Avro
Vulcan

Britain's premier V Force Nuclear Bomber
The A.V. Roe & Company (Avro) 698 Vulcan was a jet-powered delta wing strategic bomber, which first flew on 30th August 1952 at Woodford. The design was considered the most technically advanced of the submissions in response to Air Ministry Specification B.35/46, although it was thought by some as the riskiest option.
 
A number of scale aircraft such as the Avro Type 707 and Type 710 were designed and produced to test and refine the delta wing design principles and handling characteristics although the latter aircraft failed to come to fruition due to numerous delays.
 
Avro 698 Vulcan Prototype VX770 Avro 698 Vulcan Prototype VX770 in 1952
 
Avro Test Pilot Wing Commander Roland 'Roly' John Falk, dressed in his distinct pin-striped suit, finally took the gloss white Avro 698 Vulcan prototype (VX770) into the air on 30th August 1952, albeit single crewed for safety reasons. 
 
Powered by four Rolls-Royce RA.3 Avon engines, with a temporary fuel tank fitted into the bomb bay and only fitted with the first-pilot's ejection seat, Falk took the aircraft through a number of unconventional manoeuvres before opening the throttle to such a point that it shattered a number of factory windows.
 
Avro 698 Vulcan VX777 and VX770 with 4 x Avro 707's on route to Farnborough 1953 Avro 698 Vulcan VX777 and VX770 with 4 x Avro 707's on route to Farnborough 1953
 
A matter of weeks later, the yet unnamed aircraft appeared at the SBAC Farnborough Air Show, although a number of options were being considered at Avro. These included the ‘Ottawa’ (in honour of the contribution made by Avro Canada).
 
However, the UK press were full of their own suggestions for a name including the Albion, Avenger, Apollo or Assegai.  Eventually, pressure from the Chief of the Air Staff to reflect the V-Bomber classification, the Air Council announced the aircraft as the Avro Vulcan.
 
The second prototype (VX777) flew in September 1953. It was more representative of the production aircraft, having been lengthened to accommodate a longer nose undercarriage leg. It featured and a visual bomb-aiming blister under the cabin and was fitted with Bristol Olympus 100 engines. At Falk’s suggestion, a fighter-style control stick replaced the control wheel. During trials in July 1954, the aircraft was substantially damaged in a heavy landing at Farnborough. Once repaired, it was then fitted with Olympus 101 engines before resuming trials in October 1955.
 
Handling problems as the aircraft approached the speed of sound at high altitude, resulted in a tendency to enter an uncontrollable dive, which proved unacceptable to the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment (A&AEE) at Boscombe Down.  The solution included the ‘Phase 2 wing’, featuring a kinked and drooped leading edge and vortex generators on the upper surface, all of which had been first tested on the Avro 707A.
 
The Avro 698 Vulcan B.1 was first delivered into service with the RAF in 1956, whilst deliveries of the improved Avro 698 Vulcan B.2 started in 1960. A number of foreign governments had expressed an interest in the aircraft although none ever came to fruition. The later Avro 698 Vulcan B.2 featured more powerful engines, a larger wing, and an improved electrical system, plus Electronic Counter-Measures (ECM), many of which were modified to accept the Blue Steel missile.
 
As a part of the RAF's V-Force, the aircraft was the key part of the UK’s airborne nuclear deterrent during much of the Cold War.  Although typically armed with nuclear weapons, the Avro 698 Vulcan’s ability to also carry conventional weapons was used to full effect on Operation Black Buck, during the Falklands War between the United Kingdom and Argentina in 1982. This was to be the only mission ‘flown in anger’ by an Avro 698 Vulcan.
 
Avro 698 Vulcan B.2.a XM575 over sea - Aircraft now on display at East Midlands Aeropark Avro 698 Vulcan B.2.a XM575 was delivered to No. 617 Squadron (Dambusters) at Scampton in May 1953
 
Carrying no defensive weaponry, the Avro 698 Vulcan relied upon its high-speed and high-altitude flight to evade interception. Although electronic countermeasures were also employed by the B.1 (designated B.1A) and B.2 from circa 1960, the Avro 698 Vulcan was always vulnerable to air attack.
 
