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Vulcan
A Vulcan B.2 of the RAF
Role Strategic bomber
National origin United Kingdom
Manufacturer Avro
First flight 30 August 1952
Introduction 1956
Retired March 1984
Status Retired from service
Primary user Royal Air Force
Produced 1956–1965
Number built 136 (including prototypes)

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

Contents

Design and development

Design work began at A. V. Roe in 1947 under Roy Chadwick. The Air Ministry specification B.35/46 required a bomber with a top speed of 575 mph (925 km/h), an operating ceiling of 50,000 ft (15,000 m), a range of 3,452 miles (5,556 km) and a bomb load of 10,000 lb (4,500 kg); intended to carry out delivery of Britain's nuclear-armed gravity bombs to strategic targets within Soviet territory (east of the Ural mountains). Design work also began at Vickers and Handley Page. All three designs were approved – aircraft that would become the Valiant, the Victor, and the Avro Vulcan.

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

The prototype Vulcans (VX777 front, VX770 rear) with four Avro 707s at Farnborough in September 1953 showing the initial straight wing leading edges

As the delta wing was an unknown quantity Avro began scale prototype testing in 1948 with the single-seater Type 707 aircraft, and despite the crash of the first prototype on 30 September 1949 work continued. The first full-scale prototype Type 698 made its maiden flight (after Chadwick was killed in an unrelated aircrash) piloted by Roly Falk on 30 August 1952,[1] shortly before it appeared at the SBAC Farnborough Airshow. Since the Bristol Olympus (mod 01) engines were not ready the aircraft was launched with the Rolls-Royce Avon. These were replaced by Armstrong Siddeley Sapphires, before the Olympus engines were ready. The Vulcan name was not chosen until 1953, after the Valiant had already been named.

The two prototypes initially flew with a straight leading edge, which was subsequently modified to have a kink further out towards the wingtip. The Vulcan bomber in service was not fitted with pure delta wings; but the prototype models were the first jet bomber design to use a wing of that shape, which was modified in development to give the service machines better flying characteristics than a pure delta could supply.

Testing the vehicle was crude in those days. For example, recording the instrument readings involved filming the control panel and manually transcribing the results onto graph paper. As well, testing the brakes of the Vulcan included strapping the company photographer Paul Culerne to the front landing gear with the aircraft moving at full landing speed and photographing the brakes in operation.[2]

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

Vulcan B.1 XA890 in early silver scheme landing at Farnborough in September 1955 after Roly Falk's "aerobatic" display

Avro test pilot, Wing Commander (retired) Roly Falk, demonstrated the aircraft's high performance in the second production Vulcan, XA890, by performing an upward barrel-roll immediately after takeoff at the 1955 SBAC Farnborough Airshow.[3] The roll was performed while gently climbing so that positive g was maintained and stresses reduced.

The Vulcan normally operated with a crew of five: two pilots, two navigators and an Air Electronics Operator (AEO), with the AEO responsible for all electrical equipment in a role similar to that of flight engineer on earlier propeller aircraft. Only the pilot and co-pilot were provided with ejection seats. The fact that the "rear crew" were not provided ejection seats has been the basis of significant criticism;[4] there were several instances of the pilot and co-pilot ejecting in an emergency and the "rear crew" being killed because there was not time for them to bail out.

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

The Vulcan used entirely powered control surfaces; this combined with the relatively small space for the flight crew meant that a fighter-like stick could be used instead of a control wheel, with the added benefit that ejection could be quicker in an emergency.

This system provided a synthetic controls “feel”. The aircraft independently sensed its speed, attitude, and altitude. It then fed back to the pilot flying, a proportional resistance to his control inputs (i.e., rudder, elevons/elevators), based upon the aircraft's dynamic flight configuration; as opposed to merely boosting the pilot flying’s applied force to move the control surfaces.

In this way the pilot not only was able to control the aircraft; but he was prevented from using the power-boosted control surfaces in such a manner that would structurally damage the flight control surfaces, or the aircraft structure, depending upon the flight configuration of the vehicle.

As an example, the powered controls system prevented the pilot from configuring the elevons (by raising or lowering them to any specified angle to the wing trailing edge) to such an angle, that they would do damage to themselves or their wing trailing edge attachment points to the aircraft. While this control system did not, and could not prevent the pilot flying from “breaking” the aircraft through flight; it did inhibit departures from the design flight envelope using the control surfaces alone, to depart from the designed flight regime.

