Model Airplane News|
Model Airplane News Cover Art for February, 1955
by Jo Kotula
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The Avro Vulcan is a delta wing subsonic jet bomber that was operated by the Royal Air Force from 1953 until 1984. The Vulcan was part of the RAF's "V" bomber force, charged with nuclear deterrence against the Soviet Union during the Cold War. It was also used in a conventional bombing role during the Falklands conflict with Argentina.
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Beginning in 1947, A. V. Roe (later "AVRO") designed a bomber with a top speed of 575 mph, an operating ceiling of 50,000 ft (15,000 m), a range of 3,452 miles and a bomb load of 10,000 lb. This is a long way of saying that it could carry Britain's nukes to Russia. Three separate bombers were built as part of this program, and all had names beginning with letter "V" - Valiant, Victor, and the Avro Vulcan.
The Vulcan was a delta wing tailless design,with four engines embedded in the wings The Vulcan name was not chosen until 1953, after the Valiant had already been named. Despite its large size, it had a relatively small radar cross-section. It is now known that it had a fortuitously stealthy shape (apart from the fin.) The Vulcan normally operated with a crew of five: two pilots, two navigators and an Air Electronics Operator . Only the pilot and co-pilot were provided with ejection seats. The fact that the "rear crew" were not provided ejection seats has been the basis of significant criticism; there were several instances of the pilot and co-pilot ejecting in an emergency and the "rear crew" being killed because there was not time for them to bail out.
Although the primary weapon for the Vulcan was nuclear, Vulcans could carry up to 21 1,000 lb bombs in a secondary role. The only combat missions involving the Vulcan took place in the 1982 Falklands War with Argentina. With in-flight refueling, they flew 3,889 mi from Ascension Island to bomb the airfield at Stanley and to attack Argentine radar installations. At the time, these missions held the record for the world's longest-distance raids.
A total of 134 production Vulcans were manufactured (45 B.1 and 89 B.2), the last being delivered to the RAF in January 1965.
Here is a video of the AVRO Vulcan:
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