Air Weapons

Strategic Bomber (1956)



Vulcan B.2 (RAF, No. 617 Sqn)

Second but arguably the finest of Britain's legendary "V Bombers", the Avro Vulcan outlived its two famous contemporaries becoming the last strategic bomber ever fielded by the RAF. It began life as a high altitude nuclear bomber but showed far greater potential at low altitute penetration and was designed from the outset as a carrier for Britain's Blue Danube nuclear bomb although later versions were equipped with the more formidable Blue Steel stand-off nuclear missile. Its design was highly unconventional: it's large tailless delta wings gave it a resemblance to earlier 'flying wing' experiments and were a result of captured German documentation. Aside from its role as a nuclear deterrant against the Soviet Union, the Vulcan was used as a conventional bomber during the 1982 Falklands War as part of the "Black Buck" missions against Port Stanley, the longest bombing missions in history at the time and the only time the Vulcan was used in combat. All were retired after the war while tanker units remained a few years after.

Maiden flight of the prototype Avro Type 698 took place on 30 August 1952 with Rolls-Royce Avon engines, eventually replaced by the Bristol Olympus in the initial production Vulcan B.1. A few were modified into B.1A standards by Armstrong Whitworth with the inclusion of an ECM package in a tailcone extension. Finally, the B.2 inlcuded more powerful engines, an inreased wing span, and the ability to carry the Blue Steel missile in the B.2A. During the Falklands, a number were fitted with AGM-45 anti-radar missiles while a makeshift tanker variant also used during the conflict was known as the K.2.

Preceded by:

Valiant (1955)

Succeeded by:

Victor (1958)


DesignVulcan B.1Vulcan B.2
TypeStrategic BomberStrategic Bomber
Length29.59 m30.43 m
Height8.077 m8.255 m
Wing Span30.18 m33.83 m
Wing Arean/an/a
Empty37,908 kg41,277 kg
Loaded75,751 kg92,534 kg
Maximum86,183 kg102,059 kg
Wing Loading261.0 kg/m²277.1 kg/m²
Speed1,006 km/h1,038 km/h
Cruise Speed977 km/hMach 0.8
Ceiling16,764 m18,288 m
Range7,242 km7,403 km
Engine4 x Olympus Mk. 101
Bristol Siddeley
4,990 kgf
4 x Olympus Mk. 201
Bristol Siddeley
7,711 kgf
Payload9,526 kg9,526 kg
AS WeaponsBlue Danube
Yellow Sun
Blue Steel