Avro Vulcan

Avro Vulcan

Infobox Aircraft
name= Avro Vulcan

caption= A Vulcan B.2 of the RAF
type= Strategic bomber
national origin = United Kingdom
manufacturer= Avro
first flight= 30 August 1952
introduction= 1956
retired= March 1984
primary user= Royal Air Force
more users=
produced= 1956-1965
number built= 136 (including prototypes)
unit cost=
variants with their own articles=

The Avro Vulcan is a delta wing subsonic bomber that was operated by the Royal Air Force from 1953 until 1984. The Vulcan was part of the RAF's V bomber force, which fulfilled the role of nuclear deterrence against the Soviet Union during the Cold War. It was also used in a conventional bombing role during the Falklands conflict with Argentina. One example, XH558 was recently restored for use in display flights and commemoration of the jets' role in the Falklands Conflict.

Design and development

Design work began at A. V. Roe in 1947 under Roy Chadwick. The Air Ministry specification B.35/46 required a bomber with a top speed of convert|500|kn|km/h, an operating ceiling of convert|50000|ft|m|-3|abbr=on, a range of 3,000 nautical miles (5,500 km) and a bomb load of convert|10000|lb|kg|abbr=on; intended to carry out delivery of Britain's nuclear armed gravity bombs to strategic targets within Soviet territory (east of the Ural mountains). Design work also began at Vickers and Handley Page. All three designs were approved — aircraft that would become the Valiant, the Victor, and the Avro Vulcan.

The Type 698 as first envisaged was a delta wing tailless, almost flying wing design, as Avro felt this would be able to give the required combination of large wing area, sweepback to offset the transonic effects and a thick wing root to embed the engines; these were staggered in the wing with two forward and below and two back and above. Wingtip rudders gave the control. There were two bomb bays, one in each wing. This design was reworked in light of Ministry comments and became more conventional adopting a centre fuselage with four paired engines and a tail.

As the delta wing was an unknown quantity Avro began scale prototype testing in 1948 with the single-seater Type 707 aircraft, and despite the crash of the first prototype on 30 September 1949 work continued. The first full-scale prototype Type 698 made its maiden flight (after its designer was killed in an unrelated aircrash) piloted by Roly Falk on 30 August 1952,cite web | url= http://www.raf.mod.uk/history_old/vforce3.html | publisher= Royal Air Force | work= Royal Air Force History | title= Aircraft of the V-Force - Part 3 - The Avro Vulcan development | accessdate= 2007-12-25] shortly before appearing at the SBAC Farnborough Airshow. Since the Bristol Olympus (mod 01) engines were not ready the aircraft was launched with the Rolls-Royce Avon. These would be replaced with Armstrong Siddeley Sapphires as well, before the Olympus were ready. The Vulcan name was not chosen until 1953 after the Valiant had already been named. The first prototype had a straight leading edge which was subsequently modified to have a kink further out towards the wingtip. The Vulcan bomber in service was not fitted with pure delta wings; but the prototypes models were the first jet bomber design to use a wing of that shape, which was modified in development to give the service machines better flying characteristics than a pure delta could supply.Testing the vehicle was relatively crude in those days, for example, recording the instrument readings involved filming the control panel and manually transcribing the results onto graph paper. As well, testing the brakes of the Vulcan included strapping the company photographer Paul Culerne to the front landing gear with the aircraft moving at full landing speed and photographing the brakes in operation. [ [http://www.thunder-and-lightnings.co.uk/vulcan/history.html Vulcan history] ]

Despite its large size, it had a relatively small radar cross-section (RCS). It is now known that it had a fortuitously stealthy shape apart from the tail fin.

Avro test pilot Wing Commander (retired) Roly Falk demonstrated the aircraft's high performance in the second production Vulcan, "XA890", by performing an upward barrel-roll immediately after takeoff at the 1955 Farnborough Airshow. [Laming 2002, Page 48] The roll was performed while gently climbing so that positive g is maintained and stresses reduced.Fact|date=February 2008

The Vulcan used entirely powered control surfaces, this combined with the relatively small space for the flight crew meant that a fighter-like stick could be used instead of a control column with the added benefit that ejection could be quicker in an emergency. Power was 100 volts DC electrical supplied from generators on each engine. Backup was from a set of batteries in series to supply the voltage if generators failed. These had little capacity in event of a power loss so the system was revised for the Mark 2 to use a Ram Air Turbine (RAT) that would operate at higher altitude and an Airborne Auxiliary Power Unit (AAPU) which could be started once the aircraft had reached a lower altitude – convert|30000|ft|m|abbr=on or less. At the same time the power system was changed to 200 volts at 400 Hz AC from constant frequency generators.

