Handley Page Victor B(SR)2
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The long-range photographic reconnaissance role for the Handley Page Victor began in 1964 when Victor B.2 XL165 became the prototype for the Victor B(SR).2, later this was changed to SR.2 to reflect the fact of the loss of the aircrafts bombing capability.

XL165 completed it's maiden flight in February 1965 and deliveries of the aircraft began in May of that year to 543 Squadron at RAF Wyton. By June 1966 the Squadron was fully equipped, but suffered it's first casualty when on 29th June aircraft XM716 broke up in flight during a press day demonstration killing all the crew.

The Squadron undertook reconnaissance missions sorties far and wide, also carrying out high-level survey photograph for various governments. It was said that one Victor SR.2 could photograph the whole of the UK in a single two-hour sortie. There have also been claims that the aircraft could photograph the whole of the Mediterranean with 10,000 feet of film during a single seven hour mission from it's home base, Wyton.

Victor SR.2 XH672 -
I would like to thank Robin Walker for the use of this image.


The photographic systems fitted to the SR.2 were housed in a 'crate' which was located within the bomb-bay. This 'crate' could be fitted with various camera fits.

For daylight reconnaissance this would normally be four F.49 survey cameras and up to eight F.96 cameras being fitted to take either vertical or oblique images. For undertaking night photography, F.89 cameras would be fitted.

Before the start of each sortie, the Victor would open it's bomb-bay door, as seen in the top image. Forward on the reconnaissance crate would be fitted either two additional fuel tanks or two photo-flash canisters, for flash illumination at night, or a combination of both.

As time went on, it was a clear fact that the Canberra PR9 was  cheaper to operate than the Victor and so, the SR.2 relinquished it's photographic reconnaissance role and the nine Victor SR.2s concentrated on maritime radar reconnaissance operations.

On 24th May 1974, 543 Squadron was disbanded, three aircraft went for conversion to K.2 tanker, 3 other aircraft remained at Wyton at the Victor flight, used to monitor the French nuclear testing in the Pacific until that was discontinued in May 1976.

Over the nine years in which the Squadron operated the SR.2 they had only two crashes, XM716 and XL230 which was lost undertaking 'touch and goes' at Wyton.

A line of Victor SR.2s of 543 Squadron at RAF Wyton
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