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Avro 698 Vulcan



The original Avro 698 Vulcan B1 prototype was developed to Air Ministry Specification B.35/46, issued on 1 January 1947 for Britain to have nuclear bombing capability. The initial design was laid down in 1948 by Roy Chadwick, the technical director of Avro (A.V. Roe and Co. Ltd), and was preceded by the 707 series.

This design featured vertical tail surfaces at the extreme wingtips as opposed to a traditional tail section, offering up a great deal of surface area for improved payload, fuel load and maneuverability. The lack of a true tail section meant that, in some ways, the design was in fact a flying wing. The cockpit was positioned well forward on the fuselage, ahead of the wings and engines, and featured four engines in a staggered internal placement- two engines to a wing. The engines were to be fed by a single large rounded intake. The massive expanse of the wings would have also provided maximum space for internal armament in the form of bomb bays mounted outboard of the dual engine arrangements. Avro designated the new design Type 698 and received the British Air Ministry contract in December of 1947. Along with the Avro design, approval of the Valiant and Victor were also granted, essentially beginning the formation of the V-bomber triangle.

The initial Air Ministry contract called for several forms to be built including two prototypes. Along with this commitment included the construction and delivery of several flight demonstrators. The demonstrators, designated as Type 707, proved an important part of early development of the Vulcan. These development models eventually gave rise to the Type 698 prototype.

Flying for the first time on 30 August 1952, the Avro 698 prototype, VX770, had 6,500 lb.s.t. RA3 Avons, subsequent power-plants included the 8,000 lb.s.t. Sapphire, the 10,000 lb.s.t. Olympus 101s and the 20,000 lb.s.t. Olympus 301s. All four engines could be started, flight instruments aligned and powered flying controls run-up within 20 seconds. It had main qears with a total of 16 tyres, and a five-seat crew compartment. A single large weapon bay was provided. The first prototype was later lost in a fatal air show accident in September of 1958.

A second prototype powered by four 10,000lb Bristol Siddeley Olympus 101 - with a slightly longer fuselage to eliminate the need for shortening the nose-wheel leg during retraction - made its first flight on 3 September 1953. Both prototypes featured a delta wing with 52 degree sweepback. The second prototype was later fitted with a "kinked" wing design that showcased differing degrees of sweepback separated into different sections of the wing leading edge. The second was later fitted with wings having a redesigned leading edge with compound sweepback and it made its first flight in this form on 5 October 1955.


Wellington, New Zealand 1959


The fuselage itself was streamlined highly, with the cockpit mounted behind a nose cone assembly and just before the wing root intakes and fuselage extending well forward of the wing roots and some distance aft of the wing trailing edge. Fuel was split between either wing and a central fuselage location, all monitored in-flight by a fuel management system. The bomb bay was centrally held in the fuselage and could be fitted with additional fuel for increased range.

The undercarriage consisted of two main landing gears (retracting forward outboard of the engines) and a nose gear positioned behind and underneath the wingroot intakes. Each main gear was fitted with an eight-wheel bogie and retracted forwards while the nose gear and its two wheels retracted backwards. The empennage featured a single large dorsal fin extending from about the midway portion of the fuselage, with the base of the fin extending vertically out from about the extreme end point of the engines. The tail cone housed a drag chute to improve the aircraft’s landing distance.




The Avro Vulcan provided accommodation for five standard crew personnel consisting of the pilot and copilot, a systems operator, a navigator and a radar operator along with additional seating for two more. The pilot and copilot had a view out of the front of the cockpit through a five panel windscreen with framing as well as circular windows to the sides allowing for viewing to the left and right. Ejection seats were afforded to the pilot and co-pilot only - not the entire crew - they would have to bail out.

All production Vulcans were fitted with wings having the revised leading-edge configuration and the first production version was the Vulcan B.1, which entered RAF service in Febru-ary 1957, powered by Olympus Mk 101 or Olympus Mk 102 engines of 4990-kg (11,000-lb) thrust each. All of these engines were converted later to Olympus Mk 104 standard, up-rated in stages to 6078-kg (13,400-lb) thrust.

Twenty-five such machines were ordered in 1952 and the first Vulcan squadron became operational in 1957 (this delay in years was caused by yet another fatal accident). B.Mk 1's were similar to the two prototypes. Early production models were finished the straight delta wings but these were later revised to the kinked wing design. 

Production models were fitted with an Olympus 101 series engine of 11,000lb thrust (each). This rating was progressively uprated until reaching the Olympus 104 series with 13,500lb thrust. A total of 45 Vulcan B.Mk 1 models were eventually delivered. Re-equipment of three Bomber Command squadrons of the RAF with this version was completed in 1960.

In the late 1950's, the Vulcan B.Mk 1 had her countermeasures suite revised, becoming the Vulcan B.Mk 1A. Soviet defense technology advanced to the point that operation of the Vulcans in their originally intended mode was now in danger. As such, the aircraft was fitted with chaff dispensers, a tail warning radar ("Red Steer"), a radar warning receiver, and jammers. Twenty-eight B.Mk 1s were converted in this fashion with conversions taking place from 1959 into 1963. B.Mk1A's and the future B.Mk 2 models were clearly discernable thanks to the addition of the ECM gear in the tail cone.




