Vince Wolverson

I served in the RAF from 1976 for 30 years as an armourer and maintained all marks of ejection seat in service during that period from Mk 2 to Mk 10.

My experiences of seats began with 1st line maintenance of Mk 9’s (Jaguars), on 20 Squadron at RAF Bruggen in Germany. Following my attendance on the Martin Baker Mk 10 course at Higher Denham (which I believe to be the first RAF Mk 10 ‘Q’ course?), I was posted to RAF Stafford. Here we carried out 3rd line maintenance, repair, and modifications to all types of seats then in service including Mk 2 (Canberra), Mk 3 (Canberra, Hunter, Victor, Vulcan), Mk 4 (Buccaneer, Canberra, Jet Provost, Lightning), Mk 7 (Phantom), Mk 9 (Harrier , Jaguar), and Mk 10 (Hawk, Tornado, Tucano) – quite a mixed bag, and I learnt a lot about the various types and marks of seat.

I then returned to Germany, RAF Laarbruch this time and worked in the Ejection Seat Bay carrying out 2nd line maintenance on Mk 3 (Hunter), Mk 4 (Buccaneer), Mk 3 (Hunter), Mk 9 (Jaguar), and Mk 10 (Tornado) seats, as well as fitting/removing the Tornado seats in the Aircraft Servicing Flight. During my time at Laarbruch I was tasked with carrying the NBC modification to all the Jaguar seats we held on the unit – I think I drove everybody in the building mad with the constant riveting of the new skin section on the seats!

I then continued my association with the Mk 10 during 9 years on 27 Squadron at RAF Marham performing 1st line maintenance of the Tornado seats.

The final aircraft I worked on was the Canberra on 39 (1PRU) Sqn again at RAF Marham, so went back in time as it were, going from the Tornado Mk 10 to the Mk 2, 3, & 4 seats we had on the Canberra. One of the more unusual components of the Canberra ejection system is the ‘Snatch Unit’ which pulls the control column yoke away from the pilot in the event of ejection so he doesn’t leave his knees behind.

Strangely during all that time I have no photo’s with me working on seats – the best I could find is this one of me instructing an air Cadet how to strap in to a Canberra Mk 3 seat prior to him having a flight in a T4 aircraft.

Maintaining ejection seats has always been a source of satisfaction and pride – from the intricacies of the bay to the contortions sometimes required to fit canopy jettison components. Nothing better than when an Ejectee comes to shake your hand and say thank you for ‘saving my life’ (especially the Scottish Buccaneer Navigator who thanked us with a case of malt whisky!).

Are you a Martin-Baker Ejection Seat Maintainer?

Get in contact and send us your story today