Power was 110 volts DC electrical supplied from generators on each engine. Backup was from a set of batteries in series to supply the voltage if generators failed. These had little capacity in event of a power loss, so the system was revised for the Mark 2 to use a Ram Air Turbine (RAT) that would operate at higher altitude and an Airborne Auxiliary Power Unit (AAPU) which could be started once the aircraft had reached a lower altitude of 30,000 ft (9,100 m) or less. At the same time the power system was changed to 115 volts, 3 phase at 400 Hz AC from constant frequency generators.

Aerial view of a Vulcan B.2 in late RAF markings on static display at RAF Mildenhall

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

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

Operational history

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

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

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

Vulcans frequently visited the United States during the 1960s and 1970s to participate in air shows and static displays, as well as to participate in the Strategic Air Command's Annual Bombing and Navigation Competition at such locations as Barksdale AFB, Louisiana and the former McCoy AFB, Florida, with the RAF crews representing Bomber Command and later Strike Command. Vulcans also took part in the 1960, 1961, and 1962 Operation Skyshield 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. The results of the tests were classified until 1997.[5]

A total of 134 production Vulcans were manufactured (45 B.1 and 89 B.2), the last being delivered to the RAF in January 1965.

Nuclear deterrent

As part of Britain's independent nuclear deterrent, the Vulcan initially carried Britain's first nuclear weapon, the Blue Danube gravity bomb. Blue Danube was a low-kiloton yield fission bomb designed before the United States detonated the first hydrogen bomb. The British then embarked on their own hydrogen bomb programme, and to bridge the gap until these were ready the V-bombers were equipped with an Interim Megaton Weapon based on the Blue Danube casing and Green Grass, a large pure-fission warhead of 400 kt (1.7 PJ) yield. This bomb was known as Violet Club. Only five were deployed before a better weapon was introduced as Yellow Sun Mk.1.

A later model, Yellow Sun Mk 2 was fitted with Red Snow, a British-built variant of the U.S. Mk-28 warhead. Yellow Sun Mk 2 was the first British thermonuclear weapon to be deployed, and was carried on both the Vulcan and Handley Page Victor. Only the Valiant carried U.S. thermonuclear bombs assigned to NATO under the dual-key arrangements. Red Beard (a smaller, lighter low-kiloton yield) bomb was pre-positioned in Cyprus and Singapore for use by Vulcan and Victor bombers, and from 1962, 26 Vulcan B2As and the Victor bombers were armed with the Blue Steel missile, a rocket-powered stand-off bomb, which was also armed with the 1.1 Mt (4.6 PJ) yield Red Snow warhead.

It was intended to equip the Vulcan with the American Skybolt Air Launched Ballistic Missile to replace the Blue Steel, with Vulcan B.2s carrying two Skybolts under the wings – the last 28 B.2s being modified on the production line to fit pylons to carry the Skybolt.[6] It was also proposed to build a stretched version of the Vulcan, with increased wing span to carry up to six Skybolts.[7] When the Skybolt missile system was cancelled by U.S. President John F. Kennedy on the recommendation of his Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara in 1962, Blue Steel was retained. To supplement it until the Royal Navy took on the deterrent role with Polaris submarines, the Vulcan bombers adopted a high-low-high mission profile using a rapidly introduced parachute-retarded "laydown" bomb; WE.177B. After the British Polaris submarines became operational, and Blue Steel was taken out of service in 1970, WE.177B continued in use on the Vulcan in a low-level tactical strike role in support of European NATO ground forces. It outlived the Vulcan bombers, being used also on Buccaneer, Tornado, and Jaguar until retirement in 1998.

Conventional role

Avro Vulcan from Operation Black Buck at the National Museum of Flight, showing mission markings

Although the primary weapon for the Vulcan was nuclear, Vulcans could carry up to 21 1,000 lb (454 kg) bombs in a secondary role. The only combat missions involving the Vulcan took place in the 1982 Falklands War with Argentina, when Vulcans, in the Black Buck operations flew the 3,889 mi (6,259 km) from Ascension Island to Stanley.[8][9] There were three missions to bomb the airfield at Stanley, two to attack Argentine radar installations with missiles, and two missions were cancelled.

