Avro Vulcan
Overview
 
The Avro Vulcan, sometimes referred to as the Hawker Siddeley Vulcan, was a jet-powered
Jet aircraft
A jet aircraft is an aircraft propelled by jet engines. Jet aircraft generally fly much faster than propeller-powered aircraft and at higher altitudes – as high as . At these altitudes, jet engines achieve maximum efficiency over long distances. The engines in propeller-powered aircraft...

 delta wing
Delta wing
The delta wing is a wing planform in the form of a triangle. It is named for its similarity in shape to the Greek uppercase letter delta .-Delta-shaped stabilizers:...

 strategic bomber
Strategic bomber
A strategic bomber is a heavy bomber aircraft designed to drop large amounts of ordnance onto a distant target for the purposes of debilitating an enemy's capacity to wage war. Unlike tactical bombers, which are used in the battle zone to attack troops and military equipment, strategic bombers are...

, operated by the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 (RAF) from 1956 until 1984. Aircraft manufacturer A V Roe & Co (Avro
Avro
Avro was a British aircraft manufacturer, with numerous landmark designs such as the Avro 504 trainer in the First World War, the Avro Lancaster, one of the pre-eminent bombers of the Second World War, and the delta wing Avro Vulcan, a stalwart of the Cold War.-Early history:One of the world's...

) designed the Vulcan in response to Specification B.35/46. Of the three V bombers produced, the Vulcan was considered the riskiest option.
Encyclopedia
The Avro Vulcan, sometimes referred to as the Hawker Siddeley Vulcan, was a jet-powered
Jet aircraft
A jet aircraft is an aircraft propelled by jet engines. Jet aircraft generally fly much faster than propeller-powered aircraft and at higher altitudes – as high as . At these altitudes, jet engines achieve maximum efficiency over long distances. The engines in propeller-powered aircraft...

 delta wing
Delta wing
The delta wing is a wing planform in the form of a triangle. It is named for its similarity in shape to the Greek uppercase letter delta .-Delta-shaped stabilizers:...

 strategic bomber
Strategic bomber
A strategic bomber is a heavy bomber aircraft designed to drop large amounts of ordnance onto a distant target for the purposes of debilitating an enemy's capacity to wage war. Unlike tactical bombers, which are used in the battle zone to attack troops and military equipment, strategic bombers are...

, operated by the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 (RAF) from 1956 until 1984. Aircraft manufacturer A V Roe & Co (Avro
Avro
Avro was a British aircraft manufacturer, with numerous landmark designs such as the Avro 504 trainer in the First World War, the Avro Lancaster, one of the pre-eminent bombers of the Second World War, and the delta wing Avro Vulcan, a stalwart of the Cold War.-Early history:One of the world's...

) designed the Vulcan in response to Specification B.35/46. Of the three V bombers produced, the Vulcan was considered the riskiest option. Several scale aircraft, designated Avro 707
Avro 707
|-See also:-References:NotesCitationsBibliography* Buttler, Tony. "Avro Type 698 Vulcan ." Aeroplane, Vol. 35, No. 4, Issue No. 408, April 2007....

, were produced to test and refine the delta wing design principles.

The Vulcan B.1 was first delivered to the RAF in 1956; deliveries of the improved Vulcan B.2 started in 1960. The B.2 featured more powerful engines, a larger wing, an improved electrical system and electronic countermeasures
Electronic countermeasures
An electronic countermeasure is an electrical or electronic device designed to trick or deceive radar, sonar or other detection systems, like infrared or lasers. It may be used both offensively and defensively to deny targeting information to an enemy...

 (ECM); many were modified to accept the Blue Steel missile. As a part of the V-force
V bomber
The term V bomber was used for the Royal Air Force aircraft during the 1950s and 1960s that comprised the United Kingdom's strategic nuclear strike force known officially as the V-force or Bomber Command Main Force...

, the Vulcan was the backbone of the United Kingdom’s airborne nuclear deterrent during much of the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

. Although the Vulcan was typically armed with nuclear weapon
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

s, it was capable of conventional bombing missions, a capability which was used in Operation Black Buck
Operation Black Buck
During the Falklands War, Operations Black Buck 1 to Black Buck 7 were a series of seven extremely long-range ground attack missions by Royal Air Force Vulcan bombers planned against Argentine positions in the Falkland Islands...

 during the Falklands War
Falklands War
The Falklands War , also called the Falklands Conflict or Falklands Crisis, was fought in 1982 between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the disputed Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands...

, a conflict between Britain and Argentina in 1982.

The Vulcan lacked defensive weaponry, initially relying upon high-speed high-altitude flight to evade interception. Electronic countermeasures were employed by the B.1 (designated B.1A) and B.2 from circa 1960. A change to low-level tactics was made in the mid-1960s. In the mid 1970s, nine Vulcans were adapted for maritime radar reconnaissance operations, redesignated
British military aircraft designation systems
British military aircraft designations are used to refer to aircraft types and variants operated by the armed forces of the United Kingdom.Since the end of the First World War, aircraft types in British military service have generally been known by a name British military aircraft designations are...

 as B.2 (MRR). In the final years of service, six Vulcans were converted to the K.2 tanker configuration for aerial refuelling
Aerial refueling
Aerial refueling, also called air refueling, in-flight refueling , air-to-air refueling or tanking, is the process of transferring fuel from one aircraft to another during flight....

. Since retirement by the RAF one example, B.2 XH558
Avro Vulcan XH558
Avro Vulcan XH558 The Spirit Of Great Britain is the only airworthy example of the 134 Avro Vulcan V-bombers that were operated by the Royal Air Force from 1953 until 1984. Vulcan XH558 served with the RAF between 1960 and 1985 in the bomber, maritime reconnaissance and air-to-air refuelling roles...

, named "The Spirit of Great Britain" has been restored for use in display flights and air shows.

Origins

The origin of the Vulcan and the other V bombers is linked with early British atomic weapon programme
Blue Danube (nuclear weapon)
Blue Danube was the first operational British nuclear weapon. It also went by a variety of other names, including Smallboy, the Mk.1 Atom Bomb, Special Bomb and OR.1001, a reference to the Operational Requirement it was built to fill...

 and nuclear deterrent policies. Britain's atom bomb programme began with Air Staff Operational Requirement OR.1001 issued in August 1946. This anticipated a government decision in January 1947 to authorise research and development work on atomic weapons, the US Atomic Energy Act of 1946
Atomic Energy Act of 1946
The Atomic Energy Act of 1946 determined how the United States federal government would control and manage the nuclear technology it had jointly developed with its wartime allies...

 (McMahon Act) having prohibited exporting atomic knowledge, even to countries that had collaborated on the Manhattan Project
Manhattan Project
The Manhattan Project was a research and development program, led by the United States with participation from the United Kingdom and Canada, that produced the first atomic bomb during World War II. From 1942 to 1946, the project was under the direction of Major General Leslie Groves of the US Army...

. OR.1001 envisaged a weapon not to exceed 24 in 2 in (7.37 m) in length, 5 ft (1.5 m) in diameter and 10000 lb (4,535.9 kg) in weight. The weapon had to be suitable for release from 20000 ft (6,096 m) to 50000 ft (15,240 m).

In January 1947, the Ministry of Supply
Ministry of Supply
The Ministry of Supply was a department of the UK Government formed in 1939 to co-ordinate the supply of equipment to all three British armed forces, headed by the Minister of Supply. There was, however, a separate ministry responsible for aircraft production and the Admiralty retained...

 distributed Specification B.35/46 to UK aviation companies to satisfy Air Staff Operational Requirement OR.229 for "a medium range bomber landplane capable of carrying one 10000 lb (4,535.9 kg) bomb to a target 1500 nmi (1,726.2 mi; 2,778 km) from a base which may be anywhere in the world." A cruising speed of 500 kn (608.9 mph; 979.9 km/h) at heights between 35000 ft (10,668 m) and 50000 ft (15,240 m) was specified. The maximum weight when fully loaded ought not to exceed 100000 lb (45,359.2 kg). In addition to a "Special" (i.e. atomic) bomb, the aircraft was to be capable of alternatively carrying a conventional bomb load of 20000 lb (9,071.8 kg). The similar OR.230 required a "long range bomber" with a 2000 nmi (2,301.6 mi; 3,704 km) radius of action with a maximum weight of 200000 lb (90,718.5 kg) when fully loaded; this requirement was considered too difficult.

Required to tender by the end of April 1947, work began on receipt of Specification B.35/46 at Avro under the supervision of technical director Roy Chadwick
Roy Chadwick
Roy Chadwick, CBE, FRAeS was an aircraft designer for Avro. Born at Marsh Hall Farm, Farnworth in Widnes, son of the mechanical engineer Charles Chadwick, he was the Chief Designer for the Avro Company and was responsible for practically all of their aeroplane designs...

 and chief designer Stuart Davis. The type designation was Avro 698. It was very obvious to the design team that a conventional aircraft could not possibly satisfy the Specification. Knowing little about high-speed flight and unable to glean much from the Royal Aircraft Establishment
Royal Aircraft Establishment
The Royal Aircraft Establishment , was a British research establishment, known by several different names during its history, that eventually came under the aegis of the UK Ministry of Defence , before finally losing its identity in mergers with other institutions.The first site was at Farnborough...

 or the US, the team investigated German swept wing
Swept wing
A swept wing is a wing planform favored for high subsonic jet speeds first investigated by Germany during the Second World War. Since the introduction of the MiG-15 and North American F-86 which demonstrated a decisive superiority over the slower first generation of straight-wing jet fighters...

 research from the Second World War. The team estimated that an otherwise conventional aircraft, with a swept wing of 45°, would have doubled the weight requirement. Realising that because swept wings increase longitudinal stability, the team deleted the tail (empennage
Empennage
The empennage , also known as the tail or tail assembly, of most aircraft gives stability to the aircraft, in a similar way to the feathers on an arrow...

) and the fuselage
Fuselage
The fuselage is an aircraft's main body section that holds crew and passengers or cargo. In single-engine aircraft it will usually contain an engine, although in some amphibious aircraft the single engine is mounted on a pylon attached to the fuselage which in turn is used as a floating hull...

 that supported it, the design becoming a swept-back flying wing
Flying wing
A flying wing is a tailless fixed-wing aircraft which has no definite fuselage, with most of the crew, payload and equipment being housed inside the main wing structure....

 with only a rudimentary forward fuselage and a fin (vertical stabilizer)
Vertical stabilizer
The vertical stabilizers, vertical stabilisers, or fins, of aircraft, missiles or bombs are typically found on the aft end of the fuselage or body, and are intended to reduce aerodynamic side slip. It is analogical to a skeg on boats and ships.On aircraft, vertical stabilizers generally point upwards...

 at each wingtip. The estimated weight was now only 50% over the requirement. By reducing the wingspan
Wingspan
The wingspan of an airplane or a bird, is the distance from one wingtip to the other wingtip. For example, the Boeing 777 has a wingspan of about ; and a Wandering Albatross caught in 1965 had a wingspan of , the official record for a living bird.The term wingspan, more technically extent, is...

 and maintaining the wing area by filling in the space between the wingtips, the resulting delta shape enabled the designers to meet the Specification. Though Dr Alexander Lippisch
Alexander Lippisch
Alexander Martin Lippisch was a German pioneer of aerodynamics. He made important contributions to the understanding of flying wings, delta wings and the ground effect. His most famous design is the Messerschmitt Me 163 rocket-powered interceptor.Lippisch was born in Munich, Kingdom of Bavaria...

 is generally credited as the pioneer of the delta wing, Chadwick’s team had followed its own logical design process. The design as originally submitted had four large turbojets stacked in pairs buried in the wing either side of the centreline. Outboard of the engines were two bomb-bays. Five other companies submitted technical brochures to the same Specification.

In August 1947, Roy Chadwick was killed in the crash of the Avro Tudor 2 prototype
Avro Tudor
Avro's Type 688 Tudor was a British piston-engined airliner based on their four-engine Lincoln bomber, itself a descendant of the famous Lancaster heavy bomber, and was Britain's first pressurised airliner...

 and was succeeded by Sir William Farren. Reductions in wing thickness made it impossible to incorporate the split bomb bays and stacked engines, thus the engines were placed side-by-side in pairs either side of a single bomb-bay, the fuselage growing somewhat. The wingtip fins gave way to a single fin on the aircraft's centreline. Rival manufacturer Handley Page received a prototype contract for its crescent-winged HP.80 B.35/46 tender in November 1947. Though considered the best option, contract placement for Avro's design was delayed whilst its technical strength was established. Instructions to proceed with the construction of two Avro 698 prototypes was received in January 1948. As an insurance measure against both radical designs failing, Short Brothers
Short Brothers
Short Brothers plc is a British aerospace company, usually referred to simply as Shorts, that is now based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Founded in 1908, Shorts was the first company in the world to make production aircraft and was a manufacturer of flying boats during the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s...

 received a contract for the prototype SA.4
Short Sperrin
The Short SA.4 Sperrin was a British jet bomber design of the early 1950s built by Short Brothers and Harland of Belfast, popularly abbreviated "Shorts". It first flew in 1951...

 to the less-stringent Specification B.14/46; the SA.4, later named Sperrin, was not required. In April 1948, Vickers also received authority to proceed with their Type 660
Vickers Valiant
The Vickers-Armstrongs Valiant was a British four-jet bomber, once part of the Royal Air Force's V bomber nuclear force in the 1950s and 1960s...

 which, although falling short of the B.35/46 Specification, being of a more conventional design would be available sooner - and entered service as Valiant.

Avro 707 and Avro 710


As Avro had no flight experience of the delta wing, the company planned two smaller experimental aircraft based on the 698, the one-third scale model 707 for low-speed handling and the one-half scale model 710 for high-speed handling. Two of each were ordered. However, the 710 was cancelled when it was considered too time-consuming to develop; a high-speed variant of the 707 was designed in its place, the 707A. The first 707, VX784, flew in September 1949 but crashed later that month killing the pilot, Avro test pilot Flt Lt Eric Esler. The second low-speed 707, VX790, built with the still uncompleted 707A’s nose section (containing an ejection seat) and redesignated 707B, flew in September 1950 piloted by Avro test pilot Wg Cdr Roly Falk. The high speed 707A, WD480, followed in July 1951.

Due to the delay of the 707 programme, the contribution of the 707B and 707A towards the basic design of the 698 was not considered significant, though it did highlight a need to increase the length of the nosewheel to give a ground incidence of 3.5 degrees, the optimum take-off attitude. The 707B and 707A proved the design's validity and gave confidence in the delta planform
Planform
In aviation, a planform is the shape and layout of a fixed-wing aircraft's fuselage and wing. Of all the myriad planforms used, they can typically be grouped into those used for low-speed flight, found on general aviation aircraft, and those used for high-speed flight, found on many military...

