web analytics



Vickers Valiant airfix

13 Jun
2012

diecast military aircraft

The development of the turbojet engine and the nuclear bomb completely altered the structure of Royal Air Force Bomber Command. At a senior level it was seen that a single aircraft would now be able to perform a mission which might have required 1,000 bombers during World War II. Thus, there was an urgent need for new, ‘modern’ bombers to fill the ranks of a smaller Bomber Command. The Command would have a reduced number of aircraft, but these aircraft would offer higher performance and be able to deliver any of the nuclear bombs then being developed – including Britain’s nuclear deterrent. The new aircraft were to be able to operate at a specified altitude of not less than 50,000 ft and at speeds around Mach 0.9-1.0. The prospect of such performance was not only of appeal to those who would fly the bombers; it was also of immense political appeal, since the high cost of a single bomber meant that only a limited number could be built owing to the state of Britain’s economy following the end of the war. Indeed, there was a need to totally re-equip the whole of the RAF, but most notably Bomber Command. At the time many people believed in the policy of rebuilding Britain’s military strength through a massive re-armament drive at all cost – this thinking ultimately leading to the development of the RAF’s V-Bomber force as a strategic deterrent.
As a result of this new defence planning, the Air Staff issued a 1947 requirement for new jet bombers. The aircraft were to utilise a wing sweep of some 35, which was assumed to be the optimum angle for large aircraft, based on British data and captured German research. Such an angle delayed compressibility effects over the wing when approaching the speed of sound. At the time these effects were relatively unknown, a further bomber, the Short Sperrin, being designed with straight wings as an ‘insurance bomber’ against the failure of the more radical designs then being proposed.
Vickers submitted a tender for the bomber competition, but was unsuccessful. However, later study of its design revealed that the Vickers’ bomber would be able to meet all of the specified requirements, apart from that of range. Though less advanced than the other two designs that later emerged as the Vulcan and Victor, Vickers’ submission could be made ready much sooner than those from Handley Page and Avro, this time advantage proving very attractive to Bomber Command.

Vickers Valiant Cockpit

As a result of Vickers’ proposal, Air Ministry Specification B.9/48 was drawn up around the design, which was allocated the number 660 in the Vickers type list. Two prototypes were ordered on 2 February 1950, the first was to be powered by four Rolls-Royce Avon RA.3 turbojets rated at 6,500 lb st, and the second, designated Type 667, was to be powered by four Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire turbojets.

classic plane models

Above: WB210, the first Valiant prototype, was rolled out in a highly-polished natural metal finish. Its ‘letter-box’ air intakes are clearly visible in this view. Although the Valiant was the most conventional of the operational V-bombers, it represented the cutting-edge of bomber technology when it first flew in 1951. (Aerospace Publishing Ltd)
Initial design work commenced in 1949 and within a year components were being made into complete assemblies at the Foxwarren experimental shop. It is interesting to note that such was the rapid pace of developments in aviation at the time, that two prototypes were required because the concept of the project was largely experimental. Two aircraft would allow for on-going modifications on one, while the other was being tested. By now the Vickers B.9/48 bomber had been christened Valiant.
Final assembly of the bomber commenced in 1951 at Vickers’ company airfield at Wisley. From the grass airfield the prototype Valiant, Vickers Type 660, WB210, took to the air on 18 May 1951. The crew for the flight comprised the pilot, J. ‘Mutt’ Summers, who had previously flown the prototype Spitfire, and G. R. ‘Jock’ Bryce. The flight was short, lasting barely five minutes, and only four more flights were made from Wisley’s grass strip before trials were relocated to Hum airfield, Bournemouth,

Top: One of a batch of 30 Valiant B(K).Mk 1 aircraft, XD823 was one of the Operation Grapple aircraft. These machines were specially modified, being the first Valiants painted overall in anti-flash white and the only examples with white nose radomes. (Arthur Gibson Photographic Collection)Shown here on display during an RAF open day at the height of its operational career, this Valiant B. Mk 1 wears the standard anti-flash white colour scheme with pale national markings and serials. (Via Glenn Sands)while a concrete runway was constructed at Wisley. Although already known as the Valiant, the prototype was not officially named until June 1951. It was so called in recognition of an earlier Vickers aircraft, the Type 131 of 1931, a single-engined military tractor biplane.WB210 was subjected to seven months of flight testing during which an RAF officer, Squadron Leader Brian Foster, was attached to the test team. Foster was flying as co-pilot on 12 January 1952, when, during engine shutdown and re-light trials over Hampshire, a fire broke out in an engine bay after a wet start. No fire detection equipment had been installed in the bay, and by the time the blaze was detected the flames were so advanced that the wing was on the point of collapse. The pilot gave the order to abandon the aircraft and the three rear crew members went out first, followed by the two pilots. All the crew survived, except Squadron Leader Foster, who died when his ejection seat struck the Valiant’s fin while the aircraft was in an uncontrolled, descending left-hand turn. Following this accident, modifications were made to the atmospheric balance in the fuel system, curing the fault which had led to the wet start and fire.