With no view to the rear from the cockpit and with the control surfaces (four elevators and four ailerons in the Mark 1, elevons for the Mark 2) at the extreme rear of the aircraft there was a display board on the pilots control panel that showed the position of all eight so that any non-responding surface could be identified. The AEO also had a periscope that gave a view to the rear so that the bomb bay and the underside could be checked.

The two prototypes and some of the Mark 1 production were used to develop the systems and the improvements that led to the Mark 2.

Operational history

The Vulcan was normally operated with a crew of five - two pilots, two navigators and an Air Electronics Operator (AEO), with the AEO responsible for all electrical equipment in a role similar to that of flight engineer on earlier propeller aircraft. Only the pilot and co-pilot were provided with ejection seats. The fact that the "rear crew" were not provided ejection seats has been the basis of significant criticism; there were several instances of the pilot and co-pilot ejecting in an emergency and the "rear crew" being killed because there was not time for them to bail out.

The navigator plotter (navigator), navigator radar (bombardier) and AEO (electronic warfare officer) bailed out through the crew entrance door in the cockpit floor immediately ahead of the nosewheel, their parachutes opening automatically by static line. As the crew door was immediately forward of the front undercarriage, it was very important that bail-out was only attempted with the undercarriage retracted. The method of escape was practised regularly in ground rigs, and successfully used on more than one occasion, with all crew members surviving.

In September 1956, the RAF received its first Vulcan B.1, "XA897", which immediately went on a round-the-world tour to fly-the-flag. On 1 October 1956, while landing at London Heathrow Airport at completion of the tour, "XA897" was destroyed in a fatal accident.

The second Vulcan was not delivered until 1957 and the delivery rate then increased. The B.2 variant was first tested in 1957 and entered service in 1960. It had a larger wing with a different leading edge, and better performance than the B.1 and had a distinctive kink in its delta wing to reduce buffeting. The leading edge was forward of the spar and changes were easily incorporated into the production.

The undercarriage of a Vulcan made heavy contact with the runway during an air show for the opening of Rongotai (Wellington) Airport New Zealand in 1959. Despite one main undercarriage leg being non-functional the aircraft returned to Ohakea and landed safely, toppling onto the grass verge at the end of its run. There was a long delay while it was decided whether to scrap it, ship it back by sea, or repair it "in situ". In the end, the aircraft was repaired by the RNZAF - who applied RNZAF kiwi roundels in place of the typical RAF roundels. A display at the Ohakea branch of the Royal New Zealand Air Force Museum includes honeycombed skin from the damaged aircraft.

Vulcans frequently visited the United States during the 1960s and 1970s to participate in air shows and static displays, as well as to participate in the Strategic Air Command's Annual Bombing and Navigation Competition at such locations as Barksdale AFB, Louisiana and the former McCoy AFB, Florida, with the RAF crews representing Bomber Command and later Strike Command.

A total of 134 production Vulcans were manufactured (45 B.1 and 89 B.2), the last being delivered to the RAF in January 1965. The last operational Vulcan squadron was disbanded in March 1984.

Nuclear deterrent

As part of Britain's independent nuclear deterrent, the Vulcan initially carried Britain's first nuclear weapon, the "Blue Danube" gravity bomb. Blue Danube was a low-kiloton yield fission bomb designed before the United States detonated the first hydrogen bomb. The British then embarked on their own hydrogen bomb programme, and to bridge the gap until these were ready the V-bombers were equipped with an Interim Megaton Weapon based on the Blue Danube casing and Green Grass, a large pure-fission warhead of convert|400|ktonTNT|PJ|lk=on|adj=on yield. This bomb was known as "Violet Club". Only five were deployed before a better weapon was introduced as "Yellow Sun Mk.1."

A later model, Yellow Sun Mk 2 was fitted with "Red Snow", a British-built variant of the U.S. Mk-28 warhead. Yellow Sun Mk 2 was the first British thermonuclear weapon to be deployed, and was carried on both the Vulcan and Handley Page Victor. All three V-bombers also carried U.S. thermonuclear bombs assigned to NATO under the dual-key arrangements. "Red Beard" (a smaller, lighter low-kiloton yield) bomb was pre-positioned in Cyprus and Singapore for use by Vulcan and Victor bombers, and from 1962, 26 Vulcan B2As and the Victor bombers were armed with the Blue Steel missile, a rocket-powered stand-off bomb, which was also armed with the convert|1.1|MtonTNT|adj=on yield Red Snow warhead.