. A second 707A, WZ736 and a two-seat 707C, WZ744 were also constructed but they played no part in the 698's development.

Prototypes and type certification

More influential than the 707 in changing the design of the 698 was the result of wind-tunnel testing by the Royal Aircraft Establishment
Royal Aircraft Establishment
The Royal Aircraft Establishment , was a British research establishment, known by several different names during its history, that eventually came under the aegis of the UK Ministry of Defence , before finally losing its identity in mergers with other institutions.The first site was at Farnborough...

 at Farnborough. The outcome was that the wing needed redesign to avoid the onset of compressability drag which would have restricted the maximum speed. Painted gloss white, the 698 prototype VX770 flew for the first time on 30 August 1952 piloted by Roly Falk flying solo. The prototype 698, then fitted with only the first-pilot's ejection seat and a conventional control wheel, was powered by four Rolls-Royce RA.3 Avon
Rolls-Royce Avon
|-See also:-Bibliography:* Gunston, Bill. World Encyclopaedia of Aero Engines. Cambridge, England. Patrick Stephens Limited, 1989. ISBN 1-85260-163-9-External links:**** a 1955 Flight article on the development of the Avon...

 engines of 6500 lbf (28.9 kN) thrust. There were no fuel tanks fitted in the wing and temporary tankage was carried in the bomb bay. VX770 made an appearance at the 1952 Society of British Aircraft Constructors' (SBAC) Farnborough Air Show
Farnborough Air Show
The Farnborough International Airshow is a seven-day international trade fair for the aerospace industry which is held in even-numbered years in mid-July at Farnborough Airfield in Hampshire, England....

 the next month when Falk demonstrated an "almost vertical bank". After its appearance at Farnborough, there was much speculation as to what name the Avro 698 would be given by the RAF. Avro had strongly recommended the name Ottawa for the aircraft, in honour of the company's connection with Avro Canada
Avro Canada
Commonly known as Avro Canada, this company started in 1945 as an aircraft plant and became within thirteen years the third-largest company in Canada, one of the largest 100 companies in the world, and directly employing over 50,000...

. Weekly magazine Flight mused over the problem and after rejecting Avenger, Apollo and Assegai, suggested Albion. Nevertheless, the Chief of the Air Staff preferred a V-class of bombers and the Air Council announced the following month that the aircraft would be called the Vulcan after the Roman god of fire and destruction
Vulcan (mythology)
Vulcan , aka Mulciber, is the god of beneficial and hindering fire, including the fire of volcanoes in ancient Roman religion and Roman Neopaganism. Vulcan is usually depicted with a thunderbolt. He is known as Sethlans in Etruscan mythology...

. The Handley Page HP.80 which first flew in December 1952 was called the Victor. In January 1953, VX770 was grounded for the installation of wing fuel tanks, Armstrong Siddeley ASSa.6 Sapphire engines of 7500 lbf (33.4 kN) thrust and other systems. The aircraft flew again in July 1953.
The second prototype, VX777, flew in September 1953. It was more representative of a production aircraft, it was lengthened to accommodate a longer nose undercarriage leg. It featured a visual bomb-aiming blister under the cabin and was fitted with Bristol Olympus 100 engines of 9750 lbf (43.4 kN) thrust. The control wheel, at Falk’s suggestion, was replaced by a fighter-style control stick. Both prototypes had almost pure delta wings with straight leading edges. During trials in July 1954, VX777 received substantial damage during a heavy landing at Farnborough. It was repaired and fitted with Olympus 101 engines of 11000 lbf (48.9 kN) thrust before resuming trials the following year. While exploring the high speed and high altitude flight envelope
Flight envelope
In aerodynamics, the flight envelope or performance envelope of an aircraft refers to the capabilities of a design in terms of airspeed and load factor or altitude. The term is somewhat loosely applied, and can also refer to other measurements such as maneuverability...

, mild buffeting and other undesirable flight characteristics were experienced while approaching the speed of sound, including an alarming tendency to enter an uncontrollable dive. The Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment
Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment
The Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment was a research facility for British military aviation from 1918 to 1992.-History:...

 (A&AEE) at Boscombe Down
MoD Boscombe Down
MoD Boscombe Down is an aircraft testing site located at Idmiston, south of Amesbury, in Wiltshire, England. It is run and managed by QinetiQ, the company created as part of the breakup of the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency in 2001 by the UK Ministry of Defence...

 found this unacceptable. The solution included the "Phase 2" wing, featuring a kinked and drooped leading edge and vortex generator
Vortex generator
A vortex generator is an aerodynamic surface, consisting of a small vane or bump that creates a vortex. Vortex generators can be found on many devices, but the term is most often used in aircraft design....

s on the upper surface, first tested on 707A WD480. An auto-mach trimmer introduced a nose-up attitude as the aircraft accelerated to a high Mach number; the control column had to be pushed rather than pulled to maintain level flight. VX777 flew again in October 1955.

Meanwhile, the first production B.1, XA889, had flown in February 1955 with the original wing. In September 1955, Falk, flying the second production B.1 XA890 amazed crowds at the Farnborough Air Show by executing a barrel roll
Barrel roll
A barrel roll is an aerial maneuver in which an airplane makes a complete rotation on its longitudinal axis while following a helical path, approximately maintaining its original direction. It is sometimes described as "a combination of a loop and a roll"...

 on his second flypast in front of the SBAC president’s tent. After two days flying, he was called in front of service and civil aviation authorities and ordered to refrain from carrying out this "dangerous" manoeuvre. Now fitted with a Phase 2 wing, XA889 was delivered in March 1956 to the A&AEE for trials for the type’s initial Certificate of Airworthiness which it received the following month.

Further developments

The first 15 B.1s were powered by the Olympus 101 of 11000 lbf (48.9 kN) thrust. Many of these early examples in a metallic finish remained the property of the Ministry of Supply being retained for trials and development purposes. Those entering RAF service were delivered to No 230 Operational Conversion Unit
No. 230 Operational Conversion Unit RAF
No. 230 Operational Conversion Unit was first created on 15 Mar 1947 at RAF Lindholme, by re-designation of No.1653 Heavy Conversion Unit, to convert crews onto the Avro Lancaster, Avro Lincoln and de Havilland Mosquito bombers. This unit was disbanded on 15 October 1952 to become the Reserve...

 (OCU), the first in July 1956. Later aircraft, painted in anti-flash white and powered by the Olympus 102 of 12000 lbf (53.4 kN) thrust, began to enter squadron service in July 1957. The Olympus 102s were quickly modified to Olympus 104 standard, ultimately rated at 13500 lbf (60.1 kN) thrust. As far back as 1952, Bristol Aero Engines had begun development of the BOl.6 (Olympus 6) rated at 16000 lbf (71.2 kN) thrust but if fitted to the B.1, this would have re-introduced the buffet requiring further redesign of the wing.

The decision to proceed with the B.2 versions of the Vulcan was made in May 1956. It was anticipated that the first B.2 would be around the 45th aircraft of the 99 then on order. As well as being able to achieve greater heights over targets, it was believed that operational flexibility could be extended by the provision of in-flight refuelling equipment and tanker aircraft. The increasing sophistication of Soviet air defences required the fitting of Electronic countermeasure (ECM) equipment and vulnerability could be reduced by the introduction of the Avro Blue Steel stand-off bomb, then in development. In order to develop these proposals, the second Vulcan prototype VX777 was rebuilt with the larger and thinner Phase 2C wing, improved flying control surfaces and Olympus 102 engines, first flying in this configuration in August 1957. Plans were in hand to equip all Vulcans from the 16th aircraft onwards with in-flight refuelling receiving equipment. A B.1, XA903, was allocated for Blue Steel development work. Other B.1s were used for the development of the BOl.6 (later Olympus 200), XA891; a new AC electrical system, XA893; and ECM including jammers within a bulged tail-cone and a tail-warning radar, XA895.
The 46th production aircraft and first B.2, XH533, first flew in September 1958 fitted with Olympus 200 engines of 16000 lbf (71.2 kN) thrust, six months before the last B.1 XH532 was delivered in March 1959. Rebuilding B.1s as B.2s was considered but rejected over cost. Nevertheless, to extend the B.1's service life, 28 were upgraded by Armstrong Whitworth
Armstrong Whitworth
Sir W G Armstrong Whitworth & Co Ltd was a major British manufacturing company of the early years of the 20th century. Headquartered in Elswick, Newcastle upon Tyne, Armstrong Whitworth engaged in the construction of armaments, ships, locomotives, automobiles, and aircraft.-History:In 1847,...

 between 1959 and 1963 to the B.1A standard, including features of the B.2 such as ECM equipment, in-flight refuelling receiving equipment, and UHF radio. The second B.2, XH534, flew in January 1959. Powered by production Olympus 201 of 17000 lbf (75.6 kN) thrust, it was more representative of a production aircraft, being fitted with an in-flight refuelling probe and a bulged ECM tail cone. Some subsequent B.2s were initially lacking probes and ECM tail cones, but these were fitted retrospectively. The first 10 B.2s outwardly showed their B.1 ancestry, retaining narrow engine air intakes. Anticipating even more powerful engines, the air intakes were deepened on the 11th (XH557) and subsequent aircraft. Many of the early aircraft were retained for trials and it was the 12th B.2, XH558, that was the first to be delivered to the RAF in July 1960.

The 26th B.2, XL317, the first of a production batch ordered in February 1956, was the first Vulcan, apart from development aircraft, capable of carrying the Blue Steel missile; 33 aircraft were delivered to the RAF with these modifications. When the Mk.2 version of Blue Steel was cancelled in favour of the Douglas
Douglas Aircraft Company
The Douglas Aircraft Company was an American aerospace manufacturer, based in Long Beach, California. It was founded in 1921 by Donald Wills Douglas, Sr. and later merged with McDonnell Aircraft in 1967 to form McDonnell Douglas...

 GAM-87 Skybolt air-launched ballistic missile
Air-launched ballistic missile
An air-launched ballistic missile or ALBM is a ballistic missile launched from an aircraft. This class of missile never saw active use. The only known missile of this type that was intended for operational service, the GAM-87 Skybolt, intended to be launched from B-52 Stratofortress and Avro...

 in December 1959, fittings were changed in anticipation of the new missile, one under each wing. Though Skybolt was cancelled in November 1962, many aircraft were delivered or retrofitted with "Skybolt" blisters. Later aircraft (XL391 and XM574 onwards) were delivered with Olympus 301 engines of 20000 lbf (89 kN) thrust. Two earlier aircraft were re-engined (XH557 and XJ784) for trials and development work; another seven aircraft (XL384-XL390) were converted circa 1963.

The last B.2 was delivered in 1965 and the type served till 1984. Whilst in service the B.2 was continuously updated with modifications including rapid engine starting, bomb-bay fuel tanks, wing strengthening to give the fatigue life to enable the aircraft to fly at low level (a tactic introduced in the mid-60s), upgraded navigation equipment, Terrain Following Radar (TFR), standardisation on a common nuclear weapon (WE.117) and improved ECM equipment. The B.1As were not strengthened, thus all were withdrawn by 1968. Nine B.2s were modified for the Maritime Radar Reconnaissance (MRR) role and six for the airborne tanker role.

Proposals and cancelled projects

Avro had began work on developing successors to the Vulcan; such as the Avro 721, a smaller and more advanced bomber specifically for low level flying, building on Avro's extensive experience with delta wings. The Avro 730
Avro 730
|-See also:-References:CitationsBibliography* Bartlett, Christopher John. "The Long Retreat: A Short History of British Defence Policy, 1945-70". Macmillan, 1971.* Brookes, Andrew J. "V-Force: The History of Britain's Airborne Deterrent ". Jane's, 1982....

, a Mach
Mach number
Mach number is the speed of an object moving through air, or any other fluid substance, divided by the speed of sound as it is in that substance for its particular physical conditions, including those of temperature and pressure...

 2.5 supersonic
Supersonic
Supersonic speed is a rate of travel of an object that exceeds the speed of sound . For objects traveling in dry air of a temperature of 20 °C this speed is approximately 343 m/s, 1,125 ft/s, 768 mph or 1,235 km/h. Speeds greater than five times the speed of sound are often...

 high altitude reconnaissance/bomber aircraft was a major project that may have replaced the V-bombers, but met with cancellation in 1957.

In 1960, the Air Staff approached Avro with a request into a study for a Patrol Missile Carrier armed with up to six Skybolt missiles capable of a mission length of 12 hours. Avro's submission in May 1960 was the Phase 6 Vulcan, which if built would have been the Vulcan B.3. The aircraft was fitted with an enlarged wing of 121 ft (36.9 m) span with increased fuel capacity; additional fuel tanks in a dorsal spine; a new main undercarriage to carry an all-up-weight of 339000 lb (153,767.8 kg); and reheated Olympus 301s of 30000 lbf (133.4 kN) thrust. An amended proposal of October 1960 inserted a 10 in 9 in (3.28 m) plug into the forward fuselage with capacity for six crew members including a relief pilot, all facing forwards on ejection seats, and aft-fan versions of the Olympus 301.

A airliner derivative of the Vulcan, to be known as the Avro Atlantic
Avro Atlantic
The Avro Atlantic was a proposed civilian airliner version of the British Avro Vulcan medium jet bomber. In early June 1953, Sir Roy Dobson C.B.E. then Managing Director of A.V. Roe and Company revealed the company was working on a project for a 100 ton airliner based on the Vulcan planform...

, was proposed and discussions were held with BOAC
Boac
Boac may refer to:* Boac, Marinduque, a municipality in the Southern Philippines* Boac , an American rapper* British Overseas Airways Corporation, a former British state-owned airline...

 and Armstrong-Siddeley in the early 1950s about payload requirements. It would have retained the delta wings and buried engines of the Vulcan, and was projected to accommodate between 80 to 130 passengers; the Atlantic was to be capable of flying the London-New York route in five and a half hours.

Other countries expressed interest, but like the rest of the V-bombers, no foreign buyers for the Vulcans emerged. As early as 1954, Australia recognised that the English Electric Canberra
English Electric Canberra
The English Electric Canberra is a first-generation jet-powered light bomber manufactured in large numbers through the 1950s. The Canberra could fly at a higher altitude than any other bomber through the 1950s and set a world altitude record of 70,310 ft in 1957...

 was becoming outdated and evaluated aircraft such as the Avro Vulcan and Handley-Page Victor as potential replacements. However political pressure for a Canberra replacement only rose to a head in 1962; at which point more modern types such as the BAC TSR-2
BAC TSR-2
The British Aircraft Corporation TSR-2 was a cancelled Cold War strike and reconnaissance aircraft developed by the British Aircraft Corporation for the Royal Air Force in the late 1950s and early 1960s...