Valiant Valiant model

Although tragic, the loss of the first Valiant did not affect flight testing to the extent that many believed. The second prototype, WB215, was almost complete at the time and made its first flight at Wisley on 11 April 1952. WB215 differed from its predecessor in introducing enlarged intakes to feed the 7,500-lb st
Right: Some industry pundits called for all Valiants to be completed to the B. Mk 2 standard illustrated here. Had they been, the type’s premature retirement with fatigue problems might have been avoided. (Aerospace Publishing Ltd)
Below: By comparison with the photograph of WB210 on the previous page, this image nicely demonstrates the production-standard intake configuration. It also shows the Valiant’s earliest service finish to advantage. (Aerospace Publishing Ltd)

model s

Avon RA.7 engines that had been used to power it in place of the proposed Sapphires. The aircraft remained with the test programme for more than a year and was flown by a second RAF officer, Squadron Leader Rupert G. W. Oakley.
Following the success of WB215, Vickers received an initial order for 25 Valiant B. Mk Is in April 1951. Five of these aircraft were to be powered by 9,000-1b st Avon RA.14 engines, while the remaining 20 were to have 10,500-lb st Avon RA.28s, with longer jet pipes. At the same time, Vickers received specifications from the Ministry of Supply for a prototype target-marking version of the Valiant, which was to be strengthened for high-speed, low-level flight and to have increased fuel tankage. Designated Type 673 and named Valiant B. Mk 2, the aircraft was known unofficially by Vickers as the ‘Pathfinder’. It first flew on 4 September 1953, just days before that year’s SBAC Farnborough airshow. The B. Mk 2 was finished in overall gloss black, and its fuselage was 4 ft 6 in longer that that of the B. Mk 1. Other structural changes saw the undercarriage housed in two long nacelles projecting behind the trailing edge of the redesigned wing.

franklin mint airplane models

The airframe changes were coupled with the introduction of Rolls-Royce RA.14 engines, which gave the B. Mk 2 significantly improved handling over the B. Mk 1. Flight tests showed that the B. Mk 2 was able to achieve 552 mph at sea level, whereas the B. Mk 1 struggled to reach 414 mph. Production of the ‘Pathfinder’ would have allowed for even greater performance, since Rolls-Royce RB.80 by-pass engines, the forerunners of the Conway turbofan, were to be installed. However, the Air Staff decided that there was no longer a requirement for the Valiant B. Mk 2 and the sole example, WJ954, was eventually scrapped. In a twist of fate, ten years later the whole of the V-Force adopted a low-level role. The airframes of the Valiants then in service proved incapable of withstanding the stresses imposed by prolonged flight at low level.

Building the Vickers Valiant

With Valiant B. Mk 1 production certain, a number of revolutionary manufacturing methods had to be adopted by Vickers.

wooden model airplanes

Powered stretching and forming tools were used for the leading edges and fuselage panels, fuselage frames and spar sections. Sculpture milling was introduced for the first time, to manufacture the centresection spar web plates. Synthetic bonding was applied to doubling plates on the control surfaces. A special glass-bonding shop was started to produce various dielectric components, such as the nose radome and suppressed aerials, as well as ducting for the air system.
The four Avons were buried in the inner wing, a location which was in keeping with British practice at the time. Their intakes were long rectangular slots in the wing root leading edge. Before the first flight vertical airflow straighteners were added in the mouths of the intakes, but in subsequent Valiants the familiar ‘spectacle’ intakes were adopted to provide a greater mass flow to the higher rated RA.7, RA.14 and RA.28 Avons.
The Valiant’s fuselage followed the general pattern of tensile alloy, stressed-skin construction and embodied Vickers’ traditional system of construction, with a flush-riveted skin attached to the longitudinal stringers only, the circular fuselage frames being inside the stringers to which they were cleated. The pressure ‘egg’ which housed the crew had a concave diaphragm bulkhead forward, with radial stiffening beams and the aft bulkhead was an unstiffened convex shell. The ‘neutral hole’ theory as developed in the first Viscounts was applied to the canopy, oval side windows and oval door, starboard emergency exit hatch, roof sextant dome and floor bomb-aimer’s compartment. The door was

Above: WZ405 was a Valiant B(PR)K. Mk 1. These aircraft were outwardly generally similar to the standard B(K).Mk 1, except in the area of the bomb bay, where a number of windows allowed palletised cameras to ‘look out’. (Via Glenn Sands) provided with a wind shield to assist the crew in bailing out – only the two pilots had ejection seats. Extensive use of electrical systems was made, the only hydraulic systems being for the brakes and steering gear, but even then their pumps were powered by electric motors. The main control surfaces were power operated, but were capable of being selected for manual control. The outward-retracting undercarriage consisted of dual legs and wheels, arranged in tandem and operated by an electrical actuator through worm gearing. The undercarriage stowed into wells in the wing between the engine nacelles and the underwing hardpoints and, when retracted, was covered by two large doors.

rc model gliders

This classic study shows a number of Valiant details to advantage, including the prominent cockpit canopy, outer-wing fences and undernose bomb-aimcer’s position. (Via Glenn Sands)

Valiant bomber
The first production Valiant, WP199, first flew on 21 December 1953. At the controls were ‘Jock’ Bryce and Brian Trubshaw. The first five production aircraft (all RA.14 powered) were allocated the Vickers designation Type 674, and carried full radar equipment. One of these aircraft was involved in an incident where both of its ailerons broke away during a high-speed run at medium altitude but, remarkably, test pilot Bill Aston brought the aircraft back safely to Boscombe Down.