It was intended to equip the Vulcan with the American Skybolt Air Launched Ballistic Missile to replace the Blue Steel, with Vulcan B.2s carrying two Skybolts under the wings – the last 28 B.2s being modified on the production line to fit pylons to carry the Skybolt. [Laming 2002, p. 88] It was also proposed to build a stretched version of the Vulcan, with increased wing span to carry up to six Skybolts. [ Laming 2002, p. 89.] When the Skybolt missile system was cancelled by U.S. President John F. Kennedy on the recommendation of his Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara in 1962, Blue Steel was retained. To supplement it until the Royal Navy took on the deterrent role with Polaris submarines, the Vulcan bombers adopted a high-low-high mission profile using a rapidly introduced parachute-retarded "laydown" bomb; "WE.177B". After the British Polaris submarines became operational, and Blue Steel was taken out of service in 1970, WE.177B continued in use on the Vulcan in a low-level tactical strike role in support of European NATO ground forces. It would outlive the Vulcan bombers, being used also on Tornado and other low-level strike aircraft until retirement in 1998.

Conventional role

Although the primary weapon for the Vulcan was nuclear, Vulcans could carry up to 21 x convert|1000|lb|kg|0 bombs in a secondary role. The only combat missions involving the Vulcan took place in the 1982 Falklands War with Argentina, when Vulcans, in the "Black Buck" operations flew the convert|3380|nmi|km|abbr=off from Ascension Island to Stanley. [ [http://www.britains-smallwars.com/Falklands/vulcan.htm Falklands Vulcan] ] [http://www.raf.mod.uk/falklands/bb.html Falklands] ] There were three missions to bomb the airfield at Stanley; two to attack Argentine radar installations with missiles and two missions were cancelled.

Victor aircraft were used for air-to-air refuelling in a complex scheme and approximately 1.1 million gallons (5,000 cubic metres) of jet fuel were used in each mission.

Five Vulcans were selected for the operation: their bomb bays were modified; the flight refuelling system that had long been out of use was re-instated; the electronics updated; and wing pylons designed, manufactured, and fitted to carry an ECM pod and Shrike anti-radar missiles where the Skybolt hardpoints remained in the wings. The engineering work began on 9 April 1982 with the first mission on 30 April–1 May.

At the time these missions held the record for the world's longest distance raids. The planning and execution of the "Black Buck One" raid has been described in Rowland White's book "Vulcan 607". [White 2006]

Maritime Radar Reconnaissance

On 1 November 1973, the first of nine B.2 (MRR) aircraft was delivered to the No. 27 Sqn at RAF Scampton reforming for its main role of Maritime Radar Reconnaissance. The main external visual difference was the gloss paint finish and the lack of the Terrain Following Radar (TFR) "thimble" from the nose below the air-to-air refuelling probe. The gloss paint finish, which was always with the light grey undersurface, was due to the secondary role of air sampling. As both roles were high altitude the TFR system was removed. Only five of the B.2(MRR)s were capable of the air sampling role, those that were included "XH537", "XH558" and "XH560". These aircraft could be distinguished by the additional hard points outside of the Skybolt points. These additional points sometimes carried redundant Sea Vixen drop tanks that had the nose section replaced by a newer section of a larger diameter. Another external, but much smaller, piece of equipment was carried just outboard of the port undercarriage main door.

During the late 1970s some of the non-air sampling aircraft were exchanged with other squadrons whose aircraft had a high fatigue usage.

All B2(MRR) aircraft were equipped with Olympus 201 ECUs. Three of the aircraft, "XH534", "XH537" and "XH538" had the small Mk 1 style of engine air intake. The B2(MRR) was withdrawn from service on 31 March 1982, some of the aircraft going on to be converted for use as tankers.

Aerial refuelling role

After the end of the Falklands War, the Vulcan was due to be withdrawn from RAF service. However, the disbandment of 57 Squadron and delays in the operational availability of the TriStar left a gap in the RAF's air to air refuelling capability. As an interim measure, six Vulcan B.2s were converted into air-to-air refueling (AAR) tankers and commissioned into service with 50 Squadron from 1982 to 1984.