Victor aircraft were used for air-to-air refuelling in a complex scheme and approximately 1.1 million gal (5 million L) of jet fuel were used in each mission.[9]

Five Vulcans were selected for the operation; their bomb bays were modified, the flight refuelling system that had long been out of use was re-instated, the electronics updated, and wing pylons designed, manufactured, and fitted to carry an ECM pod and Shrike anti-radar missiles where the Skybolt hardpoints remained in the wings. The engineering work began on 9 April 1982 with the first mission on 30 April–1 May. At the time, these missions held the record for the world's longest-distance raids.[10]

Royal Air Force Avro Vulcan B.2

Maritime radar reconnaissance

On 1 November 1973 the first of nine B.2 (MRR) aircraft was delivered to No. 27 Sqn at RAF Scampton, reformed for its main role of maritime radar reconnaissance. The main external visual difference was gloss paint and the lack of the Terrain Following Radar (TFR) "thimble" below the air-to-air refuelling probe. The gloss finish, with a light grey undersurface, was due to the secondary role of air sampling. As both roles were high altitude, the TFR system was removed.

Only five of the B.2(MRR)s were capable of air sampling, and these aircraft were distinguished by the additional hardpoints outside the Skybolt points. Some additional points carried modified Sea Vixen drop tanks with the nose section replaced by a larger-diameter nose. Another external, but much smaller, piece of equipment was carried just outboard of the port undercarriage main door.

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

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

Aerial refuelling role

After the end of the Falklands War, the Vulcan was due to be withdrawn from RAF service. However, the Falklands campaign had consumed much of the airframe fatigue life of the RAF's Victor Tankers, and had also caused considerable backlogs in their Routine Servicing. While VC10K Tankers were on order to replace the Victor Tankers, and TriStar Tankers would be ordered as a result of lessons learned from the conflict, it would be some time before either of these would reach a full Operational Capability. As a stop-gap measure it was decided to convert 6 Vulcan B2's to Tanker configuration, while the engineering problems in the Victor fleet were addressed. The Vulcan Tanker conversion was accomplished by removing the Jammers from the ECM bay in the tail of the ac, and replacing them with a single Hose Drum Unit (HDU) as fitted in the Bomb Bay of the Victor. As the HDU extended below the fuselage, a fairing was built with an electrically operated door on front to allow air in to deploy the hose. The controls for the HDU were placed at the Nav Radars station. The go-ahead for converting the six ac was given on Tuesday 4 May 1982[11] and quickly detail manufacture was undertaken at both Woodford and Chadderton, with help from BAe Warton Division and Flight Refuelling Limited, who helped with redesign of the HDU to make it fit into the Vulcan. The pilots for the development flying were provided by BAe Woodford, and the three rear crew by 50 Sqn.[11] Astonishingly, the first Vulcan Tanker was delivered just fifty days after they were first ordered, and on Wednesday 23 June, the first Vulcan Air Tanker XH561 was delivered to RAF Waddington.[11] These Vulcans were then commissioned into service with 50 Squadron from 1982 to 1984. The additional fuel load in the Vulcan K.2 Air Tanker was carried in three standard Vulcan long-range tanks, which were fitted in the bomb bay.[12] This gave a total fuel capacity of 100,000 lb (45,000 kg).[12] No 50 Sqn continued as a multi-role Sqn equipped with 6 B2K's and 4 B2's. The Squadrons principal role was the provision of AAR for the Air Defence of the UK, but also carried out Maritime Radar Recce (MRR) and the Air Sampling Role. The Squadron also had a large number of Display Crews who were kept busy during the last 2 years of the Vulcan's service. Elements from these crews formed the first Vulcan Display Team when the Vulcan was withdrawn from Operational Service in 1984.

Engine test beds

The first Vulcan to serve as an engine test bed was the first prototype, VX770, powered by four 15,000 lbf (67 kN) Rolls-Royce Conway R.Co.7.[13] It flew with these engines, the first turbofans, in 1957–8 until its fatal crash. Its place was taken by Vulcan B.1 XA902, which was powered by the R.Co.11 variant. In 1961 the two inner Conways were replaced with Rolls-Royce Speys, flying for the first time on 12 October 1961.[14]

