The Avro Vulcan

The Avro Vulcan is one of the true icons of historic aviation. Starting out as a key part of Britain's nuclear deterrent in the Cold War era, the Vulcan is an aircraft that almost everyone has a soft spot for - and that's largely thanks to XH558. Its incredible restoration, thanks to the work of the Vulcan to the Sky Trust, thrilled airshow crowds up until 2015, but it still has a role to play in inspiring the next generation of aviation engineers.

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A century of aviation innovation

The pioneering spirit of the Vulcan continued right the way through the 20th Century and into the 21st – and shows no sign of slowing…

Read a rare report on the Vulcan from 1952!

We’ve unearthed a 69-year-old review from The Aeroplane of 698’s second-ever flight – it was described as both ‘extra-terrestrial’ and like ‘a giant stingray…’

The Vulcan’s engine

When you say XH558, for many people one thing immediately springs to mind: the Vulcan howl…

Vulcan videos, features and news

Why did Vulcan XM655 run off the runway at Wellesbourne?

Following its runway excursion on Friday, the XM655 Maintenance and Preservation Society provided an update…

Wellesbourne Vulcan XM655 runs off runway

Avro Vulcan B.2 XM655 was involved in a taxiing incident at Wellesbourne on September 16.

Join the debate: what should happen to Vulcan XH558?

In his latest editorial, Aeroplane editor Ben Dunnell weighs up the future prospects for what was the last flying ‘V-bomber’ — and asks whether the fate of Canberra WK163 isn’t more important

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Displaying the Vulcan

In the January 2010 issue of Flypast, VTST Chief Pilot Martin Withers shared some personal highlights with Steve Beebee about displaying Vulcan XH558 the previous year

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How the Avro Vulcan was reinvented as a tanker

Following the Falklands Conflict, the Vulcan abandoned its bomber role and re-emerged as a flying gas station. Tim McLelland details its time as a tanker, which ended up being the big delta’s operational swansong

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Vulcan roars again at special Southend event

On Saturday August 27, Avro Vulcan B.2 XL426 celebrated her 60th birthday by performing taxi runs down the runway at its London Southend Airport home

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Vulcan in RAF Service

The Vulcan was used in a number of roles by the RAF, including the lesser known tasks of maritime reconnaissance and nuclear test sampling.  In the August 2015 issue of Aviation News Dr Kevin Wright reviewed the V-bomber’s military career which lasted more than 30 years

Historic Aviation Quiz: The Vulcan Edition

This week marks the 70th anniversary of the first flight of the mighty Avro Vulcan… how much do you know about the world-famous delta?

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Vulcan navigator reveals all – Life in the Coalhole

In the February 2016 issue of Flypast navigator Jack Talliss recalled his Vulcan days, which included the prototype and last-to-go XH558

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Secret Vulcan procedures – preparing for a nuclear strike

It was called Mutually Assured Destruction, the deterrent that would prevent nuclear holocaust. In the September 2011 FlyPast Glenn Sands explained how the V-Force would have hit back after a Soviet strike

When the long anticipated Vulcan first rolled off production lines in 1956, nobody could know just how much effort would go into preserving the manmade, delta-shaped beast for years to come. It would go on to serve in the Royal Air Force for 28 years, but that wouldn’t be the last of the Vulcan – not by a long shot. Unlike so many before it, the Avro Vulcan has held such a special place in the hearts of many that since its retirement, it has only gained in popularity. Now, the bomber has spent more time in retirement than it ever did in active service. Despite this, the legacy of the Vulcan continues to go from strength to strength, courtesy of XH558 and the dedicated team behind her at the Vulcan to the Sky Trust.

A.V. Roe and Company designed the Avro Vulcan in response to a specification set by the British Air Ministry. It was nothing like anything anybody had ever seen before: it was a jet powered, tailless delta-winged giant that was in stark contrast with its older cousin the Avro Lancaster, which had been designed only 10 years earlier. Gone were the propellors and straight wings of the past. The Avro Vulcan introduced a new generation of bombers that not only looked futuristic but were capable of things that, once upon a time, could never have been dreamt of.

Despite its enormous exterior presence, the inside of the Vulcan bomber was incredibly tight. While the vast majority of the bomber’s size can be attributed to its delta wing construct, space for the crew seemed like it had been a secondary consideration at the design stage. As a result, the space in which the crew could operate was minimal to say the least. The crew was made up of five airmen: the pilot, co-pilot, AEO, Navigator Radar and the Navigator Plotter. While the pilot and co-pilot took centre stage right at the front of the aircraft, the other three crew members were crammed into the space behind them. Although the pilots of the aircraft were positioned at the front, visibility from inside the cockpit was notoriously poor. This wasn’t a major issue, however, as the aircraft was designed to rely on navigational radar systems to see its flight path. The Vulcan had performance and agility more akin to a fighter than a conventional bomber, particularly at high altitudes. Its four Rolls-Royce Olympus engines, famous for their deafening howl, were an early version of the engines that would later go on to power the world’s first supersonic airliner, the Concorde

As a strategic bomber, the Vulcan’s role during its active service in the Cold War was to be capable of delivering British-constructed nuclear bombs to targets in the Soviet Union. Although never used for its intended nuclear purpose, the Vulcan was utilised during the Falklands War in Operation Black Buck and afterwards in reconnaissance and air-to-air refuelling training. After the Vulcan fleet was retired in 1984, just one example was restored to flight for use in air displays and shows: XH558. It wasn’t the only complete airframe to remain, as two were also kept in taxiable condition in Southend-on-Sea and Wellesbourne. However, XH558 has continually been funded by the public in order to preserve her as part of a crucial period of history. And now, the Vulcan to the Sky Trust and Operation Safeguard are looking to ensure that XH558’s legacy remains for future generations.