Avro Vulcan

The Avro Vulcan is a delta wing subsonic bomber that was operated by the Royal Air Force from 1953 until 1984. The Vulcan was part of the RAF V-bomber force, which fulfilled the role of nuclear deterrence against the Soviet Union during the Cold War. It was also used in a conventional bombing role during the Falklands conflict with Argentina. 

The Air Ministry required a bomber with a top speed of 500 knots (930 km/h), an operating ceiling of 50,000 ft (15,000 m), a range of 3,000 nautical miles (5,500 km) and a bomb load of 10,000 lb (4,500 kg); intended to carry out delivery of Britain's nuclear armed gravity bombs to strategic targets within Soviet territory (east of the Ural mountains). Design work began at A. V. Roe in 1947 under Roy Chadwick. The Type 698 as first envisaged was a delta wing tailless, almost flying wing design. This design was reworked and became more conventional adopting a centre fuselage with four paired engines and a tail. 

In September 1956, the RAF received its first Vulcan B.1; the second Vulcan was not delivered until 1957 and the delivery rate then increased. The B.2 variant was first tested in 1957 and entered service in 1960. A total of 134 production Vulcans were manufactured (45 B.1 and 89 B.2), the last being delivered to the RAF in January 1965. The last operational Vulcan squadron was disbanded in March 1984.

Avro Vulcan
Class Aircraft
Type Bomber
Manufacturer Avro
Origin United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain)
Country Name Origin Year
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) 1952
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Avro 136 View

Role Strategic bomber
National origin United Kingdom
Manufacturer A V Roe & Co (Avro)
Hawker Siddeley Aviation
First flight 30 August 1952
Introduction 20 July 1956
Retired March 1984
Status Retired from service
Primary user Royal Air Force
Produced 1956–1965
Number built 136 (including prototypes)
Unit cost £750,000 (1956)

General characteristics

  • Crew: 5 (pilot, co-pilot, AEO, Navigator Radar, Navigator Plotter)
  • Length: 97 ft 1 in (29.59 m)
  • Wingspan: 99 ft 5 in (30.3 m)
  • Height: 26 ft 6 in (8.0 m)
  • Wing area: 3554 ft (330.2 m)
  • Empty weight: 83,573 lb (including crew) (37,144 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 170,000 lb (77,111 kg)
  • Powerplant: 4 x Bristol Olympus 101, or 102 or 104, with higher thrust turbojet, 11,000 lbf (49kN) each


  • Maximum speed: 0.96 Mach (627 mph, 830 km/h 607 mph (1040 km/h) at altitude))
  • Cruise speed: 0.86 Mach at 45,000 ft (567 mph, 971 km/h)
  • Range: 2,607 Miles (4,171 km)
  • Service ceiling 55,000 ft (16,760 m)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.31


  • 21,000lb (9,500kg) of conventional bombs or single free-fall nuclear weapon

End notes