If you can help Lon with this exciting and important endeavor please contact him directly at

Thank you