'V' Bombers

Legs

ADC
Book Reviewer
#1
The Vulcan is clearly the most famous of them - and was the only one to see action. The Victor ended up relegated to a tanker. What happened to the Valiant and why did it fade from our hearts whilst the Vulcan is so much loved? Would people pay into a fund to get a Valiant in the air?

Why do we take certain aircraft into our hearts and others fade into obscurity?
 
#2
The Valiant was withdrawn in 1964 when it was found that the wing spars were all breaking. If any are left they won't be airworthy. I suspect the flying wing of the Vulcan, as with Concorde, made it a very attractive aircraft; both just 'look right'
 
#4
Vickers Valiant B1 X D818 is on display at RAFM Cosford, this is the only fully intact example in existence, and so is the only place where an example of all three V bombers can be seen together.

It holds an interesting place in RAF history being the first airframe used to test nuclear hydrodgen ordinance. This is the only reason why it was saved
 

maguire

LE
Book Reviewer
#5
didnt the Valiant do some jobs dropping conventional HE bombs during Suez?
 

jim24

LE
Book Reviewer
#6
Valiants of 148 sqn did indeed drop bombs on airfields and Army Barracks in Suez one was engaged by an Egyptian Meteor night fighter NF 13 no hits were recorded on the night of 31st October 1956. in fact the Valient was the only V Bomber to drop bombs in action until the Falklands
 

Legs

ADC
Book Reviewer
#7
Valiants of 148 sqn did indeed drop bombs on airfields and Army Barracks in Suez one was engaged by an Egyptian Meteor night fighter NF 13 no hits were recorded on the night of 31st October 1956. in fact the Valient was the only V Bomber to drop bombs in action until the Falklands
See, I never knew that. I thought the Vulcan was the only one that had seen action. My question then, is what makes the Vulcan the most loved of the three? They were all designed to drop buckets of instant sunshine, not to look pretty. They should be looked at with the same love as a Polaris Missile. So what is it that makes us love the Vulcan?
 
#9
See, I never knew that. I thought the Vulcan was the only one that had seen action. My question then, is what makes the Vulcan the most loved of the three? They were all designed to drop buckets of instant sunshine, not to look pretty. They should be looked at with the same love as a Polaris Missile. So what is it that makes us love the Vulcan?
Stick normal wings on a Vulcan and I doubt it would be held in nearly so much esteem. It's that wonderful delta shape, like that of a majestic Manta Ray, that makes it so popular.

 

jim24

LE
Book Reviewer
#10
At the rear of RAF St Athen at Beggers Pound there is the site where they were all scrapped, it was heart breaking to drive past and see these beautiful aircraft being smashed up. My late cousin Alan bought a Vulcan XA 903 for £5000 and had it in the Glamorgan Air Museum at Rhoose for some years but when they expanded the Airport all the Aircraft were sold off or scrapped in 1984, it was a sad day at least you can still see the one at Newark. They also had Valiant nose section from X D 826
 
#11
The Norfolk & Suffolk aviation museum at Flixton in Suffolk have nose sections from a Vulcan, Victor and Valiant. Other than Cosford I think its the only place to see the remains of all three together
 

maguire

LE
Book Reviewer
#12
See, I never knew that. I thought the Vulcan was the only one that had seen action. My question then, is what makes the Vulcan the most loved of the three? They were all designed to drop buckets of instant sunshine, not to look pretty. They should be looked at with the same love as a Polaris Missile. So what is it that makes us love the Vulcan?
perhaps an embodiment of the same pluck/national spirit/whatever you want to call it that makes the Lancaster such an icon? (perhaps not to the same degree, but in the same manner) not only is there the Black Buck connection, but also from a time when british industry could do it all by itself, from designing it (which at the time looked as though it belonged in the Eagle comic) to building it - when these days you get the impression we'd struggle to provide the replacement nuts and bolts for it from what passes for UK industry these days, let alone being able to build a replacement.
 
#13
The Valiant was a solid and simple design that did not meet the required spec for the original V bomber requirement but Vickers persuaded 'The Ministry' that they could get their aircraft in the air quickly and so fill the gap until the research and testing had been done to get the other two contenders ready. The 'men at the ministry' agreed to this and all Valiants had AAR and tanking capability built in from the start as they did not have the range called for. The men at the ministry kept the research going on both the Victor and the Vulcan in case one of these advanced (for their time) designs failed to produce the goods and so at the end of the day instead of one new aircraft type we got three. However the Valiants could not cope with low level work when that later became a requirement and most were scrapped on the airfields... There was still a need for tanking though and this role was handed over to the Victor.

It depends how you define a bomber but as a pure and simple load carrier the Victor was superior to the Vulcan which is probably why it got to truck the fuel about.

btw.. saw and heard XH558 today at Leuchars and she still looks and sounds beautiful.

