Avro RJ85/RJ100

in Royal Bahraini Air Force Service

History

One Avro RJ85 regional jet obtained from manufacturer and delivered in November 2001, and one more in January 2005. One RJ100 obtained in January 2008 and delivered in March 2008. Used for transport duties.

Individual Details

Serial c/no. Prev. Identity Delivered Fate/Notes
A9C-BDF E2390 G-6-390 9 Nov 2001 RJ85, noted June 2008
A9C-HWR E2306 EI-CNK Jan 2005 RJ85, noted June 2008
A9C-AWL E3386 OH-SAM Mar 2008 RJ100

Pictures


RJ85 A9C-BDF (photo, Red-Phoenix Airpics)

More Information

References

  • Flight International 27 November-3 December 2001
  • Air-Britain Digest Spring 2002 p.45
  • World Air Forces Directory 2006/07 (Mach III)

Other Sources

To be added.

Avro Vulcan

Aircraft Profile
A 101 Sqn Vulcan B. Mk 1 at RAF St Athan,
Battle of Britain Air Show 1963.
(photo, Keith Mckenzie)

Development

The world’s first delta-winged bomber to reach operational service, the Avro Vulcan was one of the cornerstones of Britain’s nuclear deterrent during the height of the Cold War. In later years it was adapted for conventional bombing and saw active service in the Falklands War. It’s final career was as an airshow star, a role in which it excelled – and may do so again.
The origins of the Vulcan lie in an Air Staff Requirement formulated a year after the end of World War 2. OR 229 called for a high-altitude, high-speed, strategic bomber capable of delivering a single 10,000 lb (4536 kg) nuclear weapon to a target 1725 miles (2780 km) distant. No British atomic bomb existed at the time, and so both the aircraft and weapon would need to be developed in parallel. After some discussions with industry, detailed specification B.35/46 was formally issued in early 1947. Innovative aerodynamic and structural design were required to meet the exacting requirements of this specification and the clear favourite to emerge from the contest was the Avro Type 698, later known as the Vulcan. As an insurance, the runner-up design, the Handley Page HP.80 was also selected for further development (becoming the Victor).

Although unusual in appearance, the Avro design was of conventional design structurally. The delta wing plan-form allowed the engines, undercarriage, fuel and bomb load to be enclosed in a low drag shape which gave good high altitude and high speed performance. The four engines were located in pairs and fed by ‘letterbox’ inlets in the wing root leading edge. The short fuselage, merging into the wing root, was a relatively late addition which gave extra space for internal equipment and the pressurised crew compartment. A single large vertical fin provided directional stability.

An order for two prototype Type 698s was signed in June 1948. A short while later, an additional order was placed with Avro for the development of the Type 707 series of research aircraft. The Avro 707 was intended to investigate the low and high speed characteristics of delta wings, for application to the 698 design. In the event, development ran almost parallel to the Type 698 and only a small amount of useful data was obtained.

The first Type 698 prototype (VX770) took to the air for its maiden flight on 30 August 1952. Development of the intended Bristol Olympus engines was running behind schedule at the time, and so the first aircraft was fitted with four 6,500 lb (2,948 kg) thrust Rolls-Royce Avon R.A.3s. A year later the Avons were replaced by 7,500 lb (3,402 kg) thrust Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire A.S.Sa.6s. The Olympus Mk 100 engine of 9,750 lb (4,423 kg) thrust was first installed on the second prototype (VX777), which was initially flown on 3 September 1953. VX777 featured a 16 in (0.41 m) longer fuselage to increase fuel capacity and accomodate a longer nose leg, a ventral blister for visual bomb aiming and an improved crew compartment. In the meantime, the first production Vulcan B. Mk 1 order had been placed, and the first of these aircraft (XA889) flew on 4 February 1955. XA899 was principally used for engine development, flight testing each upgraded version of the Olympus as it was produced. The B. Mk 1 was successively fitted with Olympus Mk 101, 102 and 104 engines.

Avro test pilot Roly Falk caused a sensation at the 1955 Farnborough Air Show by slow-rolling the second production aircraft during its display. Thus giving a clear demonstration of the control and stability of the still strange-looking aircraft. Flight testing showed that the application of g at high altitude at high Mach numbers could result in aerodynamic buffeting (high frequency vibration), which posed a fatigue problem in the outer wings. This was remedied by reducing the sweep angle on the central portion of the wing, giving a kinked leading edge instead of the previously unbroken 52º sweep. This Phase 2 wing was first flight tested on the second prototype in October 1955 and progressively retrofitted to early production aircraft.
On 31 May 1956, No.230 Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) was formed to train Vulcan crews for Bomber Command. The first crews went on to form No.83 Squadron which received its first aircraft on 11 July 1957. A total of six squadrons were eventually equipped with the B. Mk 1.

In 1956 design work began on a Mk 2 version of the Vulcan. The new variant featured a redesigned wing which was optimised to take advantage of the substantial increases in engine thrust that were expected from new versions of the Olympus engine. Of markedly thinner section, the new Phase 2C wing featured much increased span and area and introduced a kinked trailing edge for the first time. The separate outboard ailerons and inboard elevators of the original wing were replaced by four-section elevons on each side. The second prototype (VX777) began flight testing of the new wing on 31 August 1957. Other changes for the B. Mk 2 included enlarged air intakes and ducting to match the more powerful engines, shortened landing gear, the addition of a gas turbine APU and a new AC electrical system installed. A flight refuelling probe was also added in the nose, an autopilot fitted and an ECM suite installed in the tail cone.

