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Buccaneer HUD Pilot's Display Unit

Technical Information

Catalogue No: C0027
Category: Head-Up Display [HUD]
Object Type: Display Unit
Object Name: Buccaneer HUD Pilot's Display Unit
Part No: Mk II Type 2 8B5111
Serial No: 121
Manufacturer: Rank Cintel
Division: Unknown
Platform(s): Buccaneer 
Year of Manufacture: 1964
Width (mm):
Height (mm):
Depth (mm):
Weight (g):
Location: Displays' Meet & Demo Room

Pilots Display Unit
Ser. No. 121
MkII, Type 2. Ref. No. 8B/5111
Mod.Record 1,2,3,4


This is an early version of Mk II Type 2 PDU. It is probably of Cintel manufacture since later serial numbers incorporated the standard EA prefix and the year suffix. This unit has the original valve High Voltage Power Supply for the CRT in the box at the right had side rear of the unit.

July 1953 saw the issuing of Naval Staff Requirement NA.39 calling for a carrier-borne strike aircraft with a large range capable of carrying a nuclear weapon under enemy radar cover and striking enemy shipping or ports. Blackburn Aircraft won the tender to produce their design which became the 'Buccaneer'.

The prototype first flew on 30th April 1958. The specification called for an Attack Sight giving navigation and weapon release information for the low level attack mode. The Air Arm branch of the Ministry sponsored the development of a Strike Sight System which was the name for the overall weapon aiming and release system. The Royal Aircraft Establishment designed the Strike Sight System and Cintel manufactured the Head-Up Display (HUD) element of it; the system was first integrated in 1958.

The Cintel Head-Up Display business was taken over by Elliotts and the Buccaneer PDU was manufactured and further developed continuing up to a Mark III version with a total of 375 systems made; it was given a 'fit and forget' title by the Royal Navy and was still in service nearly 25 years later. By successive commercial acquisitions, BAE Systems thus has a claim to the world's first Head-Up Display in operational service.

The symbology for the display was generated by analogue circuits within the "dustbin" Display Waveform Generator Mk2 Type 'A' on circular cards reminiscent in shape of an artists palette. Symbol shapes were created by the Waveform Generator and displaced by DC voltages derived from the data inputs. The system was quite advanced with the capability to drive a second display unit but symbols could only be changed by altering the circuit boards.

The unit refreshed the display at 33Hz; only just fast enough avoid flicker but the P1 phosphor if the CRT in the Display Unit fortunately had a reasonable persistence. Later Waveform Generators began to use printed circuit boards. This was one of the earliest applications of silicon semiconductors in place of thermionic valves (vacuum tubes) for symbol generation.

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