Vulcan Bomber

rynner2

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#1
The Vulcan is not quite History yet, but it soon will be. Long article here about the last airworthy Vulcan:

Vulcan Bomber XH558: 'Grace and style' in the sky
By Stephanie Barnard, BBC News, South Yorkshire
(Several photos.)

They were once the UK's most potent nuclear deterrent and were on standby for a role in the Cuban missile crisis.

But in recent years there has been just one that kept the flag flying for the Vulcan Bombers.
XH558 is the final airworthy aircraft of its type and has been admired by thousands of people each year at air shows as a result.
But soon it too could be grounded like all those before it. :(

The "tin triangle", which is more than 50 years old, needs "challenging modifications" to both wings which the trust that owns it has decided cannot be funded.
The Vulcan To The Sky trust, which bought the aircraft in 2005, says escalating costs and limited engine life mean soon it will be confined to the runway for limited displays.

The group has already spent more than £20m on keeping "her" in the sky.
Upkeep of XH558 has been funded through public donations but the trust has come to the conclusion that the generosity that has kept her flying cannot meet the challenges ahead.
Trust chief executive Dr Robert Pleming told supporters recently: "We know that you would do your utmost to fund this work, but for a number of reasons we have decided not to ask you to take this risk."

With a shortage of parts and spare engines, XH558's shelf life has far exceeded any expectations.
More than £2m is needed each year to cover general maintenance, fuel and insurance, with any repairs needing additional funding.
Funds have always been an issue. The trust's access manager Toni Hunter said it had "been so close to the brink so many times", leading to various appeals and fundraising events.

Chief engineer "Taff" Kevin Stone has worked on the plane since the 1980s, when he worked in the RAF and is now the man charged with the task of maintaining her.
"She's flown over 7,500 hours, that's 10% more than any other Vulcan," he said.
"She was only ever meant to fly for about 10 to 15 years service and here she is, she's 52.
"It's the sheer grace yet power of the aircraft. It just glides through the sky. Nothing compares to her. It's a very nice aircraft to fly."

XH558, which contains more than 15 miles of cabling and weighs about 50 tonnes, is now flown by a small number of pilots who trained in the RAF and originally flew Vulcans in the 1980s.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Flying the Vulcan
Martin Withers, Former RAF Vulcan squadron leader

For its size, it's very powerful because it was designed to go to such high altitudes (50,000ft).
We do like to impress and show the aircraft off with steep climbs.

We like to make a lot of noise because people love the noise it makes.
It sets off car alarms, the ground vibrates and it makes a unique howl at full power.

It's a delight to fly. It's got such huge flying controls.
It's majestic.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Martin Withers, who joined the RAF in 1968 and flew Vulcans for more than 10 years from 1971, is its chief pilot.
He became a key part of the start of the Falklands war, making the first strike on the country on 1 May 1982 in another Vulcan, only months after the air force started to disband the aircraft from service.

The mission was written about in a bestselling book, Vulcan 607, by Roland White and is an example of why the Vulcans are so popular.
"We miraculously dropped 21 bombs, because that's how many we could take on the bomb bay. We straddled the runway at Port Stanley, the only runway on the island," Mr Withers said.
"We managed to make a big hole in the runway. It all contributed to the outcome of the whole conflict."

The XH558 is now used to woo the crowds at air shows but keeping the 52-year-old aircraft in working order is a constant challenge for the engineers who work on her.
Chief engineer Mr Stone said he has had to have "words" with some of the pilots over the years who have pulled manoeuvres and airborne stunts which have made him "almost fall off his chair" as he watched from the ground. :twisted:

The Vulcans were designed and built at Woodford, near Stockport, by A V Roe and company.
Bill Beton, a visitor to the hangar where XH558 is kept, remembers seeing them fly over his home in nearby Wilmslow in the 1970s and more recently at Southport Air Show.
"When I was a kid in the 70s there used to be big shouts of frenzy from friends because you could hear it coming. I've always had a soft spot (for them).
"Words defy me. It's majestic, it really is a beautiful thing."
"Nothing lasts forever though," said Mr Beton.

Toni Hunter, who gives guided tours around the Vulcan, said the aircraft would be used to inspire future generations.
"The legacy is what means an awful lot to us. Our aim is to reverse the trend away from engineering. We know there's a shortfall."

