Vickers 660 Valiant
To meet the need for long-range high-altitude heavy bomber aircraft, capable of carrying nuclear weapons, the Avro Vulcan, along with the Handley Page Victor and Vickers Valiant, was developed in accordance with an Air Ministry specification that originated in 1947.
The Vickers Valiant was designed to Air Ministry specification B.9/48. It was a cantilever shoulder-wing monoplane of all-metal stressed-skin construction. The wing had compound sweepback on the leading edge, somewhat similar to that of the Handley Page Victor, air-brakes, double-slotted flaps and powered ailerons. The fuselage was a circular-section semi-monocoque structure, incorporating a pressurised cell to contain the crew of five, and a large bomb bay which later proved capable of accommodating a Blue Steel stand-off weapon. The tail unit was conventional, but the tailplane was mounted almost half-way up the fin to keep it clear of the efflux from the four turbojet engines, buried in the inner wing adjacent to the fuselage. Landing gear was of tricycle type electrically retracting tan-dem main gears folding outwards. The Valiant was largely conventional in construction, with a giant radar in its underside, an inflight-refuelling probe (added after delivery) above and a ventral blister for a visual bombing station. The main weapon bay could house all the UK's nuclear bombs (or the Blue BoarTV-guided bombs) or up to 21 HE bombs of 454-kg (1,000-lb) each. One unusual feature was the extensive use of electrical power for the actuation of practically all movable units, even powered controls. The only exception was a minor hydraulic system for brakes and powered steering, but even this had its pumps driven by electric motors.
Two prototypes were ordered initially, one to be powered by four Rolls-Royce RA.3 Avon 204 turbojets and the other by four Armstrong Siddeley Sapphires. The first prototype made its maiden flight on 18 May 1951, but was lost in an accident on 12 January 1952. The second prototype flew first on 11 April 1952, but was powered by RA.7 turbojets instead of the Sapphires as planned originally.
Vickers Valiant 2nd prototype
In spite of the fact that two types of so-called V-bomber were already on order it was put into production as well, allegedly as an insurance against 'failure' of the others.
Named Valiant, B.1 began to enter service in January 1955, the first of the V-bombers to serve with the RAF. They were followed by B(PR).1 long-range strategic reconnaissance; B(PR)K.1 multi-purpose bomber, photo-reconnaissance, tanker; and BK.1 bomber/tanker aircraft. Production totalled 111 examples, including one B.2 pathfinder prototype. Used extensively in service, Valiants dropped the first British hydrogen and atomic bombs and during operations in the Suez campaign operated with high-explosive bombs.
Vickers built 108 including prototypes, and from January 1955 these served with 10 RAF squadrons. At first painted all in anti-flash white, with very pale roundels and serials, they set a high standard in navigation and bombing, though most crews wished to forget their one taste of actual warfare when in late 1956 four squadrons bombed Egyptian targets during the ill-starred Suez campaign. Valiants carried out all of the UK's live air tests of nuclear weapons. There were reconnaiss-ance, tanker and multi-role versions, and from 1963 Valiants were given regular grey and green camouflage and assigned to low-level missions using conventional bombs in support of SACEUR (Supreme Allied Commander, Europe) as a NATO force, though still based in the UK. By this time they were the RAF's only inflight-refuelling tanker force.
In the Autumn of 1957 these four Valiants, with two Vulcans, flew to the US to compete with USAF
teams in an annual bombinng compteition. One Valiant came 11th of the 100 aircraft competing.
Intended for fast high-altitude strategic bombing, the Valiant - in company with other V-bombers - was switched to low-level operations. There seems little doubt that the stresses imposed by such a role accelerated the wingspan metal fatigue first reported in late 1964, and which led to the scrapping of all Valiants in January 1965.
The RAF did not buy the Valiant Mk 2, first flown in 1953, which was specially designed for low-level operations. With just over 100 built at Brooklands aerodrome, production ended in the autumn of 1957.
Vickers Valiant B.Mk.1
Engines: 4 x Rolls-Royce RA.28 Avon 204/205, 44.7kN
Max take-off weight: 63503 kg / 140001 lb
Empty weight: 34419 kg / 75881 lb
Wingspan: 34.85 m / 114 ft 4 in
Length: 32.99 m / 108 ft 3 in
Height: 9.8 m / 32 ft 2 in
Wing area: 219.43 sq.m / 2361.92 sq ft
Max. speed: 492 kts / 912 km/h / 567 mph
Service Ceiling: 16460 m / 54000 ft
Range w/max.fuel: 7242 km / 4500 miles
Type: five-seat bomber and infligh t-refuelling tanker
Engines: 4 x 4763-kg (10,500-lb) thrust Rolls-Royce Avon 201 turbojets
Max speed 912 km/h (567 mph) at 9145 m (30,000 ft)
Service ceiling: 16460 m (54,000 ft)
Range with reduced bombload 7242 km (4,500 miles)
Wing span: 34.85 m (114 ft 4 in)
Length (normal long ECM tailcone): 33.00m(108ft 3in)
Height: 9.81 m (32 ft 2 in)
Wing area: 219.44 sq.m (2,362.0 sq ft)
Bombload: 9526 kg (21,000 lb)