The production line switched over to the Vulcan B. Mk 2 version on the 46th and subsequent aircraft. The first production B. Mk 2 (XH533) flew on 19 August 1958 with Olympus Mk 200 engines, and the first delivery to 230 OCU occurred on 1 July 1960. A substantial improvement in operational altitude and the ability to pull higher g levels was soon demonstrated. From 1960, Olympus Mk 201 engines of 17,000 lb (7,711 kg) thrust were introduced. By 1963, Olympus Mk 301 engines of 20,000 lb (9,072 kg) thrust were being fitted (from aircraft XH557), but no engine retrofit for earlier B. Mk 2s was attempted.
While the Vulcan B. Mk 1 had been designed to deliver a free-fall nuclear bomb (initially Blue Danube and later Yellow Sun) from high altitude, advances in air defence technology were expected to make this approach far too hazardous. Accordingly, the B. Mk 2 was designed to be the launch platform for a new generation of ‘stand off’ nuclear weapons. The first of these was the Avro designed Blue Steel, a rocket-powered supersonic cruise missile with a nuclear warhead, which could be launched 100 miles from the target. Only 57 Blue Steels were produced, and Vulcans equipped to carry it were designated B. Mk 2A. The first such aircraft was delivered in September 1961, and full operational capability was achieved in February 1963. The remaining Vulcan B. Mk 2s were scheduled to receive Skybolt (a US-designed missile with a range of up to 1000 miles), but this programme was cancelled by the USA in December 1962, leaving the RAF without a Blue Steel replacement and facing the eventual demise of its nuclear deterrent role. In 1963 the British Governement opted to procure Polaris nuclear missile submarines instead. In the interim, the British WE177B parachute retarded nuclear weapon was adopted for use on Vulcan B. Mk 2s.

From 1959, many B. Mk 1s were equipped with in-flight refuelling capability. Between October 1960 and March 1963 all the surviving B. Mk 1s received an equipment upgrade which included Olympus Mk 104 engines and the incorporation of an Electronic Counter Measures (ECM) suite in a new enlarged tailcone featuring a prominent radome. The modified aircraft were designated B. Mk 1A. The same tailcone was also used on production B. Mk 2 aircraft.

During 1963 the mission capability of the B. Mk 1A was extended to include low-level ‘under the radar’ mission profiles. The B. Mk 2 followed suit in early 1964. A special terrain following radar was fitted in a nose ‘pimple’ to the latter variant in 1966.

In 1968 the Royal Navy’s Polaris missile equipped submarines took over the role of Britain’s Nuclear Deterrent. The Blue Steel missile was subsequently withdrawn from service and the Vulcan B. Mk 2 switched to the tactical bombing role with conventional and nuclear weapons. The last Vulcan B. Mk 1As were all withdrawn from service by 1968 and the three remaining squadrons re-equipped with the B. Mk 2.

After retirement from squadron service, several B. Mk 1s were used for engine manufacturers flight trails. The Vulcan being ideal for this duty because of its high performance and good ground clearance. A pod containing the test engine was fitted over the bomb bay area and fuel lines etc plumbed in. The TSR 2, Concorde and Tornado programmes all benefitted from this type of testing.
The run-down of the nuclear deterrent force freed up Vulcans for other duties. Nine aircraft were assigned to the long range maritime radar reconnaissance role, replacing the Victor B/SR. 2. Designated B. Mk 2(MRR) these aircraft were modified with the addition of LORAN C navigation equipment and the removal of the terrain following radar thimble in the nose. No.27 Squadron used the aircraft between 1 November 1973 and 31 March 1982. In the mid-1970s, the tips of Vulcan fins acquired fore and aft antennae for an ARI 18228 radar warning receiver.

By 1982 the Vulcan had been in service for far longer than had been originally envisaged. Its replacement, the Panavia Tornado GR.1, started to enter RAF squadron service in January 1982. The run-down of the Vulcan force began with the closure of No.230 OCU in August 1981 and continued with all the Scampton-based units having disbanded by March 1982. Waddington-based units were expected to continue flying the Vulcan for a couple more years but this plan was soon abandoned for economic reasons.

Following the Argentinian invasion of the Falkland Islands in early 1982, five Vulcan B. Mk 2s were earmarked for possible offensive operations. These aircraft were fitted with a Westinghouse AN/ALQ-101 jamming pod under the starboard wing, and an Inertial Navigation System and refurbished flight refuelling probes. Operating from Ascension Island in the South Atlantic – the nearest available base – the Vulcans launched a series of high-profile attacks on the occupying forces on the islands, under the codename Black Buck. Refuelled by Victor tankers, the first raid, Black Buck 1, took place on the night of 30 April/1 May 1982, when XM607 released 21 1,000 lb (454 kg) bombs on the runway at Port Stanley Airport. The result was only a partial success and further bombing sorties were flown. Three other missions were also flown, using AGM-45A Shrike anti-radar missiles to target Argentinian radars. Argentina recognised the potential threat to mainland targets posed by the Vulcan’s ultra long-distance strikes and redeployed its fighter forces away from the south to defend more strategically important parts of the country.

