What made the Vulcan the best V-bomber?

YouTube / Imperial War Museums

The Avro Vulcan Bomber is one of the most famous British V bombers, well-known for its distinctive howl, delta wing, and with that its use in the Falklands conflict of 1982. 

During the war, it went through one of the longest bombing raids of any RAF aircraft flying from Ascension Island. But do you know that Vulcan wasn’t designed for that particular role? Instead, it was designed in the early stages of the Cold War as a nuclear high-level bomber. 

Birth of the Vulcan

In Britain after WWII thoughts turned to future conflict and the decision was made to build a bomber that could fly a fairly long range and could drop a nuclear weapon. 

The Vulcan was one of several designs. Initially, six aircraft companies made a proposal. The Vulcan eventually became the second of the V bombers. 

Ejecting from a Vulcan

The Vulcan has a crew of five. Up front are both the pilot and co-pilot sitting on ejector seats underneath a jettisonable canopy. In case there’s an emergency, it’s often that the co-pilot would have ejected, and would have allowed the canopy to depart. The co-pilot would have followed, but it would have let the aircraft itself depressurize. 

This is very important because the air electronics officer, the navigator plotter, and the navigator radar weren’t equipped with ejection seats. 

Thus, they would have to open the crew access door, rotate their seats, and physically move out of those seats aided by an inflating bag in the chair to push them towards the door and hopefully, to safety. 

Engine wing design and bomb capacity

The Vulcan was designed to carry conventional bombs and also nuclear weapons in the event the Cold War becomes too hot. It’s equipped with four engines buried deep within the wing root of that gigantic delta wing. 

When it was first designed, the delta was a new concept. Avro built several one-third-scale prototypes to test out the delta wing theory. It was the first production aircraft in the RAF to adopt this shape and the first combat aircraft anywhere in the world to do so. 

The Falkland Campaign

The Vulcan featured in the video, the X-Ray Juliet 824 is a Vulcan B2, the second variant of the Vulcan. The aircraft used all of its life as a bomber and was delivered to Duxford in March 1982. 

Significantly, it was delivered by Martin Withers, a pilot who just a few weeks or months later when the Falklands conflict began, undertook the first Black Buck raids flying a Vulcan from Ascension Island to the Falklands dropping bombs that crater the main runway. 

This particular mission was the longest bombing raid ever undertaken by the RAF, and any country up to that point. 


The Avro Vulcan is a truly amazing aircraft. It has a close affinity to the British public, and among the three V bombers it has gone down to probably the most famous, partly because of its key role in the Falkland’s campaign, and partly because after the conflict, it was retired as a bomber within the same year.