The Buccaneer was designed to fulfill a Royal Navy requirement for a long-range carrier-based attack aircraft which first entered service in July 1962. From its first operational missions to its last in 1992, it remained one of the fastest low-level aircraft in any service.
The Buccaneer was a mid-winged, twin-engined monoplane with a crew of two seated in tandem under a sliding canopy. In order to meet the demands of the specification the Buccaneer featured a number of novel and advanced design features. The fuselage was area ruled; meaning it was designed to reduce drag at transonic speeds. This gives rise to the characteristic curvy "Coke bottle" shape.
It featured a variable incidence tailplane that could be trimmed to suit the particular requirements of low-speed handling or high-speed flight. At the low-levels and high speeds traditional bomb bay doors could not be opened safely into the air stream, therefore doors were developed that rotated into the fuselage to expose the payload. This was also useful in assisting ground-level access.
The small wing of the Buccaneer was to high-speed flight at low level. Such a wing, however, does not generate the lift that is essential for low-speed carrier operations. Therefore, the wing and horizontal stabiliser are "blown" by bleeding compressor gas from the engine through surface vents. A consequence of the blown wing is that the engines are required to be run at high power for low-speed flight (in order to generate sufficient compressor gas for blowing).
Blackburn's solution to this seemingly counter-productive situation was to provide a large air brake. The tail cone was formed from two leaves that could be hydraulically opened into the airstream to decelerate the aircraft. The nose cone and radar antennae could also be swung around by 180 degrees to reduce the length of the aircraft in the carrier hangar. This feature was particularly important as contemporary British aircraft carriers were particularly small. Boundary-Layer Control was also used to give the wings more lift than would be otherwise possible by channeling air over the wings and tail through full-span slits in the surfaces.
In addition to conventional ordnance, in 1965 the Buccaneer was type-approved for nuclear weapons delivery i.e. the Red Beard and WE177 bombs. All nuclear weapons were carried internally. This role put it in direct competition with the ill-fated TSR2.
Engines: Two 11,255-pound thrust Rolls-Royce RB.168 Spey Mk 101 turbofans
Weight: Empty 30,000 lbs., Max Takeoff 62,000 lbs.
Wing Span: 44ft. 0in.
Length: 63ft. 5in.
Height: 16ft. 3in.
Maximum Speed at 200 ft AGL: 646 mph
Ceiling: Over 40,000 ft.
Range: 2,300 miles with weapons
Four 1,000-pound bombs, fuel tank or reconnaissance pack on inside of rotary bomb door;
Up to 12,000 pounds of bombs on four underwing hardpoints