The origin of the Avro Vulcan can be traced back to the response of Roy Chadwick, A V Roe's Chief Designer, to the receipt of Specification B35/46. This was the RAF's requirement for a four jet nuclear bomber and was initiated due to what became known as the 'Cold War'.
In early 1947, Roy Chadwick had decided upon a delta wing configuration which became known as the Type 698 project and was duly submitted to the RAF for approval.
Towards the end of July 1947, the news was received that prototypes of the Type 698 and the Handley Page Victor were to be commissioned. Unfortunately Roy Chadwick was killed in a tragic flying accident in August 1947 but his assistant S.D. Davies (a survivor of the same accident) continued to bring the project to fruition.
The prototype Avro Type 698 first took to the air on the 30th August 1952 with Wing Commander Roly Falk in the left hand seat.
A few changes were made between prototype and production models. It was found that buffeting was a problem with the outer wing sections and production models (designated B1) possessed the now famous 'kinked' leading edge. The Vulcan B2 entered service with the RAF in the 1960's and had a number of refinements over the B1, notably Series 201 Olympus engines producing an additional 5,000 lb st, along with an extended tail containing electronic countermeasures. This was the machine which would carry the Blue Steel nuclear missile.
During the Cold War years, the Vulcan was allocated the role of a high level, stand-off attack bomber and was painted in pure white to reflect nuclear 'flash'. From the 1960's onward, as Soviet air defences improved, the attack profile was changed to low-level penetration and the more familiar camouflage markings were adopted.
The Vulcan was last used in anger during the Falklands campaign. Known as the 'Black Buck' raids, the purpose was to destroy the airfield at Port Stanley. Flt. Lt. Martin Withers captained Vulcan XM607 in the longest ever sequence of bombing raids in history - 15 hours and 45 minutes. It is not until you have been inside a Vulcan cockpit can this feat really be imagined!
Specifications (B.Mk 2):
Engines: Four 20,000-pound thrust Rolls-Royce Olympus 301 turbojets
Max Takeoff Weight: ~250,000 lbs.
Wing Span: 111ft. 0in.
Length: 99ft. 11in.
Height: 27ft. 2in.
Maximum Speed: 645 mph
Ceiling: 65,000 ft.
Range: 4,600 miles with normal bomb-load
Armament: Up to 21,000 pounds of bombs, carried internally