Avro Vulcan

Avro Vulcan bomber

Large, delta-wing jet bomber. Its service life was reduced when its role was changed from high-altitude nuclear to low-altitude conventional bombing, but it can be considered the most successful of the V-bombers. According to the fans, it was also the most beautiful one. Its saw operational use in the Falklands war, when Vulcan bombers attacked the local airfield at Port Stanly after a long flight during which they were refuelled several times by Victor tankers. There was also a reconnaissance version.

Type: Vulcan B Mk.2
Country: UK
Function: bomber
Year: 1960
Crew: 5
Engines: 4 * 9980 kg Bristol Siddeley Olympus 301
Wing Span: 33.83 m
Length: 32.15 m
Empty Weight:
Max.Weight: 113400 kg
Speed: 1030 km/h
Ceiling: 19800 m
Range: 7650 km
Armament: 21454 kg

Avro Vulcan Bomber

Built by A.V.Roe of Manchester, England, between 1956 - 1964, and only in service with the RAF, Vulcan bombers came in two main variants, the B1 and B2, with the B2(K) tanker conversions only being added during the Falklands War. The Vulcan was known by many as the "Tin Triangle" due to its massive and imposing delta wing shape, the B2 having a wing span of 111 feet (33.83m) compared to it's total length of only 105.6 feet (32.16m). Even on the ground it is imposing, standing well over 6 feet (1.8m) high up on the undercarriage, making it possible to walk upright underneath the whole airframe.

They were manned by a crew of 5, Captain, co-pilot, nav plotter, nav radar, and air electronics officer (AEO), and were powered by 4 Olympus engines each with a thrust of 20,000lb giving a maximum speed of approx. 645 mph (mach 0.95). The maximum armament was up to 21,000 lbs (9,526 kg) of conventional or nuclear bombs. The conventional bombs were carried in the bomb bay, or a single Blue Steel nuclear missile would be carried externally under a modified bomb bay, or 2 Skybolt missiles could be mounted on wing mounted pylons. Their service ceiling was 55,000 feet (16,765 m) allowing a maximum range of 2,300 miles (3,700 km) although this was greatly extended with the later fitting of in-flight refueling probes. One unusual feature for such a large aircraft were the joystick style control columns used instead of the more traditional "spectacle" type found in most other bombers, together with the lack of switches and controls on the cockpit ceiling these gave the Vulcan a much more fighter style feel.

Vulcan's were part of Britain's three pronged nuclear deterrent V-force of the 50's and 60's, the other aircraft being the Vickers Valiant and Handley Page Victor. During the early 60's Vulcan's had the added capability of being able to start all four of their engines at once, and could be airborne within 4 minutes in the event of a nuclear attack.The planes main function then were as a high level nuclear bomber, although in it's later life, due to the strength of its airframe, the Vulcan was the only one of the three that could also be used for low level bombing and maritime reconnaissance.

Several of the airframes in their later lives were used as the test bed for the engines of the Tornado, Concorde and the ill fated BAC TSR2. The Vulcan was finally phased out during 1984 and replaced by the all weather Panavia Tornado fighter-bomber.

At present there is only one Vulcan's left flying, most others are now in museums or on airfields. This last flying Vulcan is the XH558, the RAF's display aircraft at airshows, a sight and, especially sound, unmatched by any other single aircraft, with it's ability to be thrown about like a fighter. The XH558 was also the first B2 variant to be delivered to the RAF, her maiden flight being on 21 May 1960 and delivery was on 1 July 1960, going to No.230 OCU based at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire.

Aviation Top100 Home go back