back to article Vulcan kept airborne by £400k refuel

The Vulcan to the Sky Trust is breathing a massive sigh of relief after an anonymous donor stumped up over £400,000 to keep Vulcan XH558 flying, the BBC reports. XH558 required around £7m and years of restoration before it finally took to the skies again in 2007. Keeping it aloft is evidently a very expensive business, since the …

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Anonymous Coward

Hmmm...

With the sabre rattling going on in South America, that Vulcan may come in handy! :-)

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Coffee/keyboard

What next

You may be right, I doubt whether we have anything that can reach F.I. anymore. Without a carrier or something to transport it there. Now all our carriers are in dock undergoing long term maintenance (can't afford to put to sea) and the new carriers are looking less and less likely to be built. So there is only one thing left to do. Capitulate!

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Grenade

400k from where?

Couldn't agree more - wonder if the 400k came courtesy of the MoD budget, along with a note asking what the cost would be to hire it for a quick turn down south?

Shame that successive governments decided to cut the defence budget so that all we can afford is second-string rubbish from the US (see the JSF for an example). Wonder if Obama would let us rent a few B-52s?

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Ark Royal

Ark Royal is at sea right now as the Fleet's strike carrier, Illustrious is in Rosyth for refit and poor old invincible is docked at Portsmouth at "reduced readiness".

So we have one carrier which could launch an attack, plus now we also have Albion, Bulwark and Ocean to support an amphibious landing, So we probably could pull it off again, more difficult in some areas, easier in some (Phalanx and Goalkeeper CIWS for starters)

Check your facts in future, rather than relying on the tabloids (aka soiled bog paper)..hint....the RN has a website as does the Navy News (lists where the RN are currently operating and what they have in those areas.

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A Vulcan wouldn't be any help to the Falklands

A single Vulcan wouldn't be any use to the Falklands as it took a spade full of luck and more or less every air-worthy (and a few less than air-worthy!) Victor AND Vulcan back in the 80's.

"Vulcan 607" by Rowland White is a very good read and gives the full story behind the Falkland's including the fact a fleet of 11 Victor tankers to get 1 bomb-carrying Vulcan from Ascension Island to it's target with a 50% chance of getting home again.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0552152293/ref=cm_rdp_product_img

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@AC "400k from where?"

There's no point in allowing the UK to have any decent aircraft or military traffic. Let's face it, you Brits don't have the fortitude to ever use it in combat. So, might as well give you the "second-string rubbish". After all, in the UK it's mostly just for air shows anyway.

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Last conflict?

From what I read in the book that was published a few years back, it needed six Vulcans to get one to reach from Ascension. They were arranged in two teams, with the others acting as inflight-refuling stations for the two that were supposed to execute the mission. As it was, mechanical problems meant that only one got through. All returned safely, fortunately.

I don't think one would could do the job, unless it were to fly from the Caribbean. From the noise Argentina is making at the moment, I'm not sure anybody would want to host such a flight.

But it would not matter. Current generation cruise missiles launched from a hunter-killer submarine should be able to hit the runway with a degree of certainly. But as far as I am aware, the Argentinians are not engaging in sabre-rattling rather than shaking a pointy stick at us. I don't believe that they have enough modern weaponry to take the Falklands.

They appear to have about 20 operational A-4AR Fightinghawks (Skyhawk derivatives) and about a dozen Mirage V and IAI Fingers (a Mirage V derivative), and some Pucara insurgency control aircraft. This is fewer aircraft than we shot down in the last conflict. And there is a larger British garrison there now.

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WTF?

Say What?!

Wait a minute! Has France taken over the U.K.??!! Capitulate?! No Way!!

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Tomahawks

We wouldn't need a Vulcan (which did practically no damage anyway). We have cruise missiles so rather than crater a runway at the arse end of nowhere we could (hypothetically) redecorate an office of our choice at the Argentine Defence Ministry.

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Anon coward

Not surprised that was posted as anon coward. Obviously a total cad and bounder. With comments like that, I would like to see the results of a close encounter between the poster and a few British service types down a dark alley sometime. He (it is a "he", I would imagine and probably a god-damn trigger-happy Yank from the sound of it) would soon find out the REAL meaning of the word "fortitude"!!!!!

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Grenade

In the wrong hands!

But at least we know how to use the aircraft and don't shoot at our own side like you yanks!

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Don't know where you come from......

But we probably bombed your house at some point to make you so miffed and deluded.

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Troll

OK, I'll bite (I know you're just trolling)

"you Brits don't have the fortitude to ever use it in combat."