XA894 flew with five Olympus engines, the standard four plus an underbelly supersonic Olympus 320 fed from a bifurcated intake starting just aft of the wing leading edge and inboard of the main intakes, in a mock-up of the TSR2 installation. This aircraft was burned out on the ground on 3 December 1962.[14] Another five Olympus Vulcan was B.1 XA903. The test engine was a 35,080 lbf (156.0 kN) Olympus 593, the type used on the Concorde, mounted underbelly in a mockup of a single Concorde nacelle. The first flight was on 1 October 1966 and testing continued through to June 1971.[15]

In April 1973 XA903 flew with an underbelly Rolls-Royce RB.199 turbofan destined for the Panavia Tornado. It was mounted in what was essentially one side of a Tornado, including reheat and thrust reverser.[16]

Prototypes

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

B.1
The initial production aircraft, with the straight wing leading edge, with wide undercarriage track and four overwing airbrakes. Early examples finished in silver, later changed to "anti-flash" white.
B.1A
The B.1 with an Electronic Countermeasures (ECM) system in a new larger tail cone
B.2
Developed version of the B.1. Larger, thinner wing than the B.1 and fitted with Olympus 201 or 301 engines. Terrain-following radar in nosecone and passive radar warning in tail fin giving it a square top from mid-1970s. Uprated electrics with Airborne Auxiliary Power Unit and emergency Ram Turbine generator. Smiths Military Flight System (MFS). Originally white "anti-flash" finish, from late 1970s dark all-over camouflage finish.
B.2A
Also known as B.2BS. B.2 with Olympus 301 engines to carry Blue Steel in recessed bomb doors. A & E bomb bay tanks only. After the withdrawal of Blue Steel converted back to B.2.
B.2 (MRR)
Nine B.2 converted to Maritime Radar Reconnaissance. Given high gloss protective paint to protect against sea spray effects. No Terrain Following Radar (TFR) but given LORAN navigation aid. Five aircraft further modified for Air Sampling Role taking over from Handley Page Victor SR 2 of No. 543 Squadron RAF. Retained gloss finish with light grey underside when B 2 given matt all-surface camouflage.
K.2
Six B.2 converted for air-to-air refuelling with Mark 17 hose drum below tail cone. ECM removed. Could be fitted with three bomb-bay drum tanks (for self-use or tanking).