Quick edit to say that the Shorts Sperrin was the fourth contender... It was rejected.
 

rampant

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#14
... However the Valiants could not cope with low level work when that later became a requirement and most were scrapped on the airfields...
Interesting you say that, when Legs first opened the thread I went for a net wander and came across this video:

[video=youtube;jCbzOQwJfd4]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCbzOQwJfd4[/video]
 

rampant

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#15
See, I never knew that. I thought the Vulcan was the only one that had seen action. My question then, is what makes the Vulcan the most loved of the three? They were all designed to drop buckets of instant sunshine, not to look pretty. They should be looked at with the same love as a Polaris Missile. So what is it that makes us love the Vulcan?
Apparently Victors also carried out an attack in the Borneo Conflict too:

Borneo Air War
 
#16
Must admit that I had not heard of this before but it seems that the B2 program was cancelled in 1955. So 'men in the ministry' again.

Seems that only one prototype ever existed... Must learn more about this, thanks for the info.
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
#17
Teetering along in a Tiger Moth, I was nearly run over by that black thing in August 1954.

One of the Victors gave a very impressive demo off Singapore for various invited dignitaries in 1965. It came creaming along fairly low and dropped a complete string of HE between the two rows of warships which were the main part of the demo. I assume word was meant to get back to Sukarno.



The Victor is of course out of shot left (so also a fourth aircraft carrier).

I think the bomb load was about half that of a B-52.
 

maguire

LE
Book Reviewer
#18
Teetering along in a Tiger Moth, I was nearly run over by that black thing in August 1954.

One of the Victors gave a very impressive demo off Singapore for various invited dignitaries in 1965. It came creaming along fairly low and dropped a complete string of HE between the two rows of warships which were the main part of the demo. I assume word was meant to get back to Sukarno.



The Victor is of course out of shot left (so also a fourth aircraft carrier).

I think the bomb load was about half that of a B-52.
the Victor's nominal load for conventional drops was, I believe, 35 x 1000-pounders.

It's also listed on Wiki as being rated to carry 2 Tallboys or 1 Grand Slam. were they still in bomb stores when the Victor came into service? would they have been a viable option if the occasion had demanded it in the fifties or sixties?
 
#19
Today I saw....no not the wrong thread, was at Redford Cav Barracks today and saw a Vulcan flying over the Pentlands, it's been years since I last saw one fly, the time I went to the Leuchars airshow it didn't manage to get airborne.
 
#20
Mags,

Many WWII era weapons remained on the inventory for a considerable time after endex. Notably, the original Dambusters film used surrogate shapes of UPKEEP partly because the weapon was still classified when the film was made in the mid 50s. Similarly, the Mk8 torpedo variant which accounted for the ARA General Belgrano in the Falklands War was originally designed in the twenties and used throughout WWII by the RN. I suspect that there are similar examples for the Army.

Meanwhile, TALLBOY and GRANDSLAM were both excellent weapons with very good ballistic and penetration properties. This allowed them to be used accurately from high level even using WWII radar and bomb sight technology. The successful TALLBOY penetration of a critical rail tunnel in France from high altitude by 617 Sqn (which prevented a Panzer division from reaching the Normandy area immediately after D-Day) was one example of the extraordinary accuracy that could be gained. Such technology was not too dissimilar to that employed on the V-bombers (eg all 3 types used a variant of the WWII vintage H2S radar first fitted to Stirlings, Halifaxes and Lancasters).

Therefore, there is no reason why TALLBOY and GRANDSLAM couldn't have been employed against the sort of target sets original considered such as tunnels, bunkers and bridges. However, I suspect the V-bombers’ primary nuclear role meant that no TALLBOY or GRANDSLAM carriage experiments, much less live drops, were ever conducted. It is interesting to note the USAF have now developed their own GPS guided equivalent to GRANDSLAM which can be carried by B-52 and B-2s. Coming to an Iranian bunker near you soon!

To answer Legs' original query, the Vulcan is so revered partly because of its iconic shape which immediately grabs the public imagination. Those of us who have been lucky enough to witness a tin triangle conduct sprightly performances at airshows over the years can testify to that. However, it was also extremely versatile as a platform being employed for strategic nuclear and tactical bombing, SEAD, Maritime Radar Reconnaissance, air sampling and AAR throughout its career.

The Victor was similarly versatile, being used for all of the above (except SEAD and air sampling) as well as strategic photo reconnaissance (as was the Valiant). However, it could not be thrown around quite as much at low level as the Vulcan and the B1 variants were notoriously underpowered (more so than the Vulcan Mk1s) which resulted in a particularly pedestrian performance in some configurations.

Given the reasons for the type’s subsequent demise, it is ironic that the Valiant was the only V-Bomber which had a specialised low level variant developed. However, the more conventional appearance of the Valiant, as well as it’s more limited longevity and being tainted with the fatigue issue meant it never gained the kudos of it’s Avro and Handley Page stablemates.

Personally, I have always considered that the Vulcan (and for that matter the Canberra!) would remain a highly relevant platform to ops had we updated the avionics, sensors and weapons options in the same way the US have done with the B-52. A tin triangle on task for 8+ hrs with a dozen EPW, Litening III, SAR/GMTI and EA would be a very flexible over Afghanistan today I wager!

Regards,
MM
 

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