Experimental testbed

A Vulcan was used as a testbed for the afterburning Olympus 320 for the TSR-2, the planned Concorde engine, the Rolls-Royce/Snecma Olympus 593 and the Rolls-Royce Conway turbofan.Fact|date=December 2007 While testing the Bristol Olympus for the TSR-2, the engine disintegrated, setting the Vulcan on fire and also the fire tender in attendance. The crew escaped unhurt.Fact|date=December 2007

In testing the Olympus, one engine was fitted to the bomb bay of a Vulcan.Fact|date=December 2007 High level flight testing was carried out with the Olympus engine helping the Vulcan fly faster than with its original engines.Fact|date=December 2007 The Vulcan was hung on wires in a hangar to allow access to the engine in the bomb bay.Fact|date=December 2007


;Prototypes:Two prototypes were built and subsequently modified for development, gaining the Mark 2 wing and testing engines. They differed in several ways from the later production aircraft. Smaller nose (No H2S radar fitted) and no Flight Refuelling Probe (FRP). "VX770" did not have the bomb aimer's blister. Both aircraft had a longer nose undercarriage leg than production aircraft.

;B.1:The initial production aircraft, with the straight wing leading edge, with wide undercarriage track and four underwing airbrakes. Early examples finished in silver, later changed to "anti-flash" white.

;B.1A:The B.1 with an Electronic Countermeasures (ECM) system in a new larger tail cone

;B.2:Developed version of the B.1. Larger, thinner wing than the B.1 and fitted with Olympus 201 or 301 engines. Terrain following radar in nosecone and passive radar warning in tail fin giving it a square top from mid-1970s . Uprated electrics with Airborne Auxiliary Power Unit and emergency Ram Turbine generator. Smiths Military Flight System (MFS). Originally white "anti-flash" finish, from late 1970s dark all over camouflage finish.

;B.2A:Also known as B.2BS. B.2 with Olympus 301 engines to carry Blue Steel in recessed bomb doors. A & E bomb bay tanks only. After the withdrawal of Blue Steel converted back to B.2

;B.2 (MRR):Nine B.2 converted to Maritime Radar Reconnaissance. Given high gloss protective paint to protect against sea spray effects. No Terrain Following Radar (TFR) but given LORAN navigation aid. Five aircraft further modified for Air Sampling Role taking over from 543 Sqn. Victor SR 2. Retained gloss finish with light grey underside when B 2 given matte all surface camouflage.

;K.2:Six B.2 converted for air-to-air refuelling with Mark 17 hose drum below tail cone. ECM removed. Could be fitted with three bomb bay drum tanks (for self-use or tanking)


*Royal Air Force
**No. 9 Squadron RAF
**No. 12 Squadron RAF
**No. 27 Squadron RAF
**No. 35 Squadron RAF
**No. 44 Squadron RAF
**No. 50 Squadron RAF
**No. 83 Squadron RAF
**No. 101 Squadron RAF
**No. 617 Squadron RAF
**No. 230 Operational Conversion Unit RAF