The South Atlantic conflict caused only a short delay in the retirement of the bomber force, the last B. Mk 2 unit disbanding on 31 December 1982. However, the acute shortage of tanker aircraft which arose from the Falklands campaign led to six Vulcans being converted to the air-refuelling tanker role. Designated Vulcan K. Mk 2 – initially B. Mk 2(K) – these aircraft had the ECM suite removed and a Mk 17B hose-drum unit fitted below the tail in a crude box fairing. The bomb bay was filled with three auxiliary fuel tanks. No.50 Squadron operated these aircraft between 21 June 1982 and 31 March 1984. Thus becoming last RAF squadron to operate the Vulcan.

Upon its final retirement, the RAF chose to retain two Vulcans purely for air display purposes. In December 1986, the Vulcan Display Flight was reduced to one aircraft as a cost-cutting measure. Further funding cuts finally forced the last airworthy Vulcan (XH558) into retirement in late 1992. The aircraft was sold to C. Walton Ltd and delivered by air to Bruntingthorpe on 23 March 1993. Subsequently, the aircraft was kept in a serviceable condition for fast taxi runs along the huge runway at Bruntingthorpe. In 1999 agreement was reached between the CAA and the manufacturer (now British Aerospace) as to the civil certification requirements needed to allow the aircraft to fly again. A dedicated organisation, The Vulcan Operating Company, was established to manage the required work and raise funds to pay for it. On 22 June 2004 the Heritage Lottery Fund agreed to provide £2.734m towards restoring XH558 to flying condition. The funding commitment requires a financial contribution from other sources and donations are still actively sought. As of mid 2004, work is progressing well and a return to flight is forecast for 2006.

XA913 at Rolls
Royce Filton, with underslung RB.199 pre production engine.
B. Mk 1A XA913 on a slow pass, RAF Leuchars, seen in 1966.
(both photos, Keith McKenzie)

Variants

Requirement Specification: B.35/46
Manufacturers Designation: Avro Type 698

Development History:
first prototype One aircraft with Avon engines. Later successively fitted with Sapphire, Olympus 102, Olympus 104 and Conway engines.
second prototype One aircraft, much closer to production standard. Olympus 100 engines intially. Later flight tested Olympus 101/102/104 engines and new wing for B. Mk 2.
Vulcan B. Mk 1 Initial production version. Olympus 101/102/104 engines.
Vulcan B. Mk 1A Conversion of B. Mk 1 with ECM equipment in enlarged tailcone.
Vulcan B. Mk 2 Improved production version with larger, thinner, wing and uprated Olympus 201 or 301 engines. Later fitted with Terrain Following Radar in nose pimple and ARI.18228 passive radar warning system on top of fin.
Vulcan B. Mk 2A B. Mk 2 converted to carry Blue Steel missile. Olympus 301 engines. Reverted back to B. Mk 2 standard when Blue Steel withdrawn.
Vulcan B. Mk 2BS Alternative designation for B. Mk 2A.
Vulcan B. Mk 2(MRR) 9 conversions of B. Mk 2 for Maritime Radar Reconnaissance role.
Vulcan K. Mk 2 6 conversions of B. Mk 2 for air-refuelling tanker role, with single hose-drum unit under rear fuselage.
Stage 6 Vulcan Projected version of B. Mk 2 designed to carry six Skybolt missiles. Olympus 23 engines and new bigger wing.
Avro Type 700 Atlantic Projected airliner version using Vulcan wing and longer wider fuselage to carry passengers.

History

B.2 of 230 OCU on final approach
at Finningley in 1968
XH563, with Palouste bleed-air starter unit
plugged in, on a cold foggy October morning
at Scampton in 1968
(both photos, Keith McKenzie)
Key Dates:
7 January 1947    Requirement Specification B.35/46 formally issued
March 1947    Type 698 first sketched out as a pure delta flying wing
27 November 1947    Avro’s design tender to B.35/46 accepted
June 1948    Specification B.35/46 re-issued with amendments
June 1948    Two prototypes ordered
September 1948    Detailed design completed
July 1952    First B. Mk 1 production order
30 August 1952    First prototype maiden flight
October 1952    Type 698 officially named Vulcan by the Air Council
3 September 1953    Second prototype maiden flight
4 February 1955    First production B.1 maiden flight
5 October 1955    Flight testing of second prototype with Phase 2 kinked wing commences
20 July 1956    First B.1 delivery to RAF Bomber Command (230 OCU)
11 July 1957    First B.1 delivery to operational Squadron (83 Sqn)
31 August 1957    Second prototype flies with Mk.2 wing fitted
19 August 1958    First production B.2 maiden flight
30 April 1959    Last B. Mk 1 delivered
1 July 1960    First B.2 delivery to RAF Bomber Command (230 OCU)
October 1960    First B.2 delivery to operational Squadron (83 Sqn)
Oct 1960 – Mar 1963    B.1 to B.1A upgrade programme
February 1963    First operational Blue Steel equipped squadron (617 Sqn)
December 1962    Development of Skybolt missile abandoned
late 1963    Blue Steel trial launches at Woomera
1964    Vulcans switched to low-level attack profiles
14 January 1965    Last B.2 delivered
1966-Jan 1968    B.1As retired from squadron service
1969    Blue Steel missile withdrawn from RAF service – Vulcans tasked with conventional bombing
1 November 1973    First B.2(MRR) conversion delivered to RAF
9 June 1981    Phased retirement of B.2s starts
30 April/1 May 1982    Operation ‘Black Buck 1’ flown in Falklands War
1982    Rapid conversion of 6 a/c to K.2 air refuelling tankers
31 December 1982    Last B.2 squadron disbanded
31 March 1982    B.2(MRR) withdrawn from service
31 March 1984    K.2 withdrawn from service
23 March 1993    Last RAF Vulcan flight. Delivery of XH558 to Bruntingthorpe.
September 1999    Launch of campaign to return a Vulcan to the air
22 June 2004    Heritage Lottery Fund awards £2.7m for restoration of Vulcan XH558 to flying condition
2006    Planned first flight of restored Vulcan XH558