Really? but you don't even have the "fortitude" to use your Reg name, let alone your real name, I think that Coward fits you so well.

Fortitude means "mental and emotional strength in facing difficulty, adversity, danger, or temptation courageously" as opposed to american attitude of "what can we blow up from a long, long way away" The US have never faced adversity, apart from sending in their all too patriotic soldiers into wars they start for purely economic reasons.

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Good news

I saw it at the Biggin Hill airshow last year, having seen the last flight many years ago. It was still the most awesome thing on show and got the best reaction from the crowd, and was the most excited the commentator got all day as well.

Long may it keep flying!

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Thank goodness that never happened

Because if it had, they would have got about 10 miles inside the Russky air defences at best.

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Nope ,,,

By the time the Soviet Union had interceptors or ground to air missiles that could offer a threat to the high altitude bombers, they had been switched to missile launching rather than bomb dropping roles. In this capacity, they didn't have to get very close to Soviet air defense systems.

The USAF plans to essentially "dive bomb" targets with nuclear armed fighters - now that was a far more unlikely scenario for success. Arguably though, that was just a way to try and convince the US public and the Soviet government that the US could deliver nuclear weapons before ICBMs were the norm.

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High altitude

The Vulcans prime function during the cold war would be to drop self-guided blue steel missile nukes from extremely high altitude, higher than any missile could reach at the time, practically skirting the atmosphere.

That was the real reason for the number and size of the engines so that they could actually run in such thin air. Once the poor russkys knew that a missile was on the way, the Vulcan would have long gone...

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blue steel

kindly explain just why the Vulcan had terrain following radar as standard then? the Blue Steel missiles were not intended to be dropped from high altitude... the Vulcan just popped up to a slightly higher altitude to launch then after confirming that the missile (s) were on their way, dropped back down to the altitude they'd flown in at... just above treetops... the final Blue Steels in service could be launched from as low as 1000 ft...

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Great news

the Vulcan flyover at the Goodwood Revival last year was a truly incredible experience. Took me a good week to dig my eardrums back out of the deepest recesses of my cranium.

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Excellent news.....

Excellents news and I am glad to see the funds were forthcoming as I think it is important to keep these things going, such an awesome aircraft that gets the punters going at airshows.

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Brilliant, but...

Where's the lottery money, etc. to help out.

Would be excellent to see if flyover at the olympics. They need to get a concord up and running again.

p.s. I did donate myself, but some £399990 short of that one.

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Several memories...

... spring to mind. Here are 2:

1. I was an RAF Cadet on Summer Camp at RAF Finningley in S.Yorks during the 1960s. We were enjoying our annual air experience flights in Chipmunk trainers, and our waiting room was an out-building. Suddenly there was an almighty bang, and we all rushed to the windows, only to watch a Vulcan literally blow itself apart. The undercarriage collapsed, the cockpit section hit the ground, and the aircrew scarpered across the airfield faster than a whippet with sulphuric acid applied to its testicles!

One year later we were at RAF White Waltham. There on the table, in the air experience waiting room, was a Restricted document that described what had gone wrong with the Vulcan we had seen destroyed. It turned out that something like 19 different faults occurred simultaneously, and that had it only been 18, all would have been well, due to fail-safe double redundancies being built in. The actual number of faults was almost certainly not 19, but you get my drift?

2. I was on duty as a medic (RAMC) at RAF Greenham Common when it was still a USAF base, and a military airshow was being held there. On the Monday following the weekend displays, the aircraft departed and each pilot was determined to show off to the maximum.

The Vulcan took off, circuited the airfield, and stood on its tail with full re-heat right over the top of our field hospital. The ceiling came down. Awesome power, and awesome mess!

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slight error

No reheat on Vulcans - just 4 very powerful Olypuses.

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Per Ardua ad Astra Wow .... Big Time

"The Vulcan took off, circuited the airfield, and stood on its tail with full re-heat right over the top of our field hospital. The ceiling came down. Awesome power, and awesome mess!" .... Sergie Kaponitovicz Posted Thursday 25th February 2010 15:04 GMT

Also an English Electric Lightning Trick Departure/Rocket Trip, Sergie.

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Different version

> each pilot was determined to show off to the maximum.

The version of the story I heard from my Dad who was in the RAF at the time was that to teach the "cheeky" yanks a thing or two about aircraft power was that the pilots of one of the Vulcans as they were leaving the base was to take off normally, then at the end of the runway they climbed vertically at full throttle into the clouds. At the time, (and probably true today), the Vulcan was the only bomber that could do this. I bet it made a bit of a racket.

