Home:  Flying Equipment: BLUE PARROT AIRBORNE RADAR SYSTEM, 1962


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First introduced experimentally into Buccaneer aircraft of flight Squadron 701Z in April 1959, the Ferranti 'Blue Parrot' airborne radar was in full service by 1962. Built to detect Russian heavy cruisers, which it did successfully, it was employed by the RAF who relied on its service for twenty six years.

Employed in Buccaneer aircraft for both the Falkland's and Gulf war, 'Blue Parrot' was kept in service for over 30 years, making it's last NATO exercise in the North sea in 1994. Unsophisticated by modern standards, 'Blue Parrot' made up for it in sheer power. It opened new horizons in the 1960's and nothing at the time could challenge it.

Picture bottom left, A= Visual display unit Type unknown. Bottom Right B= Drift Angle/ speed indicator, Type 101. C= Bottom Centre ADF Receiver, Type 2830. E= Top centre DF Loop Controller Type 384. F= Top right Receiver Controller Type 1274. Item E the Radar Interface Unit is not shown. Also shown two photographs of some of the units in a Buccaneer aircraft cockpit.

Donated by Marconi Museum

Your comments:

  • The Buccaneer was built for the Fleet Air Arm and it was assigned to the IFTU 700Z at RNAS Lossiemouth in March 1961 until January 1963. Not as shown at the intro to this article.
    I served on this Flight for most of the time.

    The information we have comes directly from the Marconi archives and is believed to be true. ED.
    .......... David Smith, Hill Head Hants UK, 22nd of February 2022

  • I was in South African navy EW systems engineer on missile strike craft. Carried out many exercises with SAAF Buccaneers. Remember well reception of the Blue Parrot of incoming Bucs
    .......... Clifford Hall, FAREHAM, PORTCHESTER, UK, 15th of February 2022

  • When I worked at Ferranti in the 70s (on the Foxhunter radar) there was a story circulating that on an early Blue Parrot carrier landing trial the Buccaneer was successfully stopped by the arrester wire, but the radar was not. According to the story, it broke free from its mountings and continued through the radome and along the deck. I have no idea if that is true or not, but it's a good story. I have a suspicion that some mountings may have been a little strained, and the story just got better from there.
    .......... Andrew Foster, Cambridge, Ontario, Canada, 31st of October 2021

  • My father William Leach also worked on that system for Ferranti and I was one in 1962 and lived in Elgin. So proud that he was one of the ones that helped develop something that was so used for so long and helped our Country. My father passed some 10 years ago but I always remember this part of his life.Would have loved to talk to someone that he may have worked with. Respect to all that did
    .......... Chris Leach , Whitwick Leicestershire UK, 26th of March 2021

  • The item on the lower left hand side is an Indicator Azimuth and Range, part of the Blue Parrot ARI5930 and remained so with minor changes through the update of 5930/1 and /2. I was the last Design Authority for this Ferranti Radar System. The item was fitted toward the Port side of the Rear Cockpit.

    .......... Alex W Duncan, Newbattle, Midlothian UK, 15th of October 2012

  • I worked in the Blue Parrot Radar Bay at RAF Lossiemouth in the early 80's. The display in the bottom left of picture is the Blue Parrot Display. The display in the bottom right is the Blue Jacket Doppler system display. Not shown but was situated between the Nav's knees would be the Paveway Laser Designator display.
    .......... T McDonald, Forres, Moray, UK, 15th of September 2011

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