pictures of aircraft

With testing underway, the definitive RA.28-powered Valiant B. Mk 1 was entering production, the first of these Type 706 aircraft being WP204. “IThe aircraft went for handling trials at Boscombe Down and acceptance triials were performed on 4 April 1955.. A change in specification was issued durring 1954, requesting eleven Valiants to be fitted with removable equipment for hiigh-altitude photographic-reconnaissamce sorties by day and night and for aesrial survey work. These were slotted into ithe production line at intervals, the first: of the machines being designated Vickters Type 710, or Valiant B(PR).Mk 1 in service. The first PR aircraft, WP205, fflew for the first time on 8 October 1954.
Two other Valiant variants wcere developed the first being the Type 7E58, which carried the RAF designatiion B(K).Mk 1. It served in a dual bomb»er/ tanker role and 45 were issued to ithe RAF, beginning with WP214. The lattter proved to be one of the most interestting Valiants, operating with No. 1.38 Squadron, before serving within Bomlber Command’s ‘special units’ carrying lairge amounts of ECM gear and other electronic eavesdropping equipment. By this stage, WP214 was operated on a joint basis by personnel from Bomber Command’s Development Unit and Vickers. The other variant was the Type 733 B(PR)K. Mk 1, which served in bomber, photographic – reconnaissance or tanker roles. Fourteen examples were delivered to RAF squadrons. In addition, a number of B. Mk Is was modified for test and programme support roles.
In January 1955, the Valiant received its release for operational service within the UK and overseas and in June that year RAF Gaydon, a formerly disused World War II training airfield, was established as home for the first Valiant operator, No. 232 Operational Conversion Unit (OCU). The unit was tasked with carrying out intensive flying trials and training potential Valiant aircrew. Many of the OCU’s officers included pilots who had been involved in the Valiant’s development programme at Vickers’ Weybridge factory, among them was Rupert Oakley, now a Wing Commander, who was keen to see the aircraft in front-line operational service as soon as possible. ‘
The first front-line squadron to receive Valiants was No. 138 at Gaydon, Warwickshire, commanded by Wing Commander Oakley DSO, DFC, AFC, DFM. The unit’s first B. Mk 1, WP206, was taken over from the OCU in February. The Squadron later moved to RAF Wittering with an additional six Valiants.

custom model aircraft

Right: The first generation of V-Bomber crews was some of the most experienced in the RAF. Aircraft Captains were required to have an ‘above average’ assessment and to have previously served at least 1,750 hours as captain. At least one tour on Canberras and four-piston-engined experience were also requirements. (Via Glenn Sands)

diecast models planes

Valiant v bomber

It was only to be expected that with such a sophisticated new bomber in service, the RAF was keen’to demonstrate the aircraft’s capabilities and to conduct a number of ‘flag-waving’ exercises. One such exercise took place on 5 September 1955, when two Valiants, under the command of Squadron Leader R. G. Wilson, left RAF Wittering on proving trials. Operation Too Right, as it was called, took Britain’s first V-Bomber to
Singapore, Australia and New Zealand. No major unserviceability was encountered throughout a tour in which the two aircraft flew almost 146 hours. Simultaneously, at the SBAC Farnborough airshow, there was a fly-past of six pairs of Valiants from units based at RAF Wittering and RAF Gaydon. The final test of the capabilities of the aircraft, apart from air exercises and the detailed assessment of specialised equipment, was carried out in the spring of 1956, when No. 138 Squadron flew four Valiants for 1,000 hours, without any major problems.

With its undercarriage and flaps retracted, the clean lines of the Valiant become clear. This example also has the extended jet pipes. (Via Glenn Sands)
Once initial deliveries had been made to No. 138 Squadron, the introduction of Valiants to other units quickly followed. The second squadron operator was No. 543 Squadron at RAF Wyton, which received its first aircraft after forming at Gaydon on 1 June 1955. These were B(PR).Mk Is. During daylight operations a fan of up to eight main cameras and a tri-installation of three cameras to provide wide-angle cover, were mounted in a ‘camera crate’ in the bomb bay. Behind this, in a fairing, was a survey camera, with two wide-angle oblique cameras mounted above it. During night operations, the B(PR).Mk 1 carried five or six cameras in the ‘camera crate’ with an equal number of photo-cell units. Photo-flashes were housed in a flash crate at the rear of the bomb bay.
By 1956 RAF Marham and RAF Honington were also operational with Valiants, both of them within Bomber Command’s No. 3 Group, and five more Valiant squadrons were formed. The first of these was No. 214 Squadron, a former Lincoln operator which re-formed at Marham in March 1956. In May, No. 207
Squadron, which had previously operated leased Washingtons, was formed with eight Valiants. A further Valiant squadron also formed in May 1956, alongside No. 138 Squadron at Wittering. This was No. 49 Squadron, which had previously distinguished itself when engaged in bombing operations against the Mau-Mau in Kenya in August 1955. In July, the formation of No. 148 Squadron completed the establishment of the Marham Wing, while the first of the Honnington Valiant units, No. 7 Squadron, formed on 1 November 1957, to be followed by No. 90 Squadron in January 1957.
As the squadrons accustomed themselves to operating their new bomber, a series of trials was undertaken to improve the efficiency of the RAF’s medium bomber force, as the V-Force was alternatively known (the medium referring to the range, rather than size and weight of the aircraft). To improve the Valiant’s performance on short runways at maximum weight, particularly under hot conditions, tests were carried out with Scarab rockets clipped to the rear fuselage; these were later replaced by de Havilland Super Sprites, fuelled by a highly volatile mixture of high-test peroxide and kerosene and delivering a thrust of 4,200 lb for 40 seconds. However, because of a variety of problems, including scorching along the fuselage, the rockets were relocated under the main engines, packaged in nacelles which – in theory at least – were reusable. A trial installation was tested on WB215 and was demonstrated by Brian Trubshaw at the 1956 Farnborough airshow. Further trials were carried out between 23 August and 7 October 1958 by the Bomber Command Development Unit at Wittering, using three Valiants: WZ402, XD871 and XD872. Some eight rocket-assisted take offs were performed, but the procedure was never adopted as standard.
Valiants became regular overseas visitors during the 1950s, one aircraft each from Nos 214 and 543 Squadrons, for example, flew to Idris, Libya to participate in Exercise Thunderhead, testing the defences of NATO countries in southern Europe and the Mediterranean area. These overseas detachments soon became routine and the squadrons attained several firsts with their aircraft.