, General Dynamics F-111C
General Dynamics F-111C
The General Dynamics F-111C is a variant of the F-111 Aardvark medium-range interdictor and tactical strike aircraft, developed by General Dynamics to meet Australian requirements. The design was based on the F-111A model but included longer wings and strengthened undercarriage...

, and North American A-5 Vigilante had become available. The RAF would have transferred several V-bombers, including Vulcans, to the RAAF if they had purchased the TSR-2, however the RAAF selected the F-111C.

Overview

In spite of its radical and unusual shape, the airframe was built along traditional lines. Except for the most highly stressed parts, the whole structure was manufactured from standard grades of light alloy. The airframe was broken down into a number of major assemblies: the centre section, a rectangular box containing the bomb-bay and engine bays bounded by the front and rear spars
Spar (aviation)
In a fixed-wing aircraft, the spar is often the main structural member of the wing, running spanwise at right angles to the fuselage. The spar carries flight loads and the weight of the wings whilst on the ground...

 and the wing transport joints; the intakes and centre fuselage
Fuselage
The fuselage is an aircraft's main body section that holds crew and passengers or cargo. In single-engine aircraft it will usually contain an engine, although in some amphibious aircraft the single engine is mounted on a pylon attached to the fuselage which in turn is used as a floating hull...

; the front fuselage, incorporating the pressure cabin
Cabin pressurization
Cabin pressurization is the pumping of compressed air into an aircraft cabin to maintain a safe and comfortable environment for crew and passengers when flying at altitude.-Need for cabin pressurization:...

; the nose; the outer wings; the leading edges; the wing trailing edge and tail end of the fuselage; and the fin.

The normal crew of five, the first pilot, co-pilot, navigator radar, navigator plotter and air electronics officer (AEO) was accommodated within the pressure cabin on two levels, the pilots sitting on Martin-Baker
Martin-Baker
Martin-Baker Aircraft Co. Ltd. is a manufacturer of ejection seats and safety related equipment for aviation. The company origins were as an aircraft manufacturer before becoming a pioneer in the field of ejection seats...

 3K (3KS on the B.2) ejection seats whilst on the lower level, the rest of the crew sat facing rearwards and had to abandon the aircraft through the entrance door. The original B35/46 specification had specified a jettisonable crew compartment
Escape crew capsule
An escape crew capsule allows a pilot to escape from their craft while it is subjected to extreme conditions such as high speed or altitude...

 but this requirement was removed in a subsequent amendment and the issue of not providing the rear crew with ejection seats remained highly controversial, especially when a practical scheme to fit them was rejected. A rudimentary sixth seat was provided in the B.1 and B.1A for an additional crew member; the B.2 had an additional seventh seat. The visual bomb-aimer’s
Bombardier (air force)
A bombardier , in the United States Army Air Forces and United States Air Force, or a bomb aimer, in the Royal Air Force and other Commonwealth air forces, was the crewman of a bomber responsible for assisting the navigator in guiding the plane to a bombing target and releasing the aircraft's bomb...

 compartment could be fitted with a T4 (Blue Devil)
Mark XIV bomb sight
The Mark XIV Computing Bomb Sight is a vector bombsight developed and used by the Royal Air Force's Bomber Command during World War II. The bombsight was also known as the Blackett sight after its primary inventor, P.M.S. Blackett...

 bombsight
Bombsight
A bombsight is a device used by bomber aircraft to accurately drop bombs. In order to do this, the bombsight has to estimate the path the bomb will take after release from the aircraft. The two primary forces during its fall are gravity and air drag, which makes the path of the bomb through the air...

 but in most B.2s, the space was eventually fitted with a vertically mounted Vinten
Vinten
Vinten is a manufacturer of camera supports founded in 1910 and based in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.-History:Vinten, then trading as 'W. Vinten Cinematograph Engineers', was formally founded by William Vinten in 1910 and was originally based at 89-91 Wardour Street, London...

 F95 Mk.10 camera for the assessment of simulated low-level bombing attacks.

The aircraft was controlled by a fighter-type control stick and rudder bar which operated the powered flying controls (PFCs). Each PFC had a single electro-hydraulic powered flying control unit (PFCU) except the rudder which had two, one running as a back-up. Artificial feel and autostabilisation in the form of pitch and yaw dampers were provided in addition to the auto mach trimmer. The B.1 had four elevators
Elevator (aircraft)
Elevators are flight control surfaces, usually at the rear of an aircraft, which control the aircraft's orientation by changing the pitch of the aircraft, and so also the angle of attack of the wing. In simplified terms, they make the aircraft nose-up or nose-down...

 (inboard) and four aileron
Aileron
Ailerons are hinged flight control surfaces attached to the trailing edge of the wing of a fixed-wing aircraft. The ailerons are used to control the aircraft in roll, which results in a change in heading due to the tilting of the lift vector...

s (outboard). In the B.2, these were replaced by eight elevon
Elevon
Elevons are aircraft control surfaces that combine the functions of the elevator and the aileron , hence the name. They are frequently used on tailless aircraft such as flying wings. An elevon that is not part of the main wing, but instead is a separate tail surface, is a stabilator...

s. The Vulcan was fitted with six electrically-operated three-position (in, medium drag, high drag) airbrakes
Air brake (aircraft)
In aeronautics, air brakes or speedbrakes are a type of flight control surface used on an aircraft to increase drag or increase the angle of approach during landing....

, four in the upper centre section and two in the lower. There were originally four lower airbrakes but the outboard two were deleted before the aircraft entered service. A brake parachute was fitted in the tail cone.

Fuel was carried in 14 bag tanks, four in the centre fuselage above and to the rear of the nosewheel bay and five in each outer wing. The tanks were split into four groups of almost equal capacity, each normally feeding its respective engine though cross-feeding was possible. The centre of gravity was automatically maintained by electric timers which sequenced the booster pumps on the tanks. B.2 aircraft could be fitted with one or two additional fuel tanks in the bomb-bay.

Despite being designed before a low radar cross-section (RCS) and other stealth
Stealth technology
Stealth technology also termed LO technology is a sub-discipline of military tactics and passive electronic countermeasures, which cover a range of techniques used with personnel, aircraft, ships, submarines, and missiles, to make them less visible to radar, infrared, sonar and other detection...

 factors were ever a consideration, a Royal Aircraft Establishment
Royal Aircraft Establishment
The Royal Aircraft Establishment , was a British research establishment, known by several different names during its history, that eventually came under the aegis of the UK Ministry of Defence , before finally losing its identity in mergers with other institutions.The first site was at Farnborough...

 technical note of 1957 stated that of all the aircraft so far studied, the Vulcan due to its shape appeared by far the simplest radar echoing object: only one or two components contributing significantly to the echo at any aspect, compared with three or more on most other types.

Engine

The Rolls-Royce Olympus
Rolls-Royce Olympus
The Rolls-Royce Olympus was one of the world's first two-spool axial-flow turbojet aircraft engines, originally developed and produced by Bristol Aero Engines. First running in 1950, its initial use was as the powerplant of the Avro Vulcan V Bomber...

, originally known as the 'Bristol BE.10 Olympus', is a two-spool axial-flow turbojet that powered the Vulcan. Each Vulcan had four engines buried in the wings, positioned in pairs close to the centre of the fuselage. Engine design began in 1947, intended to power the Bristol Aeroplane Company
Bristol Aeroplane Company
The Bristol Aeroplane Company, originally the British and Colonial Aeroplane Company, was both one of the first and one of the most important British aviation companies, designing and manufacturing both airframes and aero engines...

's own rival design to the Vulcan. The engine would later be developed into a reheated powerplant for the cancelled supersonic
Supersonic
Supersonic speed is a rate of travel of an object that exceeds the speed of sound . For objects traveling in dry air of a temperature of 20 °C this speed is approximately 343 m/s, 1,125 ft/s, 768 mph or 1,235 km/h. Speeds greater than five times the speed of sound are often...

 BAC TSR-2
BAC TSR-2
The British Aircraft Corporation TSR-2 was a cancelled Cold War strike and reconnaissance aircraft developed by the British Aircraft Corporation for the Royal Air Force in the late 1950s and early 1960s...

 strike bomber and the supersonic passenger transport
Supersonic transport
A supersonic transport is a civilian supersonic aircraft designed to transport passengers at speeds greater than the speed of sound. The only SSTs to see regular service to date have been Concorde and the Tupolev Tu-144. The last passenger flight of the Tu-144 was in June 1978 with its last ever...

 Concorde
Concorde
Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde was a turbojet-powered supersonic passenger airliner, a supersonic transport . It was a product of an Anglo-French government treaty, combining the manufacturing efforts of Aérospatiale and the British Aircraft Corporation...

.

As the prototype Vulcan VX770 was ready for flight prior to the Olympus being available, it first flew using Rolls-Royce Avon
Rolls-Royce Avon
|-See also:-Bibliography:* Gunston, Bill. World Encyclopaedia of Aero Engines. Cambridge, England. Patrick Stephens Limited, 1989. ISBN 1-85260-163-9-External links:**** a 1955 Flight article on the development of the Avon...

 RA.3 engines of 6500 lbf (28.9 kN) thrust. These were quickly replaced by Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire ASSa.6 engines of 7500 lbf (33.4 kN) thrust. VX770 later became a flying test bed for the Rolls-Royce Conway
Rolls-Royce Conway
The Rolls-Royce RB.80 Conway was the first by-pass engine in the world to enter service. Development started at Rolls-Royce in the 1940s, but it was used only briefly in the late 1950s and early 1960s before other turbofan designs were introduced that replaced it. The Conway powered versions of...

. The second prototype VX777 first flew with Olympus 100s of 10000 lbf (44.5 kN) thrust. It was subsequently re-engined with Olympus 101 engines of 11000 lbf (48.9 kN) thrust. When VX777 flew with a Phase 2C (B.2) wing in 1957, it was fitted with Olympus 102 engines of 12000 lbf (53.4 kN) thrust.

Early B.1s were engined with the Olympus 101. Later aircraft were delivered with Olympus 102s. All Olympus 102s became the Olympus 104 of 13000 lbf (57.8 kN) thrust on overhaul and ultimately 13500 lbf (60.1 kN) thrust on uprating. The first B.2 flew with the second-generation Olympus 200 of 16000 lbf (71.2 kN) thrust, design of which began in 1952. Subsequent B.2s were engined with either the uprated Olympus 201 of 17000 lbf (75.6 kN) thrust or the Olympus 301 of 20000 lbf (89 kN) thrust. The Olympus 201 was designated 202 on being fitted with a rapid air starter.

Electrical and hydraulic systems

The main electrical system on the B.1/B.1A was 112V DC
Direct current
Direct current is the unidirectional flow of electric charge. Direct current is produced by such sources as batteries, thermocouples, solar cells, and commutator-type electric machines of the dynamo type. Direct current may flow in a conductor such as a wire, but can also flow through...

 supplied by four 22.5kW engine-driven generators
Dynamo
- Engineering :* Dynamo, a magnetic device originally used as an electric generator* Dynamo theory, a theory relating to magnetic fields of celestial bodies* Solar dynamo, the physical process that generates the Sun's magnetic field- Software :...

. Backup power was provided by four 24V 40Ah
Ampere-hour
An ampere-hour or amp-hour is a unit of electric charge, with sub-units milliampere-hour and milliampere second...

 batteries connected in series providing 96V. Secondary electrical systems were 28V DC, single-phase
Single-phase electric power
In electrical engineering, single-phase electric power refers to the distribution of alternating current electric power using a system in which all the voltages of the supply vary in unison. Single-phase distribution is used when loads are mostly lighting and heating, with few large electric motors...

 115V AC
Alternating current
In alternating current the movement of electric charge periodically reverses direction. In direct current , the flow of electric charge is only in one direction....

 at 1600Hz
Hertz
The hertz is the SI unit of frequency defined as the number of cycles per second of a periodic phenomenon. One of its most common uses is the description of the sine wave, particularly those used in radio and audio applications....

, and three-phase
Three-phase electric power
Three-phase electric power is a common method of alternating-current electric power generation, transmission, and distribution. It is a type of polyphase system and is the most common method used by grids worldwide to transfer power. It is also used to power large motors and other heavy loads...

 115V AC at 400Hz, driven by transformer
Transformer
A transformer is a device that transfers electrical energy from one circuit to another through inductively coupled conductors—the transformer's coils. A varying current in the first or primary winding creates a varying magnetic flux in the transformer's core and thus a varying magnetic field...

s and inverters
Inverter (electrical)
An inverter is an electrical device that converts direct current to alternating current ; the converted AC can be at any required voltage and frequency with the use of appropriate transformers, switching, and control circuits....

 from the main system. The 28V DC system was backed up by a single 24V battery.

For greater efficiency and higher reliability,Blackman 2007, pp. 100, 101 the main system on the B.2 was changed to three-phase 200V AC at 400Hz supplied by four 40kVA
Volt-ampere
A volt-ampere is the unit used for the apparent power in an electrical circuit, equal to the product of root-mean-square voltage and RMS current. In direct current circuits, this product is equal to the real power in watts...

 engine-driven constant speed
Constant Speed Drive
-Mechanism:CSDs are mainly used on airliner and military aircraft jet engines to drive the alternating current electrical generator. In order to produce the proper voltage at a constant AC frequency, usually 3-phase 115 VAC at 400 Hz, a generator needs to spin at a constant specific RPM...

 alternator
Alternator
An alternator is an electromechanical device that converts mechanical energy to electrical energy in the form of alternating current.Most alternators use a rotating magnetic field but linear alternators are occasionally used...

s. Standby supplies in the event of a main AC failure were provided by a Ram Air Turbine
Ram air turbine
A ram air turbine is a small turbine that is connected to a hydraulic pump, or electrical generator, installed in an aircraft and used as a power source...

 (RAT) driving a 17kVA alternator that could operate at high altitude down to 20000 ft (6,096 m), and an Airborne Auxiliary Power Plant
Auxiliary power unit
An auxiliary power unit is a device on a vehicle that provides energy for functions other than propulsion. They are commonly found on large aircraft, as well as some large land vehicles.-Function:...

