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V-Bombers - Why 3 Types?

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V-Bombers - Why 3 Types?

Old 7th Aug 2004, 06:42
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V-Bombers - Why 3 Types?

I have often wondered what official policy and/or procurement was behind having the 3 different V Bomber types - Valiant, Victor, Vulcan (4 if u include the back up Short Sperrin which I understand flew in prototype form just in case one of the other 3 failed to perform) - where surely one type would have been adequate?

Did these aircraft have slightly differing roles - as far as I can see no - they are all high altitude long range strategic bombers?

Was it a deliberate policy from Ministry of War/Ministry of Supply - as they appear to have almost always ordered 2 similar fighter types in parallel throughout those years?

I have read a variety of historical studies of the period and it does appear that Ministry of Supply used these procurements as a way of reflating the economy and/or generally mismanaged things...
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Old 7th Aug 2004, 07:17
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As I understand it, the Valiant was a 'safe' stop-gap option whilst the more technologically advanced Victor and Vulcan were being developed. Rather than risk everything on a single design, both a/c types were sanctioned for service. Nothing like a bit of competition to encourage the designers to get on with it - unlike the sloth of BWoS nowadays!
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Old 7th Aug 2004, 07:21
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Tks BE - That is rather as I have seen it described 'an insurance policy and it would appear Valiant flew and was in service a fair time before the rest...just thought might have been something deeper I had missed...although there appear to have been a large number of additional roles early on for the Valiant with dedicated models - i.e. ECM, Tanker
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Old 7th Aug 2004, 08:36
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V Bombers

Flew flight test on them all.

At the design stages swept wings were evolving so as insurance the straight wing Valiant was specified in case the later Vulcan and Victor were unsuccessful.

Care was taken with the delta design of the Vulcan with 3 scale models to prove slow and high speed handling expectations.

All pilots just loved flying the Vulcan which felt more like a fighter. Victor felt more delicate.
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Old 7th Aug 2004, 13:30
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Boss

I think it is easy to forget how much less understanding everyone had about high level and high mach number in the 40s when the replacement for the Lincoln was being specified. As has been said it was about not falling on our face. The Sperrin was a very conservative design with respect to the three major development issues of aerodynamics, structural design and power plant installation - so really unlikely to fail, but because of this a long way short of the performance wish lists of the day.

The Valiant, by comparison, was quite advanced compared to the Sperrin and a really staggering leap from the Lincoln.

The spec that produced the Vulcan and Victor (B.35/46 issued in 1946!) really was stretching the available knowledge of the day as far as it could go, indeed so far that failure was a very real possibility. Because of this both very different aero concepts (delta and aeroisoclinic wings) used small prototypes to give their design teams a degree of confidence (technology demonstrators had not been invented then).

Another way of looking at it was that nobody with any appreciation of the problems in the late 40s would have bet that all three V design teams would have succeeded. It was really quite remarkable that they did.
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Old 7th Aug 2004, 18:12
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Yes tks JF I had not really considered yr correct analogy in jumping from the Lincoln (in UK production) or B-50 Washington (in UK service) to the Valiant (V bombers in general...!) - a massive technological and logistical leap in every way...

I think it shows the great skill in design and production we once had and apparently have now let die in last decade which will be hard to resurrect and probably never return

I make an assumption based on my own observation that Valiant was developed early on for secondary purposes such as tanker and ECM as it was surpassed and seconded by the slightly later in service Victor and Vulcan in the strategic bomber role
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Old 7th Aug 2004, 19:55
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Boss

You may be right about the role changes for the Valiant, indeed for the other two as well as time went on (Victor tanker and Vulcan low level…) but I suspect that in the late 40’s the notions of ECM and a major tanking capability had not yet become mainstream thinking - which at that time was simply about the bomb and how to deliver it where it might be needed.

The dates at which the three Vs first flew at the SBAC show following the 1946 spec are very revealing in terms of how quickly companies pressed on in that era. Valiant 1951, Vulcan 1952 and Victor 1953.

It is also interesting that the structure turned out to be the thing that brought the Valiant to a premature end, the Vulcan had aero probs at high mach and needed a considerable redesign of the wing, while the Victor also had structural probs although largely limited to development.

Flutter removed the tail of the first prototype Victor while Taffy Ecclestone and his crew were doing PEs at Cranfield in 1954 and B Sqn lost Sqn Leader Morgan and his crew in the B2 prototype after the pitot head fluttered off and the reversal of the usual sign of Lv at high mach (meaning it rolled right with left rudder) had them spiral into the sea in 1959.
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Old 7th Aug 2004, 22:46
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I seem to recall that all was not plain sailing with the prototypes.
One Vulcan crashed, killing the father of one of my school chums.
I am obviously witholding the name.
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Old 8th Aug 2004, 08:48
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I also remember reading about a victor which crashed in the irish sea during testing, a runaway on the mach trimmer I believe, highlighting JF's point about the depth of knowledge about high speed flight at the time.
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Old 8th Aug 2004, 08:57
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I did not mean to imply that the V programmes were plain sailing when I said all three were successful.

