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In all, Avro supplied 134 Vulcans to the Royal Air Force. The final version of the Vulcan, the B.Mk2, had gracefully-curved leading edges added to its 34-metre delta wingspan, making a beautiful, instantly-recognisable design.

Practice 'Scramble'

Practice 'Scramble'

From 1957 to 1969, during the dark days of the Cold War, the Avro Vulcan was the main British contribution to the NATO strategic nuclear deterrent.

For 24 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week, RAF Vulcans and their crews stood on "Quick Reaction Alert", to take off within 2 minutes in the event of a Soviet attack. Each Vulcan had a crew of five: two pilots, two navigators and an air electronics officer.

This picture shows a practice "Scramble".

Latterly Vulcans were equipped with the British hydrogen bomb, code-named "Yellow Sun", which had a power of 1million tonnes of high explosive, or a nuclear-tipped cruise missile called "Blue Steel".

No British bomber ever flew with a live nuclear weapon; the deterrent strategy was a success.

Vulcan and Concorde Olympus Engine

Vulcan and Concorde Olympus Engine

In 1969, the RAF handed its strategic deterrence responsibilities to the Royal Navy's Polaris submarine fleet. Vulcans flew on through the 1970's as tactical nuclear and conventional bombers, but the design was so strong and adaptable that some aircraft were converted to entirely different roles. This picture shows a Vulcan carrying a Concorde Olympus engine for tests. Other Vulcans were converted into Maritime Reconnaissance and Air-to-Air Refuelling roles. However by 1984, all but two Vulcans had left RAF service.

Vulcan is a registered trademark of BAE Systems plc. Vulcan to the Sky and XH558 are trademarks of the Vulcan to the Sky Trust.

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