 (AAPP), a Rover gas turbine driving a 40kVA alternator, which could be started once the aircraft was below an altitude of 30000 ft (9,144 m). Secondary electrical supplies were similar to the B.1.

The change to an AC system was a significant improvement. The Vulcan's powered flying controls were hydraulically actuated but each Powered Flying Control Unit (PFCU) had a hydraulic pump which was driven by an electrical motor. Because there was no manual reversion, a total electrical failure would result in a loss of control. The standby batteries on the B.1 were designed to give enough power for 20 minutes of flying time but this proved to be optimistic and two aircraft, XA891 and XA908, crashed as a result.

The main hydraulic system provided pressure for: undercarriage raising and lowering and bogie trim; nosewheel centring and steering; wheelbrakes (fitted with Maxaret
Maxaret
Dunlop's Maxaret was the first anti-lock braking system to be widely used. Introduced in the early 1950s, Maxaret was rapidly taken up in the aviation world, after testing found a 30% reduction in stopping distances, and the elimination of tire bursts or flat spots due to skids...

s); bomb doors opening and closing; and (B.2 only) AAPP air scoop lowering. Hydraulic pressure was provided by three hydraulic pumps fitted to Nos. 1, 2 and 3 engines. An electrically-operated hydraulic power pack
Pump
A pump is a device used to move fluids, such as liquids, gases or slurries.A pump displaces a volume by physical or mechanical action. Pumps fall into three major groups: direct lift, displacement, and gravity pumps...

 (EHPP) could be used to operate the bomb doors and recharge the brake accumulators. A compressed air (later nitrogen) system was provided for emergency undercarriage lowering.

Avionics

The original Vulcan B.1 radio fit was: two 10-channel VHF
Very high frequency
Very high frequency is the radio frequency range from 30 MHz to 300 MHz. Frequencies immediately below VHF are denoted High frequency , and the next higher frequencies are known as Ultra high frequency...

 transmitter/receivers (TR-1985/TR-1986) and a 24-channel HF
High frequency
High frequency radio frequencies are between 3 and 30 MHz. Also known as the decameter band or decameter wave as the wavelengths range from one to ten decameters . Frequencies immediately below HF are denoted Medium-frequency , and the next higher frequencies are known as Very high frequency...

 transmitter/receiver (STR-18). The Vulcan B.1A also featured an UHF
Ultra high frequency
Ultra-High Frequency designates the ITU Radio frequency range of electromagnetic waves between 300 MHz and 3 GHz , also known as the decimetre band or decimetre wave as the wavelengths range from one to ten decimetres...

 transmitter/receiver (ARC-52). The initial B.2 radio fit was similar to the B.1A though it was ultimately fitted with the ARC-52, a V/UHF transmitter/receiver (PTR-175), and a SSB
Single-sideband modulation
Single-sideband modulation or Single-sideband suppressed-carrier is a refinement of amplitude modulation that more efficiently uses electrical power and bandwidth....

 HF
High frequency
High frequency radio frequencies are between 3 and 30 MHz. Also known as the decameter band or decameter wave as the wavelengths range from one to ten decameters . Frequencies immediately below HF are denoted Medium-frequency , and the next higher frequencies are known as Very high frequency...

 transmitter/receiver (Collins
Rockwell Collins
Rockwell Collins, Inc. is a large United States-based international company headquartered in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, primarily providing aviation and information technology systems and services to governmental agencies and aircraft manufacturers.- History :...

 618T).

The Navigation and Bombing System (NBS) comprised an H2S Mk9 radar
H2S radar
H2S was the first airborne, ground scanning radar system. It was developed in Britain in World War II for the Royal Air Force and was used in various RAF bomber aircraft from 1943 to the 1990s. It was designed to identify targets on the ground for night and all-weather bombing...

 and a Navigation Bombing Computer (NBC) Mk2. Other B.1 navigation aids included a Marconi
Marconi Company
The Marconi Company Ltd. was founded by Guglielmo Marconi in 1897 as The Wireless Telegraph & Signal Company...

 radio compass (ADF), GEE Mk3
GEE (navigation)
Gee was the code name given to a radio navigation system used by the Royal Air Force during World War II.Different sources record the name as GEE or Gee. The naming supposedly comes from "Grid", so the lower case form is more correct, and is the form used in Drippy's publications. See Drippy 1946....

, Green Satin Doppler radar
Doppler radar
A Doppler radar is a specialized radar that makes use of the Doppler effect to produce velocity data about objects at a distance. It does this by beaming a microwave signal towards a desired target and listening for its reflection, then analyzing how the frequency of the returned signal has been...

 to determine the groundspeed and drift angle
Wind triangle
The wind triangle is a graphical representation of the relationship between aircraft motion and wind. It is used extensively in dead reckoning navigation.The wind triangle is a vector diagram, with three vectors....

, radio and radar altimeters, and ILS
Instrument Landing System
An instrument landing system is a ground-based instrument approach system that provides precision guidance to an aircraft approaching and landing on a runway, using a combination of radio signals and, in many cases, high-intensity lighting arrays to enable a safe landing during instrument...

. TACAN replaced GEE in the B.1A and B.2 and Decca
Decca Radar
The Decca Company, a British gramophone manufacturer that, as Decca Records, released records under the Decca label, contributed to the British war effort during the Second World War...

 Doppler 72 replaced Green Satin in the B.2. A running fix of the aircraft's position was maintained by a Ground Position Indicator (GPI). Vulcan B.2s were eventually fitted with the gyroscopic Heading Reference System Mk.2, based upon the inertial platform
Inertial navigation system
An inertial navigation system is a navigation aid that uses a computer, motion sensors and rotation sensors to continuously calculate via dead reckoning the position, orientation, and velocity of a moving object without the need for external references...

 of the Blue Steel missile, which had been integrated into the system when the missile had been carried. The B.2 (MRR) was additionally fitted with the LORAN
LORAN
LORAN is a terrestrial radio navigation system using low frequency radio transmitters in multiple deployment to determine the location and speed of the receiver....

 C
navigation system.

The flight instruments in the B.1 were traditional and included G4B compasses; Mk.4 artificial horizons; and zero reader flight display instruments. The B.1 had a Smiths Mk10 autopilot. In the B.2, these features were incorporated into the Smiths Military Flight System (MFS), the pilots' components being: two beam compasses; two director-horizons; and a Mk.10A or Mk.10B autopilot
Autopilot
An autopilot is a mechanical, electrical, or hydraulic system used to guide a vehicle without assistance from a human being. An autopilot can refer specifically to aircraft, self-steering gear for boats, or auto guidance of space craft and missiles...

. From 1966, B.2s were fitted with the ARI 5959 Terrain-following radar
Terrain-following radar
Terrain-following radar is an aerospace technology that allows a very-low-flying aircraft to automatically maintain a relatively constant altitude above ground level. It is sometimes referred-to as ground hugging or terrain hugging flight...

 (TFR), built by General Dynamics
General Dynamics
General Dynamics Corporation is a U.S. defense conglomerate formed by mergers and divestitures, and as of 2008 it is the fifth largest defense contractor in the world. Its headquarters are in West Falls Church , unincorporated Fairfax County, Virginia, in the Falls Church area.The company has...

, its commands being fed into the director-horizons.

The original ECM fit as fitted to the B.1A and B.2 was: one Green Palm voice communications' jammer; two Blue Diver metric jammers; three Red Shrimp S-band jammers; four Blue Saga Passive Warning Receivers (PWRs); one Red Steer tail-warning radar; and window (chaff) dispensers. The bulk of the equipment was carried in a large extended tail cone, and a flat ECM aerial counterpoise plate mounted between the starboard tailpipes. Later equipment on the B.2 included: an L-band jammer (replacing a Red Shrimp); the ARI 18146 X-band jammer; the improved Red Steer Mk.2; infra-red decoys
Flare (countermeasure)
A flare is an aerial infrared countermeasure to counter an infrared homing surface-to-air missile or air-to-air missile. Flares are commonly composed of a pyrotechnic composition based on magnesium or another hot-burning metal, with burning temperature equal to or hotter than engine exhaust...

 (flares); and the ARI 18228 PWR with its aerials that gave a squared top to the fin.

Colour schemes

The two prototype Vulcans were finished in gloss white. Early Vulcan B.1s left the factory in a natural metal finish; the front half of the nose radome
Radome
A radome is a structural, weatherproof enclosure that protects a microwave or radar antenna. The radome is constructed of material that minimally attenuates the electromagnetic signal transmitted or received by the antenna. In other words, the radome is transparent to radar or radio waves...

 was painted black, the rear half painted silver. Front-line Vulcan B.1s had a finish of anti-flash white
Anti-flash white
Anti-flash white is a brilliant white color commonly seen on United States, British and Soviet nuclear bombers. The purpose of the color was to reflect some of the thermal radiation from a nuclear explosion, protecting the aircraft and its occupants....

 and RAF 'type D' roundels
Royal Air Force roundels
The Royal Air Force roundel is a circular identification mark painted on aircraft to identify them to other aircraft and ground forces. In one form or another, it has been used on British military aircraft from 1915 to the present....

. Front-line Vulcan B.1As and B.2s were similar but with 'type D pale' roundels.

With the adoption of low-level attack profiles in the mid-1960s, B.1As and B.2s were given a glossy medium sea grey/olive green disruptive pattern camouflage on the upper surfaces, white undersurfaces and 'type D' roundels. (The last 13 Vulcan B.2s, XM645 onwards, were delivered thus from the factory). In the mid-1970s: Vulcan B.2s received a medium sea grey/olive green matte camouflage with light grey undersides and 'low-visibility' roundels; B.2(MRR)s received a similar scheme in gloss; and the front half of the radomes were no longer painted black. Beginning in 1979, 10 Vulcans received a wrap-around camouflage of dark sea grey and olive green because, during Red Flag exercises in the USA, defending SAM
Surface-to-air missile
A surface-to-air missile or ground-to-air missile is a missile designed to be launched from the ground to destroy aircraft or other missiles...

 forces had found that the grey-painted undersides of the Vulcan became much more visible against the ground at high angles of bank.

Introduction

In September 1956, the RAF received its first Vulcan B.1, XA897, which immediately embarked upon a round-the-world tour. The tour was to be an important demonstration of the range and capabilities of the aircraft, it also had other benefits in the form of conducting goodwill visits in various countries; in later life Vulcans routinely visited various nations and distant parts of the former British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 as a show of support and military protection. This first tour, however, was struck by misfortune; on 1 October 1956, while landing at London Heathrow Airport
London Heathrow Airport
London Heathrow Airport or Heathrow , in the London Borough of Hillingdon, is the busiest airport in the United Kingdom and the third busiest airport in the world in terms of total passenger traffic, handling more international passengers than any other airport around the globe...

 at the completion of the world tour, XA897 was destroyed in a fatal accident.

The first two aircraft were delivered to 230 OCU
No. 230 Operational Conversion Unit RAF
No. 230 Operational Conversion Unit was first created on 15 Mar 1947 at RAF Lindholme, by re-designation of No.1653 Heavy Conversion Unit, to convert crews onto the Avro Lancaster, Avro Lincoln and de Havilland Mosquito bombers. This unit was disbanded on 15 October 1952 to become the Reserve...

 in January 1957 and the training of crews started on 21 February 1957, in the following months more aircraft were delivered to the OCU. The first OCU course to qualify was No. 1 Course, on 21 May 1957, and they went on to form the first flight of No.83 Squadron
No. 83 Squadron RAF
No. 83 Squadron RAF was a Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force squadron active from 1917 until 1969. It was operative during both World War I and World War II.-Establishment and early service:...

. No. 83 Squadron was the first operational squadron to use the bomber, at first using borrowed Vulcans from the OCU and on 11 July 1956 it received the first aircraft of its own. By September 1957, several Vulcans had been handed over to No.83 Squadron
No. 83 Squadron RAF
No. 83 Squadron RAF was a Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force squadron active from 1917 until 1969. It was operative during both World War I and World War II.-Establishment and early service:...

 The second OCU course also formed a Flight of 83 Squadron, but subsequent trained crews were also used to form the second bomber squadron, 101 Squadron
No. 101 Squadron RAF
No. 101 Squadron of the Royal Air Force operates the Vickers VC10 C1K, K3 and K4 from RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire. Since 10 Squadron disbanded in 2005, the squadron is the only operator of the VC10.-Formation and early years:...

. The last aircraft from the first batch of 25 aircraft had been delivered by the end of 1957 to 101 Squadron.

In order to increase the mission range and flight time for Vulcan operations, in-flight refuelling capabilities were added in 1959 onwards; several Valiant bombers were refurbished as tankers to refuel the Vulcans. Continuous airborne patrols proved untenable, however, and the refuelling mechanisms across the Vulcan fleet fell into disuse in the 1960s. Both Vulcans and the other V-force aircraft routinely visited the Far East, in particular Singapore
Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

, where a fully equipped nuclear weapons storage facility had been constructed in 1959. During the Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation Britain planned to deploy three squadrons of V-bomber aircraft and 48 Red Beard tactical nuclear weapons to the region, although this was ultimately decided against, Vulcans trained in the region for both convention and nuclear missions. Britain regularly deployed of Vulcans to the Far East as a part of their contribution to SEATO operations, often to test the defenses of friendly nations in joint exercises. In the early 1970s, the RAF decided to permanently deploy two squadrons of Vulcans overseas in the Near East Air Force Bomber Wing, based at RAF Akrotiri
RAF Akrotiri
Royal Air Force Station Akrotiri, more commonly known as RAF Akrotiri , is a large Royal Air Force station, on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. It is located in the Western Sovereign Base Area, one of two areas which comprise Akrotiri and Dhekelia, a British Overseas Territory, administered as a...

 in Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

; the Vulcans were withdrawn as Cypriot intercommunal violence
Cypriot intercommunal violence
Cypriot intercommunal violence refers to periods of sectarian conflict between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots on the island of Cyprus from 1963 to 1974.-Background:...

 intensified in the mid 1970s.

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
Strategic Air Command
The Strategic Air Command was both a Major Command of the United States Air Force and a "specified command" of the United States Department of Defense. SAC was the operational establishment in charge of America's land-based strategic bomber aircraft and land-based intercontinental ballistic...

'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
RAF Bomber Command
RAF Bomber Command controlled the RAF's bomber forces from 1936 to 1968. During World War II the command destroyed a significant proportion of Nazi Germany's industries and many German cities, and in the 1960s stood at the peak of its postwar military power with the V bombers and a supplemental...

 and later Strike Command
RAF Strike Command
The Royal Air Force's Strike Command was the military formation which controlled the majority of the United Kingdom's bomber and fighter aircraft from 1968 until 2007: it was merged with Personnel and Training Command to form the single Air Command. It latterly consisted of two formations - No. 1...

