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Design of the Avro Vulcan nuclear strategic bomber began in 1947 by a team lead by Roy Chadwick of Lancaster fame to meet Air Ministry specification B.35/46 for a bomber able to deliver Britain's nuclear gravity bombs to strategic targets within the Soviet Union, the Avro Vulcan was a controversial delta wing tailless design incorporating four Bristol Olympus engines which served as the basis for the Olympus 320 developed for the TSR2, and eventually modified to power the Concorde supersonic airliner. The prototype Vulcan first flew in August 1952 and the first production version, the Avro Vulcan B.1, entered RAF service in September 1956.

The Avro Vulcan B.2 was introduced in 1960, it featured more powerful engines, a larger re-designed wing and electronic countermeasures (ECM), some were later modified to carry the Blue Steel rocket-propelled 1.1 megaton nuclear stand-off missile in place of a nuclear gravity bomb. Blue Steel was a British designed air-launched, rocket-propelled nuclear stand-off missile designed to be carried by the Avro Vulcan Strategic bomber. Blue Steel's nuclear warhead was the Red Snow 1.1 MT thermonuclear warhead from the RAF's existing Yellow-Sun Atomic Gravity Bomb. Blue Steel was Great Britain's primary nuclear deterrent from from 1963 to 1970 when it was superseded by the introduction of the Polaris submarine-launched ballistic missile system.

The RAF's V-force, especially the Vulcan, was the backbone of the United Kingdom’s nuclear deterrent throughout much of the Cold War and represented a significant stabilising influence in October 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis, at this time WW3 was a definite possibility.

If if the worst had happened, and WW3 had started in 1962, RAF Vulcan B2's would have been the first Western Nuclear equipped bombers to enter Soviet airspace, at least an hour before the American Boeing B52's which were constantly on station in the air two hours flying time from their designated Soviet targets. The Soviet leadership were fully aware of these facts at this time and it would have been seen as an significant reason to avoid the risk of escalation into a Nuclear War.


The RAF's Vulcan bombers only ever made operational bombing sorties during 1982 in "Operation Black Buck", Avro Vulcan B.2 aircraft, armed with conventional bombs and Shrike anti-radar missiles, flew 3890 miles (6,260 km) from Ascension Island to Stanley during the Falklands conflict to attack the airfield's runways, they were re-fuelled by Handley Page Victor F2 tankers on numerous occasions.

As the Vulcan was reaching the end of it's operational life the remaining aircraft were in relatively poor condition, in over a decade, since their relegation to a normal bomber role, they had not had to use their refuelling probes in and it was necessary to remove one one from a museum aircraft in order to make enough aircraft operational to successfully complete "Operation Black Buck".


Thank you to www.airpowerworld.com for the information.

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Additional Photos by marion morgan (jester5) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 96 W: 66 N: 590] (1988)
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