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Grumman Intruder S.1 - No.214 Squadron, RAF Bomber Command, 1966

In 1963, with the Mark 2 versions of the Vulcan and Victor becoming the spearhead of Bomber Command, four Valiant squadrons (49, 148, 207 and 214) were assigned to SACEUR forming a powerful strike wing based at Marham in Norfolk. But during the summer of 1964 fatigue cracks were discovered in the front and rear wing spars of several aircraft and whilst serious consideration was given to a rebuild programme the estimated unit cost of this was close to the original price of a Valiant so a rebuild programme was ruled out. However, when further cracks were discovered the RAF reluctantly grounded the Valiant in December 1964. In January 1965, this lead to Denis Healey (Minister of Defence) declaring that the Valiant situation was "causing considerable embarrassment for us with our NATO allies" and that an interim solution was urgently being sought "to restore our missing strike power and commitment to SACEUR".

With US President Lyndon Johnson already critical of Harold Wilson's refusal to commit British troops to Vietnam, Wilson and Healey needed a quick solution and in February 1965 they pulled off a deal with the US Government and the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation to take 60 A-6K Intruder aircraft straight off the Grumman production line at Bethpage. Designated as the Intruder S.1 and finished in anti-flash white the A-6K's were optimised for the nuclear strike role armed with American Mk28 (B-61) free-fall tactical nuclear bombs before switching to the UK WE.177B in late 1966. Entering service with No.214 squadron in June 1965 the RAF's Intruder S.1 force built up at RAF Marham before being transferred to RAF Geilenkirchen during the Spring of the following year.








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Now the question becomes would there have been a Tornado with the RAF having the A-6.  

Remember the A-6 grew up into the A-6E, capable of dropping a lot of precision bombs.  Plus there was the A-6B that was a Wild Weasel or Tornado ECR of sorts.

Imagine a modernized A-6 with precision capability and long loiter time...

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