All of the 134 production aircraft (45 B.1 design / 89 B.2 design) were built at Avro Woodfood Factory in Cheshire between 1948 and 1965, although one aircraft remained on the ground as a static test frame.
 
A change to low-level tactics was made in the mid-1960s, and by the mid-1970s, nine Avro 698 Vulcan aircraft were adapted for Maritime Radar-Reconnaissance operations and re-designated as Avro 698 Vulcan B.2 (MRR).
 
In its final years of service, six aircraft were designated Avro 698 Vulcan K.2 and converted to tanker configuration for aerial refuelling, before reaching final retirement in 1984.
 
At one point an Avro 698 Vulcan B.3 was proposed as a long-endurance missile carrier with up to 12 hours duration, but it was never built.
 
Avro 698 Vulcan Image Gallery

of

Roy Chadwick's original 'Delta Sketch'
Roy Chadwick's original 'Delta Sketch'

Roy Chadwick's original 'Delta Sketch'

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Avro Vulcan B1 at night
Avro Vulcan B1 at night

Avro Vulcan B1 at night

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Avro Vulcan B1 (XA903) Blue Steel development testbed
Avro Vulcan B1 (XA903) air to air view of testbed aircraft used for the development of Blue Steel (as seen here) and Concorde engines

Avro Vulcan B1 (XA903) air to air view of testbed aircraft used for the development of Blue Steel (as seen here) and Concorde engines 1963

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Three Avro Vulcan B1's in-line formation
Three Avro Vulcan B1's in-line formation

Three Avro Vulcan B1's in-line formation

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Avro Vulcan B1 (XH475) 101 Squadron RAF at Bergst Tx 1959
Avro Vulcan B1 XH475 of No 101 Squadron RAF Finningley at Bergstrom AFB, Texas in 1959.jpg

Avro Vulcan B1 (XH475) of 101 Squadron RAF on the tarmac at Bergst Texas 1959

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Avro Vulcan B1 test bed (XA894) with Olympus 320 engine for TSR-2
Avro Vulcan B1 test bed (XA894) with Olympus 320 engine for TSR-2

Avro Vulcan B1 test bed (XA894) with Olympus 320 engine for TSR-2

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Avro Vulcan B1 (XH476, XA909 & XH475) in formation
Avro Vulcan B1 (XH476, XA909 & XH475) in formation

Avro Vulcan B1 (XH476, XA909 & XH475) in formation

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Avro 698 Vulcan B.2 final production at Woodfood 1960
Avro 698 Vulcan B.2 final production at Woodfood 1960

Avro Vulcan B.2 final production at Woodfood 1960

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Avro 698 Vulcan B.2 in anti-flash white
Avro 698 Vulcan B.2 in anti-flash white

Avro Vulcan B.2 air to air of aircraft in nuclear 'anti-flash' white.

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Avro Vulcan B2's all lined up at RAF Scampton in 1961
Avro Vulcan B2's all lined up at RAF Scampton in 1961

Avro Vulcan B2's all lined up at RAF Scampton in 1961

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Avro Vulcan B2 making a very low pass at RAF Scampton
Avro Vulcan B2 making a very low pass at RAF Scampton

Avro Vulcan B2 making a very low pass at RAF Scampton

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Avro Vulcan B2 (XM648) refuelling from a Handley Page Victor K1 Tanker 1965
Avro Vulcan B2 (XM648) refuelling from a Handley Page Victor K1 Tanker 1965

Avro Vulcan B2 (XM648) refuelling from a Handley Page Victor K1 Tanker 1965

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Avro Vulcan B2 (XH557) landing and with drogue parachute deployed 1973
Avro Vulcan B2 (XH557) landing and with parachute deployed 1973

Avro Vulcan B2 (XH557) landing and with parachute deployed 1973

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Avro 698 Vulcan 'Buddy' refuelling
Avro 698 Vulcan 'Buddy' refuelling