Operators

The Vulcan to the Sky Trust's Avro Vulcan XH558
 United Kingdom

Accidents and incidents

  • On 1 October 1956 Vulcan B1 XA897 crashed at London Heathrow Airport after an approach in bad weather, striking the ground 700 yd (640 m) short of the runway just as engine power was applied.[26] 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.[26] After the initial impact the aircraft rose back in the air.[26] The pilot, Squadron Leader D. R. Howard, and co-pilot Air Marshal Sir Harry Broadhurst both ejected. The aircraft then hit the ground and broke up.[26] Howard and Broadhurst survived but the other four occupants including Howard’s usual co-pilot were killed.[27] XA897 was the first Vulcan to be delivered to the RAF. AOC-in-C Bomber Command, Air Marshal Broadhurst, had taken the aircraft with a full Vulcan crew of four and an Avro technician on a round-the-world tour. At the conclusion of the tour, Broadhurst was to land at Heathrow Airport in front of the assembled aviation media. RAF aircraft were not equipped to use the Instrument Landing System installed at Heathrow and other civil airports so a Ground Controlled Approach (GCA) was carried out.[26]
  • In 1957 a Vulcan B1 (XA892) attached to the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment (A&AEE) at Boscombe Down for acceptance testing was unintentionally flown to an Indicated Mach Number (IMN) above 1.04, alarming the crew that it had reached supersonic speed. The aircraft commander, Flt Lt Milt Cottee (RAAF) and co-pilot Flt Lt Ray Bray (RAF) were tasked to fly with twenty-one dummy 1,000 lb (450 kg) bombs and, at 478 mph (769 km/h) and 0.98 IMN, to take the aircraft to a load factor of 3 g. The Vulcan was climbed to 35,000 ft (11,000 m) and then dived with the intention of reaching the target speed at 27,000 ft (8,200 m). Approaching the target altitude the Mach trimmer reached the limit of its authority and, even though the crew had closed the throttles and were applying full up-elevator, the aircraft continued to pitch nose-down, passing the vertical at 1.04 IMN. As it went beyond the vertical Flt Lt Cottee contemplated pushing forward to go inverted and then rolling upright. Instead he opened the speed brakes, even though the airspeed was above their maximum operating speed. The speed brakes were not damaged and succeeded in reducing the Mach number. The aircraft came back past the vertical at about 18,000 ft (5,500 m) and regained level flight at 8,000 ft (2,400 m). There was no report of a sonic boom in the vicinity so it is unlikely a True Mach Number of 1.0 was reached. (At Mach 1.0, the Vulcan had position error of about 0.07.) After the flight a rear bulkhead was found to be deformed.[28]
  • 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 Battle of Britain "At Home" display. The briefing was for the pilot to fly over the airfield twice at 200–300 ft (61–91 m), flying at a speed of 288–345 miles per hour (463–555 km/h). The Vulcan flew along the main 25/07 runway then started a roll to starboard and climbed slightly. Very shortly afterwards, a kink appeared in the starboard mainplane leading edge followed by a stripping of the leading edge of the wing. The starboard wingtip then broke followed by a collapse of the main spar and wing structure. Subsequently, the Vulcan went into a dive and began rolling with the starboard wing on fire and struck the ground at the taxiway of the end of runway 07. Three occupants of a controllers' caravan were killed by debris and a fourth was injured. All four of the Vulcan crew were killed. The cause of the crash was pilot error; the aircraft commander flew the aircraft over the airfield at 472–483 miles per hour (760–777 km/h) instead of the briefed 288–345 miles per hour (463–555 km/h) he had also descended to a height of 65-70 ft (approximately 20 m). Rolling the Vulcan to starboard while flying at this speed, the aircraft was rolled at a rate of 15–20°/sec while pulling up into a 3,000 ft (910 m)/min climb, imposing a strain of 2–3 g where it should have remained below 1.25 g. The VX770 was a prototype and was not as strong as later production models, indeed buckling of the leading edge in this plane was a known problem and was the primary reason for low flight performance limits being imposed.[29] Avro Chief Test Pilot Tony Blackman notes that when Avro display pilots carried out aerobatics it was followed by a careful, but little known, inspection of the inside of the wing leading edge. Blackman understands that Rolls-Royce pilots also carried out aerobatics but he speculates that Rolls-Royce knew nothing of the special inspections, and VX770 may well have been severely structurally damaged before it took off for the display at Syerston.[30][31]
  • On 24 October 1958, Vulcan B1 XA908 of No. 83 Squadron crashed in Detroit, Michigan, USA after a complete electrical systems failure. The failure occurred at around 30,000 ft (9,100 m) and the backup system should have provided 20 minutes of emergency power to allow the aircraft to divert to Kellogg Airfield. Due to a short circuit in the service busbar, backup power only lasted three minutes before expiring and locking the aircraft controls. XA908 then went into a dive of between 60-70° before it crashed, leaving a 70 ft (21 m) deep crater in the ground. All six crew members were killed, including the co-pilot, who had ejected. The co-pilot’s ejector seat was found in Lake St Clair but his body was never found.[32] It is thought he was the only member of the squadron who could not swim.[33] More detail information about the crash. These men are buried at Oak Ridge Cemetery, Brownstown Township, Michigan and are honored on the Sunday before Memorial Day by DownRiver Royal Canadian Legion Post 92.
  • On 24 July 1959, Vulcan B1 XA891 crashed due to an electrical failure during an engine test. The aircraft commander was Avro Chief Test Pilot Jimmy Harrison. [34] Shortly after take-off the crew observed generator warning lights and loss of busbar voltage. The aircraft commander climbed XA891 to 14,000 ft (4,300 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.[32] All the crew survived[33] making them the first complete crew to escape successfully from a Vulcan.[citation needed] The aircraft crashed near Hull.
  • On 12 December 1963, Vulcan B1A XH477 of No. 50 Squadron crashed in Scotland on an exercise at low level (not less than 1,000 ft (300 m) above ground.)[35] XH477 had struck the ground while climbing slightly. It was assumed XH477 crashed due to poor visibility.[36]
  • On 11 May 1964, Vulcan B2 XH535 crashed during a low speed demonstration. The test pilot was demonstrating a very low speed and high rate of descent when the aircraft began to spin. The landing parachute was deployed and the spin stopped briefly but the aircraft then began to spin again. At around 2,500 ft (760 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.[37]
  • On 16 July 1964, Vulcan B1A XA909 crashed in Anglesey after an explosion and Nos 3 and 4 engines were closed down. The explosion was caused by failure of a bearing in No. 4 engine. The starboard wing was extensively damaged, the pilot had insufficient aileron power, and both airspeed indications were highly inaccurate. The whole crew successfully abandoned XA909 and were found within a few minutes and rescued.[38]
  • On 7 October 1964, Vulcan B2 XM601 crashed during overshoot from an asymmetric power practice approach at Coningsby.[39] The copilot had executed the asymmetric power approach with two engines producing thrust and two at idle. He was being checked by the Sqn Cdr who was new to type. 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. Sqn Ldr Ron Dick, later Air Cdre, said it had happened to him once where the horizon passed rapidly across his field of view. The only recovery was to retard all 4 engines to idle and then increase them together.
  • On 11 February 1966, Vulcan B2 XH536 of the Cottesmore Wing crashed in the Brecon Beacons during a low level exercise. The aircraft struck the ground at 1,910 ft (580 m) near the summit of Fan Bwlch Chwyth 1,978 ft (603 m), 20 mi (32 km) NE of Swansea. All crew members died. Hilltops at the time were snow-covered and cloud extended down to 1,400 ft (430 m).[36]
  • On 6 April 1967, Avro Vulcan B2 XL385 burnt out on the runway at RAF Scampton during its take off run. It was enroute for Goose Bay. All crew survived. The accident was caused by failure of a compressor blade on the inner port engine. The aircraft was carrying a dummy Blue Steel missile. The fire was a difficult one for the fire crews to deal with as it involved a running fuel fire and high cross winds, subsequently, the aircraft was completely engulfed in flames and totally destroyed, the only surviving part was the nose of the aircraft.[40]
  • On 7 January 1971, Vulcan B2 XM610 of No.44 Squadron crashed after fatigue failure of a blade in No. 1 engine that damaged the fuel system and led to an engine fire. The crew abandoned the aircraft safely and the aircraft crashed harmlessly in Wingate.[41]
  • On 14 October 1975, Vulcan B2 XM645 of No.9 Squadron out of RAF Waddington lost its left undercarriage and damaged the airframe when it undershot the runway at Luqa airport in Malta. The pilot decided to do a circuit to crash land on runway 24 after it was covered with fire prevention foam. As the aircraft was turning inbound for the landing, it broke up in mid-air over the village of Zabbar, killing five of its seven crew members. Only the pilot and co-pilot escaped, using their ejection seats. Large pieces of the aircraft fell on the village. One woman (Vincenza Zammit, age 48), who was shopping in a street was hit by an electric cable and killed instantly. Some 20 others were injured.[42]

