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Avro Vulcan XH558 of the Vulcan To the Sky Trust at Hanger 3 of Robin Hood Airport, Doncaster.

The Avro Vulcan is a jet-powered delta wing strategic bomber that was operated by the RAF from 1956-1984. A total of 134 Vulcans were produced and these were assembled at Woodford Aerodrome in Cheshire. The Vulcan formed the backbone of the United Kingdom's nuclear deterrent during the Cold War.

During the Cold War, RAF Vulcan squadrons remained on permanent standby under the principle of Quick Reaction Alert (QRA). A squadron could be scrambled within four minutes due to the crews living in huts beside their planes.

At the request of the United States, the Vulcan took part in a series of exercises known as Operation Skyshield. The purpose of the tests were to determine the effectiveness of the American defenses against Soviet attack. The United States had specifically requested the participation of the Vulcan because they had no bombers capable of operating at such a high altitude.

The Vulcans enjoyed unprecedented success when they 'attacked' New York, Chicago and Washington largely due to their Electronic Counter Measures systems and maneuverability. During the 1960-1961 exercises 15 out of 16 Vulcans successfully 'bombed' their targets and returned to base unscathed. At the time the successful penetration of the Vulcan bombers was strenuously denied by the United States and the results remained classified until 1997.

The Vulcan participated in Operation Black Buck as a conventional bomber during the Falklands War. The bombing of Port Stanley was the only series of combat missions undertaken by the Vulcan. In order to do so, each aircraft needed extensive last minute alterations and required air-to-air refuelling en route.

The last airworthy Vulcan is XH558 thanks to the efforts of the Vulcan to the Sky Trust which relies on public donations. It is housed at Robin Hood Airport in Doncaster and is due to be retired at the end of 2015.

Specifications

Crew: 5
Length: 97 ft 1 in
Wingspan: 99 ft 5 in
Height: 26 ft 6 in
Powerplant: 4 Bristol Olympus turbojets
Max speed: 645 mph at altitude
Cruise speed: 567 mph at 45,000 ft
Range: 2,607 mi
Service ceiling: 55,000 ft
Armament: 21 x 1,000 lb conventional bombs or 1 x nuclear bomb
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