Below: Another view of XD823. XD818, XD822-825, XD827, XD829 and XD857 were similarly modified for Operation Grapple. (Via Glenn Sands)

spitfire model plane

The Valiant was the first V-Bomber to drop a British nuclear weapon. In August 1956, two aircraft from No. 49 Squadron were detached to RAAF Edinburgh Field,

model airplane international

Above: V-Bomber formations were a common sight at the Farnborough airshow. Here two Valiants fly in formation with two early model Avro Vulcans. (Via Glenn Sands)

radio controlled model aircraft

Maralinga, South Australia, the detachment being commanded by Squadron Leader E. J. G. Flavell. On 11 October, Valiant WZ366, flown by Flavell, released a 10,000-lb weapon from 35,000 ft, at Mach 0.8 over the test range in Southern Australia. Also participating in the trials was a modified Canberra from No. 76 Squadron, tasked with collecting atomic cloud samples at all altitudes.

V force bombers

Although it had always been intended for the nuclear bombing role, events saw the Valiant called into action in a more conventional role during the Suez Crisis, as part of Operation Musketeer. In October 1956 Valiants from Nos 138, 148, 207, and 214 Squadrons were detached to Luqa, Malta, and on 31 October their crews were briefed to attack Egyptian airfields, as part of the air offensive prior to the Anglo-French landings in the Suez Canal zone. The initial attacks were carried out by Canberras of Nos 12 and 109 Squadrons and Valiants of Nos 148 and 214 Squadrons, against airfields at Almaza, Cairo West and Inchas in the Nile Delta and Abu Sueir, Fayid, Kabrit and Kasfareet in the Canal Zone. As they headed for their objectives, the bomber crews knew that the Egyptian air defences would be on alert. This was because hours of intercepted radio traffic had fore-warned the Egyptian population that a series of attacks on airfields around Cairo and in the Canal Zone would begin, following the expiry of an Anglo-French ceasefire ultimatum to Israel and Egypt, which Egypt had rejected.
In the event, the Egyptian defence failed to materialise and locating the airfields proved no problem for the bomber crews, since every town in the Nile Delta region was fully illuminated. A typical attack was flown by Valiant XD815 from No. 148 Squadron. Operations from Malta involved a 1,800-mile round trip of some five hours, with just 15 minutes was spent over Almaza airfield.
This proved to be the standard type of Valiant mission throughout the crisis, with single aircraft bombing from 40,000 ft. Some bombers made two passes over the airfields to ensure that their attack did not damage civilian property. It was stressed to all Valiant crews that Egyptian casualties should be kept to a minimum. In the event the airfields had been marked with flares by ‘Pathfinder’ Canberras prior to the raids. Only one Egyptian attack was reported, by Valiant pilot Squadron Leader E. T. Ware of No. 148 Squadron. During a night raid, his aircraft was intercepted by an Egyptian Meteor NF. Mk 13 which made two inaccurate firing passes, Squadron Leader Ware was easily able to avoid the attacker by climbing to altitude. The airfields suffered a further two nights of attacks by Valiants, during which raids were brought down to medium level to increase accuracy.
Cairo West was struck on the night of 1/2 November, with Valiants from No. 138 Squadron attacking for the first time, led by Wing Commander Oakley. There was no enemy opposition and the raid proved a great success. Photographic intelligence collected by Canberra PR. Mk 7s after the raid, showed that bombs had landed across both runways.