. Vulcans also took part in the 1960, 1961, and 1962 Operation Skyshield
Operation Skyshield
Operation Skyshield was a series of three large-scale military exercises conducted in the United States in 1960, 1961 and 1962 to test the North American Aerospace Defense Command defenses against Soviet air attack. The tests were intended to ensure that any attacks over the Canadian border or...

 exercises, in which NORAD defences were tested against possible Soviet air attack, the Vulcans simulating Soviet fighter/bomber attacks against New York, Chicago and Washington
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

. The results of the tests were classified until 1997.

Nuclear deterrent

As part of Britain's independent nuclear deterrent, the Vulcan initially carried Britain's first nuclear weapon
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

, the Blue Danube
Blue Danube (nuclear weapon)
Blue Danube was the first operational British nuclear weapon. It also went by a variety of other names, including Smallboy, the Mk.1 Atom Bomb, Special Bomb and OR.1001, a reference to the Operational Requirement it was built to fill...

gravity bomb. Blue Danube was a low-kiloton yield fission bomb designed before the United States detonated the first hydrogen bomb. These were supplemented by U.S.-owned Mk 5
Mark 5 nuclear bomb
The Mark 5 nuclear bomb and W5 nuclear warhead were a common core nuclear weapon design, designed in the early 1950s and which saw service from 1952 to 1963....

bombs (made available under the Project E
Project E
Project E was a joint project between the United States and the United Kingdom during the cold war to provide nuclear weapons to the British Royal Air Force prior to Britain's own nuclear weapons becoming available...

 programme) and later by the British Red Beard
Red Beard (nuclear weapon)
Red Beard was the first British tactical nuclear weapon. It was carried by the English Electric Canberra and the V bombers of the Royal Air Force, and by the Blackburn Buccaneers, Sea Vixens and Supermarine Scimitars of the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm...

 tactical nuclear weapon. The UK had previously embarked on its 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 containing Green Grass, a large pure-fission warhead of 400 ktonTNT yield. This bomb was known as Violet Club
Violet Club
Violet Club was a nuclear weapon deployed by the United Kingdom during the cold war. It was Britain's first operational "high yield" weapon, and was intended to provide an emergency capability until a thermonuclear weapon could be developed from the 1956-1958 Operation Grapple thermonuclear tests...

. Only five were deployed before the Green Grass warhead was incorporated into a developed weapon as Yellow Sun Mk.1.
Yellow Sun
Yellow Sun was the first British operational high-yield strategic nuclear weapon. The name actually refers only to the outer casing; the warhead was known as "Green Grass" and "Red Snow"...



The later Yellow Sun Mk 2, was fitted with Red Snow
Red Snow
Red Snow was a British thermonuclear weapon. Its physics package was apparently similar, if not identical, to that of the United States W28 nuclear warhead used in the B28 nuclear bomb and AGM-28 Hound Dog missile, with an explosive yield of approximately 1.1 megaton.The Red Snow warhead was...

, a British-built variant of the U.S. W28 warhead
B28 nuclear bomb
The B28, originally Mark 28, was a thermonuclear bomb carried by U.S. tactical fighter bombers and bomber aircraft. From 1962 to 1972 under the NATO nuclear weapons sharing program, American B28s also equipped six Europe-based Canadian CF-104 squadrons known as the RCAF Nuclear Strike Force...

. Yellow Sun Mk 2 was the first British thermonuclear weapon to be deployed, and was carried on both the Vulcan and Handley Page Victor
Handley Page Victor
The Handley Page Victor was a British jet bomber aircraft produced by the Handley Page Aircraft Company during the Cold War. It was the third and final of the V-bombers that provided Britain's nuclear deterrent. The other two V-bombers were the Avro Vulcan and the Vickers Valiant. Some aircraft...

. The Valiant retained U.S. nuclear weapons assigned to SACEUR under the dual-key arrangements. Red Beard was pre-positioned in Singapore
Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

 for use by Vulcan and Victor bombers,. From 1962, three squadrons of Vulcan B.2s and two squadrons of Victor B.2s were armed with the Blue Steel missile
Blue Steel missile
The Avro Blue Steel was a British air-launched, rocket-propelled nuclear stand-off missile, built to arm the V bomber force. It was the primary British nuclear deterrent weapon until the Royal Navy started operating Polaris missile armed nuclear submarines....

, a rocket-powered stand-off bomb, which was also armed with the 1.1 MtonTNT yield Red Snow warhead.

Operationally, RAF Bomber Command and the US Strategic Air Command
Strategic Air Command
The Strategic Air Command was both a Major Command of the United States Air Force and a "specified command" of the United States Department of Defense. SAC was the operational establishment in charge of America's land-based strategic bomber aircraft and land-based intercontinental ballistic...

 cooperated together in the Single Integrated Operational Plan
Single Integrated Operational Plan
The Single Integrated Operational Plan was the United States' general plan for nuclear war from 1961 to 2003. The SIOP gave the President of the United States a range of targeting options, and described launch procedures and target sets against which nuclear weapons would be launched...

 (SIOP) to ensure coverage of all major Soviet targets from 1958, 108 aircraft of the RAF's V-Bombers were assigned targets under SIOP by the end of 1959. From 1962 onwards, two jets in every major RAF base were armed with nuclear weapons and on standby permanently under the principle of Quick Reaction Alert (QRA). Vulcans on QRA standby were to be airborne within four minutes of receiving an alert, as this was identified as the amount of time between warning of a USSR nuclear strike being launched and it arriving in Britain. The closest the Vulcan came to take part in potential nuclear conflict was during the Cuban missile crisis
Cuban Missile Crisis
The Cuban Missile Crisis was a confrontation among the Soviet Union, Cuba and the United States in October 1962, during the Cold War...

 in October 1962, where Bomber Command was moved to Alert Condition 3, an increased state of preparedness from normal operations, however stood down in early November.

The Vulcans were intended to be equipped 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 were modified on the production line to fit pylons to carry the Skybolt. Proposed in 1960 was a B.3 variant of the Vulcan, with increased wingspan to carry up to six Skybolts. When the Skybolt missile system was cancelled by U.S. President John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

 on the recommendation of his Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara
Robert McNamara
Robert Strange McNamara was an American business executive and the eighth Secretary of Defense, serving under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson from 1961 to 1968, during which time he played a large role in escalating the United States involvement in the Vietnam War...

 in 1962, Blue Steel was retained. To supplement it until the Royal Navy took on the deterrent role with Polaris
UGM-27 Polaris
The Polaris missile was a two-stage solid-fuel nuclear-armed submarine-launched ballistic missile built during the Cold War by Lockheed Corporation of California for the United States Navy....

 submarines, the Vulcan bombers adopted a new mission profile of flying high during clear transit, dropping down low to avoid enemy defenses on approach, and deploying a parachute-retarded bomb, the WE.177
WE.177
WE.177 was the last air-delivered tactical nuclear weapon of the British Armed Forces. There were three versions; WE.177A was a boosted fission weapon, while WE.177B and WE.177C were thermonuclear weapons...

B
.

After the British Polaris submarines became operational and Blue Steel was taken out of service in 1970, the Vulcan continued to carry WE.177B in a tactical nuclear strike role as part of the British contribution to Europe's standing NATO forces. WE.177B outlived the Vulcan bombers, also being used on Blackburn Buccaneer
Blackburn Buccaneer
The Blackburn Buccaneer was a British low-level subsonic strike aircraft with nuclear weapon delivery capability serving with the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force between 1962 and 1994, including service in the 1991 Gulf War...

, SEPECAT Jaguar
SEPECAT Jaguar
The SEPECAT Jaguar is an Anglo-French jet ground attack aircraft, originally used by the British Royal Air Force and the French Armée de l'Air in the close air support and nuclear strike role, and still in service with several export customers, notably the Indian Air Force and the Royal Air Force...

, and Panavia Tornado
Panavia Tornado
The Panavia Tornado is a family of twin-engine, variable-sweep wing combat aircraft, which was jointly developed and manufactured by the United Kingdom, West Germany and Italy...

, until retirement in 1998. While not a like-for-like replacement, the multirole Tornado strike bomber is the successor for the roles previously filled by the Vulcan.

Conventional role

Although the aircraft's armament was primarily a nuclear weapon, in a conventional secondary role it was possible for the Vulcans to carry up to 21 1000 lb (454 kg) bombs. Since the 1960s, the RAF's Vulcan squadrons had conducted routine training missions in practice for performing conventional bombing missions in addition to nuclear strike missions.

The only combat missions involving the Vulcan took place in 1982 during the Falklands War
Falklands War
The Falklands War , also called the Falklands Conflict or Falklands Crisis, was fought in 1982 between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the disputed Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands...

 with Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

. This was also the only time V-bombers took part in conventional warfare. The missions flown by the Vulcans became known as the Black Buck raids, which flew 3889 mi (6,258.7 km) from Ascension Island
Ascension Island
Ascension Island is an isolated volcanic island in the equatorial waters of the South Atlantic Ocean, around from the coast of Africa and from the coast of South America, which is roughly midway between the horn of South America and Africa...

 to Stanley
Stanley, Falkland Islands
Stanley is the capital and only true cityin the Falkland Islands. It is located on the isle of East Falkland, on a north-facing slope in one of the wettest parts of the islands. At the 2006 census, the city had a population of 2,115...

 on the Falklands. On 1 May, the first mission was conducted by a single Vulcan that flew over Port Stanley, proceeding to drop multiple bombs around the main airfield. The Vulcan's mission was quickly followed up by strikes against anti-air installations, flown by British Aerospace Sea Harriers from nearby Royal Navy carriers.

In total, three missions were flown against the airfield, two further missions to launch missiles at radar installations; another two missions were cancelled. Victor tankers
Handley Page Victor
The Handley Page Victor was a British jet bomber aircraft produced by the Handley Page Aircraft Company during the Cold War. It was the third and final of the V-bombers that provided Britain's nuclear deterrent. The other two V-bombers were the Avro Vulcan and the Vickers Valiant. Some aircraft...

 conducted the air-to-air refuelling; approximately 1.1 million gal (5 million L) of fuel were used in each mission. At the time, these missions held the record for the world's longest-distance raids. The Vulcan's ECM system was effective at jamming Argentine radars, British aircraft in the vicinity had a greatly reduced chance of coming under effective fire.

Five Vulcans were selected for the operation; their bomb bays were modified, the flight refuelling system that had long been out of use was reinstated, the electronics updated, and new wing pylons fitted to carry an ECM
Electronic countermeasures
An electronic countermeasure is an electrical or electronic device designed to trick or deceive radar, sonar or other detection systems, like infrared or lasers. It may be used both offensively and defensively to deny targeting information to an enemy...

 pod and Shrike anti-radar missiles at wing hardpoint
Hardpoint
A hardpoint, or weapon station, is any part of an airframe designed to carry an external load. This includes a point on the wing or fuselage of military aircraft where external ordnance, countermeasures, gun pods, targeting pods or drop tanks can be mounted.-Rail launchers:Large missiles and...

 locations originally installed for carrying Skybolt missiles. The engineering work began on 9 April.

Maritime radar reconnaissance

In November 1973, No. 27 Squadron reformed at RAF Scampton in the maritime radar reconnaissance role. Though initially equipped with a number of B.2 aircraft, the Squadron eventually operated nine B.2 (MRR) aircraft. The main external visual difference was the presence of a gloss paint finish, with a light grey undersurface, to protect against sea spray. TFR was not fitted and the aircraft were equipped with LORAN
LORAN
LORAN is a terrestrial radio navigation system using low frequency radio transmitters in multiple deployment to determine the location and speed of the receiver....

C navigational equipment. Five aircraft were further modified for the Squadron's secondary role of air sampling. These aircraft were distinguishable by the additional hardpoints outside of the underwing Skybolt points upon which could be hung pylons and the air-sampling pods, which had been constructed from de Havilland Sea Vixen
De Havilland Sea Vixen
The de Havilland DH.110 Sea Vixen was a twin boom 1950s–1960s British two-seat jet fighter of the Fleet Air Arm designed by de Havilland. Developed from an earlier first generation jet fighter, the Sea Vixen was a capable carrier-based fleet defence fighter that served into the 1970s...

 drop tanks.

Aerial refuelling role

After the end of the Falklands War
Falklands War
The Falklands War , also called the Falklands Conflict or Falklands Crisis, was fought in 1982 between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the disputed Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands...

 in 1982, the Vulcan B.2 was due to be withdrawn from RAF service that year. However, the Falklands campaign had consumed much of the airframe fatigue life of the RAF's Victor tankers. While Vickers VC10
Vickers VC10
The Vickers VC10 is a long-range British airliner designed and built by Vickers-Armstrongs Ltd, and first flown in 1962. The airliner was designed to operate on long-distance routes with a high subsonic speed and also be capable of hot and high operations from African airports...

 tanker conversions had been ordered in 1979 and Lockheed TriStar tankers would be ordered subsequent to the conflict, six Vulcan B.2s were converted to a tanker configuration as a stopgap measure. The Vulcan tanker conversion was accomplished by removing the jammers from the ECM bay in the tail of the aircraft, and replacing them with a single Hose Drum Unit (HDU). An additional cylindrical bomb-bay tank was fitted, making a total of three, giving a fuel capacity of almost 100000 lb (45,359.2 kg).

The go-ahead for converting the six aircraft was given on 4 May 1982. Just fifty days after being ordered, the first Vulcan tanker, XH561, was delivered to RAF Waddington
RAF Waddington
RAF Waddington is a Royal Air Force station in Lincolnshire, England.-Formation:Waddington opened as a Royal Flying Corps flying training station in 1916 until 1920, when the station went into care and maintenance....

. The Vulcan K.2s were operated by No. 50 Squadron, along with three Vulcan B.2s, in support of UK air defence activities.

Engine test beds

  • The first prototype VX770 had its Sapphire engines replaced with four 15000 lbf (66.7 kN) Rolls-Royce Conway
    Rolls-Royce Conway
    The Rolls-Royce RB.80 Conway was the first by-pass engine in the world to enter service. Development started at Rolls-Royce in the 1940s, but it was used only briefly in the late 1950s and early 1960s before other turbofan designs were introduced that replaced it. The Conway powered versions of...