**The Vulcan Operating Company (Flying XH558)

Accidents and incidents

* On 1 October 1956 Vulcan B1 "XA897" crashed at London Heathrow Airport after an approach in bad weather, striking the ground convert|700|yd|abbr=on short of the runway just as engine power was applied.Blackman, Tony. "Vulcan Test Pilot". p.142] The impact probably broke the drag links on the main undercarriage, allowing the undercarriage to be forced backwards and damage the trailing edge of the wing. After the initial impact the aircraft rose back in the air. The pilot, Squadron Leader D. R. Howard, and co-pilot Air Marshal Sir Harry Broadhurst both ejected. The aircraft then hit the ground and broke up. Howard and Broadhurst survived but the other four occupants including Howard’s usual co-pilot were killed. [ [http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk National Archives: Ref no. AIR 20/12396] ] "XA897" was the first Vulcan to be delivered to the RAF. AOC-in-C Bomber Command, Air Marshal Broadhurst, had taken the aircraft with a full Vulcan crew of four and an Avro technician on a round-the-world tour. At the conclusion of the tour Broadhurst was to land at Heathrow Airport in front of the assembled aviation media. RAF aircraft were not equipped to use the Instrument Landing System installed at Heathrow and other civil airports so a Ground Controlled Approach (GCA) was carried out.
* In 1957 a Vulcan B1 (XA892) attached to the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment (A&AEE) at Boscombe Down for acceptance testing was unintentionally flown to an Indicated Mach Number (IMN) above 1.04, alarming the crew that it had reached supersonic speed. The aircraft commander, Flt Lt Milt Cottee (RAAF) and co-pilot Flt Lt Ray Bray (RAF) were tasked to fly with twenty-one dummy convert|1000|lb|kg|abbr=on bombs and, at convert|415|kn|km/h|abbr=on and 0.98 IMN, to take the aircraft to a load factor of 3G. The Vulcan was climbed to convert|35000|ft|m|abbr=on and then dived with the intention of reaching the target speed at convert|27000|ft|m|abbr=on. Approaching the target altitude the Mach trimmer reached the limit of its authority and, even though the crew had closed the throttles and were applying full up-elevator, the aircraft continued to pitch nose-down, passing the vertical at 1.04 IMN. As it went beyond the vertical Flt Lt Cottee contemplated pushing forward to go inverted and then rolling upright. Instead he opened the speed brakes, even though the airspeed was above their maximum operating speed. The speed brakes were not damaged and succeeded in reducing the Mach number. The aircraft came back past the vertical at about convert|18000|ft|m|abbr=on and regained level flight at convert|8000|ft|m|abbr=on. There was no report of a sonic boom in the vicinity so it is unlikely a True Mach Number of 1.0 was reached. (At Mach numbers close to 1.0 the Vulcan had position error of about 0.07.) After the flight a rear bulkhead was found to be deformed. [Blackman, Tony. "Vulcan Test Pilot". p.90]
*On 20 September 1958, a Rolls Royce test pilot was authorized to fly VX770 on an engine performance sortie with a fly past at RAF Syerston Battle of Britain "At Home" display. The briefing was for the pilot to fly over the airfield twice at 200–300 ft (60–90 m), flying at a speed of 250–300 knots (460–560 km/h). The Vulcan flew along the main 25/07 runway then started a roll to starboard and climbed slightly. Very shortly a kink appeared in the starboard mainplane leading edge followed by a stripping of the leading edge of the wing. The starboard wingtip then broke followed by a collapse of the main spar and wing structure. Subsequently, the Vulcan went into a dive and began rolling with the starboard wing on fire and struck the ground at the taxiway of the end of runway 07. Three occupants of a controllers' caravan were killed by debris, a fourth being injured. All four of the Vulcan crew were killed. The cause of the crash was pilot error; the aircraft commander flew the aircraft over the airfield at 410–420 knots (760–780 km/h) instead of the briefed 250–300 knots he had also descended to a height of 65–70 ft (approximately 20 m). Rolling the Vulcan to starboard while flying at this speed, the aircraft was rolled at a rate of 15–20 degrees/second while pulling up into a convert|3000|ft|m|abbr=on per minute climb imposing a strain of between 2–3 g where it should have remained below 1.25 g. The VX770 was a prototype and was not as strong as later production models, indeed buckling of the leading edge in this plane was a known problem and was the primary reason for low flight performance limits being imposed. [ [http://www.john-dillon.co.uk/V-Force/vx770.html Extract from National Archives: Ref no. BT 233/403 report on crash] ] However, Avro Chief Test Pilot Tony Blackman notes that when Avro display pilots carried out aerobatics it was followed by a careful, but little known, inspection of the inside of the wing leading edge. Blackman understands that Rolls-Royce pilots also carried out aerobatics but he speculates that Rolls-Royce knew nothing of the special inspections, and VX770 may well have been severely structurally damaged before it took off for the display at Syerston. [Blackman, Tony. "Vulcan Test Pilot". p.151]
* On 24 October 1958, Vulcan B1 "XA908" of No. 83 Squadron crashed in Detroit, Michigan, USA after a complete electrical systems failure. The failure occurred at around convert|30000|ft|m|abbr=on and the backup system should have provided 20 minutes of emergency power to allow the aircraft to divert to Kellogg Airfield. Due to a short circuit in the service busbar, backup power only lasted three minutes before expiring and locking the aircraft controls. "XA908" then went into a dive of between 60–70 degrees before it crashed, leaving a convert|70|ft|m|abbr=on deep crater in the ground. All six crew members were killed, including the co-pilot who had ejected. The co-pilot’s ejector seat was found in Lake St Clair but his body was never found. Blackman, Tony. "Vulcan Test Pilot". p.161] It is thought he was the only member of the squadron who could not swim. Laming 2002, p. 60.]
* On 24 July 1959, Vulcan B1 "XA891" crashed due to an electrical failure during an engine test. Shortly after take-off the crew observed generator warning lights and loss of busbar voltage. The aircraft commander climbed "XA891" to convert|14000|ft|m|abbr=on and steered a course away from the airfield and populated areas while the AEO attempted to solve the problem. When it became clear that control of the aircraft would not be regained the aircraft commander instructed the crew in the rear compartment to exit the aircraft, and the co-pilot to eject. The aircraft commander then also ejected. All the crew survived making them the first complete crew to escape successfully from a Vulcan.Fact|date=December 2007 The aircraft crashed near Hull.
* On 12 December 1963, Vulcan B1A "XH477" of No. 50 Squadron crashed in Scotland on an exercise at low level (not less than convert|1000|ft|m|abbr=on above ground.)Laming 2002, p. 219.] "XH477" had struck the ground while climbing slightly. It was assumed "XH477" crashed due to poor visibility. Blackman, Tony. "Vulcan Test Pilot". p.154]
* On 11 May 1964, Vulcan B2 "XH535" crashed during a low speed demonstration. The test pilot was demonstrating a very low speed and high rate of descent when the aircraft began to spin. The landing parachute was deployed and the spin stopped briefly but the aircraft then began to spin again. At around convert|2500|ft|m|abbr=on the aircraft commander instructed the crew to abandon the aircraft. The aircraft commander and co-pilot ejected successfully but none of the crew in the rear compartment did so, presumably due to the G forces in the spin. [ Blackman, Tony. "Vulcan Test Pilot". p.155]
* On 16 July 1964, Vulcan B1A "XA909" crashed in Anglesey after an explosion and Nos 3 and 4 engines were closed down. The explosion was caused by failure of a bearing in No. 4 engine. The starboard wing was extensively damaged, the pilot had insufficient aileron power, and both airspeed indications were highly inaccurate. The whole crew successfully abandoned "XA909" and were found within a few minutes and rescued. [ Blackman, Tony. "Vulcan Test Pilot". p.157]
* On 11 February 1966, Vulcan B2 "XH536" of the Cottesmore Wing crashed in the Brecon Beacons during a low level exercise. The aircraft struck the ground at convert|1910|ft|m|abbr=on near the summit of Fan Bwlch Chwyth convert|2635|ft|m|abbr=on, convert|20|mi|km NE of Swansea. All crew members died. Hilltops at the time were snow-covered and cloud extended down to convert|1400|ft|m|abbr=on.
* On 7 January 1971, Vulcan B2 "XM610" of No.44 Squadron crashed after fatigue failure of a blade in No. 1 engine that damaged the fuel system and led to an engine fire. The crew abandoned the aircraft safely and the aircraft crashed harmlessly in Wingate. [ Blackman, Tony. "Vulcan Test Pilot". p.159]
* On 14 October 1975, Vulcan B2 "XM645" of No.9 Squadron out of RAF Waddington lost its left undercarriage and damaged the airframe when it undershot the runway at Luqa airport in Malta. The pilot decided to do a circuit to crash land on runway 24 after it was covered with fire prevention foam. As the aircraft was turning inbound for the landing, it broke up in mid-air over the village of Zabbar, killing five of its seven crew members. Only the pilot and co-pilot escaped, using their ejection seats. Large pieces of the aircraft fell on the village. One woman (Vincenza Zammit, age 48), who was shopping in a street was hit by an electric cable and killed instantly. Some 20 others were injured slightly. [ [http://john-dillon.co.uk/V-Force/xm645_malta.html V-Force XM645] ]
* On 12 August 1978, Vulcan B2 "XL390" of No. 617 Squadron crashed during an air display at Naval Air Station Glenview, Illinois in the United States.Laming 2002, p. 223.] The accident sequence started at about convert|400|ft|m|abbr=on, after a possible stall during a wing-over. The Vulcan crashed into a landfill just north of the base and all crew members aboard perished. [Unger, Robert and Benjamin, Robert. "Glenview Jet Crash 4 Die." "Chicago Tribune", 12 August 1978, p. S1.]