There were 20 test flying accidents in all. Six each for the Valiant and Vulcan and eight for the Victor. Some were non fatal. Plus three of the reseach single seaters also crashed.

These rates may seem high today, but they were not abnormal for the 50s and 60s. People simply did not know as much about aviation in those days as they do today.
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Old 8th Aug 2004, 17:56
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Boss Raptor,

You say;

"I think it shows the great skill in design and production we once had and apparently have now let die in last decade which will be hard to resurrect and probably never return"

I think that's a tad harsh.

Since those days there have been many very effectibe UK design efforts, and a few that actually made it to production too!

Tornado, Harrier and now Typhoon are all pretty impressive efforts with a very large UK design element.

The aviation industry has changed out of all recognition from it's fragmented rather disorganised state in the late forties/early fifties.

It's not only the UK that has changed, it's a global thing.

Systems are now the main focus and where the cutting edge technology is rather than the airframe, and we do have two of the largest and most succesful system houses in the world in the UK.
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Old 8th Aug 2004, 18:28
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key words were 'we have now let die in the last decade' (tornado and harrier long before this) - when we have lost huge swaths of our civilian and military design capability across the board together with the personnel/skills that went with it - how or why and/or the world economy is not at question

anyway back to the point in question - 50 years ago and the V-bombers...and could we today produce such a project in the 5 years start to first flight or so that these guys did all those years ago...doubt it
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Old 8th Aug 2004, 19:26
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Airbus can
BWoS cannot


.
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Old 9th Aug 2004, 10:46
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BEagle,

BWos IS Airbus! Airbus UK is BWos!

Boss raptor,

I see the point you are making now, thanks for the clarification. My global point of view still applies though, the change is an industry wide thing, after the F-35 and F/A-22 the US is in exactly the same position.
We only have the one company capable of producing what we loosely call a fighter, the US only has two, after F-35 there will probably only be one.

Sytems are now the in thing, we still have 2 global players in this area who can compete with the world and lead it in many areas, final assembly is low tech and doesen't really add any value, in the Airbus scheme of things it doesen't even add that many jobs.
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Old 9th Aug 2004, 11:28
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Systems are now the main focus and where the cutting edge technology is rather than the airframe...
Yes - and I think this is where 'team JSF' got caught out - getting the boring ol' airframe right doesn't seem very glam until you're suddenly 3000lbs over weight...

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Old 9th Aug 2004, 19:51
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victor crash irish sea

I discussed this loss with a EPTS graduate who was also a well qualified engineer and technical Officer at Boscombe.Having test flown the aircraft,and despite pressure from his betters, he refused to sign it off as airworthy because of problems with the yaw damper.He then went on leave and while away his immediate superior overuled his report and the aircraft took off never to return. If I recall correctly the exact cause of the crash was never discovered but one can draw conclusions.
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Old 9th Aug 2004, 21:00
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Presumably all 3 companies were big enough in those days to each fill the air staff requirement with their own models, Vickers, Handley Page and AVRO if my airfix modelling memory servesme well.
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Old 10th Aug 2004, 14:38
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As an aside, I noticed yesterday that the new hall at the RAFM Cosford is to have all three Vee bombers co-located. Cosfords Vulcan has been repainted, the Victor is being done as I write, and obviously the Valiant at Hendon is short finals for a drive up the M1. Will be interesting to see if they put the Cosford Avro 707 in with them to.

Of course the foundations for this hall are not laid yet, so dont hold your breath, but I think in the long run, Cosfords future looks very sound.
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Old 13th Aug 2004, 16:22
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If I recall correctly the exact cause of the crash was never discovered but one can draw conclusions
I believe they did eventually get to the bottom of that one. The resources put into establishing the cause certainly point to how seriously the whole thing was taken. The hunt for bits on the sea bed lasted 14 months and involved 46 ships. No less than 592,610 pieces of wreckage were recovered from 11,069 deep sea trawls.

At the end of that it was decided that the first bit to separate was the starboard wing tip pitot head (due to a fatigue fracture) which led to a low speed signal being fed to the auto mach trim actuator and the stall detector thus lowering the elevators and the leading edge flaps.

The aircraft progressed into a high speed dive from 54,000 ft. Partial structural failure preceeded the impact with the sea off St Brides Head at .855M. The Captain ejected unsuccesfully just moments before impact.
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