Britain's Last Cold War-Era V-Bomber

Avro Vulcan XH558 Howls During Low level Flypast

A popular feature of XH558 at flypasts and air shows was the so-called 'Vulcan Howl', a distinctive sound made by some Vulcan airframes when the engines were at approximately 90 percent power. This incredible noise was caused by the particular arrangement of the air intakes, and it is superbly demonstrated in the video below -- turn up your sound system...

Avro Vulcan XH558 is seen here at low level after having performed an extremely noisy pass at the Little Gransden Airshow in the United Kingdom.   Photo: © Alex Mitchel, Historical Aviation Film Unit


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The Spirit Of Great Britain

Between 1956 and 19655 a total of 136 delta winged Vulcan aircraft were built in the UK, with the first entering service with the Royal Air Force in May 1957.

Vulcan XH558, otherwise known as "The Spirit Of Great Britain" was the last remaining airworthy example of these jet powered strategic nuclear bomber aircraft. It was the last Vulcan in military service, and it was also the very last aircraft of its type to fly after 1986, making it's final flight on the 28th of October 2015.

During the Falklands War the RAF launched a Vulcan bomber 8,000-miles to put the runway at Port Stanley (on the Falklands Islands) out of action. This was a logistical nightmare due to the Vulcan's limited range, and the operation needed 13 en-route aerial fuel tankers in order for the bomber to reach its target and then to return to base at RAF Ascension Islands.

The 16-hour flight on April 30th and May 1st 1982, was the longest non-stop bombing mission in history, up to that date. The result was that one of the aircraft's 1,000lb bombs hit the runway, denying the Argentines the chance to use it for their fast jets for over 24 hours. This was a key, early victory in the battle for air supremacy, and proved to Argentina that they were not 'out of range' of the RAF's might.





Almost like something out of Thunderbirds, the Vulcan bomber appears in the distance as a small triangular shape in the sky, and then rapidly becomes an enormous and very loud triangular shape overhead. The Historical Aviation Film Unit would have loved to have been able to see two or three of these behemoths in the sky at the same time.


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Vulcan XH558 is now permanently grounded and is based at Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield airport where it is kept in taxiable condition, and where a new educational and heritage facility is planned. Two other surviving Vulcans, XL426 and XM655 are also kept in taxiable condition in the UK, and are periodically displayed, one at Southend Airport, and the other at Wellesbourne Mountford Airfield .





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