*"XH558" Vulcan B2 - (Registered G-VLCN) Restored to flying condition at Bruntingthorpe Aerodrome, England.
*"XJ823" Vulcan B2A - On display at Carlisle Airport, England.
*"XJ824" Vulcan B2A - On display at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford Aerodrome, England.
*"XL318" Vulcan B2 - On display at the RAF Museum, Hendon, England.
*"XL319" Vulcan B2 - On display at the North East Aircraft Museum, Sunderland, England.
*"XL360" Vulcan B2 - On display at the Midland Air Museum, Coventry, England.
*"XL361" Vulcan B2 - On display at CFB Goose Bay, Canada.
*"XL426" Vulcan B2 - (Registered G-VJET) preserved in taxiable condition at Southend Airport, England.
*"XM573" Vulcan B2 - On display at Strategic Air and Space Museum (adjacent to Offutt AFB), Ashland, Nebraska, United States.
*"XM575" Vulcan B2A - On display at the East Midlands Airport Aeropark, England.
*"XM594" Vulcan B2 - On display at the Newark Air Museum, Newark-on-Trent, England.
*"XM597" Vulcan B2 - On display at the National Museum of Flight, East Fortune, Scotland.
*"XM598" Vulcan B2 - On display at the RAF Museum, Cosford, England.
*"XM603" Vulcan B2 - At Woodford Aerodrome, some parts removed for support of "XH558", "XM655" and "XL426"
*"XM605" Vulcan B2 - On display at Castle Air Museum (former Castle AFB), Atwater, California, United States.
*"XM606" Vulcan B2 - On display at Barksdale AFB, United States.
*"XM607" Vulcan B2 - On display at RAF Waddington, England.
*"XM612" Vulcan B2 - On display at City of Norwich Aviation Museum, Norwich, England.
*"XM655" Vulcan B2 - (Registered G-VULC) preserved in taxiable condition at Wellesbourne Mountford Airfield, England.

