Vulcans. This weekend was a sad occasion, the final Vulcan flew took her last trip from RAF Waddington, and the glorious heritage of the Royal Air Force vanished with her. I wonder how long before there is no RAF, and we sell out to Europe totally.
RAFG. In the late 1990s, and early 2000s, the bases in Germany were shut down, the reason given was the new aircraft flew faster and we didn't need the protection. WRONG!!!! Any pilot, be he USAAF,RAF, or Luftwaffe, from any era will tell you, the longer you take to get somewhere, the less effective you are once you get there.
Jaguars. Considered to be the greatest development in aircraft in the 1980s. How wrong can you be -- I know, I worked with them for 3 years -- the all-weather fighter/bomber was nothing more than a waste of space. How anybody thinks you can replace a bomber with a fighter/bomber is beyond me. The closest, and most successful is the F4-Phantom, but even this plane is more a medium strike bomber, than a bomber per se'. If you want a heavy payload, you need a bomber.
The biggest mistake. There is no one major error, but a series of tragic decisions, any of which would classify as the biggest mistake. In my view,probably the worst error is the closure of the bases at Leuchars, and Kinloss, in Scotland. Now, the only base in operation is my old haunt at Lossiemouth, which flies Tornadoes. There is no long range protection on the Northern Sector now. The area which was patrolled by Shackletons from Lossiemouth, is now open to Russians. The Tornadaoes are no match for the opposition.
USAAF. The problem, however, goes back beyond the recent closures. It originates with the closure of the USAAF airbases in the Norfolk area. My great friend Sarah Meek, and I, had a long discussion on the subject -- we are both ex-service personnel -- we could see each others point of view. By closing the bases in Norfolk, the government destroyed whole communities, and the infra-structure which was built on the goods, and services provided for, and by the bases.
World Wars. Let us not forget, it was the USA who bailed the UK out in both world wars, and lead to the isolationist philosophy of successive US government, if it hadn't been for Pearl Harbour, I hate to consider the consequences for Europe. At the time, Germany was trampling all before her. The two things which saved Europe were Hitler made the same mistake Napoleon did, and took on Russia. Even if he waited until the Summer, there was no way he could have won that battle.
The other thing which turned the tide was the arrival of the USAAF in the UK. With their arrival, bombing raids could hit deeper, and harder in Germany, and so restrict the effectiveness of the Luftwaffe at the front.
Pro-USA. I am very pro-USA, I know they have made some cock-ups, but if you look back through history, it is the USA who bailed more people out of the mess than anyone. On the other hand, if we are to apportion blame, a lot goes on the French. From the Ziegfried line, to the Maginot line, to the Ardennes and into Vietnam. The one constant is the arrogance of the French, and their inability to clean their own backyard. Even the Foreign Legion have dropped 'French' for their title.
The final countdown. In my opinion, we still needed the bases. How can the UK rely on Europe, when most of the continent hates us? I don't in reality see either France, or Germany coming to our aid, when we get over-run, which we shall.