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Avro Vulcan

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RR Olympus
4- 20,000 lbs ea.
99 ft. 11 in.
111 ft.
106,000 lbs.
204,000 lbs.
21,000 lbs.
610 mph
645 mph
5,000 fpm
62,300 feet
4,500 miles

Avro Vulcan
Avro Vulcan

The Avro Vulcan was the last long range heavy bomber built by Great Britain. It made up an essential part of their airborne nuclear deterrent before being replaced by submarine launched intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The Avro Vulcan was conceived in 1946 as an Air Ministry requirement for a high altitude bomber to carry a 10,000 lb. atomic bomb a distance of 1,725 miles. It should be able to probe deep into the enemy's country while evaiding interceptor aircraft and anti-aircraft fire.

The Avro Vulcan design was completely new and believed a risky undertaking. The Vulcan represented a huge technological leap from the technology of World War II. It took about six years for the Vulcan to go from concept stage to reaching squadron service.

The Avro Vulcan, like many early jets, had its origins in German aircraft design. The aircraft was the first delta wing jet powered British bomber. Originally a straight delta wing design with winglets, instead of a center tail section, was chosen because it combined good load carrying capabilities and high subsonic speed at altitude.

To help gain data for the wing design, a number of flying scale models of the actual aircraft were made. Gradually the design was changed for additional aerodynamic efficiency until the final shape was produced. What had been a flying wing with wingtip fins acquired a single center fin. The nose of the Avro Vulcan was extended and a distinct fuselage evolved.

The prototype aircraft first flew in August 1952, piloted by Wing Commander Roy Falk. By 1953 the aircraft was officially named "Vulcan". The aircraft appeared at the Farnborough Air Show, and in 1955 performed a full roll.

Future Avro Vulcan models evolved to carry electric counter measure (ECM) equipment in their tail cones, have in-flight refueling capabilities, carry more ordnance, and utilize more powerful engines.

The Avro Vulcan was designed around Great Britain's atomic bomb, that was developed in parallel with the aircraft. The first bomb, named "Blue Danube", was fully developed by 1953. However it wasn't until 1957 that Avro Vulcan No. 230 OCU (Operation Conversion Unit) Squadron became operational at Waddington. Eventually ten RAF airfiels were updated to base the Vulcan bomber, with an additional 26 airfields becoming dispersal bases for times of international tensions.

Avro Vulcan bombers possessed massive destructive capability. Their effectiveness as a deterrent against the Soviet Union rested on their ability to get airborne and to their targets quickly. A QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) was established, whereby a number of aircraft were fueled, armed, and ready to be airborne in just four minutes. That was the time estimated it would take for a detected Soviet ballistic missile to hit a base in Great Britain.

The deterrent credibility of the Avro Vulcan was questioned once Soviet technology developed to the point where a U-2 spy aircraft was downed by a surface to air missile that reached an altitude of 65,000 feet in May of 1960. In response, the Vulcan would fly at low level, operating below the ability of most radars to detect it, then climbing to an altitude of 12,000 feet just before releasing its bomb. By now the bomber was carrying the "Yellow Sun" hydrogen bomb. It was replaced by the WE177 weapon in the mid-1960's. Later Avro Vulcan bombers were armed with the "Blue Steel" stand-off missile with a range of about 100 miles. This enabled greater survivability when attacking heavily defended targets.

Even after the Avro Vulcan was no longer used in the strategic deterrent role, it remained in front line service as a potent weapons platform with the ability to carry heavy ordnance loads, including nuclear payloads, if required.

When Argentina invaded the Falklands in 1982, Britain's campaign to regain the islands was made more difficult because of the great distances involved. Once Britain's task force was ready to re-take the islands, Argentine air defenses on the Falklands had to be disabled. The runway at Port Stanley had to be disabled, assuming that the Argentine Air Force would base their fighter aircraft there. Without a base in the Falklands, aircraft operating out of mainland Argentina would have been near the limits of their range to defend the islands. After the runway was disabled, radar sites would have to be taken out. Ascension Island, a British dependency, about 3,850 miles from the Falklands, was chosen as a base of operations. Due to its long range, the Avro Vulcan was chosen to nutralize Falkland defenses.

The Avro Vulcan Falklands missions were code named "Operation Black Buck", and five were flown by Avro Vulcan bombers. Three were against the runway at Port Stanley, and two were against radar sites. The 16 hour round trip covering some 7,700 miles was the longest ever attempted by the Avro Vulcan.