Survivors

Avro Vulcan XL361 on display at CFB Goose Bay in 1988
Avro Vulcan XM655 at Wellesbourne Mountford Airfield in 2008
Avro Vulcan XL319 on display at North East Aircraft Museum

Flying

Museum

Former survivors include
  • XA900 Vulcan B1 - Royal Air Force Museum Cosford, England. It was the last B1 intact and was used as an instructional airframe until 1966. Corrosion set in and it was scrapped in 1986.
  • XA903 Vulcan B1 - the last flying B1. Used as an engine test bed with Rolls Royce until 1979. With B2s up for retirement, no museum was interested. It was sent to Farnborough where it was scrapped between 1980 and 1984. The nose section survives.
  • XJ782 Vulcan B2 - RAF Finningley, England from 1982, scrapped in 1988.
  • XL391 Vulcan B2 - scrapped on site at Blackpool Airport, England. The aircraft decayed and was scrapped after its eBay-buyer did not collect it.
  • XM569 Vulcan B2 - Wales Aircraft Museum, Cardiff International Airport, Wales from 1983. Scrapped in 1996.
  • XM571 Vulcan B2 - RAF Gibraltar from 1983, scrapped in 1990.
  • XM602 Vulcan B2 - preserved at RAF St Athan, Wales from 1982, scrapped in 1983.
  • XM656 Vulcan B2 - preserved at RAF Cottesmore, England from 1982, scrapped in 1983.