Operators

Military Operators

UK – Royal Air Force (B.1: 6 sqns + OCU; B.2: 11 sqns + OCU)

Government Agencies

UK – RAE Farnborough (A few on loan for test duties)

Civilian Operators

Bristol Siddeley/Rolls-Royce (At least 2 B. Mk 1s loaned for engine test bed use)
The Vulcan Operating Company (One B. Mk 2 restored to flying condition)

Specifications

Avro Vulcan B.Mk.1
Role: Long range strategic medium bomber
Crew: 5
Dimensions: Length 97 ft 1 in (29.59 m); Height 26 ft 6 in (7.95 m); Wing Span 99 ft 0 in (30.18 m); Wing Area 3554.0 sq ft (330.18 sq m)
Engine(s): Four Bristol Olympus 101 turbojets of 11,000 lb (4990 kg) st, or Olympus 102 of 12,000 lb (5443 kg) st or Olympus 104 of 13,000 lb (6078 kg) st.
Weights: Empty (including crew) 83,573 lb (37,144 kgs); Maximum Take-off 170,000 lb (77,111 kg)
Performance: Maximum level speed Mach 0.95 (625 mph, 1006 kph) at 39,375 ft (12,000 m); Cruising speed Mach 0.92 (607 mph, 977 kph) at 50,000 ft (15,241 m); Service ceiling 55,000 ft (16,765 m); Range 3000 mls (4,830 km).
Armament: No defensive guns. Conventional or free-fall nuclear bomb-load carried internally. Maximum bomb-load 21,000 lb (9,526 kg).
Avro Vulcan B.Mk.2
Role: Long range strategic medium bomber
Crew: 5
Dimensions: Length 99 ft 11 in (30.45 m) initially, 100 ft 1 in (30.50 m) over nose ‘pimple’, 105 ft 6 in (32.15 m) with refuelling probe; Height 27 ft 2in (8.28 m); Wing Span 111 ft 0 in (33.83 m); Wing Area 3964.0 sq ft (368.27 sq m)
Engine(s): Four Bristol Siddeley Olympus 201 turbojets each rated at 17,000 lb (7711 kg) st, or Olympus 301 turbojets each rated at 20,000 lb (9072 kg) st.
Weights: Empty Equipped ? lb (? kg); Normal Take-off 179,898 lb (81,600 kg); Maximum Take-off 200,180 lb (90,800 kg)
Performance: Maximum level speed Mach 0.75 (528 mph, 850 kph) at sea level, Mach 0.96 (645 mph, 1038 kph) at 39,375 ft (12,000 m); Maximum Cruising speed Mach 0.95 (627 mph, 1009 kph) at 55,100 ft (16,800 m); Service ceiling 64,960 ft (19,800 m); Combat radius on internal fuel 1,710-2300 mls (2750-3700 km); Ferry range 4,750 mls (7,650 km), lo-lo mission 3,450 miles (5550 km) without refuelling, 5,750 miles (9256 km) with one in-flight refuelling.
Armament: No defensive guns. Conventional (21 1,000 lb (454 kg) bombs) or nuclear bomb-load in internal bomb bay or provision for one Blue Steel ‘stand off’ bomb in semi-recessed installation. Many aircraft also included underwing attachment points for the Skybolt missile, which could be later used for the cariage of Shrike missiles and ECM pods.

Production

Design Centre

Head of Design Team: Roy Chadwick (Stu Davies from August 1947)
Chief Aerodynamicist: Eric Priestly (later Roy Ewans)
Project Designer: J.G. Willis (later G.A. Whitehead)
Design Office: A.V. Roe & Co Ltd, Chadderton, Manchester.

Manufacture

A.V. Roe & Co Ltd (From 1963 Hawker Siddeley Aviation Ltd)
(Woodford Airfield, Manchester, UK)
Version Quantity Assembly Location Time Period
Vulcan prototypes 2 Woodford Sept 1948-Sept 1953
Vulcan B. Mk 1 45 Woodford 1954-Mar 1959
Vulcan B. Mk 2 89 Woodford 1958-Dec 1964

Total Produced: 136 a/c (All variants)

Production List

See ‘The Vulcan Story’ listed below.