They would have needed special clearance to perform this manoevre due to the enormous frame stress to the aircraft. I can only imagine....

And yes, the 4 Olympus engines have more than enough clout to do it.

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Re: slight error

Ivan, I'll take your word for it, but it certainly looked like re-heat/afterburners!

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Yes, it did...

... make a hell of a racket although it was felt, rather than heard.

A Tornado was first to try it that day. Set off a few car alarms in the car parks. Then the Vulcan did the same, and set the rest of them off.

(witnessed as a young Air Cadet @ RAF Finningley Air show)

Another favourite story an old flyboy type once told me was the Vulcan and the 2 Buccaneers taking on those cheeky US Top Gun chaps in the desert - and winning - by the Vulcan flying at 100ft, with a Buccaneer under each wing at 50ft.

The Top Gunners were pootling around at height looking for the Buccaneers, and didn't spot them as they were 'neath the Vulcan - which they were not classing as a threat. The target was bombed by them most successfully, the first warning of the Buccaneers being from ground spotters - by which time it was too late for the F15s to defend.

Would like to think it's true...

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Unhappy

@Sergie Kaponitovicz

"There on the table, in the air experience waiting room, was a Restricted document that described what had gone wrong with the Vulcan we had seen destroyed. It turned out that something like 19 different faults occurred simultaneously, and that had it only been 18, all would have been well, due to fail-safe double redundancies being built in. The actual number of faults was almost certainly not 19, but you get my drift?"

Not exactly the RAF Maintenance divisions finest hour.

I'd heard of a US aircraft (F117 IIRC) which took off missing 7 of the 8 bolts which kept each wing on (The bolts are bolts are fairly substantial items). It would seem the RAF managed to exceed even this level of performance.

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Probably not verbatim true

But the gist is certainly true. The Buccaneer was an astounding aircraft that had the ability to fly so close to the ground at high speed it was virtually impossible to see on radar.

I saw some film back in my RAF days of a Buccaneer at a desert flag exercise (I think that's what it was called) and it is flying so close to the ground you you;d think it was on wheels. Apparently (although I don't know whether it was intentional or something the pilots found by accident) the airframe shape is such that when it gets close to the ground it develops an air cushion strong enough to support the aircraft's weight. But it certainly is true that the American 'defenders' were never able to defend against teh Buccaneer.

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V

Great to hear, but of the three "V" bombers, I always preferred the still futuristic looking Victor myself.

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MrT
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Some could still fly...

http://www.yorkshireairmuseum.co.uk/collections/aircraft/post_wwII_aircraft_info.asp?id=35

This one, for example, just needs a nudge in the right place on a nose-up taxi run... and then be prepared for an investigation by the CAA. YAM also has a Bucanneer that could do the same - they'll be running soon again, on 11 April for the first 'Thunder Day' this season.

The YAM Victor (XL231) was involved in Black Buck during the Falklands War. 11 Victor tankers, two Vulcan bombers (one in reserve that flew on everything but the last leg) and a fiendish-looking refuelling strategy that involved moving fuel between the tankers to give the last one range enough do its job, plus have enough back in the air for the return trip. Only just made it too, with the last Victors landing in a chain rather than just coming in singley and clearing the runway before the next one.

I've been involved with YAM since the days when it was just a bunch of Halifax bits in a stroage garage at RAF Dishforth (before acquiring Elvington) - the Thunder Days are a great chance to see these collections come to life - including reuniting Victor and Vulcan on occasion, plus having chances to see Lancaster, B17 and Halifax lined up together.

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MJI
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Brilliant

I hope to see it again this year, last year it flew over my home 5 times in a day

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Fantastic

I saw this bird many years ago at Mildenhall. Bloody noisy, but it was a good week before the smile left my face.

Like Bletchley Park this thing needs to stay around for ever so future generations can fully understand why they've got it so good.

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Great..

I saw it at Bournemouth airshow last summer. Every single penny that gets spent on that thing is worthwhile. It is truly staggering to see and hear it. When it pointed its engines at the beach and opened up the throttles it was like the gates to hell had opened.

Long may it continue flying.

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Well done that man.

Excellent job from the AC there. If that £113m from the lottery the other week had been mine, they'd have had some of that cash too.

Vulcan - best in show, Farnborough 2009, IMHO.

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2009?

Picky point, but the last show was in 2008. Though otherwise, fair comment - even if partly because otherwise Farnborough's gone so down the pan since its heyday. The Vulcan was only really given a spin there; in other subsequent shows they were a bit more daring from what I gather.