The generosity of public money is not just relied on by the trust but also people giving their time.

Judith Cocker, who lives only a few miles from the airport, in Finningley, decided to volunteer after her husband "roped" her in.
"She's iconic and just so wonderful. She's just so special," said Mrs Cocker.
"When you hear her go down the runway, just before she takes off and you get that howl. It gets all of the heckles up on the back of your neck.
"I still pinch myself everyday that I can be so close to her. She's just got this spirit."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-so ... e-19952395
 

rynner2

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#2
Vulcans have been mentioned on FTMB before.
In 2007 I posted this in Coincidences:


There's a story on the beeb today, Vulcan bomber returns to the sky
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/leic ... 049694.stm

Years ago, working as a sailing instructor, one of my students one week was an ex-RAF type who had been a Vulcan pilot. (He was missing flying, and wanted a hobby that would replace that gap in his life...)
So much for history.

Over the last few years, I've been scanning my photo collection into the computer and onto disc...
Tonight I continued with the current album I've been scanning (which is a bit of a random collection of prints from various dates), and came across some photos of the Vulcan Pilot!

(These photos were taken by another member of the crew that week, and sent to me.
And, for the record, I've never met another Vulcan pilot in my life!)

http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewt ... 520#733520
[2015 edit: But sadly that link no longer works. I'll have to see if I can reshow the pics...]


The Vulcan has often been mentioned on UFO threads in relation to Flying Triangles.
Sometimes, maybe, the UFO was a Vulcan!
This post was made by Scotmedia in 2004:


I documented a comparative account in some detail and it
might be of particular interest. The initial report
read::
The following story is absolutely true and describes my
only "close encounter".

[snip]

My route home took me up a hill on the A1104 towards
Ulceby Cross. Part way up the hill, at around 11:00 p.m.,
I was dazzled by what I took to be the undipped
headlights of an oncoming car. I flashed my own
headlights and slowed. To my astonishment, the oncoming
lights slowly "took off" from the road and gracefully
flew to my right. Excitedly, I stopped my car, wound down
the driver's side window and peered out. The sight that
greeted me will stay in my memory forever.

I saw that the lights were coming from a massive,
beautiful aircraft which had now turned, was flying at a
height of about 50 feet and was now heading towards the
coast directly over my car! The craft was shaped like a
delta, very similar to the Vulcan bombers based in
Lincolnshire at the time.

However, it was about four times the size of a Vulcan,
flew extremely slowly and was absolutely silent! All
leading edges of the delta were beautifully rounded -
there were no sharp protuberances such as a tailplane.
The underside of the craft was coloured sky blue. It just
glided over me and headed towards the coast - no noise,
no smoke, no vibrations, no smell - just an aircraft of
sheer gargantuan beauty.

It was very real; from the A16 I was able to watch this
craft making its slow, majestic way south towards Boston
until I lost sight of it just past Spilsby. I'd love to
know what it was. It seemed too real to be
extraterrestrial. However, its immense size, its low
speed and above all, the sheer silence made it unlike any
aircraft known to me!

Paul H Hanmer FCA
[snip]

http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewt ... 413#357413


A day later, Scotmedia came up with this:

On 20/3/04, I wrote:
>It was only a year or so after I highlighted this case,
>that someone came forward with astounding information
>which possibly reconciled the overall evidence.

Although the most likely identification was a Vulcan bomber -
its profile matched and they were stationed nearby - obviously
the last thing they could be described as is silent!

However, John Burtenshaw is an acquaintance and experienced
military aviation enthusiast.
John explained the surprising and little known revelation from a
chance meeting with a Squadron Leader (Rtd.), who flew Vulcans
for most of his RAF career:

"A favourite trick of the Vulcan pilots was to reduce power and
use its massive wing area to glide for some miles before applying
power again, to conserve fuel. It was not officially sanctioned
and was never put on record as the public might have kicked up a
fuss (would you want a several tons of bomber gliding over your
town!!)".

Another corroborative factor is that Vulcans did employ a
grey/light-blue camouflage which was sometimes, although not
always, 'plain' underneath - see, for example the photograph
archive at:
http://studysupport.info/vulcanbomber/
[URL updated - rynner]

Although Paul believed the size was much larger than a Vulcan,
it's notoriously difficult to gauge perspective, especially
against the sky as a backdrop and at night.