     RCo.7 turbofan
    Turbofan
    The turbofan is a type of airbreathing jet engine that is widely used for aircraft propulsion. A turbofan combines two types of engines, the turbo portion which is a conventional gas turbine engine, and the fan, a propeller-like ducted fan...

    s in 1957. It was transferred to Rolls-Royce as the Conway test bed. It flew with the Conways, the first turbofan
    Turbofan
    The turbofan is a type of airbreathing jet engine that is widely used for aircraft propulsion. A turbofan combines two types of engines, the turbo portion which is a conventional gas turbine engine, and the fan, a propeller-like ducted fan...

    s in the world, until its fatal crash in September 1958.
  • The first Vulcan B.1 XA889 was used for the flight clearances of the Olympus 102 and 104.
  • Vulcan B.1 XA891 was fitted with four Olympus 200 engines in the spring of 1958 for intensive flying trials. The aircraft crashed in July 1958 during a routine test flight.
  • Vulcan B.1 XA894 flew with five Olympus engines, the standard four Mk.101s plus a reheated Olympus 320 destined for the BAC TSR-2
    BAC TSR-2
    The British Aircraft Corporation TSR-2 was a cancelled Cold War strike and reconnaissance aircraft developed by the British Aircraft Corporation for the Royal Air Force in the late 1950s and early 1960s...

     in an underslung nacelle. This aircraft was destroyed in a ground fire at Filton on 3 December 1962.
  • Vulcan B.1 XA896 was withdrawn from RAF service in June 1964 and transferred to be converted to the test bed for the Bristol Siddeley BS100 vectored thrust turbofan for the Hawker Siddeley P.1154
    Hawker Siddeley P.1154
    The Hawker Siddeley P.1154 was a planned supersonic vertical/short take-off and landing fighter aircraft designed by Hawker Siddeley Aviation . Developed alongside the subsonic and smaller Hawker Siddeley P.1127/Kestrel, the P.1154 was derived from the P.1150. The P.1150 proposal did not meet NATO...

    . The P.1154 was cancelled in February 1965 and XA896 was scrapped before being converted.
  • Vulcan B.1 XA902 was withdrawn from RAF service after a landing accident in 1958. After rebuilding, it replaced VX770 as the Conway test bed, fitted with four RCo.11s. The two inner Conways were replaced with Rolls-Royce Speys, flying for the first time in this configuration on 12 October 1961.
  • Vulcan B.1 XA903, surplus to Blue Steel trials, was converted to a similar layout to XA894 to flight test the Olympus 593 Concorde installation. The first flight was on 1 October 1966 and testing continued through to June 1971. In April 1973, XA903 flew with an underslung Rolls-Royce RB.199 turbofan destined for the Panavia Tornado
    Panavia Tornado
    The Panavia Tornado is a family of twin-engine, variable-sweep wing combat aircraft, which was jointly developed and manufactured by the United Kingdom, West Germany and Italy...

    . The RB.199 engine included both the reheat and thrust reverser functions. XA903 was the last B.1 to fly, being retired in February 1979.
  • Vulcan B.2 XH557 was used by BSEL for developing the Olympus 301 and first flew with the larger engine in May 1961. It was returned to Woodford in 1964 to be refurbished for the RAF.

Variants

B.1
The initial production aircraft. First few with straight leading edge, later retrofitted with Phase 2 (kinked) wing. Early examples finished in silver, later changed to "anti-flash" white
Anti-flash white
Anti-flash white is a brilliant white color commonly seen on United States, British and Soviet nuclear bombers. The purpose of the color was to reflect some of the thermal radiation from a nuclear explosion, protecting the aircraft and its occupants....

. Many converted to B.1A standard 1959-1963. Last few unmodified B.1s in RAF service with No. 230 OCU retired by 1966. Last flight by any B.1, an engine testbed XA903, March 1979.


B.1A
The B.1 with an Electronic Countermeasures
Electronic countermeasures
An electronic countermeasure is an electrical or electronic device designed to trick or deceive radar, sonar or other detection systems, like infrared or lasers. It may be used both offensively and defensively to deny targeting information to an enemy...

 (ECM) system in a new larger tail cone (as in B.2). Unlike the B.2, the B.1As did not undergo extensive wing strengthening for low-level flying and were withdrawn from service 1966-67.


B.2
Developed version of the B.1. Larger, thinner wing than the B.1 (Phase 2C wing) and fitted with Olympus 201-202 engines of 17,000 lbf (76 kN) each, or Olympus 301 engines of 20,000 lbf (89 kN) each. Uprated electrics with Auxiliary Airborne Power Plant (AAPP) (Auxiliary power unit
Auxiliary power unit
An auxiliary power unit is a device on a vehicle that provides energy for functions other than propulsion. They are commonly found on large aircraft, as well as some large land vehicles.-Function:...

) and Ram Air Turbine
Ram air turbine
A ram air turbine is a small turbine that is connected to a hydraulic pump, or electrical generator, installed in an aircraft and used as a power source...

 (RAT). ECM similar to B.1A. Terrain-Following Radar
Terrain-following radar
Terrain-following radar is an aerospace technology that allows a very-low-flying aircraft to automatically maintain a relatively constant altitude above ground level. It is sometimes referred-to as ground hugging or terrain hugging flight...

 (TFR) in nose thimble radome fitted to most aircraft in mid-60s. New Radar warning receiver
Radar warning receiver
Radar warning receiver systems detect the radio emissions of radar systems. Their primary purpose is to issue a warning when a radar signal that might be a threat is detected. The warning can then be used, manually or automatically, to evade the detected threat...

 aerials on tail fin giving it a square top from mid-1970s.


B.2 (MRR)
Nine B.2s converted to Maritime Radar Reconnaissance (MRR). TFR deleted. Five aircraft further modified for Air Sampling Role. Distinctive gloss finish with light grey underside.


K.2
Six B.2s converted for air-to-air refuelling
Aerial refueling
Aerial refueling, also called air refueling, in-flight refueling , air-to-air refueling or tanking, is the process of transferring fuel from one aircraft to another during flight....

 with Mark 17 Hose Drum Unit (HDU) mounted semi-recessed in tail cone. TFR deleted. Fitted with three bomb-bay drum tanks, it was the only mark of Vulcan that could jettison fuel in an emergency.

Production

A total of 134 production Vulcans were assembled at Woodford Aerodrome, 45 to the B.1 design and 89 were B.2 models, the last being delivered to the RAF in January 1965.
Contract Date Quantity Variant Notes
6 July 1948 2 Prototypes Two protoypes delivered in August 1952 and September 1953
14 August 1952 25 Vulcan B.1 First flight of production aircraft 4 February 1955, delivered between June 1955 and December 1957.
30 September 1954 20 Vulcan B.1 delivered between January 1958 and April 1959.
30 September 1954 17 Vulcan B.2 Delivered between September 1959 and December 1960
31 March 1955 8 Vulcan B.2 Delivered between January and May 1961
25 February 1956 24 Vulcan B.2 Delivered between July 1961 and November 1962
22 January 1958 40 Vulcan B.2 Delivered between February 1963 and January 1965, one aircraft not flown and used as a static test airframe
Total 136

Operators

  • Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment
    Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment
    The Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment was a research facility for British military aviation from 1918 to 1992.-History:...

     aircraft used for trials and evaluation
  • Royal Air Force
    Royal Air Force
    The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

    • No. 9 Squadron RAF (Operated the B.2 from 1962 to 1982)
    • No. 12 Squadron RAF
      No. 12 Squadron RAF
      No. 12 Squadron of the Royal Air Force currently operates the Tornado GR4 from RAF Lossiemouth.-History:No. 12 Squadron Royal Flying Corps was formed in February 1915 from a flight of No. 1 Squadron RFC at Netheravon. The squadron moved to France in September 1915 and operated a variety of aircraft...

       (Operated the B.2 from 1962 to 1967)
    • No. 27 Squadron RAF
      No. 27 Squadron RAF
      No. 27 Squadron of the Royal Air Force operates the Boeing Chinook HC2 from RAF Odiham.-The Great War:27 Squadron formed at Hounslow Heath Aerodrome on 5 November 1915, soon being equipped with Martinsyde Elephant fighter aircraft, hence the use of an elephant for the squadron badge...

       (Operated the B.2 from 1961 to 1972 and the B.2 (MRR) from 1973 to 1982)
    • No. 35 Squadron RAF (Operated the B.2 from 1962 to 1982)
    • No. 44 Squadron RAF
      No. 44 Squadron RAF
      No. 44 Squadron of the Royal Air Force is no longer operational. For most of its history it served as a heavy bomber squadron.-History:...

       (Operated the B.1/B.1A from 1960 to 1967 and the B.2 from 1966 to 1982)
    • No. 50 Squadron RAF
      No. 50 Squadron RAF
      No. 50 Squadron was a squadron of the Royal Air Force. It was formed during the First World War as a home defence fighter squadron, and operated as a bomber squadron during the Second World War and the Cold War. It disbanded for the last time in 1984....

       (Operated the B.1/B.1A from 1961 to 1966, the B.2 from 1966 to 1984 and the K.2 from 1982 to 1984)
    • No. 83 Squadron RAF
      No. 83 Squadron RAF
      No. 83 Squadron RAF was a Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force squadron active from 1917 until 1969. It was operative during both World War I and World War II.-Establishment and early service:...

       (the first Vulcan squadron operated the B.1/B.1A from 1957 to 1960 and the B.2 from 1960 to 1969)
    • No. 101 Squadron RAF
      No. 101 Squadron RAF
      No. 101 Squadron of the Royal Air Force operates the Vickers VC10 C1K, K3 and K4 from RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire. Since 10 Squadron disbanded in 2005, the squadron is the only operator of the VC10.-Formation and early years:...

       (Operated the B.1/B1A from 1957 to 1967 and the B.2 from 1967 to 1982)
    • No. 617 Squadron RAF
      No. 617 Squadron RAF
      No. 617 Squadron is a Royal Air Force aircraft squadron based at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland. It currently operates the Tornado GR4 in the ground attack and reconnaissance role...

       (Operated the B.1/B1A from 1958 to 1961 and the B.2 from 1961 to 1981)
    • No. 230 Operational Conversion Unit RAF
      No. 230 Operational Conversion Unit RAF
      No. 230 Operational Conversion Unit was first created on 15 Mar 1947 at RAF Lindholme, by re-designation of No.1653 Heavy Conversion Unit, to convert crews onto the Avro Lancaster, Avro Lincoln and de Havilland Mosquito bombers. This unit was disbanded on 15 October 1952 to become the Reserve...

    • Bomber Command Development Unit

  • Vulcan To The Sky Trust
    Vulcan To The Sky Trust
    Vulcan to the Sky Trust is a British charity that owns and operates Vulcan XH558 a former Royal Air Force Avro Vulcan V-bomber from Bruntingthorpe Aerodrome....

     (flying XH558 currently based at Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield
    Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield
    Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield is an international airport located at the former RAF Finningley airbase at Finningley, in the Metropolitan Borough of Doncaster within South Yorkshire, England. The airport lies southeast of Doncaster and east of Sheffield.The airport is operated by Peel...

    )

  • Aircraft were also operated at various times under the direction of the Ministry of Supply/Aviation for trials and evaluation by Avro, Bristol Siddeley Engines, Rolls-Royce and the Blind Landing Experemental Unit (BLEU).

Bases

  • RAF Akrotiri
    RAF Akrotiri
    Royal Air Force Station Akrotiri, more commonly known as RAF Akrotiri , is a large Royal Air Force station, on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. It is located in the Western Sovereign Base Area, one of two areas which comprise Akrotiri and Dhekelia, a British Overseas Territory, administered as a...

     in Cyprus was the base for two operational B.2 squadrons from 1969 to 1975
    • 9 Squadron 1969-1975, moved from Cottesmore in 1969 it returned to the UK in 1975 to Waddington.
    • 35 Squadron 1969-1975, moved from Cottesmore in 1969 it returned to the UK in 1975 to Scampton.

  • RAF Coningsby
    RAF Coningsby
    RAF Coningsby , is a Royal Air Force station in Lincolnshire, England. It has been commanded by Group Captain Martin Sampson since 10 December 2010.-Operational units:...

     was the base for three operational squadrons from 1962 to 1964
    • 9 Squadron 1962-1964, formed in 1962 to operate the B.2 it moved to Cottesmore in 1964.
    • 12 Squadron 1962-1964, formed in 1962 to operate the B.2 it moved to Cottesmore in 1964.
    • 35 Squadron 1962-1964, formed in 1962 to operate the B.2 it moved to Cottesmore in 1964.

  • RAF Cottesmore
    RAF Cottesmore
    RAF Cottesmore was a Royal Air Force station in Rutland, England, situated between Cottesmore and Market Overton. The station housed all the operational Harrier GR9 squadrons in the Royal Air Force, and No 122 Expeditionary Air Wing...

     was the base for three operational squadrons from 1964 to 1969
    • 9 Squadron 1964-1969, moved in from Coningsby in 1964, it moved to Akrotiri in 1969.
    • 12 Squadron 1964-1967, moved in from Coningsby in 1964 until it disbanded in 1967.
    • 35 Squadron 1964-1969, moved in from Coningsby in 1964, it moved to Akrotiri 1969.

  • RAF Finningley
    RAF Finningley
    RAF Finningley is a former Royal Air Force station at Finningley, South Yorkshire, partly within the traditional county boundaries of Nottinghamshire and partly in the West Riding of Yorkshire, now wholly within the Metropolitan Borough of Doncaster....

    • 101 Squadron 1957-1961, formed in 1957 to be the second operational B.1 squadron, moved to Waddington in 1961.
    • 230 OCU 1961-1969, moved from Waddington in 1961, moved to Scampton in 1969.

  • RAF Scampton
    RAF Scampton
    Royal Air Force Station Scampton is a Royal Air Force station situated north of Lincoln in England, near the village of Scampton, on the site of an old First World War landing field.-First World War:...

     was the base for three operational squadrons at different times between 1961 and 1981
    • 27 Squadron 1961-1972, formed in 1961 to operate the B.2 until it disbanded in 1972. Reformed in 1973 to operate the B.2 (MRR) variant until 1982.
    • 83 Squadron 1960-1969, a former B.1/B.1A squadron at Waddington, reformed in 1960 to operate the B.2 until disbanded in 1969.
    • 617 Squadron 1958-1981, formed in 1958 to operate the B.1, reformed to operate the B.2 in 1961 until disbanded in 1981.
    • 230 OCU 1969-1981, moved from Finningley in 1969 until disbanded in 1981.