More Information

Books

‘The Vulcan Story’
by Tim Laming
Published by Arms & Armour Press, 1993 ISBN: 1 8540 9148 4
* Extremely detailed authoritative history of all aspects of the Vulcan.

‘The Vulcan Story 1947-2002’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Tim Laming
Published by Cassell Military, 11 April 2002 ISBN: 0 304 358 45 2
* Comprehensive reference. Updated version of above title?

‘Avro Vulcan – Postwar Military Aircraft: 4’
by Andrew Brookes
Published by Ian Allan Ltd, 1996 ISBN: 0 7110 1548 1
* Concise comprehensive history.

‘The ‘FOBS KID’ Syndrome – Vulcan Bombers In Action’
by Crew Chief Barry Goodwin
Published by ?, 2001 ISBN: ?
* Memories of a RAF crew chief who looked after Vulcans on the ground. (Reportedly, certain incidents attributed to the author actually occurred to fellow squadron members.)

‘V-Bombers’
by Tim Laming
Published by Patrick Stephens Ltd, 1996 ISBN: ?
* Covers all three V-bombers and Britain’s Nuclear Deterrent.

‘The Vulcan B.Mk 2 From A Different Angle’
by Craig Bulman
Published by Carnegie Publishing, 2001 ISBN: 1 858218 99 3
* History of the Vulcan bomber.

‘V-Bombers: Valiant, Vulcan and Victor’
by Barry Jones
Published by Crowood Press, 2001 ISBN: ?
* Development and operation of all three V-bombers.

‘Vulcan: Last Of The V-Bombers’
by Duncan Cubitt & Ken Ellis
Published by Osprey Publications Ltd, 1993 ISBN: 1 855322 92 7
* Collection of colour photos of Vulcans. Mostly the B.2 version and many of XH558 in action.

‘Avro Vulcan B.2 – Aeroguide 6’
by R Chesneau & R Rimell
Published by Linewrights Ltd, 1985 ISBN: 0 946958 05 X
* Modellers reference guide with markings and close-up photos of the B.2 version.

‘Royal Air Force Avro Vulcan: Warbird Tech 26’
by Kev Darling
Published by Speciality Press, 1999 ISBN: 1 58007 023 X
* Development history with reprints from Vulcan technical manuals.

‘Avro Vulcan: Warpaint No.30’
by Kev Darling
Published by Hall Park Publications, 2001 ISBN: ?
* Concise history with markings details and scale drawings.

‘Avro Aircraft Since 1908’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by A J Jackson
Published by Putnam Aeronautical Books, 1990 ISBN: 0 85177 834 8
* Detailed company history with a chapter on the Vulcan.

‘Wings Of Fame Volume 3’
Published by Aerospace Publishing, 1996 ISBN: 1 874023 70 0 (pb)/1 874023 76 X (hb)
* Includes well written 62-page feature on the Vulcan.

Magazines

To be added.

Links

Aviation Picture Hangar – Avro Vulcan
* Collection of colour photos of preserved Vulcans and some b+w in-service photos

Vulcans in Camera
* Superb collection of Vulcan in-service pics, mostly from the 1970s

The Mighty Vulcan – Tribute To A lady
* Collection of Vulcan photos – mostly XH558, including some cockpit details

Avro Vulcan – The Delta Lady
* Vulcan history, news & decent photo gallery

The Avro Vulcan Pages
* Lots of Vulcan info but last updated April 1999

Thunder & Lightnings Vulcan page
* Vulcan history, complete survivors list and a lot of nice photos

Vulcan Restoration Trust
* Website dedicated to XL426 at Southend

The Vulcan Operating Company
* The group restoring XH558 to flying condition. News, webcam, fund raising etc

Vulcan 558 Club
* Official supporters site for XH558 at Bruntingthorpe

Avro Vulcan Walk Around
* Detailed close-up photos of the Duxford and Newark Vulcans

RAF Waddington – Avro Vulcan
* Vulcan background, operations at Waddington, nice photos

Famous Vulcans
* Website dedicated to Vulcans XA903 and XH537 experimental testbeds with history, pics, Vulcan merchandise

Avro Vulcan XL319
* Site dedicated to the Vulcan at the North East Aircraft Museum

Mike’s Vulcan Pages
* Collection of photos of preserved Vulcans, very nice XH558 pics

Shop

Flight Simulator Models:
To be added.

Scale Models:
To be added.

Scale Drawings:
See the Aeroguide and Warpaint titles listed above.

Videos:

‘Vulcan – A Farewell To Arms’ [Order this video from Amazon UK]
DD Video, 1993, Catalogue Number: DD580
* Profile of the Vulcan and record of its final appearance at Cranfield on 20 September 1992.

‘Vulcan Squadron – Delta 8-3 – A story of a Vulcan Aircraft and its crew’ [Order this video from Amazon UK]
Catalogue Number: BF126
* Follows a Vulcan crew through training and active service in the late 1950s.

‘Avro Vulcan’ [Order this video from Amazon UK]
Catalogue Number: CHV2145
* Profile of the Vulcan bomber.