V bomber force

Following the Anglo-French landing, the Valiants returned immediately to the UK, their task of attacking Egyptian airfields completed. Following the debrief held by Bomber Command after the Valiant’s combat debut, a number of recommendations were proposed and modifications were made to the bombers. It was clear to the crews that the Valiant could out climb any extant night fighter, but on the downside there was a tendency for the aircraft’s bombs not to separate cleanly. It was discovered that at high speed the bombs tended to stay with the Valiant immediately after release, suspended in the airflow just a few feet below the bomb bay. Pilots also reported considerable buffeting when the bomb doors were opened.
To reduce buffeting a deflector was fitted to the rear of the bomb bay, the bomb doors being unable to open until this was raised. A spoiler consisting of four vertical slats was mounted in front of the bay and was extended prior to bomb release to break up the airflow under the bomb bay. The break up of the airflow under the Valiant during weapons release was critical if the bomber was to be able to deliver the 10,000-lb MC Mk 1 Blue

Huge underwing auxiliary tanks were a feature of tanker Valiants in particular. In tanker configuration, the aircraft carried a Fight Refuelling Ltd Mk 16 Hose Drum Unit (HDU) in the rear of its bomb bay. (Via Glenn Sands)
Danube nuclear bomb. The aerodynamic characteristics of the weapon required a smooth release and separation from the Valiant. Suez also had an adverse affect on Britain’s nuclear programme, with the recall of No. 49 Squadron’s detachment from weapons trials in Australia as a precautionary measure.
By 1957 all of the RAF’s Valiant squadrons were back at their home bases. In July, No. 199 Squadron at Honington, which had previously flown Canberras in the ECM role, received its first Valiant. By 16 December 1958, the squadron had moved to RAF Rnningley, renumbered as No. 18 Squadron, becoming responsible for ECM for the whole of the V-Force. The role saw a change in No. 18 Squadron’s Valiant crew make-ups, with the addition of two Airborne Electronic Officers (AEOs), one of whom was responsible for operating the newly introduced ECM equipment.
Valiant production ended in 1957, with the last example, XD875, being delivered on 24 September. By this time Vickers had built 108 production Valiants, two prototypes and one B. Mk 2. Of this total 14 were B(PR).Mk Is, many of which went to No. 543 Squadron, equipped to receive fuel in flight, and 45 were B(K).Mk Is, many of which were able to receive as well as deliver fuel.

Vickers bomber

The first inflight-refuelling trials had taken place at Boscombe Down in November 1955 using two modified aircraft, WX390 serving as the tanker and WZ376 acting as the receiver. Despite the successful conclusion of the tests, it was not until March 1958 that operational trials were initiated by No. 214 Squadron. The Marham-based squadron soon became the RAF’s first tanker squadron.
In 1957, perhaps the most significant event in the development of the V-Force deterrent took place – the testing of Britain’s first thermonuclear device. In early 1955, a defence statement had announced that, ‘the British Government has decided to proceed with the development and production of thermonuclear weapons, following the American H-Bomb tests of 1954 and with the knowledge that Russia was pursing a similar policy’.
In 1955 discussions had been opened with the US on nuclear cooperation for defence purposes, covering training and joint operations. These talks were the first significant breakthrough since the McMahon Act of 1946 had ended Anglo-American nuclear collaboration, and seem to have been influenced by the fact that

That the Valiant entered RAF service in the same year that the last of the Mosquitos was retired, is a testimony not only to the longevity of the Mosquito, but also to the pace of change in contemporary aerospace technology. For a time, the Valiant and Canberra were the RAF’s primary strike assets. (Via Glenn Sands)

metal airplane models
how to make planes

Britain had since developed an independent nuclear capability. Thus, with ‘some information’ released by the Americans, the British thermonuclear weapons programme went ahead, and by May 1957 an experimental megaton-range device was ready for testing. Pre-warned of the tests, No. 49 Squadron was detailed to carry out the air drop, and in March 1957 four Valiants were detached to Christmas Island, in the southwest Pacific, as part of Operation Grapple. Prior to the detachment, No. 49 Squadron crews went through two months of intensive training – there could be no room for error. Weapon release was from 39,000 ft at a speed of Mach 0.82, and was to be followed by a steep turn
With its upper surfaces wearing a very glossy Dark Green/Medium Sea Grey camouflage, this Valiant is demonstrating its Mk 16 HDU for the camera. Note the hard demarcation between the upper surface camouflage and underside white and the outward-retracting main undercarriage units. (Aerospace Publishing Ltd)
through 90 to get clear of the target area. Such a bomb release procedure would see that the Valiant was being flown to its limits. The weapon was barometrically fused to detonate at 15,000 ft over Maiden Island, 350 miles south of Christmas Island.
On the morning of 15 May 1957, Valiant XD818, flown by Wing Commander K. G. Hubbard, Commanding Officer of No. 49 Squadron, took off with a prototype megaton-range weapon in its bomb bay. At 11.38, local time, the device detonated on schedule over Maiden Island producing a yield of approximately one megaton.
Britain carried out a three more thermonuclear weapon drops from Christmas Island in 1957, the last two being made on 19 June and 8 November, respectively. All of the warheads involved were in the megaton range. Worthy of note is that Britain applied code names only to the warheads of its thermonuclear devices, not to the complete weapon. This practice continued until such weapons were finally retired from RAF service.
With the RAF keen to demonstrate the capabilities of its ‘new’ bomber, in October 1957 one Valiant each from Nos 138 and 214 Squadrons, together with two Vulcans, represented Bomber Command in the USAF’s Strategic Air Command Bombing Competition, held at Pinecastle AFB, Florida. It was the first time that V-Bombers had taken part in the competition, which took place over six nights and involved 45 SAC bomber wings. Despite some initial difficulty with one of the Valiant’s nav/attack systems, the No. 138 Squadron aircraft was placed 27th out of 45. The crew from No. 214 Squadron was placed 11th out of 90 in the individual crew part of the contest.
The following year’s competition at March AFB, California, saw the Valiants placed seventh in a combined bombing and navigation event, out of 41 teams. One No. 148 Squadron Valiant crew, led by Squadron Leader R. W. Richardson, achieved the highly respectable position of ninth out of 164 crews.
Other operations performed by Valiants included Snow Trip, a survey of the Distant Early Warning (DEW) radar chain across the Canadian Arctic border and the regular Lone Ranger flights. These latter involved a single aircraft deploying to an overseas RAF base as part of a long-range navigational exercise and usually took place over a weekend.