Each Black Buck Avro Vulcan had to be refueled several times by air tankers, also operating from Ascension Island. Some of the tankers also needed mid-air refueling to complete their missions. Although many RAF Vulcan bombers had refueling probes, they had not been used for a long time. One refueling probe for use on the mission had to be borrowed from a museum. Due to the great distances of over ocean flight, the bombers needed improved navigation. It is rumored that the navigation equipment was aquired from British Airways. Throttle control of the bombers was modified to allow "emergency war power" from the engines as necessary.

The first Avro Vulcan Black Buck mission took place on April 30th through May 1st, 1982. Two Vulcans took off, each carrying a total of 21 bombs weighing 1,000 lbs. each, for the eight hour trip to the Falklands. A total of eleven air tanker aircraft were used for the mission.

One Avro Vulcan had to return to base with technical difficulties, leaving a single bomber to carry out the mission. The last air tanker transferred so much fuel to the Vulcan bomber that it needed to be refueled by another air tanker to make it back to base.

At approximately 300 miles from Port Stanley, the Avro Vulcan descended to 300 feet above sea level to avoid radar detection. At around 40 miles before its target the Vulcan bomber climbed to 10,000 feet for its bombing run. An anti-aircraft gun radar was detected at about 10 miles from the target, but it was jammed by equipment on the Avro Vulcan supplied by the U.S. All 21 bombs were dropped in a diagonal line across the runway, with one hitting directly on center.

The effect of this and other Black Buck raids showed Argentina that if Vulcan bombers could reach the Falklands, it was possible for them to reach the mainland. As a result, many Argentine fighter aircraft were kept from the Falkland conflict in order to defend against a raid on Argentina.

The Avro Vulcan was also use as an in flight refueling tanker and for reconnaissance.

A total of 144 Avro Vulcan bombers were produced.

Avro Vulcan
Avro Vulcan

The Avro Vulcan scratched built by Richard Phillips has a wingspan of 35.5" and a length of 23.5". Richard powers his rc airplane with a CD ROM motor spinning an 8 x 4 pusher prop.

David Johnson, crew and rc Avro Vulcan
Avro Vulcan

Pictured above and below is the amazing Avro Vulcan rc airplane scratch built by David Johnson. It is 1/7 scale with a wingspan of 204". Power comes from two TJT 3000 turbine engines. All up weight is about 150 lbs.

Avro Vulcan in flight
Avro Vulcan

Merlin Graves with his Avro Vulcan
Avro Vulcan

Michael Upchurch wrote to tell us, "One of the senior Joliet club members scratch built an Avro Vulcan. It is a large scale with 4 engines. They had pictures on the web site at one time, I see that they have removed them now, but I believe if you contact the club through there e-mail address, pictures may still be available. This would be worth your time to check into, I am hard to impress, but this did just that!!!"

In answer to Michael's request, the picture above is of Merlin Graves of the Joliet RC Club and his impressive Avro Vulcan. It has a wingspan of 136" and a length of 121". Power comes from four O.S. .91 engines turning Dynamax fans. All up weight is about 90 lbs. Merlin says that it has a top speed of 100+ mph!

Graham Dorschell and his Avro Vulcan
Avro Vulcan

That's Graham Dorschell and his Avro Vulcan. Its wingspan is 5 1/2 feet and weight around 11 lbs. Twin Tornado pusher props provide the motivation for the scale rc airplane.

You can find plans at RC Groups by Ron who built an Avro Vulcan. It has a wingspan of 33". Ron used EPP foam as the primary building material. Powering it is an E-flite Park 300 motor. All up weight is between 10 and 13 oz.

There are posts at RC Groups by Cyclops 2 about his 5 foot wingspan Avro Vulcan foamy.

Green Air Designs has an Avro Vulcan. It has a 3 foot wingspan, is driven by twin pusher props, is made from Depron, and weighs 15 oz.

RC Groups has a thread started by Barry R. Killick about a Jetmart Avro Vulcan that weighs 56 oz.

Aerofoam has an Avro Vulcan slope soarer. Its wingspan is 34 1/2" and length is 18". Construction is from EPP and weight around 13 oz. It needs two channel elevon mixing.

Kit Cutters has an Avro Vulcan EDF. It is profile scale with a wingspan of 52 1/2". Original plans for the rc airplane are from Flying Scale Models. It is powered by four Speed 400 type motors turning WeMoTec 480 fans.

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