If Paul was duly mistaken, that's understandable under the
circumstances outlined.

I don't know as I wasn't there, however, those alleged 'silent
Vulcans' are perhaps worth keeping in mind.

http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewt ... 120#358120

:D
 
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rynner2

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#3
I remember a story, probably from the 60s, that one or more Vulcans 'succesfully bombed' Washington DC during exercises!

A quick web search doesn't confirm this, although such exercises certainly took place:


Vulcans frequently visited the United States during the 1960s and 1970s to participate in air shows and static displays, as well as to participate in the Strategic Air Command's Annual Bombing and Navigation Competition at such locations as Barksdale AFB, Louisiana and the former McCoy AFB, Florida, with the RAF crews representing Bomber Command and later Strike Command. Vulcans also took part in the 1960, 1961, and 1962 Operation Skyshield exercises, in which NORAD defences were tested against possible Soviet air attack, the Vulcans simulating Soviet fighter/bomber attacks against New York, Chicago and Washington. The results of the tests were classified until 1997.[130] Another successful use of the Vulcan happened with the 'Giant Voice' exercise, 1974. Even then, when Vulcan was quite obsolescent, RAF bombers managed to avoid USAF interceptors.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avro_Vulca ... al_history

Anyone know anymore about this incident or incidents?
 

CarlosTheDJ

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#4
There's a Vulcan bomber at Wellesbourne airfield (roughly halfway between Stratford-on-Avon and Warwick), many a happy Sunday afternoon spent poking around that as a wee lad with me grandad!

I don't think it's airworthy though :(

(is "airworthy" even a word?)
 

Bigphoot2

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#5
I was at an airshow a few years back and ended up chatting to a former Lightning pilot. The conversation got round to Vulcans and how hard they were to intercept on training exercises. As he put it "That big bugger would run rings around a Lightning!"

Talking of which, wouldn't it be nice to see a Lightning back in the air...
 

rynner2

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#7
I remember having one fly over my head at about two, or three, hundred feet, at an air-show once, back at the end of the Seventies. Enormous bloody great things.
 

Bigphoot2

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Pietro_Mercurios said:
I remember having one fly over my head at about two, or three, hundred feet, at an air-show once, back at the end of the Seventies. Enormous bloody great things.
Another airshow conversation I had was with a fomer member of the ground crew - "you don't appreciate how big Vulcans are until you have to polish the ******* wings!"
 

oldrover

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#9
CarlosTheDJ said:
There's a Vulcan bomber at Wellesbourne airfield (roughly halfway between Stratford-on-Avon and Warwick), many a happy Sunday afternoon spent poking around that as a wee lad with me grandad!

I don't think it's airworthy though :(

(is "airworthy" even a word?)
There's one up on the Brecon Beacons too, that one's definitely not airworthy.
 

gordonrutter

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#11
By some coincidence I currently have a former Vulcan pilot asleep in my library!

Seriously!

Gordon
 

gordonrutter

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#13
rynner2 said:
gordonrutter said:
By some coincidence I currently have a former Vulcan pilot asleep in my library!
A library! There's posh!

(I've only got a book case.. :( )
I always hesitated to call it that but a librarian pointed out that it has every available piece of wall space and quite a lot of floor space covered with books so what else was it? It does make it sound grander than it is.

Gordon
 
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#14
gordonrutter said:
rynner2 said:
gordonrutter said:
By some coincidence I currently have a former Vulcan pilot asleep in my library!
A library! There's posh!

(I've only got a book case.. :( )
I always hesitated to call it that but a librarian pointed out that it has every available piece of wall space and quite a lot of floor space covered with books so what else was it? It does make it sound grander than it is.

Gordon
Has he any tales of lost H-Bombs or close calls?
 

Yithian

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Likewise.

When I lived alone in a two-bedroom flat, the smaller bedroom was entirely occupied by half a dozen bookshelves of classified books, a single desk and a single chair. It started a little facetiously, but what else are you going to call that - a book room? A reading room?
 

Yithian

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Which is least pretentious? Library or study?
I tend to think of a study as a home office...
 