Avro 707

Aircraft Profile
Avro 707A WD280 over Port Phillip Bay,
near Point Cook, in 1956. (photo, via John Hopton)

Development

In the late 1940s, the high speed characteristics of delta-shaped (i.e. triangular planform) wings were relatively well understood theoretically, but little was known about their behaviour at low speeds, where various aerodynamic factors made analysis very difficult. Before an aircraft could be built which took advantage of the potential high performance a delta-wing offered, there was an obvious need for a research aircraft which could provide scientists and engineers with practical information on the handling characteristics of this untried wing planform. This research aircraft was the Avro 707, the first British aircraft with a delta-wing.

The origins of the Avro 707 are intertwined with those of the Avro Vulcan. In 1947 the Avro design team were busy working on determining the optimum configuration for the Type 698 jet bomber, which eventually became the Vulcan. The layout eventually decided upon was that of a delta-shaped wing, with no tailplane. This configuration had many performance advantages, but had never been flown on a British aircraft before. Discussions between Avro and the procurement authority (the Ministry of Supply) ensued on the best approach to minimise the risks associated with such an untried aerodynamic approach. It was agreed that a number of flying scale models of the delta wing would provide advance information for the Type 698 final design and give confidence in the overall design philosophy. The models proposed comprised two one-third scale aircraft for low speed research, designated Avro Type 707, and two half-scale aircraft for high speed high altitude research, designated Avro Type 710. After some vacillation, the Type 710 design was dropped and replaced by a single one-third scale aircraft under the designation Type 707A.

The first Type 707 aircraft (serial VX784) as a relatively simple design using many components from existing aircraft types and construction proceeded quite rapidly. It featured a rather unusual bifurcated dorsal air intake behind the cockpit for the Rolls-Royce Derwent engine, a clear-view canopy taken from a Gloster Meteor and a sharply tapered nose cone. The short stubby-looking aircraft made its maiden flight on 4 September 1949 at Boscombe Down, and sufficient flight hours were built up to allow a static appearance at the 1949 SBAC show at Farnborough two days later. Tragically, test pilot Eric Esler lost control of the aircraft at low speed on 31st September and fatally crashed near Blackbushe. The probable cause was a sudden control circuit failure causing the air brakes to be locked open and thus provoking a stall.

The loss of the first prototype resulted in work on the second Type 707 aircraft being suspended for a time, but was then restarted with increased urgency. A number of modifications were introduced to save time and simplify the construction. The long pointed nose section intended for the Type 707A was grafted onto the fuselage, resulting in the new aircraft being 12 ft (3.66 m) longer than the original. Other changes included a different degree of wing leading edge sweep, modified elevators and air brakes. A Gloster Meteor cockpit canopy, Avro Athena main undercarriage and a lengthened Hawker P.1052 nose leg were incorporated in the design. Redesignated Type 707B (serial VX790), the maiden flight took place at Boscombe Down on 5 September 1950.

Flight testing of the 707B from Dunsfold soon justified Avro’s faith in the delta wing and its relatively docile handling characteristics. In February 1951, the ‘inverted-w’ bifurcated dorsal air intake had been replaced by more efficient and more elegant single intake with a NACA venturi inlet, and by August 1951 an ejection seat had been installed and a revised cockpit canopy fitted. Primarily designed for flight testing in the 80-350 knots speed range, the aircraft nevertheless quickly ran into problems with canopy turbulence causing starvation of the dorsal engine intake and it was resolved to abandon this feature on the forthcoming Type 707A. The contribution of the Type 707B to the Type 698 programme was rather limited because a good deal of time was spent on modifications which were relevant only to the 707B itself – principally attempts to cure pitch instability. It did however assist in defining the relatively high ground-incidence angle which a delta wing required for take-off. On 21 September 1951 VX790 was damaged in a landing accident and returned to Woodford for repair. Upon returning to Boscombe Down it took up general research duties with the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) and Empire Test Pilots School (ETPS), until badly damaged in another landing accident at Farnborough on 25 September 1956 in the hands of an ETPS student. The aircraft was judged to be not worth repairing and subsequently used for spares for the remaining 707A and 707C aircraft. It was dumped at RAE Bedford in 1960.

The third aircraft in the series was the Type 707A (serial WD280), which first flew at Boscombe Down on 14 June 1951, after being transported down from Woodford like the previous aircraft. This aircraft was designed to fly at high subsonic Mach numbers and differed from the 707B in having a scaled-down Type 698 wing, complete with wing root engine intakes, cropped wing tips and hydraulically powered flying control surfaces. The absence of a dorsal air intake allowed an elegant extended dorsal fin to be fitted. For high altitude work the cockpit was partially pressurised. Unfortunately, a lot of flight time was spend in eliminating some of the problems with the new flying control system, and the eventual contribution to the Type 698 programme amounted to very little. In 1954 WD280 was fitted with a modified wing with a kinked leading edge, and after successful testing this later became the Vulcan ‘Phase Two’ wing modification. In 1956 WD280 was assigned to the Australian Aeronautical Research Council (AARC) and shipped on HMAS Melbouurne to Australia, where low speed flight trials were conducted from RAAF Laverton. On 10 February 1967, WD280 was struck off charge and sold to a local resident, who kept it in his back garden. In 1999 the aircraft was brought by the RAAF Museum and moved to Point Cook, where it is now on display.