Restoration to flight of Vulcan XH558

XH558 performs its first post-restoration public display on 5 July 2008

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. [46][47]

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 the 2012 Summer Olympic Games Opening Ceremony in London. [48]

Specifications

Specifications (Vulcan B.1)

Data from[citation needed]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 5 (pilot, co-pilot, AEO, Navigator Radar, Navigator Plotter)
  • Length: 97 ft 1 in (29.59 m)
  • Wingspan: 99 ft 5 in (30.3 m)
  • Height: 26 ft 6 in (8.0 m)
  • Wing area: 3554 ft² (330.2 m²)
  • Empty weight: 83,573 lb (including crew) (37,144 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 170,000 lb (77,111 kg)
  • Powerplant:Bristol Olympus 101, or 102 or 104 turbojet, 11,000 lbf (49 kN) each

Performance

Armament

Comparison of variants

B.1 B.1A B.2 B.2A (B.2BS) B.2(MRR) or (K)
Wingspan 99 ft 5 in (30.30 m) 111 ft 0 in (33.83 m)
Length 97 ft 1 in (29.59 m) 99 ft 11 in (30.45 m)[49] 105 ft 6 in (32.16 m) 99 ft 11 in (30.45 m) 99 ft 11 in (30.45 m)
Height 26 ft 6 in (8.08 m) 27 ft 1 in (8.25 m)
Wing area 3,554 ft² 3,964 ft²
Maximum takeoff weight. 190,000 lb (86,000 kg) 204,000 lb (93,000 kg)
Cruising speed Mach 0.86 (610 mph)
Maximum speed Mach 0.93 (632 mph) Mach 0.92 (625 mph)
Range 3,910 mi (3,400 nmi; 6,290 km) 4,600 mi (4,000 nmi; 7,400 km)
Service ceiling 50,000 ft (15,000 m) 56,000 ft (17,000 m)
Engines 4 × Bristol Siddeley
Olympus 101, 102 or 104
4 × Bristol Siddeley
Olympus 201, 202, 203
4 × Bristol Siddeley
Olympus 201, 202, 203 or 301
4 × Bristol Siddeley
Olympus 201, 202, 203
Fuel capacity (Avtur/Mains only) 9,250 Imp. Gal. 9,260 Imp. Gal.
Armament nuclear bomb armed with a thermonuclear warhead
or 21 × 1,000 lb (450 kg) bombs
1 × Blue Steel nuclear missile or nuclear bomb armed with a thermonuclear warhead
or 21 × 1,000 lb (450 kg) bombs
None

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

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

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

Notable appearances in media

See also

Comparable aircraft

Related lists

References

Notes

  1. ^ "Aircraft of the V-Force - Part 3 - The Avro Vulcan development". Royal Air Force History. Royal Air Force. http://www.raf.mod.uk/history_old/vforce3.html. Retrieved 2007-12-25. 
  2. ^ Vulcan history
  3. ^ Laming 2002, p. 48
  4. ^ The V-Bomber Ejector Seat Story, 18 May, http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A49097307, retrieved 27 July 2009 
  5. ^ Mola, Roger A. (November 2006). "The Day Nobody Flew". http://www.airspacemag.com/history-of-flight/FEATURE-Skyshield.html. Retrieved 2009-11-05. 
  6. ^ Laming 2002, p. 88
  7. ^ Laming 2002, p. 89.
  8. ^ Falklands Vulcan
  9. ^ a b Falklands
  10. ^ White 2006
  11. ^ a b c Halpenny, Bruce Barrymore. The Avro Vulcan Adventure - page 243
  12. ^ a b Halpenny, Bruce Barrymore. The Avro Vulcan Adventure - page 244
  13. ^ Jackson 1965, p. 409-11
  14. ^ a b Jackson 1965, p. 411
  15. ^ Flypast, June 2009, p. 111–3
  16. ^ Flypast, June 2009, p. 113
  17. ^ Jefford 1998, p 27
  18. ^ Jefford 1998, p 28
  19. ^ Jefford 1998, p 34
  20. ^ Jefford 1998, p 37
  21. ^ Jefford 1998, p 39
  22. ^ Jefford 1998, p 41
  23. ^ Jefford 1998, p 50
  24. ^ Jefford 1998,p 54
  25. ^ Jefford 1998, p 101
  26. ^ a b c d e Blackman, Tony. Vulcan Test Pilot. p.142
  27. ^ National Archives: Ref no. AIR 20/12396
  28. ^ Blackman, Tony. Vulcan Test Pilot. p.90
  29. ^ Extract from National Archives: Ref no. BT 233/403 report on crash
  30. ^ Blackman, Tony. Vulcan Test Pilot. p.151
  31. ^ view video of the 20 September 1958 crash
  32. ^ a b Blackman, Tony. Vulcan Test Pilot. p.161
  33. ^ a b Laming 2002, p. 60.
  34. ^ Blackman, Tony (2009). Tony Blackman Test Pilot, p.112, Grub Street, London, UK. ISBN-13: 9781906502362
  35. ^ Laming 2002, p. 219.
  36. ^ a b Blackman, Tony. Vulcan Test Pilot. p.154
  37. ^ Blackman, Tony. Vulcan Test Pilot. p.155
  38. ^ Blackman, Tony. Vulcan Test Pilot. p.157
  39. ^ Jackson, Robert. Avro Vulcan. p.178
  40. ^ Jackson, Robert. Avro Vulcan.p.99
  41. ^ Blackman, Tony. Vulcan Test Pilot. p.159
  42. ^ V-Force XM645
  43. ^ Laming 2002, p. 223.
  44. ^ Unger, Robert and Benjamin, Robert. "Glenview Jet Crash 4 Die." Chicago Tribune, 12 August 1978, p. S1.
  45. ^ The Solway Aviation Museum, Carlisle
  46. ^ "The Vulcan Bomber returns to the sky"
  47. ^ "First Takeoff Video"
  48. ^ [1]
  49. ^ 105 ft 6 in with refuelling probe