The Vulcan B.Mk 1 was followed by the Vulcan B.Mk 2 with development beginning in 1955. The system featured a revised and lengthened wing (increased from 99 feet to 111 feet), new Bristol Siddeley Olympus 201 series engines of 17,000lb thrust engines (later production models would feature the Olympus 301 at 22,000lb thrust), updated electrical system, in-flight refueling probe, a reinforced undercarriage (necessitated by the addition of the new engines), the countermeasures suite in the B.Mk 1A upgrade above and overall improvements to the aircrafts performance. First flight of the B.Mk 2 prototype occurred on August 19th, 1958 with deliveries beginning two years later and making up 89 total production examples. The increased performance offered by the Vulcan B2 made it ideal for modification to carry the Blue Steel nuclear stand-off bomb. This weapon allowed the aircraft to launch its attack from outside the immediate missile defences of a target and thereby extended the effectiveness of the Royal Air Force's airborne deterrent.

This mark entered service in July 1960, and at first remained a high-altitude bomber. By 1961, Vulcan Mk.2s were in service with No.27, 83 and 10 Squadrons. By 1966 these had been withdrawn as the entire force had by that time switched to low level operations using conventional bombs, with a TFR (terrain following radar) on the nose.


Eight B.Mk 2 models were converted to Maritime Radar Reconnaissance platforms (B.Mk 2MRR)) and 6 more were modified as in-flight refueling tankers (K.Mk 2)).



Four Vulcan SR.Mk. 2 reconnaissance aircraft served with No.27 Sqn, and the force was being run down when in April 1982 Argen-tine forces invaded the Falklands. Several aircraft were converted as tankers in a crash programme by British Aeros-pace, while others were urgently equipped with bombs, new navigation systems, flight-refuelling probes, and underwing pylons for ALQ-101 ECM pods and Shrike anti-radar missiles. They bombed Stanley airfield in round trips exceeding 12870km (8000 miles).
The 1964 edition did Jane's revealed that the Vulcan B2 could cruise at Mach 0.94 at 55,000 feet. Range hi/lo was 2,300 and 1,725 miles respectively.
Vulcans served as engine test-beds for TSR-2 and Concorde.
Production was completed in 1964 and a total of 134 were built at Avro’s Woodford, Cheshire plant, along with the two Type 698 prototypes.
The Vulcan series of bombers saw limited use in combat aggression. Vulcan B.Mk 1 model bombers were sent as an intimidation factor during the Malayan Insurgency. Beyond that, they were used to showcase the types reach to the Soviet Union by conducting regular global flights to and fro. Operations with American forces and other NATO allies were a common occurrence. The only true combat actions including the Vulcan came in the 1982 Falklands War between invader Argentina and responder Britain. Vulcan B.Mk 2 bombers were used in small numbers during the conflict and succeeded in providing Britain with an intimidating force - though actual damage caused to enemy ground forces from Vulcans were minimal. Regardless, the presence of the Vulcan was no doubt on the minds of Argentine ground forces. After the war of 1982, the Vulcan's career as a dedicated bomber was all but over. Several were converted as an interim measure to fulfill a tanker role gap while the Vickers VC10 airframes were being modified for the job. Six such Vulcan B.Mk 2 models were converted for the role and became the Vulcan K.Mk 2. These Vulcans lasted until 1984 as the VC10s came online.

The last Vulcan squardon was disbanded in March 1984.






698 Vulcan Prototype
Engines: 4 x Rolls-Royce RA3 Avon, 6,500 lb.s.t.

Avro Vulcan B Mk.I
Engine: 4 x Bristol Olympus 101, 48952 N / 4990-kg / 11,000-lb
Length: 97.113 ft / 29.6 m
Height: 26.083 ft / 7.95 m
Wingspan: 99.016 ft / 30.18 m
Wing area: 330 sq.m (3,554-sq ft)
Max take off weight: 170032.0 lb / 77112.0 kg
Max. speed: 556 kts / 1030 km/h
Service ceiling: 55003 ft / 16765 m
Range: 2608 nm / 4830 km
Crew: 5
Armament: 9525 kg Bomb.

Vulcan B.2
Engines: 4 x Bristol Olympus, 17,000 lb.
Wing span: 99 ft 0 in (30.15 m).
Length: 97 ft 1 in (29.61 m).
Height: 26 ft 1 in (7.93 m).
Max level speed: M0.94.  

Vulcan B.Mk 2
Engines: 4 x Bristol Siddeley Olympus 301 turbojet, 20,000lbs thrust
Length: 99.90ft (30.45m)
Width: 110.99ft (33.83m)
Height: 27.17ft (8.28m)
Maximum Speed: 646mph (1,040kmh; 562kts)
Maximum Range: 4,598miles (7,400km)
Service Ceiling: 55,003ft (16,765m)
21,000 lbs internal
Accommodation: 5
Hardpoints: 0
Empty Weight: 106,000lbs (48,081kg)
Maximum Take-Off Weight: 249,122lbs (113,000kg)


Vulcan B.Mk.2A
Engines: 4 x 9072-kg (20,000-lb) thrust Bristol Siddeley Olympus 301 turbojets.
Max speed: 1043 krn/h (648 mph) at 12190 m (40,000 ft).
Service ceiling: 18290 m (60,000 ft).
Range w/max.fuel: 6400 km / 3977 miles
Empty wt: 45360 kg (100,000 lb).
MTOW: 113400 kg (250,000 lb).
Wing span: 33.83 m (111 ft 11 in).
Length (with probe): 32.16 m (105 ft 6 in).
Height: 8,28 m (27 ft 2 in).
Wing area: 368.27 sq.m (3,964,0 sq.ft).
Crew: 5
Armament: up to 21 454-kg (1,000-lb) bombs; no defensive weapons.




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