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Avro Vulcan

The Avro Vulcan is a jet powered tailless delta wing high-altitude strategic bomber, which was operated by the Royal Air Force from 1956 until 1984.



The initial production aircraft.

First few with straight leading edge, later retrofitted with Phase 2 (kinked) wing.

Early examples finished in silver, later changed to “anti-flash” white.

Many converted to B.1A standard 1959–1963.

Last few unmodified B.1s in RAF service with No. 230 OCU retired by 1966.

Last flight by any B.1, an engine testbed XA903, March 1979.


The B.1 with an ECM system in a new larger tail cone (as in B.2). 

Unlike the B.2, the B.1As did not undergo extensive wing strengthening for low level flying and were withdrawn from service 1966–67.


Developed version of the B.1. Larger, thinner wing than the B.1 (Phase 2C wing) and fitted with Olympus 201-202 engines, or Olympus 301 engines.

Uprated electrics with AAPP and Ram Air Turbine (RAT).

ECM similar to B.1A.

TFR in nose thimble radome fitted to most aircraft in mid-60s.

New Radar warning receiver aerials on tail fin giving it a square top from the mid 1970s.

B.2 (MRR) 

Nine B.2s converted to Maritime Radar Reconnaissance (MRR).

TFR deleted.

Five aircraft further modified for Air Sampling Role.

Distinctive gloss finish with light grey underside.


Six B.2s converted for air-to-air refuelling with Mark 17 Hose Drum Unit (HDU) mounted semi recessed in tail cone.

TFR deleted.

Fitted with three bomb bay drum tanks, it was the only mark of Vulcan that could jettison fuel in an emergency.




97 ft 1 in (29.59 m)


99 ft 5 in (30.30 m)


26 ft 6 in (8.08 m)

Wing area

3,554 sq ft (330.2 m2)



NACA 0010 mod


NACA 0008 mod

Empty weight

83,573 lb (37,908 kg) equipped and crewed

Max take-off weight

170,000 lb (77,111 kg)

Fuel capacity

9,280 imp gal (11,140 US gal; 42,200 l); 74,240 lb (33,675 kg)


4 × Bristol Olympus Mk.101 / Mk.102 / Mk.104 twin-spool turbojet engines,

11,000 lbf (49 kN) thrust each


Maximum speed

561 kn (646 mph, 1,039 km/h) at altitude

Maximum speed

Mach 0.96

Cruise speed

493 kn (567 mph, 913 km/h) / M0.86 at 45,000 feet (14,000 m)


2,265 nmi (2,607 mi, 4,195 km)

Service ceiling

55,000 ft (17,000 m)




21 × 1,000 pounds (454 kg) of conventional bombs

1 × Blue Danube nuclear gravity bomb

1 × Violet Club 400 kt nuclear gravity bomb

1 × U.S. Mark 5 nuclear gravity bomb supplied under Project E

1 × Yellow Sun Mk.1 400 kt nuclear gravity bomb

1 × Yellow Sun Mk.2 1.1 Mt thermonuclear gravity bomb

1 × Red Beard nuclear gravity bomb

1 × WE.177B parachute-retarded nuclear gravity bomb.



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