Air Weapons

Vickers

Valiant

At the end of World War II, the RAF decided that it required a new strategic jet bomber to rival those being designed at the time in the US and the USSR. The result would be not one but three aircraft which were known colloquially as the 'V Bombers', the first of which was the Vickers Valiant. The Valiant was the most conventional of the three and also the least advanced but entered service anyway as each design was a sort of insurance in case the others failed. Although capable of conventional bombing, the Valiant was primarily used to carry Britain's first operational atomic bomb, the Blue Steel, which was first test dropped over South Australia in October 1956. That same month, Valiants has their first taste of combat flying from Malta against Egyptian targets during the Suez Crisis. Besides its bomber role (where it was operated by 10 RAF squadrons at its peak), Valiants went on to serve as reconnaissance aircraft and tankers until they were retired in 1964.

First flight of the two Vickers Type 660 and Type 667 prototypes took place on 18 May 1951. The basic bomber version was known as the Valiant B.1 and was complemented by a bomber/recon/tanker version, the B(PR)K.1, and the B(K).1 bomber/tanker. A low level night pathfinder was planned as the B.2 but never entered service since extensive low-level operations (which had not been envisioned) led to stress induced fatigue cracks which led to the retirement of the fleet.

Preceded by:

None

Succeeded by:

None

Datafile

DesignValiant B.1
TypeStrategic Bomber
Year1955
Crew5
Dimensions
Length32.99 m
Height9.80 m
Wing Span34.85 m
Wing Area219.4 m²
Weight
Empty34,419 kg
Maximum79,379 kg
Wing Loading361.7 kg/m²
Performance
Speed912 km/h
Ceiling16,459 m
Range7,242 km
Powerplant
Engine4 x Avon Mk. 204
Rolls-Royce
4,559 kgf
Thrust/Weight0.48
Armament
Guns-
Payload4,536 kg
AA WeaponsBlue Danube
Production
Built36
Total107