Vulcan Victor valiant

By 1957 the introduction of Vulcans and Victors was beginning, but for the time being it was the Valiant that formed the backbone of the strategic deterrent – for another three years at least. By 1961 nine squadrons and an OCU were equipped with Valiants as part of the medium bomber force. Nos 7 and 18 Squadrons were still serving in the ECM role; Nos 49, 90, 138, 148, 207 and 543 Squadrons included strategic reconnaissance in their roles; while No. 214 Squadron fulfiled the tanker role, in which it was joined by No. 90 Squadron at Marham from October 1961.
Right: Dwarfing the Tiger Moth parked next to it, this Valiant B. Mk 1 shows off the ‘neutral hole’ oval crew access door. Also noteworthy is the cap on the end of the IFR probe. (Via Glenn Sands)
Below: In order to increase its chances of surviving a low-level penetration into enemy airspace, the Valiant was given a Dark Green/Medium Sea Grey upper surface camouflage. Even so, it was tacitly understood by some members of the Valiant community that any aircraft launched for real, was unlikely to return from the mission. (Via Glenn Sands)

For a number of years, three Valiant units, Nos 207, 49 and 148 Squadrons, were assigned to NATO in the tactical bombing role under the control of the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe. For this role the aircraft carried either conventional bombs, comprising 21 1,000-lb weapons in three clutches of five and two of three, or tactical nuclear weapons of a US design. Thus, the Valiant not only formed part of Britain’s V-Force, but also augmented the striking power of NATO, at least until 1961.
Perhaps the most visible change to the Valiants occurred in 1963, with the introduction of camouflage for the low-level role. The overall gloss anti-flash white scheme gave way to green and grey uppersurfaces over white. Although the Valiant had never been designed to withstand the stresses of low-level flying, Bomber Command estimated that the aircraft would remain in service for another five years. After a detailed reassessment of potential enemy defences had shown that high-level subsonic operations had become too dangerous, the change to low-level tactics was imposed across the V-Bomber fleet following a statement by the Air Minister in February 1964 at Wittering.

Vulcan v bomber

Perhaps inevitably, in 1964, a fracture occurred in the rear spar of a Valiant, and when other aircraft were inspected, indications of metal fatigue were found. The final Valiant sorties were flown in December and the force was withdrawn from service in January 1965. Repairing the Valiants was never an option, since with the introduction of the Avro Vulcan and Handley Page Victor bombers, no budget was available.

airplane diecast models

One of the last Valiants to fly operationally was XD818 of Operation Grapple fame. It took off from Marham on its last training sortie on 9 December 1964. Within a month, large-scale scrapping of the fleet commenced. Only XD818 and four other examples were saved, the latter being employed on test duties. The last Valiant to fly was XD816, which had been on loan to the British Aircraft Corporation since September 1964. This final airworthy example took part in a flypast on 29 April 1968 to mark the disbandment of Bomber Command and the inauguration of its successor – Strike Command.
While the Victor and Vulcan, have overshadowed the achievements of the Valiant, it is perhaps worth noting that the Vickers’ bomber was successfully adapted to all of the roles given to it by Bomber Command. At the time the Valiant entered service it was described by Sir George Edwards, Vickers’ chief designer, as an ‘unfunny’ aircraft that was produced in the shortest possible time. In fact the prototypes had been ordered in February 1950, the first of them completing its maiden flight in May 1951, and the first production aircraft flying in December 1953. RAF Bomber Command had its first Valiant squadrons by late 1955. The Valiant proved extremely easy to service and no major ‘snags’ were discovered that could not be fixed. Throughout the early dawn of Britain’s deterrent force, Vickers Valiants stood dispersed at constant readiness at sites throughout Britain, while their crews trained and learned the methods that would be passed to the RAF’s next generation of crews, who were destined to fly more deadly nuclear bombers.

model aircraft kits

Valiant Prototype, WB219, May 1951

Painted Aluminium overall. Post-war Red/White/Blue roundels (above wings and on fuselage sides) and fin flash. Serial number in black under wings and on fuselage sides. This aircraft was first flown on 18 May 1951 but crashed on 12 February 1952 following an engine bay fire.

plastic models

Valiant B.2, WJ954, September 1953

Overall gloss black with medium grey fin top and panel under rear fusealge. Post-war Red/White/Blue roundels (above wings and on fuselage sides) and fin flash. Serial number in white under wings and on fuselage sides. This aircraft was first flown on 4 September 1953.