Limelight

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#19
I saw a Vulcan flying near Lincoln sometime during summer last year. Must have been the one mentioned in Rynner's opening post. I didn't realise until now how lucky I was to see it airborne.
 

gordonrutter

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#20
XH558 is the only airworthy Vulcan left and it retires next year. There are a few dotted around at air museums and thats it so - good spotting!

Gordon
 

rynner2

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#21
Vulcan to fly over Goodwood – and on to 2015
The last airworthy Avro Vulcan should continue to fly for two more years.
By David Motton
3:05PM BST 14 Jun 2013

The last airworthy Vulcan bomber, XH558, will fly in the skies over the Goodwood Festival of Speed next month, and could be back for another two years.

Last autumn the Vulcan to the Sky Trust, the charity which keeps XH558 in the air, announced that the aircraft would be retired at the end of 2013. However, the Trust now believes it can solve the complex technical challenges which would have grounded the Cold War bomber.

Dr Robert Pleming, the Trust's chief executive, said: "“If everything goes to plan, we should be able to release sufficient additional flying hours for XH558 to complete full display seasons in both 2014 and 2015, in addition to this year’s spectacular season which is just about to start. There are still many gateways to pass through, but we are sufficiently confident to begin the vital fundraising that will make this exciting extension to XH558’s flying life possible.”

There are three main engineering hurdles to overcome in what the Trust calls "Operation 2015". Andrew Edmondson, the Trust's engineering director, said: "The most technically challenging is a vital modification to the leading edges of the wings required to increase the fatigue life of the airframe.

"The second element, which is less technically complex but in some ways even more difficult to solve, is to ensure that we have sufficient stocks of all the system components needed for the additional two flying years.”

The final item is to complete the 2013-14 winter service, including the rectification of any technical issues resulting from the 2013 flying season.

The wing strengthening will be carried out to Modification 2221, which was developed by Avro while the Vulcans were in service. It’s a very precise operation made more difficult because none of the original manufacturing tools and key drawings survive. So heritage aircraft specialists at Cranfield Aerospace (who also support the UK’s last flying Avro Lancaster) have had to “reverse engineer” the critical components. The next step will be to design and construct the components needed for the wing modification, before fitting the components in early 2014.

Even with its wings successfully modified, the Trust doesn't expect to keep XH558 in the skies beyond 2015 because of a shortage of spare parts. “This is the real limiting factor,” said Edmondson. “We concluded that by the end of the 2015 flying season, we will have almost exhausted the available engine life and will be critically short of other components, several of which are either prohibitively expensive to remanufacture or simply can never be made again because the drawings no longer exist.”

Nonetheless, Dr Pleming is proud that the Vulcan will have flown for far longer than the Trust expected when it was restored in 2007. “We will have beaten all our targets by a significant margin,” he said. “XH558 is now enjoyed by around three million people every year – 50 per cent more than two years ago – including children and young people who are inspired to learn more about engineering and aviation, hopefully to help fill the UK’s desperate technology skills gaps. We have packed tours of adults and young people at the hangar at Robin Hood Doncaster Sheffield Airport and also support engineering training for local businesses.

“When XH558 does finally touch down for the last time it is hoped that she will form the heart of a new type of engineering, education and experience centre so that she can continue to inspire new generations.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/goo ... -2015.html
 

rynner2

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#23
[Video]

Vulcan bomber leaves RAF Waddington for the last time

It was the last chance for people in Lincolnshire to see the Vulcan bomber in action on Friday.
Crowds gathered at RAF Waddington to watch the Vulcan XH558, which was delivered to the base in 1960, take off and perform a special flypast.

The Vulcan's engines will reach the end of their life next year and Waddington's runway will also be out of service for repairs in 2015.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-li ... e-28276162

All good nostalgic stuff, but we should be grateful that none of the British V-Bombers ever had to drop a nuclear weapon in anger. Their role as a deterrent force devolved to RN Trident-equipped submarines.

(My dad was based in Lincolnshire during WWII, servicing Lancasters. I don't know if he was ever at Waddington, however.)
 