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BBMF

I guess it's not likely in these cash-strapped times, but I wish they'd expand the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight to be something more akin to an "RAF Historical" Flight, as there's plenty more of our military aviation history that's disappeared since WWII

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My dad used to fly these

The ministry issued all the aircrews with silk scarves, that had maps of the parts of Russia they were likely to bomb, printed on them (presumably so that they could walk back to Britain, and have another go, if they got shot down). The only problem was, that all the names, of all the towns, rivers and cities, were printed in Western Script!

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Happy

Waddington 2008

One of the first public flights (if not the first) since the Vulcan got it's airworthiness ticket. I've never seen so many grown men in tears, me included! Absolutely brilliant, with so many memories of them flying over my home near Finningley in the 60s and 70s ...

My heartfelt thanks go to the anonymous donor for his/her largesse.

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Joke

Last vulcan?

So there's only one Vulcan left is there?

I for one hope it's Spock!

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@Alastair J

Not quite. Although it looks big and lumbering, in fact it was a seriously good plane for the time, including being moderately stealthy.

For myself though, I'd rather see a Lightning in flight.

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Well if I could choose

It'd be the plane that Gerry Anderson must have designed - the TSR-2:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BAC_TSR-2

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TSR2

Yes, I'll second that - nip along to Duxford* and have a look at it - definitely like a prop from Thunderbirds (* recommended anyway, good day out if you're into planes).

Read Roland Beaumont's book and it makes it plain that TSR2 was a plane designed by geniuses and killed by morons.

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Spock!

Surely you meant T'Pol.

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Waddington 2010

Anyone know if the Vulcan might be at Waddington this year? First time i've been to an airshow in a long long time.

One of my favourite memories was as a kid at Finningley Air Show in Doncaster - the Vulcan doing a full power climb and every car alarm going off.

(I also miss the lightning - would love to see one of those flying again too)

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Lee on Solent airshows passim

When HMS Daedalus was still operational, they used to have an airshow most years, and though the Red Arrows used to turn up, the thing that always stole the show was the Vulcan flypast.

I didn't go all that often, because I had no need to. It always seemed that the Vulcan's flightpath took it directly over my house in Pompey, usually not much altitude. Quite often it would bank over Pompey with the throttles well up to line up its run over Gosport, and it was just the most amazing thing I have ever seen or heard.

I was lying on Southsea Common when the Vulc flew over on its way somewhere last summer and it brought a lump to my throat to have that memory of childhood brought back. Don't give a flying you-know-what if it's illogial, or obsolete, or expensive to maintain, it is a symbol of the innovation and excellence that made this country great and should be maintained to show future generations how beauty can be combined with technical brilliance.

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@ Mike JVX

The Falklands are now defended by Eurofighters with anti ship missiles, last time the islands were already occupied making it difficult. I can't see an enemy landing force getting within 100 miles of the Falklands this time so no aircraft carrier required.

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Coat

The Victor shape

Note that *none* of the V bombers were supersonic, although they looked like they should have been.

The victor wing shape was designed to delay the onset of airflow going supersonic over the wing and screwing up the aerodynamics, much as modern super-critical wings do (and oneof the reasons why modern commercial airliners are *much* more efficient than their superficially similar 1950s counterparts)

It has the side effect of looking very lovely.

On the reheat question Olympus was used on Concorde, which *did* have reheat. Not having it on the military version seems odd.

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Anonymous Coward

Supersonic V-Bombers

Both the Victor and the Vulcan were dived to supersonic speeds, albeit unintentionally.

Picking up on an earlier comment about "second string US types - it gets worse than that, as the RAF are about to replace the ELINT Nimrods with secondhand Boeing RC-135W's, which are will be at least 10 years older than the aircraft they are replacing. I'm sure I'm missing something obvious but ....

We would no longer need the Vulcan (or anything else) to reproduce the Black Buck missions; the four Typhoon fighters based down in the Falklands are more than capable of dealing with anything the Argentinians could send against them - the Argentinian air force has not seen an significant improvements in capability since the last bout of unpleasantness, whilst the Typhoon is arguably one of the two most capable fighters in the world.

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The TSR.2 Olympus....

....did have reheat, it was the 320-22R variant. In its earliest versions it had some resonances caused by the internal bearing cooling air flow, and there was a risk that in the critical rpm range between 96 and 98% that it could fail and hence explode. The fuel surrounded the engine tunnels, so a major engine failure would have destroyed the aircraft.

This was the situation when Roland Beamont and Don Bowen flew it for the first flight, there was massive pressure to get airborne and they chose to take the risk.

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