;Former survivors include:
*"XA900" Vulcan B1 - On display at RAF Cosford Museum, England. It was the last B1 intact and was used as an instructional airframe until 1966. Corrosion set in and it was scrapped in 1986.
*"XA903" Vulcan B1 - The last flying B1. Used as an engine test bed with Rolls Royce until 1979. With B2s up for retirement, no museum was interested. It was sent to Farnborough where it was scrapped between 1980 and 1984. The nose section survives.
*"XL391" Vulcan B2 - Scrapped on site at Blackpool Airport, England. The aircraft decayed and it was scrapped after its eBay-buyer refused to collect it owing to its poor state.
*"XM569" Vulcan B2 - On display at Wales Aircraft Museum, Cardiff International Airport, Wales from 1983. Scrapped in 1996.
*"XM571" Vulcan B2 - On display at RAF Gibraltar from 1983, scrapped in 1990.
*"XM602" Vulcan B2 - Preserved at RAF St Athan, Wales from 1982, scrapped in 1983.
*"XM656" Vulcan B2 - Preserved at RAF Cottesmore, England from 1982, scrapped in 1983.
*"XJ782" Vulcan B2 - On display at RAF Finningley, England from 1982, scrapped in 1988.

Restoration to flight of Vulcan XH558

The last airworthy Vulcan XH558 has been restored to flying condition by the Vulcan to the Sky Trust after a number of years of effort and fundraising. The first post-restoration flight, which lasted 34 minutes, took place on 18 October 2007. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/leicestershire/7049694.stm "The Vulcan Bomber returns to the sky"] ] [ [http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=VECwLl06ik0 "First Takeoff Video"] ]


pecifications (Vulcan B.1)

aircraft specifications
plane or copter?=plane
jet or prop?=jet
crew=5 (pilot, co-pilot, AEO, Navigator Radar, Navigator Plotter)
payload main=
payload alt=
length main= 97 ft 1 in
length alt=29.59 m
span main=99 ft 5 in
span alt=30.3 m
height main=26 ft 6 in
height alt=8.0 m
area main= 3554 ft²
area alt= 330.2 m²
empty weight main=83,573 lb (including crew)
empty weight alt= 37,144 kg
loaded weight main=
loaded weight alt=
useful load main=
useful load alt=
max takeoff weight main= 170,000 lb
max takeoff weight alt= 77,111 kg
more general=
engine (jet)=Bristol Olympus 101, or 102 or 104, with higher thrust
type of jet=turbojet
number of jets=4
thrust main= 11,000 lbf
thrust alt= 49kN
thrust original=
afterburning thrust main=
afterburning thrust alt=
max speed main= 0.96 Mach
max speed alt= 627 mph, 830 km/h 607 mph (1040 km/h) at altitude)
cruise speed main=0.86 Mach at 45,000 ft
cruise speed alt= 567 mph, 971 km/h
stall speed main=
stall speed alt=
never exceed speed main=
never exceed speed alt=
range main= 2,607 Miles
range alt=4,171 km
ceiling main= 55,000 ft
ceiling alt= 16,760 m
climb rate main=
climb rate alt=
loading main=
loading alt=
power/mass main=
power/mass alt=
more performance=
armament=convert|21000|lb|kg|abbr=on of conventional bombs or single free-fall nuclear weapon

Comparison of variants

Crew (All Mks): Pilot, Co-Pilot, Navigator Plotter, Navigator Radar and Air Electronics Officer (two extra seats could be fitted for Crew Chiefs if required, for a total of seven crew).

Fuel capacity and range are for main tanks only. Various combinations of extra bomb bay tankage (A, E or Drum) could be fitted dependent on the aircraft sortie requirements.