On 13 November 1951, three additional aircraft were ordered under Issue 2 of Specification E.10/49. These comprised a second Type 707A (serial WZ736) and the first two of four planned side-by-side conversion trainers designated 707C (serialled WZ739 and WZ744). The 707Cs were intend to familiarise pilots with the characteristics of delta-winged aircraft, but the early Vulcans proved easy to fly and WZ739 was later cancelled. The two remaining aircraft were assembled at Avro’s repair and overhaul works at Bracebridge Heath, just south of Lincoln. WZ736 was first flown from nearby RAF Waddington on 20 February 1953 and WZ744 followed on 1 July 1953. Both aircraft were flown to Woodford and remained there for production acceptance testing before being handed over to the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) at Farnborough and Bedford. Neither aircraft was directly involved in the Vulcan development programme and spent their time involved in general research – WZ736 was involved in auto-throttle development trials until withdrawn in 1964, and WZ744 flew nearly 200 hours in the development of fly-by-wire electrically signalled hydraulic flying controls before being retired in January 1967. The two aircraft now survive in aircraft museums: WZ736 in the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry, and WZ744 at the RAF Museum, Cosford.

For various reasons, the early Avro 707s took too long to reach the flight test stage, and consequently their direct contribution to the Type 698 Vulcan programme was comparatively small. However, the Avro 707 family of research aircraft gave British aircraft designers early confidence in the general handling characteristics of the delta-wing, which lead to its adoption on other aircraft types (several of which where cancelled in 1957), and some of the systems tested found a direct application on other military aircraft programmes.

Avro 707B VX790 with later NACA dorsal intake
and modified canopy. (photo, BAE SYSTEMS)
Two-seater Avro 707C WZ744 was finished in silver overall. (photo, Keith McKenzie)

Variants

Requirement Specification: E.15/48 (707/707B) and E.10/49 (707A/707C)
Manufacturers Designation: Avro Type 707

Development History:
Avro 707 One aircraft (VX784) with Derwent 5 engine, ‘saddle’ type dorsal engine air intake behind the cockpit. Unpainted finish.
Avro 707A Two aircraft with Derwent 8 engine, modified wing section, wing root engine air intakes, control surfaces extensively modified. First aircraft (WD280) finished in pink initially, then repainted bright red – later silver. Second aircraft (WZ736) finished in orange overall.
Avro 707B One aircraft (VX790) to replace the original Avro 707. Longer more-pointed fuselage, Derwent 5 engine and dorsal engine air intake. Painted bright blue overall.
Avro 707C Side-by-side dual-control trainer version of 707A with widened forward fuselage. Derwent 8 engine, wing root engine intakes. One aircraft (WZ744) completed, finished in silver. One other aircraft (WZ739) cancelled.
Avro 724? Proposed version of Type 707 with six RB.108 lift engines in the fuselage for V/STOL jet research, to specification ER.143. Contract won by the Shorts SC.1.
Avro 710 Proposed high-speed high-altitude (Mach 0.95 and 60,000 ft/18,290 m) delta-wing research aircraft. Powered by two Rolls-Royce Avon engines. Design abandoned and replaced by Type 707A.

History

Key Dates:
3 November 1948    Requirement Specification E.15/48 formally issued
22 June 1948    2 Type 707 and 2 Type 710 aircraft ordered
September 1948    Type 707 design finalised
6 May 1949    One Avro 707A ordered to specification E.10/49 to replace Type 710
4 September 1949    Avro 707 VX784 maiden flight at Boscombe Down
30 September 1949    Avro 707 VX784 crashes near Blackbushe
6 September 1950    Avro 707B VX790 maiden flight at Boscombe Down
14 June 1951    First Avro 707A WD280 maiden flight
21 September 1951    Avro 707B VX790 damaged in landing accident
13 November 1951    One additional Avro 707A and first 2 of 4 planned Avro 707C ordered to E.10/49 Issue 2
11 January 1952    Order for Avro 707C WZ739 cancelled
May 1952    Avro 707B VX790 returned to Boscombe Down after repair
20 February 1953    Second Avro 707A WZ736 maiden flight
1 July 1953    Avro 707C WZ744 maiden flight
March 1954    Avro 707A WD280 fitted with powered flying controls and wing fences
March 1955    Avro 707A WD280 fitted with new kinked wing leading edge
6 March 1956    Avro 707A WD280 transferred to RAAF ownership and flown to Renfrew for shipment
8 May 1956    Avro 707A WD280 taken on charge by AARC in Australia
25 September 1956    Avro 707B VX790 damaged in landing accident at Farnborough
8 November 1957    Avro 707B VX790 struck off charge, to be reduced to spares
1960    Remains of Avro 707B VX790 dumped at Thurleigh
12 November 1964    Avro 707A WD280 flight testing completed in Australia
19 May 1962    Avro 707A WZ736 struck of charge at Farnborough, after use as spares source at Bedford for WZ744
1 February 1967    Avro 707C WZ744 retired from service and transferred to MoD(Air) for use as museum exhibit
10 February 1967    Avro 707A WD280 struck off charge and sold to private owner
April 1999    Avro 707A WD280 arrives at RAAF Museum
The second Avro 707A, WZ736, received an
orange finish. In front is a Vulcan wind tunnel
model. (photo, Phillip Evans)

Operators

Military Operators

None  

Government Agencies

UK – RAE Farnborough (Type 707B/707A/707C)
Australia – RAAF ARDU (Type 707A)