  • RAF Waddington
    RAF Waddington
    RAF Waddington is a Royal Air Force station in Lincolnshire, England.-Formation:Waddington opened as a Royal Flying Corps flying training station in 1916 until 1920, when the station went into care and maintenance....

     was the base for a number of operational squadrons at different times between 1957 and 1984, it was the first and last operational Vulcan base
    • 9 Squadron 1975-1982, moved in from Akrotiri in 1975 until it was disbanded 1982.
    • 44 Squadron 1960-1982, formed in 1960 to operate the B.1/B.1A, it converted to the B.2 in 1966 and disbanded in 1982.
    • 50 Squadron 1961-1984, formed in 1961 to operate the B.1/B.1A, it converted to the B.2 in 1966, from 1982 it also flew the tanker version until disbanding in 1984.
    • 83 Squadron 1957-1960, formed in 1957 to be the first operational squadron to operate the B.1 until 1960, it reformed at Scampton later in the year as a B.2 unit.
    • 101 Squadron 1961-1982, moved from Finningley in 1961 with the B.1/B.1A, converted to B.2 in 1967 and disbanded in 1982.
    • 230 OCU 1956-1961, formed in 1956 to train Vulcan crews it moved to Finningley in 1961.

V-Bomber dispersal airfields

In the event of transition to war, the V Bomber squadrons were to deploy four aircraft at short notice to each of a 26 pre-prepared dispersal airfields around the United Kingdom. In the early 1960s the RAF ordered 20 Beagle Basset communication aircraft to move the crews to dispersal airfields; the importance of these aircraft was only brief, diminishing when the primary nuclear deterrent switched to the Royal Navy's Polaris
Polaris
Polaris |Alpha]] Ursae Minoris, commonly North Star or Pole Star, also Lodestar) is the brightest star in the constellation Ursa Minor. It is very close to the north celestial pole, making it the current northern pole star....

 submarines.

Accidents and incidents

  • On 1 October 1956, Vulcan B.1 XA897, the first Vulcan to be delivered to the RAF, crashed at London Heathrow Airport
    London Heathrow Airport
    London Heathrow Airport or Heathrow , in the London Borough of Hillingdon, is the busiest airport in the United Kingdom and the third busiest airport in the world in terms of total passenger traffic, handling more international passengers than any other airport around the globe...

     at the conclusion of Operation Tasman Flight, a flag-waving trip to Australia and New Zealand. After a GCA approach in bad weather, the aircraft struck the ground 700 yd (640.1 m) short of the runway just as engine power was applied. 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
    Harry Broadhurst
    Air Chief Marshal Sir Harry Broadhurst GCB, KBE, DSO & Bar, DFC & Bar, AFC, RAF , commonly known as Broady, was a senior Royal Air Force commander.-Early life:...

    , AOC-in-C Bomber Command, both ejected. The aircraft then hit the ground and broke up. Howard and Broadhurst survived but the other four occupants which included a spare pilot and an Avro representative were killed.

  • In 1957, a Vulcan B.1 XA892 attached to the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment
    Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment
    The Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment was a research facility for British military aviation from 1918 to 1992.-History:...

     (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 at 478 mph (769.3 km/h) and 0.98 IMN, to take the aircraft to a load factor of 3 g. The Vulcan was climbed to 35000 ft (10,668 m) and then dived with the intention of reaching the target speed at 27000 ft (8,229.6 m). Approaching the target altitude, the crew closed the throttles and were applying full up-elevator, the aircraft continued to pitch nose-down. 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 18000 ft (5,486.4 m) and regained level flight at 8000 ft (2,438.4 m). There was no report of a sonic boom in the vicinity; as such, it is unlikely a true Mach Number of 1.0 was reached. (At Mach 1.0, the Vulcan had position error
    Position error
    Position error is one of the errors affecting the systems in an aircraft for measuring airspeed and altitude. It is not practical or necessary for an aircraft to have an airspeed indicating system and an altitude indicating system that are exactly accurate...

     of about 0.07.) After the flight a rear bulkhead was found to be deformed.


  • On 20 September 1958, a Rolls-Royce test pilot was authorised to fly VX770 on an engine performance sortie with a fly past at RAF Syerston
    RAF Syerston
    RAF Syerston is a Royal Air Force station in the parish of Flintham, near Newark, Nottinghamshire. It was used as a bomber base during World War II.-Bomber Command:...

     Battle of Britain At Home display. The Vulcan flew along the main runway then started a roll to starboard and climbed slightly. During this roll the starboard wing disintegrated, resulting in a collapse of the main spar
    Spar (aviation)
    In a fixed-wing aircraft, the spar is often the main structural member of the wing, running spanwise at right angles to the fuselage. The spar carries flight loads and the weight of the wings whilst on the ground...

     and wing structure. The Vulcan went into a dive with the starboard wing on fire and struck the ground. Three occupants of a controllers' caravan were killed by debris, all four of the Vulcan crew were also killed. The cause may have been pilot error; analysis of amateur cine film suggested the aircraft had flown over the airfield at 472–483 mph (759.6–777.3 km/h) instead of the briefed 288–345 mph (463.5–555.2 km/h); it had also descended to a height of 65–70 ft (19.8–21.3 m) instead of 200–300 ft (61–91.4 m). Rolling the Vulcan to starboard while flying at this speed imposed a load or stress of 2-3 g; it should have remained below 1.25 g. The VX770 was a prototype with construction and materials not to production standard, which was the primary reason for imposing low flight performance limits.

  • On 24 October 1958, Vulcan B.1 XA908 of No. 83 Squadron
    No. 83 Squadron RAF
    No. 83 Squadron RAF was a Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force squadron active from 1917 until 1969. It was operative during both World War I and World War II.-Establishment and early service:...

     crashed into the residential neighborhood of Grosse Pointe Park
    Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan
    Grosse Pointe Park is a city in Wayne County in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 11,555 at the 2010 census. Bordering on Detroit with frontage on southern Lake Saint Clair, it is the westernmost of the noted Grosse Pointe suburbs, with the oldest overall housing stock of the five cities...

     on the East side of Detroit, Michigan
    Michigan
    Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

    , USA after a complete electrical systems failure. The failure occurred at around 30000 ft (9,144 m) and the backup system should have provided 20 minutes of emergency power to allow the aircraft to divert to Kellogg Airfield, at Battle Creek, Michigan
    Battle Creek, Michigan
    Battle Creek is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan, in northwest Calhoun County, at the confluence of the Kalamazoo and Battle Creek Rivers. It is the principal city of the Battle Creek, Michigan Metropolitan Statistical Area , which encompasses all of Calhoun county...

    , or one of several airports in the Detroit area. Due to a short circuit in the service busbar
    Busbar
    In electrical power distribution, a bus bar is a strip of copper or aluminium that conducts electricity within a switchboard, distribution board, substation or other electrical apparatus....

    , backup power only lasted three minutes before expiring and locking the aircraft controls. XA908 then went into a dive of between 60-70° before it crashed, leaving a 40-ft (13 m) crater in the ground, which was later excavated to 70 ft (21.3 m) deep in an unsuccessful attempt to find the cockpit of the aircraft. 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
    Lake Saint Clair (North America)
    Lake St. Clair is a fresh-water lake named after Clare of Assisi that lies between the Province of Ontario and the State of Michigan, and its midline also forms the boundary between Canada and the United States of America. Lake St. Clair includes the Anchor Bay along the Metro Detroit coastline...

    , but his body was not recovered until the following spring. Although property damage was extensive, there were no ground fatalities and only one person on the ground required hospitalization. The six bodies were buried at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Trenton, Michigan
    Trenton, Michigan
    Trenton is a small city in Wayne County in the southeast portion of the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 18,853...

    ; alongside the bodies of 11 RAF student pilots killed during the Second World War in training accidents at nearby Naval Air Station Grosse Ile
    Naval Air Station Grosse Ile
    Naval Air Station Grosse Ile was a Naval air station located on the southern tip of Grosse Ile, Michigan. It operated from 1927 until late 1969, and is now a township airport. During World War II NASGI was one of the largest primary flight training stations for Naval aviators, and RAF pilots...

    .

  • On 24 July 1959, Vulcan B.1 XA891 crashed due to an electrical failure during an engine test. The aircraft commander was Avro Chief Test Pilot Jimmy Harrison. Shortly after take-off the crew observed generator warning lights and loss of busbar voltage. The aircraft commander climbed XA891 to 14000 ft (4,267.2 m) 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. The aircraft crashed near Kingston upon Hull
    Kingston upon Hull
    Kingston upon Hull , usually referred to as Hull, is a city and unitary authority area in the ceremonial county of the East Riding of Yorkshire, England. It stands on the River Hull at its junction with the Humber estuary, 25 miles inland from the North Sea. Hull has a resident population of...

    .

  • On 16 September 1960, Vulcan B.2 XH557 wrecked the appropriately named "Runway Garage" at Filton. XH557 had been allocated to Bristol Siddeley Engines to test the Olympus 301 engine and was being delivered to Filton. Approaching in poor weather conditions, the aircraft touched down half way along the runway. The braking parachute was streamed but realising the aircraft would not stop in time, the captain opened the throttles to go round. A street light on the A38 was struck as the aircraft climbed away, leaving a scene of chaos behind it. The Runway Garage took the full force of the blast: four petrol pumps were blown flat; a street light lay across the road; railings were blown over; and cars had their windscreens shattered. The aircraft diverted to St. Mawgan and was flown back to Filton some days later.

  • On 12 December 1963, Vulcan B.1A XH477 of No. 50 Squadron
    No. 50 Squadron RAF
    No. 50 Squadron was a squadron of the Royal Air Force. It was formed during the First World War as a home defence fighter squadron, and operated as a bomber squadron during the Second World War and the Cold War. It disbanded for the last time in 1984....

     crashed in Scotland during an exercise at low level (not less than 1000 ft (304.8 m) above ground.) XH477 had struck the ground while climbing slightly, and it was assumed it crashed due to poor visibility.

  • On 11 May 1964, Vulcan B.2 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 2500 ft (762 m) 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.

  • On 16 July 1964, Vulcan B.1A XA909 crashed in Anglesey
    Anglesey
    Anglesey , also known by its Welsh name Ynys Môn , is an island and, as Isle of Anglesey, a county off the north west coast of Wales...

     after a midair explosion caused both No. 3 and No. 4 engines to be shut 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.

  • On 7 October 1964, Vulcan B.2 XM601 crashed during overshoot from an asymmetric power practice approach at Coningsby. The copilot had executed the asymmetric power approach with two engines producing thrust and two at idle. He was being checked by the Squadron Commander, who was unfamiliar with the aircraft. When he commenced the overshoot the copilot moved all the throttles to full power. The engines that had been producing power reached full power more quickly than the engines at idle and the resultant asymmetric thrust exceeded the available rudder authority, causing the aircraft to spin and crash. All the crew perished.

  • On 25 May 1965, Vulcan B.2 XM576 crash-landed at Scampton
    Scampton
    Scampton is a village and civil parish in the West Lindsey district of Lincolnshire, England. Included in the parish is RAF Scampton. It is north of Lincoln just off the A15...

    , causing it be written off within a year of delivery.

  • On 11 February 1966, Vulcan B.2 XH536 of the Cottesmore Wing
    RAF Cottesmore
    RAF Cottesmore was a Royal Air Force station in Rutland, England, situated between Cottesmore and Market Overton. The station housed all the operational Harrier GR9 squadrons in the Royal Air Force, and No 122 Expeditionary Air Wing...

     crashed in the Brecon Beacons
    Brecon Beacons
    The Brecon Beacons is a mountain range in South Wales. In a narrow sense, the name refers to the range of popular peaks south of Brecon, including South Wales' highest mountain, Pen y Fan, and which together form the central section of the Brecon Beacons National Park...

     during a low level exercise. The aircraft struck the ground at 1910 ft (582.2 m) near the summit of Fan Bwlch Chwyth
    Fan Bwlch Chwyth
    Fan Bwlch Chwyth is a peak in the Fforest Fawr section of the Brecon Beacons National Park and within the county of Powys.Its summit at 603m is marked by a trig point at OS grid ref SN 912217. - Geology :...

     1978 ft (602.9 m), 20 mi (32.2 km) northeast of Swansea
    Swansea
    Swansea is a coastal city and county in Wales. Swansea is in the historic county boundaries of Glamorgan. Situated on the sandy South West Wales coast, the county area includes the Gower Peninsula and the Lliw uplands...

    . All crew members died. Hilltops at the time were snow-covered and cloud extended down to 1400 ft (426.7 m).

  • On 6 April 1967, Vulcan B.2 XL385 burnt out on the runway at RAF Scampton at the beginning of its take-off run. The aircraft was carrying a Blue Steel missile training round. All the crew, including an ATC cadet, escaped unhurt. The aircraft was engulfed in flames and totally destroyed. The accident was caused by failure of an Olympus 301 HP turbine disc as the engine reached full power.

  • On 30 January 1968, Vulcan B.2 XM604 crashed following a loss of control during an overshoot at RAF Cottesmore
    RAF Cottesmore
    RAF Cottesmore was a Royal Air Force station in Rutland, England, situated between Cottesmore and Market Overton. The station housed all the operational Harrier GR9 squadrons in the Royal Air Force, and No 122 Expeditionary Air Wing...

    . The rear crew members were killed though both pilots ejected. The captain ejected at a very late stage and only survived because his deploying parachute was snagged by some power cables. The accident was caused by failure of an Olympus 301 LP turbine disc after the aircraft had returned to the airfield following indications of a bomb-bay overheat.

  • On 7 January 1971, Vulcan B.2 XM610 of No.44 Squadron
    No. 44 Squadron RAF
    No. 44 Squadron of the Royal Air Force is no longer operational. For most of its history it served as a heavy bomber squadron.-History:...

     crashed after fatigue failure of a blade in the 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
    Wingate, County Durham
    Wingate is a village in County Durham, EnglandWingate is a former pit village with a mixture of 19th-century, post-war, and more recent housing developments, it was originally enhabited by around 30 farmers before 1839 when coal was discovered. It is located in the East of County Durham, three...

    .

  • On 14 October 1975, Vulcan B.2 XM645 of No.9 Squadron lost its left undercarriage and damaged the airframe when it undershot the runway at RAF Luqa
    RAF Luqa
    Royal Air Force Luqa was a flying station and location of RAF Mediterranean Command headquarters of the Royal Air Force on the island of Malta during World War II...

     in Malta
    Malta
    Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, with Gibraltar to the west and Alexandria to the east.Malta covers just over in...

