Avro Vulcan

As iconic for its time as the Spitfire was little more than a decade earlier, Avro's Vulcan was the most radical of the V-Bombers, and remains a distinctive design some six decades after the prototype flew.

Avro's entry to meet the B/14/46 specification was quite radical for the day, using a delta wing planform, the characteristics of which could not be entirely foreseen at the time.

Prototype VX770 flew for the first time in August 1952 - the aircraft's initial powerplants were Avons, but it was later fitted with Sapphires, and ultimately Conways.

Vulcan B.1: Initial production aircraft, with Rolls-Royce Olympus 101/102/104s, first flown in February 1955. The early aircraft had the original straight leading edged wing, but this was found to be susceptible to fatigue damage from buffeting, but was replaced on later examples with a kinked planform - the "Phase 2 wing" - that was later retrofitted to the early production B.1s.

No.230 Squadron OCU began taking delivery of its first Vulcans in February 1957, with No.83 Squadron becoming the initial front line user unit later that year. A total of 45 B.1s were built, with some examples receiving ECM in extended tail cones, these being redesignated as B.1As.

No complete B.1s remain today, although XA900 survived well into the 1980s before corrosion forced it to be broken up at RAF Cosford. However, several B.1 cockpit sections have survived.

Vulcan B.2: The definitive production Vulcan, the B.2 introduced a much revised, larger wing design and the substantially more powerful Olympus 200 engines (Olympus 300 in late aircraft) with the type's improved performance making it more useful as a platform for standoff weapons.

The Vulcan's tenure as part of the UK's strategic deterrent was to be a short one, as Skybolt's cancellation led to the supply of Polaris SLBMs, and thus the eventual withdrawal of the V-force from the strategic mission as the Resolution-class missile submarines came into service. However, while the Valiants were retired and the Victors converted to tankers, the Vulcans remained as bombers, although shifted to theater nuclear and conventional missions.

Vulcan Bibliography

Chris Bishop   The Encyclopedia of 20th Century Air Warfare  ISBN 0-7607-2770-8  p.283: color 3-view of XM600/No 617 Squadron

Gerry Manning  1000 Preserved Aircraft  in Colour p.35 photos XM605 at Castle, XM573 at Omaha

Bill Gunston   Encyclopedia of World Airpower  Aerospace Publishing, 1980  B.2 cutaway drawing and 3-view, color profile of XH557

Kenneth Munson  Pageant of the Air  p.146: photo - underside view of Vulcan prototype VX770

Michael J.H. Taylor   Warbirds Illustrated No. 30 Strategic Bombers 1945-1985   p.45: Two color photos of Vulcans in the all-white scheme

David A. Anderton  "Avro Vulcan: evolution of a Delta Bomber"   Aviation Week  May 4, 1953  Includes several views of VX770

Photo: in-flight shot of the initial production Vulcan   Flight  25 February 1955  p.225

Photo: VX777 after conversion to B.2 configuration, in flight   Aviation Week October 14, 1957  front cover
Bristol Siddeley ad, showing Vulcan VX777   Aviation Week  November 24, 1958  p.47  Note: VX777 was the second Vulcan, and the first to fly with the Olympus engines. It was scrapped at Farnborough in 1963.

Photo: close-up front view of a Blue Steel under a Vulcan   Aviation Week & Space Technology  February 1, 1960  p.24

"Australia - Non-Stop!" RAF Flying Review August 1961  617 Squadron Vulcan flight between RAF Scampton and Australia.

Photo: close-up inflight view, from aft, of the Concorde Olympus testbed Vulcan   Aviation Week & Space Technology  August 20, 1962  p.46

Photos (2): Vulcan with Olympus 503 underneath   Aviation Week & Space Technology  October 21, 1968  front cover

"British Modify Bomber for Tanker Use"   Aviation Week & Space Technology  December 6, 1982  p.109   Overall view from overhead of XH560 and a closeup of the drogue fitted under the tail

"The Five Black Bucks: The Story of Vulcan Operations in the South Atlantic"   Air International December 1982  Includes several color photos from Wideawake, close-up of the K.2 HDU installation

Photos (2): Vulcan XM597 with Shrikes.  Air International April 1983  p.203

RAF Yearbook 1983  p.17 color profile of B.2 XM607; p.33 photo of XM571 in tanker configuration

Color profiles, including: B. Mk1 XA897, B. Mk2 XL321 with Blue Steel, XM600, XM601 in all-white scheme, XM605 of No. 101 Squadron, XM607 in Falklands colors. Air International November 1984  p.260

Ken Ellis "On the Roll" FlyPast April 1998  Maintaining Vulcan XL426 at Southend. Includes a cockpit photo.

Ken Ellis "Viable Vulcans?" FlyPast October 1998  A survey of preserved Vulcans.

"Vulcan project on knife-edge"   Aeroplane October 2006 p.5   Includes an overhead shot of XH558 in hangar

Bill Clark “Flying Petrol Station” Airfix Model World #18  Building a Vulcan K.2 tanker from the Airfix 1/72 scale bomber version kit. This issue also has a 4-view of B.2 XH607, the aircraft that received a one-off desert camo underside for Red Flag.

"Delta Downtime"  FlyPast February 2012  XH558 undergoing maintenance; includes cockpit and bomb bay interior photos.

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