model electric planes

Valiant B.1, WZ405, of No 207 Sqn., RAF Marham, circa July 1956

Painted Aluminium overall with black fin top and black/medium grey panels on nose radome. Post-war Red/White/Blue roundels (above wings and on fuselage sides) and fin flash. Serial number in black under wings, on fuselage sides and repeated on nosewheel doors. Note squadron badge on nose.

rc model

Valiant B.1, WZ395, of No 214 Sqn., RAF Marham, circa September 1956

Painted Aluminium overall with black fin top and black/medium grey panels on nose radome. Post-war Red/White/Blue roundels (above wings and on fuselage sides) and fin flash. Serial number in black under wings, on fuselage sides and possibly repeated on nosewheel doors. Note squadron badge on nose.

nitro planes rc planes

Valiant B.1, WZ366, of No 49 Sqn., temporarily based at RAAF Edinburgh Field, October 1956

painted Aluminium overall with black fin top and black/medium grey panels on nose radome. Post-war Red/White/Blue roundels (above wings and on fuselage sides) and fin flash. Serial number in black under wings, on fuselage sides and possibly repeated on nosewheel doors. Flown by S/Ldr E J Flavell. AFC. WZ366 dropped the first operational Atomic Bomb on the Marlinga range on 11 October 1956. Note the modified rear fuselage.

modelplanes

Valiant B.1, XD815, of No 148 Sqn., RAF Marham, circa late 1956

Painted Aluminium overall with black fin top and black/medium grey panels on nose radome. Post-war Red/White/Blue roundels (above wings and on fuselage sides) and fin flash. Serial number in black under wings, on fuselage sides and possibly repeated on nosewheel doors.

1 48 scale models

Valiant B.1, WP220, of No 138 Sqn., RAF Gaydon, circa early 1957

Painted Aluminium overall with black fin top and black/medium grey panels on nose radome. Post-war Red/White/Blue roundels (above wings and on fuselage sides) and fin flash. Serial number in black under wings, on fuselage sides and possibly repeated on nosewheel doors. Note squadron badge on nose.

plastic model airplane

Valiant B.1, XD826, of No 7 Sqn., RAF Honington, June 1957

Painted Aluminium overall with black fin top and black/medium grey panels on nose radome. Post-war Red/White/Blue roundels (above wings and on fuselage sides) and fin flash. Serial number in black under wings, on fuselage sides and possibly repeated on nosewheel doors. Note squadron insignia on fin.

scale airplanes

Valiant B.1, WP210, of an unknown unit, used for unspecified trials work circa June 1957

Painted Aluminium overall with black fin top and black/medium grey panels on nose radome. Post-war Red/White/Blue roundels (above wings and on fuselage sides) and fin flash. Serial number in black under wings, on fuselage sides and possibly repeated on nosewheel doors.

best model kits

Valiant B.1, WP219, of No 199 Sqn., RAF Honington, circa 1957

Painted Aluminium overall with black fin top and black/medium grey panels on nose radome. Post-war Red/White/Blue roundels (above wings and on fuselage sides) and fin flash. Serial number in black under wings, on fuselage sides and possibly repeated on nosewheel doors. Note squadron insignia on fin with red instead of usual white waves.

electric rc gliders
model airplane decals  1 500 scale aircraft  custom models
diecast toy planes

Valiant B(PR).1, WZ399, of No 543 Sqn., RAF Wyton, circa 1957

Painted Aluminium overall with red arctic visibility paint on wings, tailplane and fin. Black fin top and black/medium grey panels on nose radome. Post-war Red/White/Blue roundels (above wings and on fuselage sides) and fin flash. Serial number in black on fuselage sides only. Note white pig (or Polar Bear?) on black oval background on nose infront of crew entry door.

cessna model airplanes
ship model kits

Valiant B.1, WZ377, of No 90 Sqn., RAF Honington, September 1958

Anti-flash white overall with black fin top and black/medium grey panels on nose radome. Post-war Red/White/Blue roundels (above wings and on fuselage sides) and fin flash. Serial number in black under wings, on fuselage sides and possibly repeated on nosewheel doors. Note squadron badge on nose and squadron insignia on fin.

metal airplane models

Valiant B.1, WP219, of No 207 Sqn., RAF Marham, September 1958

Anti-flash white overall with black fin top and black/medium grey panels on nose radome. Post-war Red/White/Blue roundels (above wings and on fuselage sides) and fin flash. Serial number in black under wings, on fuselage sides and repeated on nosewheel doors. Note squadron badge on nose and squadron insignia on fin.

model jet engines

Valiant B.1, WP204, used for Avro Blue Steel stand-off bomb trials, September 1958

Painted Aluminium overall with black fin top and black/medium grey panels on nose radome. Post-war Red/White/Blue roundels (above wings and on fuselage sides) and fin flash. Serial number in black under wings, on fuselage sides and possibly repeated on nosewheel doors. Note red and white markings on the Blue Steel bomb semi-recessed in the fuselage bomb bay.

