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Avro Vulcan 1952 onwards (all marks)

15 September 2014

Avro Vulcan 1952 onwards (all marks)

[Editor’s note: this is the first of four posts this week concerning the Avro Vulcan. The Vulcan is not well known on the west side of the Atlantic Ocean but is more than famous on the east side of the Atlantic as the Royal Air Force’s primary nuclear strike strategic bomber during most of the Cold War. As with its NATO cousin, the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, it too originally flew missions high and fast until increasingly capable fighter and missile threats demanded a change in tactics. Like the B-52, the Vulcan’s airframe was then reinforced for low penetration flying—also changing the livery from anti-flash white to earthtone camouflage coloring. The next posts feature a walkaround, a pilot interview and photos of most of the other surviving Vulcans in the UK.]

Avro Vulcan 1952 onwards (all marks) — Owners’ Workshop Manual, Alfred Price & Tony Blackman, 2010, ISBN 9781844258314, 160 pp., 180 color and 50 b/w

Avro Vulcan 1952 onwards (all marks) — Owners' Workshop Manual by Alfred Price & Tony Blackman with cover drawing by Mike Badrocke

Avro Vulcan 1952 onwards (all marks) — Owners’ Workshop Manual by Alfred Price & Tony Blackman with cover drawing by Mike Badrocke

Avro’s Vulcan strategic bomber came just over a decade after its Lancaster but is a revolutionary step forward in flight. Largely unknown on U.S. shores the Vulcan did its significant Cold War duties in the Western as well as Eastern hemispheres effectively and with elán.

Although designed after World War II the Vulcan followed its design philosophy of flying higher as well as faster than intercepting fighters. Also, like its World War II ancestors the warfare officer and navigator had to manually bailout although the pilots had ejection seats. Eventually, like the Vulcan’s NATO partner the B-52, modifications were made to fly low and fast as fighters as well as missiles denied the high road of attack.

Vulcan’s flew in anger less than a handful of times with the most notable of these known as the Black Buck missions during the Falkland’s War. These missions were logistically extraordinary as all of the refueling aircraft flew with the bombers (as opposed to staging the refueling tankers) and were the longest strikes until the Gulf War made in history. Tactically the results were unimpressive for the effort but politically and strategically they were extremely successful.

Price & Blackman discuss the above as well as so much more in their book. The design history is historic as a delta winged bomber had not been flown before. The details of maintaining and operating the Vulcan are clearly illustrated by people who maintain and operate the sole flying Vulcan in the UK.

This book is priceless for understanding this aircraft which fulfilled a significant role during the Cold War and inspires crowds during today’s airshows with it grace and power.

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