Avro 698 Vulcan 'Buddy' refuelling

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Variants


Avro Vulcan B.1                 
The initial  production aircraft. First few with straight leading edge, later retrofitted with Phase 2 (kinked) wing. Early examples were finished in silver, although later changed to 'anti-flash' white.
Many converted to B.1A standard 1959-1963.
Last few unmodified B.1s in RAF service were with No. 230 OCU and retired by 1966. The last flight by any B.1 was an engine testbed (XA903) which retired in March 1979.
Avro Vulcan B.1A The B.1 with an Electronic Countermeasures (ECM) system inside 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.
Avro Vulcan 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) and Ram Air Turbine (RAT). ECM similar to B.1A. Terrain-Following Radar (TFR) in nose thimble radome fitted to most aircraft in mid-60s. New Radar warning receiver aerials on tail fin giving it a square top from the mid-1970’s.
Avro Vulcan B.2 (MRR)  Nine B.2s converted to Maritime Radar Reconnaissance (MRR). Five aircraft further modified for Air Sampling Role. Distinctive gloss-finish with light grey underside.
Avro Vulcan Vulcan K.2             Six B.2s converted for air-to-air refuelling with Mark 17 Hose Drum Unit (HDU) mounted semi-recessed in tail cone. Fitted with three bomb-bay drum tanks, it was the only mark of Vulcan that could jettison fuel in an emergency.
Avro Vulcan B.3 Proposed version intended as a long endurance missile carrier capable of carrying up to six ‘Skybolt’ ALBMs on flights of up to 12 hours duration. Never built.

 

Specification (Vulcan B.2)


Powerplant                              4 x Bristol-Siddeley Olympus 201 or 301
Span 111 feet 0 inches (33.83 m)
Maximum Weight 250,000 lbs / 113,398 kg
Minimum Weight  83,573 lbs / 37,908 kg
Capacity 5 crew
Maximum Speed  644 mph (560 kts,1037 km/h)
Range  4,603 mi (4,000 nmi / 7,408 km)

 

Number built


Prototype (XV770 / XV777)    2                                                                                                 
B.1 45
B.2 89

Survivors

Avro 698 Vulcan B.2 (XH558)  
Vulcan to the Sky, Robin Hood Airport, Doncaster, Yorkshire, UK    www.Vulcantothesky.org
Avro 698 Vulcan B.2 (XJ823)
Solway Aviation Museum, Carlisle Airport, Carlisle, UK   
Avro 698 Vulcan B.2 (XJ824)
Imperial War Museum, Duxford, Cambridgeshire, UK  
Avro 698 Vulcan B.2 (XL318)
RAF Museum, Hendon, London, UK 
Avro 698 Vulcan B.2 (XL319)
North East Aircraft Museum, Sunderland Airport, Sunderland, UK
Avro 698 Vulcan B.2 (XL360)
Midland Air Museum, Coventry Airport, Coventry, Warwickshire,  UK 
Avro 698 Vulcan B.2 (XL361)
CFB Goose Bay, Happy Valley, Goose Bay, Labrador , Nova Scotia
Avro 698 Vulcan B.2 (426)
Southend Airport, Southend, Essex, UK 
Avro 698 Vulcan B.2 (XM573)
Strategic Air and Space Museum, Ashland, Nebraska, USA  
Avro Vulcan B.2a (XM575)
East Midlands Aeropark, East Midland Airport, Castle Donnington, UK   www.eastmidlandsaeropark.org
Avro 698 Vulcan B.2 (XM594)
Newark Air Museum, Newark, Nottingham, UK  
Avro 698 Vulcan B.2 (XM597)
National Museum of Flight, East Fortune, Scotland UK     
Avro 698 Vulcan B.2 (XM598)
RAF Museum, Cosford, Shifnal, Staffordshire, UK        
Avro 698 Vulcan B.2 (XM603)
Avro Heritage Museum, Woodford, Cheshire, UK 
Avro 698 Vulcan B.2 (XM605)
Castle Air Museum, Castle AFB, California, USA    
Avro 698 Vulcan B.2 (XM606)
Barksdale AFB, Bossier City, Louisiana, USA  
www.barksdaleglobalpowermuseum.com
Avro 698 Vulcan B.2 (XM507)
RAF Waddington, Waddington, Lincolnshire, UK         
Avro 698 Vulcan B.2 (XM612)
City of Norwich Aviation Museum, Norwich Airport, Norfolk, UK          www.cnam.co.uk
Avro 698 Vulcan B.2 (XM655)
Wellesbourne Mountford Airfield, Wellesborne, Warwickshire,  UK      

 

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