Aircraft Definitive 2013

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Aircraft Definitive 2013

15p - Fairey Swordfish
Affectionately known as the ‘Stringbag’, because of all the different types of weapons that it could carry, the Swordfish’s achievements during the Second World War are legend. With its open cockpit, canvas and tube construction, the aircraft was outdated by the time it entered Service but remained a key player in the Second World War at sea. Despite it being slow and antiquated, brave young airmen flew this aircraft in some of the most auspicious operations: throughout the Battle of the Atlantic, the Sinking of the Bismarck, the Channel Dash, the sinking of the Italian Fleet at Taranto and supporting the Arctic convoys (often at temperatures of -20C) to name but a few. On the 15 June 1942, Swordfish V4653 from HMS Archer became the first aircraft to land at Ascension’s Wideawake Airfield.

20p - North American B-25 Mitchell
The North American B-25 Mitchell was an American twin-engined medium bomber which first flew in 1940. Just under 10,000 were built and they ended up being used by 24 countries. They were used in all theatres of the Second World War and eventually retired from military service almost 40 years later. They were sturdy platforms which could take much punishment and battle damage and were capable of carrying 3000lb of bombs, wing mounted rockets and up to 18.50 calibre machine guns. With a range of over 1300 miles, Mitchells were often staged at Ascension Island as they were ferried to the European, North African theatres of war and even as far as the Soviet Union via the Caucuses. The Ascension link for the Mitchell increases as the force assigned to protect the island (1st Composite Squadron of the United States Army Air Corps) comprised P39 Air Cobra and B-25 Mitchell aircraft.

25p - Lockheed C-130 Hercules
Designed as a troop, medical evacuation and cargo aircraft, and latterly evolving into Search and Rescue and ‘gunship’ platforms (amongst others), the Lockheed C-130 Hercules is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft. They entered service with the RAF in the late 1960’s, and remain in service as the workhorses of the RAF’s Transport fleet. With a single boarding ramp at the rear of the fuselage they can carry over 120 troops or between 20 and 30 tonnes of palletised freight or vehicles, depending on the Mark of aircraft (later aircraft are larger). They are capable of operating off unprepared runways and have a range of 2000 miles, although for ferry flights, this can be extended to 3500 miles. RAF Hercules were used extensively during the Falklands War in support of the Task Force, (based out of Ascension Island) and a C-130 flight has been stationed in the Falkland Islands since 1982.

30p - Hawker Siddeley Nimrod MR2
The Nimrod was a British Maritime Patrol Aircraft developed to carry out anti-submarine, maritime surveillance, anti-surface and Search and Rescue operations and has undertaken these roles with the RAF for over 40 years. With extensive upgrades throughout its life, its roles evolved to include ground surveillance and support operations around the world until it was retired in 2011. They were deployed to Ascension on 5 April 1982, and flew 111 missions in support of the Falklands Task Force and for the Black Buck Raids.

40p - BAe Sea Harrier FRS1
The Sea Harrier FRS1 was a naval subsonic fixed wing aircraft designed to fill fighter, reconnaissance and strike roles. Its design was based on the RAF’s Harrier GR3 and it was powered by a single Rolls-Royce Pegasus engine with vectored thrust nozzles, which allowed it to perform vertical and short take offs and landings and numerous aerial manoeuvres, unique to the type. Combat proven during the Falklands War, the aircraft underwent an upgrade to FA2 and then finally GR7 and GR9 before being phased out of service. The Harrier was the Royal Navy’s sole carrier-borne fixed wing aircraft from 1978 to 2009.

45p - Lockheed C-5 Galaxy
Capable of carrying 350 troops, 10 Light Armoured or 5 Humvee vehicles, 2 M1 Abrams main battle tanks or a single CH-47 Chinook over 2400 miles, the Lockheed C5 Galaxy is a large military transport aircraft operated by the United States Air Force. It provides them with a heavy intercontinental strategic airlift capability which has operated on all continents including Antarctica. With a distinctive high-wing, it has a high level flight deck above a huge front hinged nose. This is complemented by the rear ramp below the single T-tail assembly, between which there is a through deck that can carry up to 120 tonnes of cargo. They were until recently seen regularly at Ascension supporting the American Forces stationed there. It entered front line service in 1969 and has been used for US, allied and humanitarian operations ever since. It is destined to remain operational until 2040.

