A feature related to a previous story featured here:

Craig Bulman makes an observation from 1962

In reference to our article on October 25th, your editor mistakenly said XJ783 took part in the display at Biggin Hill in 1962, when in fact, it was clearly marked in Craig’s book as being on static display, so apologies to him.

However, it has resulted in yet more research and another interesting story.

Here is XJ783 on display that day. (Picture by Colin J. Dodds).

Craig writes: Because of this and similar photos I am aware that XJ783 was the static display aircraft that day on 15th September 1962, but I was unaware of the actual Vulcan which did the flying display at the time of publication. I am always continually doing my work and research on the Vulcan and have since found the reference to XH497, which would have been from No.50 Sqn, as apparently being the aircraft that conducted the flying display; therefore I have added it to my database for the next edition!

Vulcan B.Mk1, XH497 had only recently returned to service in June 1962, having been converted to B.Mk1A standard at the manufacturer's Bitteswell facilities and returned to service with No.50 Sqn at RAF Waddington. The aircraft would still have displayed its original anti-flash white colour scheme at that time. The other new and additional chapter within the Second Edition book - Differing Colour Schemes, Chapter 11, consists of eleven pages and explains the numerous variations of colour schemes applied to the Vulcan during its service years, together with listing each of the appropriate serial numbers.

Going back to the Vulcan involved in the flying display at Biggin Hill in September 1962, namely XH497. This particular aircraft had originally been the third such aircraft issued to No.617 Sqn at RAF Scampton, serving with them from 30th May 1958 until 1st August 1961.

At that point in time No.617 Sqn's existing B.Mk1 & 1A aircraft were transferred to RAF Waddington to equip the recently reformed No.50 Sqn, due to the fact that No.617 Sqn were about to become the third of the Scampton Wing squadrons to become equipped with the B.Mk2. With regards to XH497, the aircraft had only been in service for about five weeks when during take-off on a routine training sortie on 3rd July 1958 - when the captain, Flt Lt Graham Smeaton, lifted the aircraft off the runway, the two nose wheels fell off!!!

After gaining altitude the three rear crew were ordered to abandon the aircraft, which they did successfully but unfortunately for one of them lost his life when his parachute failed to open.

Meanwhile the captain and co-pilot remained with the stricken aircraft, bringing the Vulcan down onto the now foam covered runway on its main undercarriage whilst attempting to keep the nose leg off the runway for as long as possible before gently lowering the aircraft's nose. Thankfully a successful landing was executed and following subsequent repair XH497 remained in service for the foreseeable future until eventually being flown to RAF St Athan in Wales for scrapping, some eight years later.



It is only by coincidence that the aircraft on static display at Biggin Hill that day (15.9.62), XJ783, actually became the very first B.Mk2 to be issued to the Waddington Wing in January 1966, becoming no 50 Sqn's firdst such aircarft; commencing the process of replacing the B.Mk1A with this more powerful variant.

Find out other fascinating facts, figures and details on Vulcan aircraft in Craig's book - a Vulcan to the Sky Trust publication with proceeds supporting Vulcan XH558