Weight & dimensions
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The Avro Vulcan (later Hawker Siddeley Vulcan from July 1963) is a jet-powered, tailless, delta-wing, high-altitude, strategic bomber, which was operated by the Royal Air Force (RAF) from 1956 until 1984. Aircraft manufacturer A.V. Roe and Company (Avro) designed the Vulcan in response to Specification B.35/46. Of the three V bombers produced, the Vulcan was considered the most technically advanced, hence the riskiest option. Several reduced-scale aircraft, designated Avro 707s, were produced to test and refine the delta-wing design principles.
The Vulcan B.1 was first delivered to the RAF in 1956; deliveries of the improved Vulcan B.2 started in 1960. The B.2 featured more powerful engines, a larger wing, an improved electrical system, and electronic countermeasures, and many were modified to accept the Blue Steel missile. As a part of the V-force, the Vulcan was the backbone of the United Kingdom’s airborne nuclear deterrent during much of the Cold War. Although the Vulcan was typically armed with nuclear weapons, it could also carry out conventional bombing missions, which it did in Operation Black Buck during the Falklands War between the United Kingdom and Argentina in 1982.
The Vulcan had no defensive weaponry, initially relying upon high-speed, high-altitude flight to evade interception. Electronic countermeasures were employed by the B.1 (designated B.1A) and B.2 from around 1960. A change to low-level tactics was made in the mid-1960s. In the mid-1970s, nine Vulcans were adapted for maritime radar reconnaissance operations, redesignated as B.2 (MRR). In the final years of service, six Vulcans were converted to the K.2 tanker configuration for aerial refueling.
After retirement by the RAF, one example, B.2 XH558, named The Spirit of Great Britain, was restored for use in display flights and air shows, whilst two other B.2s, XL426 and XM655, have been kept in taxiable condition for ground runs and demonstrations. B.2 XH558 flew for the last time in October 2015, and is also being kept in taxiable condition.