50p - Douglas Dakota
With a ferry range of over 3000 miles and operating range of over 1600 miles, the DC3 Dakota (and its military C47 Skytrain variant) were workhorse cargo aircraft of more than 90 countries’ Air Forces for over 40 years, having first taken to the skies in December 1941. They could carry two and half tons of cargo or 28 fully equipped troops and more than 10,000 were built in the United States, Russia and Japan. Many remain in service commercially around the world. The reliability of this aircraft can best be attested by the well-known saying: “the only aircraft that can replace a Dakota is a Dakota!”.

65p - Avro Vulcan B2
The Avro Vulcan was the only aircraft of the 1950’s British V-Bomber Force to actually fulfil its designed role as a bomber, ironically at the tail end of its service career. Entering service with the Royal Air Force in 1956, the Vulcan went to war for the first and last time in the year that it was due to retire from service, when in May 1982 after taking off from Ascension Island, several bombing missions took place over the Argentine occupied Falklands Islands. The aircraft remained in service for a further four years and today, just one, XH558 remains airworthy.

90p - MacDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom
The MacDonnell Douglas F4 Phantom is a 1960’s era American Fighter aircraft that has been exported to 11 countries around the world. The British variants were fitted with Rolls-Royce Spey engines and British avionics, and were part of the United Kingdom’s aviation arsenal from 1969 (when they entered service with the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm) to 1992, when they finally retired from the Royal Air Force. During the Falklands War, three Phantom FGR2s of 29 Squadron RAF were deployed to Ascension Island to protect the base from air attack. After the ceasefire, four aircraft were deployed to the Falkland Islands in the same role.

£1 - Eurofighter Typhoon
The Typhoon was designed by a European consortium to be the world's most advanced multirole combat aircraft. It is a single seat, twin-engine fighter capable of operating against targets that are beyond visual range or in close combat. With a cruising speed of Mach 1.5 and a maximum speed of Mach 2.5, the aircraft has a range of 1800 miles. It can be armed with a variety of missiles, bombs, targeting and electronic countermeasures pods. It entered front line service with the RAF in July 2005, has been combat proven with them over Libya and Afghanistan and in September 2009, the Typhoon replaced the Tornado F3 as the air defence aircraft over the Falkland Islands. The Typhoon is in service with 6 countries: UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria and Saudi Arabia, and it is likely that other countries will buy the aircraft in due course.

£2.50p - Lockheed C-121 Constellation
The Lockheed C-121 Constellation was a direct derivative of their earlier C-69 military transport aircraft, which ultimately became the successful commercial Constellation airliner. Used by numerous countries armed forces and civil airlines it was a fast aeroplane with a range of over 5000 miles. Although not used by the RAF, the newly formed United States Air Force (USAF) and US Navy operated the Constellation as cargo and passenger transport, electronic warfare and airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft. The majority were the specialist AEW platforms (as depicted in this stamp), with their dorsal mounted radome and it was this configuration that they were regularly seen in the mid-1960s over the skies of Southeast Asia supporting operations over Viet Nam. Many were later converted to become VIP transport aircraft and one, named “Columbine III” Eisenhower’s ‘Air Force One’. The death knell of the Constellation as a commercial aircraft came with the advent of jet airliners, and by 1968, the USAF’s Constellations had followed the same fate; they did however remain in service with the US Navy until 1982.

£5 - Shorts Belfast C1
The Short Belfast was designed in the late 1950’s and entered service with 53 Squadron RAF in the mid-1960’s as their primary heavy lift aircraft. It was capable of carrying loads from two Wessex helicopters to a Chieftain tank or indeed a Sea King helicopter. Only 10 aircraft were built and they were retired from service in 1976 for political reasons. In May 1982, 5 Belfast aircraft were chartered by the Ministry of Defence to support operations in the Falklands and they were a regular sight at Ascension.

Text by Gary Rimay-Muranyi

Technical details:
Designer:                        Robin Carter
Printer:                           BDT International Security Printing 
Process:                         Lithography
Stamp size:                     30.56 x 38mm
Perforation:                      14 per 2cms
Sheet Format                    20 (2 x 10)
Release date:                   15 January, 2013
Production Co-ordination:   Creative Direction (Worldwide) Ltd