Bibliography

  • Arnold, Lorna. Britain and the H-Bomb. Basingstoke, Hampshire, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2001. ISBN 0-333-94742-8 (outside North America), ISBN 0-312-23518-6 (North America only).
  • Blackman, Tony. Vulcan Test Pilot. London: Grub Street, 2007. ISBN 9781904943884
  • Chesnau, Roger. Vulcan (Aeroguide 29: Avro Vulcan B Mk 2). Ringshall, Suffolk, UK: Ad Hoc Publications, 2003. ISBN 0-946958-39-4.
  • FlyPast, June 2009 pp. 108-113.
  • Halpenny, Bruce Barrymore. Avro Vulcan: The History and Development of a Classic Jet. Pen & Sword Aviation, 2006. ISBN 1-84415-426-2.
  • Holmes, Harry. Avro: The History of an Aircraft Company. Wiltshire, UK: Crowood Press, 2004. ISBN 1-86126-651-0.
  • Jackson, A.J. Avro Aircraft since 1908, 2nd edition. London: Putnam Aeronautical Books, 1990. ISBN 0-85177-834-8.
  • Jefford, Wing Commander C.G., MBE,BA,RAF (Retd). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 2001. ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
  • Laming, Tim. The Vulcan Story 1952-2002, Second Edition. Enderby, Leicester, UK: Silverdale Books, 2002. ISBN 1-85605-701-1.
  • McLelland, Tim. The Avro Vulcan. Manchester, UK: Crecy Publishing Limited, 2007. ISBN 978-0-85979-127-4.
  • Vulcan B.Mk.2 Aircrew Manual (AP101B-1902-15).
  • White, Rowland. Vulcan 607. London: Bantam Press, 2006. ISBN 0-593-05391-5 (cased), ISBN 0-593-05392-3 (pb).
  • Wynn, Humphrey. RAF Strategic Nuclear Deterrent Forces: Origins, Roles and Deployment 1946 - 1969. London: The Stationery Office, 1994. ISBN 0-11-772778-4.

External links

Video


Simple English

File:Avro Vulcan Bomber
An Avro Vulcan during takeoff

The Avro Vulcan is a delta wing bomber aircraft. It was part of the RAF V bombers which were used by the Royal Air Force as a nuclear deterrent during the Cold War.[1] The other aircraft in the V bombers were the Vickers and Valiant. The Vulcan was also used for long-distance bombing runs during the Falklands War.

Contents

Development

In 1947, the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence said it needed a bomber aircraft that could fly a long way and very high. It also needed to carry a lot of bombs. The prototype Vulcan flew in 1948. It crashed in 1949, but development carried on. Over 100 aircraft were built between 1956 and 1965.

Use

The crew of the Vulcan was made up of five people – two pilots, two navigators and one electronics officer. The Vulcan was originally used as part of the United Kingdom's nuclear deterrent. It carried the United Kingdom's first nuclear weapon, called Blue Danube.

The Vulcan was also used sometimes for reconnaissance. It was retired from the Royal Air Force in 1984.

References

Other websites

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