    . After a runway had been covered with fire prevention foam, the aircraft was turning inbound for a landing when it broke up over the village of Żabbar
    Zabbar
    Ħaż-Żabbar is the fourth largest town in Malta, with a population of 17,030 . Originally a part of Żejtun, Ħaż-Żabbar was granted the title of Città Hompesch by the last of the Grandmasters of the Knights of St...

    . The pilot and co-pilot escaped, using their ejection seats, but the other five crew members were killed. Large pieces of the aircraft fell on the village. One woman (Vincenza Zammit), was hit by an electric cable and killed. Some 20 others were injured.

  • On 17 January 1977, Vulcan B.2 XM600 of No. 101 Squadron crashed in open country near the town of Spilsby in Lincolnshire. The Vulcan was returning to Waddington, carrying out a practice emergency descent which included the deployment of the RAT. During the descent, the bomb bay fire warning light flashed on followed by No.2 engine fire warning light. The captain shut the engine down and the AEO reported flames coming from the area of No.2 engine, four ft behind the RAT. Because the fire was getting worse, the captain ordered the aircraft to be abandoned. The three rear crew members escaped out of the entrance door by 6000 ft (1,828.8 m). After ordering the co-pilot to eject, the captain ejected at around 3000 ft (914.4 m), as control was lost. The cause of the accident was due to arcing on the electrical terminals of the RAT, burning a hole in an adjacent fuel pipe and setting the fuel on fire.

  • On 12 August 1978, Vulcan B.2 XL390 of No. 617 Squadron
    No. 617 Squadron RAF
    No. 617 Squadron is a Royal Air Force aircraft squadron based at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland. It currently operates the Tornado GR4 in the ground attack and reconnaissance role...

     crashed during an air display at Naval Air Station Glenview, Illinois
    Illinois
    Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

     in the United States. The crew had been authorised to carry out a display at Chicago Lakeside airport
    Meigs Field
    Merrill C. Meigs Field Airport , was a single strip airport that operated from December 1948 until March 2003. It was built on Northerly Island, the man-made peninsula that was also the site of the 1933–1934 Century of Progress in Chicago....

     but the captain elected to carry out an unauthorised display at Glenview before departing for Lakeside. After a low-level run, probably below 100 ft (30.5 m), the aircraft was pulled up for a teardrop turn which was not properly executed and the aircraft crashed killing all on board.

Aircraft on display

  • XJ823 Vulcan B.2 – Solway Aviation Museum, Carlisle, Cumbria, England.
  • XJ824 Vulcan B.2 – Imperial War Museum
    Imperial War Museum
    Imperial War Museum is a British national museum organisation with branches at five locations in England, three of which are in London. The museum was founded during the First World War in 1917 and intended as a record of the war effort and sacrifice of Britain and her Empire...

    , Duxford Aerodrome
    Duxford Aerodrome
    Duxford Aerodrome is located south of Cambridge, within the Parish of Duxford, Cambridgeshire, England and nearly west of the village.The airfield is owned jointly by the Imperial War Museum and Cambridgeshire County Council and it is the site of the Imperial War Museum Duxford and the American...

    , England.
  • XL318 Vulcan B.2 – Royal Air Force Museum London, Hendon, England.
  • XL319 Vulcan B.2 – North East Aircraft Museum
    North East Aircraft Museum
    The North East Aircraft Museum is a volunteer-run aviation museum situated on the site of the former RAF Usworth/Sunderland Airport, between Washington and Sunderland, England. The museum has the largest aviation collection between Yorkshire and Scotland and houses over 30 aircraft and a wide...

    , Sunderland, England.
  • XL360 Vulcan B.2 – Midland Air Museum
    Midland Air Museum
    The Midland Air Museum is situated just outside the village of Baginton in Warwickshire, England, and is adjacent to Coventry Airport. The museum includes the Sir Frank Whittle Jet Heritage Centre , where many exhibits are on display in a large hangar...

    , Coventry
    Coventry
    Coventry is a city and metropolitan borough in the county of West Midlands in England. Coventry is the 9th largest city in England and the 11th largest in the United Kingdom. It is also the second largest city in the English Midlands, after Birmingham, with a population of 300,848, although...

    , England.
  • XL361 Vulcan B.2 – CFB Goose Bay
    CFB Goose Bay
    Canadian Forces Base Goose Bay , is a Canadian Forces Base located in the town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador....

     (Happy Valley), Labrador, Canada
  • XL426 Vulcan B.2 (G-VJET) preserved in taxiable condition at Southend Airport, England.
  • XM573 Vulcan B.2 – Strategic Air and Space Museum
    Strategic Air and Space Museum
    The Strategic Air and Space Museum is a museum focusing on United States Air Force military aircraft and nuclear missiles located near Ashland, Nebraska, along Interstate 80 southwest of Omaha, Nebraska. The objective of the museum is to preserve and display historic aircraft, missile, and space...

     – relocated from Offutt AFB to a site near Ashland, Nebraska
    Ashland, Nebraska
    Ashland is a city in Saunders County, Nebraska, United States. The population was 2,262 at the 2000 census.- History :Ashland is located at the site of a low-water limestone ledge along the bottom of Salt Creek, an otherwise mud-bottomed stream that was a formidable obstacle for wagon trains on the...

    , United States.
  • XM575 Vulcan B.2 – East Midlands Airport Aeropark, England.
  • XM594 Vulcan B.2 – Newark Air Museum
    Newark Air Museum
    right|thumb|200px|[[Handley Page Hastings]] T5 TG517 at the Newark Air Museum.Newark Air Museum is an air museum located on a former Royal Air Force station at Winthorpe, near Newark on Trent in Nottinghamshire, England. The museum contains a variety of aircraft...

    , Newark-on-Trent
    Newark-on-Trent
    Newark-on-Trent is a market town in Nottinghamshire in the East Midlands region of England. It stands on the River Trent, the A1 , and the East Coast Main Line railway. The origins of the town are possibly Roman as it lies on an important Roman road, the Fosse Way...

    , England.
  • XM597 Vulcan B.2 – National Museum of Flight, East Fortune, Scotland.
  • XM598 Vulcan B.2 – Royal Air Force Museum Cosford
    Royal Air Force Museum Cosford
    The Royal Air Force Museum Cosford is a museum dedicated to the history of aviation, and the Royal Air Force in particular. The museum is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and a registered charity...

    , Cosford, England.
  • XM603 Vulcan B.2 – Woodford Aerodrome, some parts removed for support of XH558, XM655 and XL426.
  • XM605 Vulcan B.2 – Castle Air Museum
    Castle Air Museum
    Castle Air Museum is a military aviation museum located in Atwater, California, United States adjacent to the site of the former Castle Air Force Base...

     (former Castle AFB), Atwater, California
    Atwater, California
    Atwater is a city on U.S. Route 99 in Merced County, California, United States. Atwater is west-northwest of Merced, at an elevation of 151 feet . The population as of the 2010 census was 28,168.-Geography:...

    , United States.
  • XM606 Vulcan B.2 – Barksdale AFB, United States.
  • XM607 Vulcan B.2 – RAF Waddington
    RAF Waddington
    RAF Waddington is a Royal Air Force station in Lincolnshire, England.-Formation:Waddington opened as a Royal Flying Corps flying training station in 1916 until 1920, when the station went into care and maintenance....

    , England.
  • XM612 Vulcan B.2 – City of Norwich Aviation Museum
    City of Norwich Aviation Museum
    The City of Norwich Aviation Museum is a volunteer run museum and charitable trust dedicated to the preservation of the aviation history of the county of Norfolk, England. The museum is located on the northern edge of Norwich International Airport and is reached by road through the village of...

    , Norwich
    Norwich
    Norwich is a city in England. It is the regional administrative centre and county town of Norfolk. During the 11th century, Norwich was the largest city in England after London, and one of the most important places in the kingdom...

    , England.
  • XM655
    Avro Vulcan XM655
    Avro Vulcan XM655 is one of two remaining taxiable Avro Vulcans. XM655 is currently owned and maintained by the 655 Maintenance & Preservation Society who keep the plane in a taxiable condition.-History:...

    Vulcan B.2 (G-VULC) preserved in taxiable condition at Wellesbourne Mountford Airfield
    Wellesbourne Mountford Airfield
    Wellesbourne Mountford Airfield is located in Wellesbourne, Warwickshire, England, east of Stratford-on-Avon.It was formerly RAF Wellesbourne Mountford Royal Air Force station, operational from 1941 to 1964...

    , England.

XH558

The last airworthy Vulcan (XH558) has been restored to flying condition by the "Vulcan to the Sky Trust" after years of effort and fundraising. The first post-restoration flight, which lasted 34 minutes, took place on 18 October 2007.

Being the sole airworthy Vulcan, the aircraft's airworthiness status was in peril as maintenance funding was in need before the end of February, 2010. At the last moment an anonymous benefactor presented £458,000 to the foundation, ensuring its airworthiness for both its 50th birthday and the prospect of a flight performance for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games
2012 Summer Olympics
The 2012 Summer Olympic Games, officially known as the "London 2012 Olympic Games", are scheduled to take place in London, England, United Kingdom from 27 July to 12 August 2012...

 opening ceremony in London. It is currently based at Doncaster Robin Hood Airport
Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield
Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield is an international airport located at the former RAF Finningley airbase at Finningley, in the Metropolitan Borough of Doncaster within South Yorkshire, England. The airport lies southeast of Doncaster and east of Sheffield.The airport is operated by Peel...

.

Specifications (Vulcan B.1)

Comparison of variants

B.1 B.1A B.2 B.2 (MRR) K.2
Citation (Except
where annotated)
Pilot's Notes AP 4505-C PN Aircrew Manual AP 101B-1902-15
Wingspan 99 in 5 in (30.3 m) 111 in 0 in (33.83 m)
Length 97 in 1 in (29.59 m) 105 in 6 in (32.16 m) [99 in 11 in (30.45 m) without probe]
Height 26 in 6 in (8.08 m) 27 in 1 in (8.26 m)
Wing area 3554 sq ft (330.2 m²) 3964 sq ft (368.3 m²)
Maximum takeoff weight 167000 lb (75,749.9 kg)
185000 lb (83,914.6 kg) (operational necessity)
204000 lb (92,532.8 kg)
Cruising speed Mach .86 indicated
Machmeter
A Machmeter is an aircraft pitot-static system flight instrument thatshows the ratio of the true airspeed to the speed of sound,a dimensionless quantity called Mach number...

Maximum speed Mach .95 indicated Mach .93 indicated
(Mach .92 with 301 engines)
Mach .93
indicated
Unknown
Service ceiling 55000 ft (16,764 m) 45000 ft (13,716 m) to 56000 ft (17,068.8 m)Depended upon oxygen equipment fitted. No airframe limitation on height.
Electrical system 112V DC
Direct current
Direct current is the unidirectional flow of electric charge. Direct current is produced by such sources as batteries, thermocouples, solar cells, and commutator-type electric machines of the dynamo type. Direct current may flow in a conductor such as a wire, but can also flow through...

200V AC
Alternating current
In alternating current the movement of electric charge periodically reverses direction. In direct current , the flow of electric charge is only in one direction....

 3-phase
Three-phase electric power
Three-phase electric power is a common method of alternating-current electric power generation, transmission, and distribution. It is a type of polyphase system and is the most common method used by grids worldwide to transfer power. It is also used to power large motors and other heavy loads...

 400 Hz
Hertz
The hertz is the SI unit of frequency defined as the number of cycles per second of a periodic phenomenon. One of its most common uses is the description of the sine wave, particularly those used in radio and audio applications....

Emergency electrical
system
Battery Ram air turbine
Ram air turbine
A ram air turbine is a small turbine that is connected to a hydraulic pump, or electrical generator, installed in an aircraft and used as a power source...

 and Airborne Auxiliary Power Plant
Auxiliary power unit
An auxiliary power unit is a device on a vehicle that provides energy for functions other than propulsion. They are commonly found on large aircraft, as well as some large land vehicles.-Function:...

Engines 4 × Bristol
Olympus 101, 102 or 104
4 × Bristol
Olympus 104
4 × Bristol Siddeley
Olympus 200-series, 301
4 × Bristol Siddeley
Olympus 200-series
Fuel capacity (main) 9,280 gal (74,240 lb avtur
Jet fuel
Jet fuel is a type of aviation fuel designed for use in aircraft powered by gas-turbine engines. It is clear to straw-colored in appearance. The most commonly used fuels for commercial aviation are Jet A and Jet A-1 which are produced to a standardized international specification...

)At specific gravity of .8 (8lb/gal).
9,260 gal (74,080 lb avtur)
Fuel capacity (bomb bay) None 0-1990 gal (15,920 lb avtur) 1990 gal2 x 995 gal cylindrical tanks.
(15,920 lb avtur)
2985 gal3 x 995 gal cylindrical tanks.
(23,880 lb avtur)
Powered flying controls 1 x rudder (duplex), 4 x elevators, 4 x ailerons 1 x rudder (duplex), 8 x elevons
Armament 1 × free-fall nuclear bomb
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

 or
21 × 1000 lb (453.6 kg)
conventional bombs
1 × Blue Steel
Blue Steel missile
The Avro Blue Steel was a British air-launched, rocket-propelled nuclear stand-off missile, built to arm the V bomber force. It was the primary British nuclear deterrent weapon until the Royal Navy started operating Polaris missile armed nuclear submarines....

 missile or
1 × free-fall nuclear bomb
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

 or
21 × 1000 lb (453.6 kg)
conventional bombs
None

Notes

See also

Further Reading

  • Arnold, Lorna. Britain And The H-Bomb. Basingstoke, Hampshire, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2001. ISBN 0-333-94742-8.
  • Bullman, Craig. The Vulcan B.Mk2 From a Different Angle. Bishop Auckland, UK: Pentland Press Ltd, 2001. ISBN 978-1858218991.
  • Chesnau, Roger and Ray Rimell. Avro Vulcan B Mk 2 (Aeroguide 29). Ringshall, Suffolk, UK: Ad Hoc Publications, 2003. ISBN 0-946958-39-4.
  • Dodds, Colin. "Flying the Tin Triangle." Aeroplane, Vol. 35, No. 4, Issue No. 408, April 2007.
  • Holmes, Harry. Avro: The History of an Aircraft Company. Wiltshire, UK: Crowood Press, 2004. ISBN 1-86126-651-0.
  • McLelland, Tim. The Avro Vulcan: A Complete History. Manchester, UK: Crécy Publishing Limited, 2007. ISBN 978-0-85979-127-4.
  • Moir, Ian and Allan Seabridge. Aircraft Systems: Mechanical, Electrical, and Avionics Subsystems Integration. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons, 2008. ISBN 0-470-05996-6.


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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