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During six days of combat, a total of 259 sorties were flown and 1962 bombs – mostly 1000 pounders – dropped. Eighteen raids were made on 13 targets, including Abu Sueir, Almaza, Cairo West, Fayid, Kabrit, Kasfareet and Luxor airfields, together with Cairo Radio Station and the Huckstep barracks, where Egyptian Army tanks and other vehicles were stored, El Agami Island (where a submarine repair depot was believed to be located) and Nifisha marshalling yards. Nicosia’s Canberras alone logged 266 operational sorties.

A total of 142 Red Beard 10-15 KT nuclear weapons were acquired between October 1960 and May 1963, 48 of which were stored in Singapore (between 1961 and 1971) and 32 in Cyprus. Red Beard Mk 1 had significant limitations when stored at high temperature, so after November 1961 it was replaced by Red Beard Mk 2, which was better able to withstand life in Cyprus and Singapore. A 1956 report from the VCAS said that the first Red Beard would be available to the RAF in late 1957. He added that English Electric was working on a full trial installation of an American weapon, and dropping trials from a partially modified Canberra were due to begin shortly at the Royal Aircraft Establishment.

The crew, doubtless under pressure to get the precious samples back to the UK as quickly as possible, had had no proper sleep in the previous 26 hours and no proper meal for the previous 18 hours, and they made their airfield approach in very adverse weather conditions. For No 100 Sqn navigator John Clubb, ‘8 November 1957 was one of the high points of my life so far, when, at precisely 1747 GMT, the equivalent of several million tons of high explosives went off about 25 miles away from where we were orbiting.

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