model airplanes that fly

Valiant B.1, WZ365, of No 18 Sqn., RAF Finningley, circa 1959/60

Anti-flash white overall with black fin top and black/medium grey panels on nose radome. Post-war Red/White/Blue roundels (above wings and on fuselage sides) and fin flash. Serial number in black under wings, on fuselage sides and possibly repeated on nosewheel doors. Note Wing Commander s pennant on nose and squadron insignia on fin.

scale model aircraft

Valiant B.1, WP211, of No 18 Sqn., RAF Finningley, February 1960

Painted Aluminium overall with black fin top and black/medium grey panels on nose radome. Postwar Red/White/Blue roundels (above wings and on fuselage sides) and fin flash. Serial number in black under wings, on fuselage sides and possibly repeated on nosewheel doors. Note squadron insignia on fin.

model aeroplanes

Valiant B.1, WP199, used for Pegasus vector thrust engine trials, circa early 1960s

Painted Aluminium overall with black fin top and black/medium grey panels on nose radome. Post-war Red/White/Blue roundels (above wings and on fuselage sides) and fin flash. Serial number in black under wings, on fuselage sides and possibly repeated on nosewheel doors. Note black and white engine fairing semi-recessed in the fuselage bomb bay.

scale models aircraft

Valiant B(K).1, XD867, of No 90 Sqn., RAF Honington, circa early 1960s

Anti-flash white overall with black fin top and black/medium grey panels on nose radome. Post-war Red/White/Blue roundels above wings with Pale Red/White/Pale Blue roundels on fuselage sides and fin flash. Serial number in Pale Blue under wings, on fuselage sides and repeated on nosewheel doors. Note squadron insignia on fin.

diecast spitfire model

Valiant B(PR).1, WZ380, of No 543 Sqn., RAF Wyton, circa early 1960s

Anti-flash white overall with black fin top and black/medium grey panels on nose radome. Postwar Red/White/Blue roundels above wings with Pale Red/White/Pale Blue roundels on fuselage sides and fin flash. Serial number in Pale Blue under wings, on fuselage sides and repeated on nosewheel doors. Note squadron insignia on fin.

scale model aircraft kits

Valiant B(PR).1, WZ392, of No 543 Sqn., RAF Wyton, circa early 1960s

Anti-flash white overall with black fin top and black/medium grey panels on nose radome. Postwar Red/White/Blue roundels above wings with Pale Red/White/Pale Blue roundels on fuselage sides and fin flash. Serial number in Pale Blue on fuselage sides and repeated on nosewheel doors. Note squadron insignia on fin.

big rc plane

Valiant B.1, WP213, of No 199 Sqn., RAF Honington, circa early 1960s

Anti-flash white overall with black fin top and black/medium grey panels on nose radome. Post-war Red/White/Blue roundels (above wings and on fuselage sides) and fin flash. Serial number in black under wings, on fuselage sides and possibly repeated on nosewheel doors. Note squadron insignia on fin (with standard white waves).

building airplane models revell models

BOMBER COMMAND

Valiant B(K).1, WZ400, of the Bomber Command Development Unit, RAF Wittering, September 1960

Anti-flash white overall with black fin top and black/medium grey panels on nose radome. Post-war Red/White/Blue roundels (above wings and on fuselage sides) and fin flash. Serial number in black under wings, on fuselage sides and possibly repeated on nosewheel doors. Note BCDU titling obove fin flash in black.

Valiant B(K).1, XD812, of No 214 Sqn., RAF Marham, circa 1960

Anti-flash white overall with black fin top and black/medium grey panels on nose radome. Post-war Red/White/Blue roundels above wings with Pale Red/White/Pale Blue roundels on fuselage sides and fin flash. Serial number in Pale Blue under the wings, on fuselage sides and possibly repeated on nosewheel doors. Note squadron badge on nose and squadron insignia on fin.

airplane sets model helicopter

Valiant B.1, XD857, of No 49 Sqn., RAF Marham, circa 1963

Anti-flash white overall with black fin top and black/medium grey panels on nose radome. Postwar Red/White/Blue roundels above wings with Pale Red/White/Pale Blue roundels on fuselage sides and fin flash. Serial number in Pale Blue under wings and on fuselage sides. Note squadron insignia on fin in Bright Red.

free airplane plans

Valiant B.1, WZ404, of No 207 Sqn., RAF Marham, circa 1964

Dark Green and Medium Sea Grey upper surfaces with white under surfaces. Black fin top and black/Dark Green panels on nose radome. Post-war Red/White/Blue roundels (above wings and on fuselage sides) and fin flash. Serial number in black under wings and on fuselage sides. Note squadron insignia on fin in Bright Red.

large scale rc planes

Valiant B.1, WZ395, of No 49 Sqn., RAF Marham, circa 1964

Dark Green and Medium Sea Grey upper surfaces with white under surfaces. Black fin top and black/Medium Sea Grey panels on nose radome. Post-war Red/White/Blue roundels (above wings and on fuselage sides) and fin flash. Serial number in black under wings and on fuselage sides. Note squadron insignia on fin in Bright Red.

model kits

Connected themes: mahogany aircraft models, rc airplans, revell, Vickers Valiant airfix, rc model aircraft kits, gundam models, rc plane models.

Related posts:

Comment Form


The website contains material from different sources. Content on the website is provided for informational purposes. All trademarks mentioned in the website belongs to their owners or companies.