The Avro Vulcan bomber, one of a fleet of planes that played a vital role in defeating the Argentinians in the Falklands War, is a jet bomber capable of a top speed of nearly 500 knots, able to fly at a height in excess of 50,000 feet, with a range of over 3,000 miles and capable of carrying a nuclear weapon. The Vulcan was the most famous of the three types known, along with the Victor and the Valiant, as the V-bombers, which maintained Britain’s strategic nuclear deterrent during the early years of the Cold War. Initially finished in an all-over white colour scheme to protect the aircraft and their crews from the heat and flash of a nuclear explosion, the V-Force’s aircraft could be scrambled in minutes, in response to any Soviet attack. V-Bombers and their crews stood on constant alert until 1969, when the V-Force handed over its nuclear deterrent role to the Royal Navy’s Polaris submarines. In all, 136 Vulcan’s were built by the Avro factory near Manchester, the last being completed in January 1965. After it lost its nuclear deterrent function, the Vulcan found other roles as a conventional bomber, a maritime reconnaissance aircraft and as a tanker. Its only combat sorties were the famous Operation Black Buck raids, 25 years ago, during the Falklands Conflict flown from Ascension Island in the mid-Atlantic. At the time, these were the longest bombing missions in the history of warfare, the Vulcans covering some 8,000 miles in around 16 hours. The aircraft was finally withdrawn from squadron service in 1984. However, an original plane, number XH558, has been under restoration for eight years and is now the focus of media frenzy as it gets near to being ready to fly. The Former Prime Minister Lady Thatcher visited the restoration project, which is based at Bruntingthorpe airfield in Leicestershire in March and The Daily Telegraph are running a competition for a lucky winner to fly with the Blades flying display team alongside the restored Vulcan.
The History Channel has been following the aircraft’s restoration and the company in charge of the project The Vulcan to the Sky Trust are desperately trying to get the Vulcan in the air again. But will the Vulcan fly?
The plane, XH558 last flew a decade ago from a Lincolnshire airfield but many people have doubts as to whether it will get off the ground. The Vulcan to the Sky Trust however seems more positive. A statement on the official website said: “We have an almost complete Vulcan sitting in the hangar. It is ready to sniff the outside air for the first time since she was rolled out for display last August.” The plane, which is based at Bruntingthorpe airfield in Leicestershire, still has to undergo extensive checks before it can be cleared by the Civil Aviation Authority. There are rumours that it will be appearing at the Royal Air Tattoo on the 14th and 15th of July at RAF Fairford, where the British publishing company Ian Allan Publishing plan to release their book produced in co-operation with the Vulcan of the Skies Trust. “The Avro Vulcan – Britain’s Cold War Warrior” is a pictorial tribute to this iconic British aircraft, with images from throughout its service career, including photos never before available to the public. Written by Philip Birtles, a well respected expert in the aviation field, this is an historic title for an historic event. The book covers every stage of the bomber’s life from its early white coloured nuclear bomber birth, to its camouflaged evolution that liberated the Falkland Islands for the Britain. Now 25 years later she is ready to take to the skies once again and if you want to see if the Victorious British bomber takes flight in reality as well and in print you need to be at RAF Fairford on the 14th of July!