Civilian Operators

Avro (Type 707/707B/707A for development testing)

Specifications

Avro 707
Role: Research Aircraft
Crew: 1
Dimensions: Length 30 ft 6 in (9.29 m); Height ? ft ? in (? m); Wing Span 33 ft 0 in (10.06 m); Wing Area ? sq ft (? sq m)
Engine(s): One Rolls-Royce Derwent 5 turbojet of 3,500 lb (1,588 kg) st.
Weights: Empty ? lb (? kgs); Loaded 8,600 lb (3,901 kg)
Performance: No data published.
Avro 707A
Role: Research Aircraft
Crew: 1
Dimensions: Length 42 ft 4 in (12.90 m); Height 11 ft 7 in (3.53 m); Wing Span 34 ft 2 in (10.41 m); Wing Area 420.0 sq ft (39.02 sq m)
Engine(s): One Rolls-Royce Derwent 8 turbojet of 3,600 lb (1,633 kg) st.
Weights: Empty ? lb (? kgs); Loaded 9,500 lb (4,309 kg)
Performance: Limiting Mach number Mach 0.95 in a very shallow dive; Maximum speed 415 knots; Stalling speed “about 85 kts”; Optimum climb speed 270 knots at sea level, reducing by 10 knots every 10,000 ft (3,048 m). Service ceiling and Range not known.
Avro 707B
Role: Research Aircraft
Crew: 1
Dimensions: Length 42 ft 4 in (12.90 m); Height 11 ft 9 in (3.58 m); Wing Span 33 ft 0 in (10.06 m); Wing Area ? sq ft (? sq m)
Engine(s): One Rolls-Royce Derwent 5 turbojet of 3,500 lb (1,588 kg) st.
Weights: Empty ? lb (? kgs); Loaded 9,500 lb (4,309 kg)
Performance: Maximum level speed Mach 0.8 (400 knots); Minimum speed permitted in flight 100 kts; Optimum climb speed 280 knots at sea level, reducing by 25 kts every 10,000 ft (3,048 m). Service ceiling and Range not known.
Avro 707C
Role: Two-seat Trainer and Research Aircraft
Crew: 2
Dimensions: Length 42 ft 4 in (12.90 m); Height 11 ft 7 in (3.53 m); Wing Span 34 ft 2 in (10.41 m); Wing Area 420.0 sq ft (39.02 sq m)
Engine(s): One Rolls-Royce Derwent 8 turbojet of 3,600 lb (1633 kg) st.
Weights: Empty 7,873 lb (3,571 kgs); Loaded 9,826 lb (4,457 kg)
Performance: No data published.
Avro 707A, WD280, at RAAF Laverton on 16 September 1956. The Vulcan-style airbrakes are seen extended above the wing. (photo, via John Hopton) Another view of WD280, on 3 October 1958, clearly showing the kinked wing leading edge fitted to this aircraft. (photo, via John Hopton)

Production

Design Centre

Head of Design Team: S. D. Davies
Design Office: A.V. Roe & Co Ltd, Chadderton, Manchester.

Manufacture

A.V. Roe & Co Ltd (From 1963 Hawker Siddeley Aviation Ltd)
(Woodford Airfield, Manchester, UK)
Version Quantity Assembly Location Time Period
Avro 707 1 Woodford June 1948-Sept 1949
Avro 707B 1 Woodford June 1948-Sept 1950
Avro 707A 1 Woodford May 1949-June 1951
Avro 707A 1 Bracebridge Heath, Lincs. Nov 1951-Feb 1953
Avro 707C 1 Bracebridge Heath, Lincs. Nov 1951-July 1953

Total Produced: 5 a/c

Production List

To be added.

More Information

Books

‘Avro Aircraft Since 1908’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by A J Jackson
Published by Putnam Aeronautical Books, 1990 ISBN: 0 85177 834 8
* Detailed company history with a 4-page chapter on the Type 707 family.

‘British Research And Development Aircraft’
by Ray Sturtivant
Published by Haynes/Foulis, 1990 ISBN: 0 85429 697 2
* Includes 4 pages on the Type 707 family.

‘Combat Aircraft Prototypes Since 1945’
by Robert Jackson
Published by Airlife, 1985 ISBN: 0 906393 46 9
* Includes 3 pages on the Type 707 family.

‘Wings Of Fame Volume 3’
Published by Aerospace Publishing, 1996 ISBN: 1 874023 70 0 (pb)/1 874023 76 X (hb)
* Includes some details of Type 707 use, within article on Avro Vulcan.

Magazines

‘FlyPast’ (Key Publishing) September 1999

‘Aeropane Monthly’ (IPC Magazines) February 1994

‘Roundel’ (BARG) July 1989

Links

Avro 707 WZ736
* Set of 12 colour photos of WZ736 in the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry

Avro 707A, WD280 – Research Aircraft
* Detailed coverage of Avro 707A flight testing in Australia

Avro 707A WD280
* Brief details of WD280 at the RAAF Museum

Shop

Flight Simulator Models:
To be added.

Scale Models:
To be added.

Scale Drawings:
To be added.

Videos:

To be added.

Thanks to Glyn Owen, Mike Draper, Phil Butler and John Hopton for their help with this page.