The Avro Vulcan was the ultimate bomber of the Cold War

The Cold War could be the most fascinating time for the development of military aircraft in the world. Throughout the period of hostilities, aircraft manufacturers around the world have done their best to push the limits of aviation to their limits and create some of the most extraordinary airplanes ever seen. Britain was a country that did just that, and has certainly released some awesome machines over the years. When it comes to its bomber strength, however, one aircraft stood out among all the rest, and that was the Avro Vulcan.

The Vulcan was part of the V-Force nuclear bombers, which also included the Vickers Valiant and the Handley Page Victor. The Valiant was the more conventional of the trio, while the Victor and its crescent-shaped wing was arguably the most advanced of the three planes. But the Vulcan has captivated not only the military world, but also the public. His appearances in air shows until 1993 in the service of the RAF, and most recently from 2008 to 2015 in civilian hands, stunned spectators and the noise produced by his engines was quite unique. The Vulcan was surely the ultimate bomber of the Cold War.

Design And Origins

Take-off of the Vulcan VX770 prototype

via Vulcan Restoration Trust

It is quite remarkable to think that the Vulcan began life as early as the late 1940s, when research on jets obtained from Germany aided the Allied forces in the development of their aircraft. The Vulcan arose out of the OR.229 aerial operational requirement which called for a medium range bomber capable of launching a single 10,000 lb bomb at a target approximately 1,500 nautical miles away. Roy Chadwick of the Avro Company designed the Avro 698, an innovative delta-winged aircraft unlike any other before him. The plane would be practically entirely made up of wings, with the tail removed entirely, and the delta wing itself would provide unreal lift. It would eventually become the Vulcan.

Avro 707 Mini Vulcan test aircraft in prototype blue

via BAE systems

Avro had no experience with delta planes, so they produced five Avro 707 planes, actually mini Vulcans, to test the design of the delta wing. The first flew in 1949, but tragically crashed and killed Avro test pilot Eric Esler. Despite this accident, the other four provided useful data for the project and the first Vulcan prototype, the VX770, took off for the first time on August 30, 1952, and immediately its potential was demonstrated.

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Roll a bomber

Avro Vulcan B1 XA900 in flight

via Vulcan Restoration Trust

Legendary Avro test pilot Roland ‘Roly’ Falk quickly put the giant bomber to the test, capable of even rolling the bomber at the Farnborough Airshow, a move that was later banned because he was “unworthy of a bomber”. After the two prototypes, version B.1 and version B.2 of the aircraft. The B.2s differed from the B.1s in that they had a much more curved delta wing, which gave it an increased wing area compared to the pure delta of the B.1, and initially featured Bristol engines. Olympus more powerful than the original Olympus engines. fitted to the B.1s. The B.1 featured the Olympus 101, 102 and 104 engine types, while the B.2 had the Olympus 201.

Vulcan B.2 with blue steel missile underneath

via History Net

The Vulcan were originally designed as high altitude nuclear bombers, avoiding Soviet air defenses and carrying the famous Blue Steel nuclear missile. The aircraft very quickly became famous for its fighter-like handling and the sound of Vulcan screeching, caused by air rushing through the Olympus engine’s air intakes as the pilot engaged in fuel tank. gas. Over time, however, Soviet air defenses began to catch up with high altitude bombers, and with the UK’s nuclear capabilities transferred from the Royal Air Force to the Royal Navy and their submarines, the Vulcan’s were flipped over. .

Low level and fame of the Falklands

Vulcan bombers in low altitude flight formation

Vulcan Restoration Trust

The Vulcans, along with the Valiants and Victors, have all been replaced by low-level bombing. Remarkably, only the Vulcan could handle this new job successfully. The Valiant were suffering from extensive wing spar cracks due to their new low-level roll, and fatigue cracks were also quickly discovered on the Victor airframes. The Valiant was quickly retired, and even the newer air-refueling variants suffered from an equally rapid withdrawal. The Victor’s were converted to tankers and the Vulcan continued as a low-level bomber.

Vulcan Bombers to Ascension Island with Victor Tanker Landing

via Reddit

The Vulcan’s heyday came during the Falklands War in 1982. When Argentina invaded British territory from the Falkland Islands and captured Port Stanley airfield, the RAF knew they had to put it out. of fight. Operation Black Buck, a series of raids using the Vulcan, involved a massive round trip of nearly 8,000 miles from Ascension Island to the Falklands, with a Vulcan needing a multitude of Victor tanks to be able to carry out the mission. The Vulcan XM607 completed the most famous Black Buck raid of all, where it scored a direct hit on the Port Stanley trail, and knocked it out for the duration of the conflict.

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The fame of the air show

Vulcan XH558 in an air-to-air photoshoot

via Wilks and Glos Standard

After the war the last Vulcans saw their days as airborne refuellers, the RAF had to compensate for the fatigue life of the airframe it had used over its Victor force during the conflict. Six Vulcan were converted and in March 1984 the Vulcan was withdrawn from RAF service. Kind of. One Vulcan, the XL426, was kept as an exhibit aircraft, before being sold to a preservation trust and replaced by the XH588. This Vulcan was the first B.2 delivered to the RAF, and became the last of its type in service.


via Aero Resource

The XH588 quickly became the most famous Vulcan in service, operating until 1992 as a display jet before it was also retired. Remarkably, after her last flight in the RAF in 1993, she again flew in civilian hands from 2007 to 2015, performing at air shows across the UK and Europe, easily becoming the most famous Vulcan. in the world. With technical support required for its operation ending at the end of 2015, its owners, the Vulcan To The Sky Trust, withdrew it at the end of this year, and the last Vulcan flight to take place on October 28, 2015. XH558 had helped introduce a whole new generation to the Vulcan Bomber and remind others that this mighty delta-winged machine was once the ultimate bomber of the Cold War.

Sources: BAE Systems, Flying Tigers, Vulcan Restoration Trust, History Net, Aero Rescource, Wilks And Glos Standard, Best wallpaper

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