Avro Vulcan

From Academic Kids

Avro Vulcan B1
Avro Vulcan B.1 of the Royal Air Force
RoleStrategic nuclear bomber
First prototype flight30 August 1952
First production flight4 February 1955
Entered Service20 July 1956
ManufacturerA. V. Roe & Co., Woodford
Length97 ft 1 in29.6 m
Wingspan99 ft 30.2 m
Height26 ft 6 in 8.1 m
Wing area3554 ft² 330 m²
Empty83,573 lb37,144 kg
Maximum takeoff170,000 lb77,100 kg
EnginesFour Rolls-Royce Olympus turbojets
Maximum speedMach 0.95 at 12,000 m
Cruising speedMach 0.92 at 15,200 m
Combat rangemileskm
Ferry rangemileskm
Service ceiling55,000 ft16,750 m
Rate of climbft/minm/min
Wing loadinglb/ft²kg/m²
Avro Vulcan B2
Missing image

Avro Vulcan B.2 XH534
RoleStrategic nuclear & tactical low-level bomber
First prototype flight31 August 1957
First production flight19 August 1958
Entered Service1 July 1960
ManufacturerA. V. Roe & Co., Woodford
Length99 ft 11 in30.45 m
Wingspan111 ft 33.83 m
Height27 ft 2 in 8.28 m
Wing area3965 ft²368.3 m²
Maximum takeoff204,000 lb92,543 kg
EnginesFour Olympus 201 (or 301) turbojets
Thrust4 x 17,000 lbf (76 kN), 201; 4 x 20,000 lb (89 kN), 301
Maximum speedmphkm/h
Combat Rangemileskm
Ferry rangemileskm
Service ceiling55,000 ft16,750 m
Rate of climbft/minm/min
Wing loadinglb/ft²kg/m²

The Avro Vulcan was a British built jet engined, delta-winged subsonic bomber, once part of the RAF's V bomber force.


Design and prototypes

Design work began at A. V. Roe in 1947 under Roy Chadwick, the Ministry of Defence specification required a bomber with a top speed of 500 knots (930 km/h), an operating ceiling of 50,000 ft (15,000 m), a range of 3,000 nautical miles (5,500 km) and a bomb load of 10,000 lb (4,500 kg). It also held the distinction as the first fly-by-wire aircraft to enter service. Design work also began at Vickers and Handley Page, all three designs were approved - the Valiant, the Victor and the Vulcan.

Avro began scale prototype testing in 1948 with the single-seater Type 707, and despite the crash of the first prototype on September 30, 1949 work continued. The first full-scale prototype aircraft, the Type 698, was completed in August 1952 and made its maiden flight on August 31. The Vulcan name was not chosen until 1953.

Operational aircraft

In September 1956, the RAF received its first Vulcan B.1, XA897, which immediately went on a fly-the-flag mission to New Zealand. On October 1, while approaching London Airport to complete the tour, XA897 crashed short of the runway in bad weather conditions. The second Vulcan was not delivered until 1957, and the delivery rate picked up from then. The B.2 variant was first tested in 1957 and entered service in 1960. It had a larger wing and better performance than the B1 and had a distinctive kink in its delta wing to reduce turbulence. In all, 134 Vulcans were produced (45 B.1 and 89 B.2), the last being delivered to the RAF in January 1965. The last operational Vulcan squadron was disbanded in March 1984.

Nuclear deterrent

As part of Britain's independent nuclear deterrent the Vulcan initially carried Britain's first nuclear weapon, the Blue Danube gravity bomb. The bomb load was gradually updated to Yellow Sun and then Red Beard and from 1962 26 Vulcan B.2A were armed with the Blue Steel missile. When Blue Steel was decommissioned and the replacement program for the Skybolt ALBM was cancelled the bombers reverted to gravity bomb loads, despite the lack of credible deterrent value in this delivery method.

Conventional role

Vulcans were converted to a conventional bombing role in 1966, carrying 21 x 1000 lb (454 kg) bombs. The only combat missions involving the Vulcan took place in the 1982 Falklands War with Argentina, when a number of Vulcans flew the 3,380 nautical miles (6,300 km) from Ascension Island to Port Stanley to bomb the occupied airfield there with conventional bombs as Operation Black Buck. By this date the number of Victors available for air-to-air refueling was extremely limited, so some Vulcan aircraft were adapted in just fifty days to fulfill that role during the conflict. Five Vulcans were chosen for the operation, their bomb bays were modified, the fuel systems replaced and the electronics updated. The first bombing mission was on April 30-May 1 and there were five further bombing missions. At the time these missions held the record for the World's longest distance raids.


  • The Vulcan was the first jet powered bomber to use delta wings.
  • There are 21 Vulcans still relatively intact at air museums around the world.

Vulcan B1 specification

Missing image
Avro Vulcan B.2 (XH558) in side view

  • Speed: Mach 0.92 (cruise)
  • Ceiling:
  • Range 2,607 nautical miles (4,800 km)
  • Power: 4 Bristol Siddeley Olympus 101 turbojets at 195,700 N each
  • Crew: 5 Pilot, Co-Pilot, Navigator Plotter, Navigator Radar and Air Electronics Officer
  • On 14 October,1975 Vulcan B. 2, XM645 of No.9 Squadron RAF Wadington lost its right undercarriage when it attempted to land at Luqa airport in Malta. The pilot decided on doing 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 exploded in mid-air over Zabbar village, killing 5 of its 7-crew members. Large pieces of the aircraft fell on this populated village but with very low casualties - one woman who was shopping in a street was hit by an electric cables and was killed instantly and some 20 others were injured slightly. The pilot and navigator escaped death by using their ejector seats (which were only provided for the pilot and navigator in the Vulcan).

See also

External links

Lists of Aircraft | Aircraft manufacturers | Aircraft engines | Aircraft engine manufacturers

Airports | Airlines | Air forces | Aircraft weapons | Missiles | Timeline of aviation

Avro Vulcan B.2 (XH558) in plan view
Avro Vulcan B.2 (XH558) in plan view
de:Avro 698

pl:Avro Vulcan


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