*B 1 (early production): --- (included in build total below)
*B 1 (later production) --- 45 built
*B 2 --- 89 built
*B 1a (B 1 converted to B 2 Spec internally.) 28 converted from B 1
*B 2a --- B 2 conversions
*B 2 (MRR)/SR 2 --- 11 converted (only 9 in existence at any one time.)
*B 2 K --- six converted – from three B 2 & three B 2(MRR)
*Total build 136

Popular culture

* The Vulcan bomber was featured in the 1965 James Bond movie "Thunderball". Agents of SPECTRE hijacked a Vulcan B.1a bomber to use its two nuclear bombs for a ransom plot against the U.S. and Britain. In the novel, the bomber is known as the (fictional) "Villiers Vindicator".

* In the 1965 Cold War novel "The Penetrators" by Hank Searls (writing as Anthony Gray), an RAF officer leads nine Vulcans in a mock attack against the USA to prove that the manned bomber is a more flexible deterrent option than ballistic missiles.

* Parts from two scrapped Vulcan bombers were used to make the set of the spaceship "Nostromo" from Ridley Scott's 1979 film "Alien". [ [http://www.cus.cam.ac.uk/~pjg20/mecca/trivia.htm#aliens Aliens] Among many other parts, the APC hand controls are recognizable as foot controls from a Vulcan bomber.]

ee also


similar aircraft=
* Handley Page Victor
* Vickers Valiant
* B-47 Stratojet

* List of aircraft of the RAF
* List of bomber aircraft

see also=
* V bomber
* V-Bomber Dispersal Bases
* Avro Vulcan XH558



* Arnold, Lorna. "Britain and the H-Bomb". Basingstoke, Hampshire, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2001. ISBN 0-333-94742-8 (outside North America), ISBN 0-312-23518-6 (North America only).
* Blackman, Tony. "Vulcan Test Pilot". London: Grub Street, 2007. ISBN-13: 9781904943884
* Chesnau, Roger. "Vulcan (Aeroguide 29: Avro Vulcan B Mk 2)". Ringshall, Suffolk, UK: Ad Hoc Publications, 2003. ISBN 0-946958-39-4.
* Holmes, Harry. "Avro: The History of an Aircraft Company". Wiltshire, UK: Crowood Press, 2004. ISBN 1-86126-651-0.
* Jackson, A.J. "Avro Aircraft since 1908, 2nd edition". London: Putnam Aeronautical Books, 1990. ISBN 0-85177-834-8.
* Laming, Tim. "The Vulcan Story 1952-2002, Second Edition". Enderby, Leicester, UK: Silverdale Books, 2002. ISBN 1-85605-701-1.
* McLelland, Tim. "The Avro Vulcan". Manchester, UK: Crecy Publishing Limited, 2007. ISBN 978-0-85979-127-4.
* "Vulcan B.Mk.2 Aircrew Manual (AP101B-1902-15)".
* White, Rowland. "Vulcan 607". London: Bantam Press, 2006. ISBN 0-593-05391-5 (cased), ISBN 0-593-05392-3 (pb).
* Wynn, Humphrey. "RAF Strategic Nuclear Deterrent Forces: Origins, Roles and Deployment 1946 - 1969". London: The Stationery Office, 1994. ISBN 0-11-772778-4.

External links

* [http://www.users.zetnet.co.uk/mongsoft/vulcan_welcome_page_all.htm Avro Vulcan Information]
* [http://www.tvoc.co.uk Vulcan to the Sky] and [http://www.vulcan558club.com/ Company heading restoration to flight of Vulcan XH558 at Bruntingthorpe UK.]
* [http://www.avrovulcan.org.uk Vulcans in Camera]
* [http://www.elite.net/castle-air/vulcan.htm Vulcan on display at Castle Air Museum, California]
* [http://www.thunder-and-lightnings.co.uk/vulcan/history.html Vulcan history]
* [http://www.avrovulcan.com Vulcan Restoration Trust]
* [http://www.aircraft.co.za/Encyclopedia/A/100.php Aircraft.co.za - Avro Vulcan]
* [http://www.aerospaceweb.org/aircraft/bomber/ Aerospaceweb.org - Information regarding the Avro Vulcan]
* [http://www.aviationhistoryonline.com/aircraft/index.php?id=74 V-Bomber History]


* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQKL_5YVuVE Video #1 of an Avro Vulcan]
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwnPQ9Nr-nM Video #2 of an Avro Vulcan]
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FybXMMCAHsE Video #3 of an Avro Vulcan]
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsSnfQD-mus Video #4 of an Avro Vulcan]
* [http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=VECwLl06ik0 Video #5 The first flight of Vulcan XH558 after restoration - 18/10/2007]

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