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#24
rynner2 said:
[Video]

Vulcan bomber leaves RAF Waddington for the last time

It was the last chance for people in Lincolnshire to see the Vulcan bomber in action on Friday.
Crowds gathered at RAF Waddington to watch the Vulcan XH558, which was delivered to the base in 1960, take off and perform a special flypast.

The Vulcan's engines will reach the end of their life next year and Waddington's runway will also be out of service for repairs in 2015.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-li ... e-28276162

All good nostalgic stuff, but we should be grateful that none of the British V-Bombers ever had to drop a nuclear weapon in anger. Their role as a deterrent force devolved to RN Trident-equipped submarines.

(My dad was based in Lincolnshire during WWII, servicing Lancasters. I don't know if he was ever at Waddington, however.)
Never saw one in real life. The Irish Air Corps had Vampire jets, I remember seeing these as a kid.

One is on display in the National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks, Dublin.

 

rynner2

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#26
It was Culdrose Air Show today. I didn't go (I had things to do I couldn't do earlier in the week), but I wish I had, as a Vulcan was the star of the show! Will I ever get another chance to photograph one?

Local TV news today:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0 ... t-31072014

The flying pics start 19m 48s in.

[EDIT 2015: Sorry, page no longer available.]

------------------------------------

Sadly not everything went well:
Aircraft crashes on to the runway at Royal Navy Air Day

An aircraft has crashed on to the runway at the Royal Navy Culdrose Air Day.
The pilot of the Royal Navy Sea Fury walked away from the wreckage uninjured.

The last flying displays at RNAS Culdrose were stopped after the crash. Eyewitnesses report that the aircraft appeared to lose power and made an emergency landing.
Emergency crews are at the scene on the runway at the Helston airbase.

The aircraft is reported to have been from the Historic Flight at Yeovilton.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cornwall-28594569
(No video of this incident.)
 
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rynner2

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#28
Vulcan's flypast tribute to Stockport factory birthplace
[Video]

The last flying Vulcan bomber aircraft has flown over the Greater Manchester factory where it was built as part of a farewell tour of the country.
The famous Cold War nuclear warplane crossed Woodford Aerodrome near Stockport, where it was made in the 1960s, at about 15:20 BST.
It will be grounded later this month after backers withdrew support.
Huge crowds have gathered to catch a last glimpse of the plane on the first of a two-day tour of the UK .

The bomber, introduced as part of the UK's nuclear programme during the Cold War, saw action during the 1982 Falklands War.
A part of the RAF since 1952, the last remaining model left service in 1993 according to organisers Vulcan to the Sky.

The XH558 bomber will make a flypast tour over the southern half of the UK on October 11 as police warned against making efforts to see it take off and land at Robin Hood Airport near Doncaster.
It will then make one final flight towards the end of October, details of which are yet to be confirmed.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-34495414
 

Krepostnoi

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#29
XH558 captured my children's imagination, to my surprise and pleasure. She had to miss Southport air show in 2014, so we did what is now verboten, and drove to the airport to watch her take off for her last flight that season. There was a small crowd of enthusiasts, and we got chatting to a bloke who turned out to be a fitter on the aircraft, so we had exclusive expert commentary. I confess I had a lump in my throat as we watched, not least as if the V bombers had ever flown in anger, one of my children's grandparents would have been on the receiving end. We saw her fly twice more this year before we left, but nothing matched that first view.

There were intriguing hints (you'll need some patience to sift through the thread for the relevant posts) on the military site ARRSE following the Shoreham show disaster that the XH558 project might have cut a few too many corners. Difficult to know who knows what on there - there's a lot of bluster - but it's an interesting alternative to the largely uncritical coverage the project receives.
 

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#30
I saw a Vulcan many years ago at Mildenhal and the overriding impression it left on me is that it is an incredibly loud aircraft. If I were dug in with one of those roaring across the plains towards my position, I'd most likely soil myself long before the first munitions were dropped.

One of the most impressive displays of aeronautics I witnessed was quite by chance two years ago. I was walking along a peaceful river valley in the North-Westernmost province of South Korea with a rucksack on my back when four A-10 Tankbusters in formation roared past and proceeded to weave among the surrounding peaks at low altitude - it looked like a training exercise. For aircraft of such a bulk, they are magnificent at manoeuvring - my thanks to the USAF for the free show.
 
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