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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The operational history of Vulcan XH558

She turned out to be the gentle giant at the heart of the Cold War despite much more serious intentions. This is the story of XH558, one of Britain’s most loved and missed aircraft

The Vulcan and the V-Force

Vulcan to the Sky Trust’s Chief Engineer, Taff Stone, talks about XH558 and its role in Britain’s Cold War-era nuclear deterrent

Vulcan videos, features and news

What makes the Vulcan so special?

Ben Dunnell, Editor of Aeroplane, and Jamie Ewan, Editor of Aviation News, discuss the Vulcan’s impact on aviation engineering…

The design genius of the Vulcan

What made the Avro Vulcan bomber so far ahead of its time? Designed just five years after the Lancaster, it’s incredible to understand the advancements that were made in such a short time

The operational history of Vulcan XH558

She turned out to be the gentle giant at the heart of the Cold War despite much more serious intentions. This is the story of XH558, one of Britain’s most loved and missed aircraft

The Vulcan and the V-Force

Vulcan to the Sky Trust’s Chief Engineer, Taff Stone, talks about XH558 and its role in Britain’s Cold War-era nuclear deterrent

Vulcan legend Dr Robert Pleming passes away

As leader of the Vulcan To The Sky Trust, Pleming was at the heart of the iconic aircraft’s return to the skies in 2007

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Key.Aero compares two of the three airborne nuclear deterrents of the Cold War.

Vulcan for X-Plane Incoming

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Museum repaints Vulcan as Spitfire replica arrives

The North East Land, Sea & Air Museums (NELSAM), based on the...

Vulcan takes flight

Just Flight has announced its highly anticipated Avro Vulcan B Mk. 2 for Prepar3D and FSX is now available...

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Restored Vulcan cockpit revealed in Doncaster

The cockpit section of Avro Vulcan B.2 XL388 was unveiled at...

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.