The distinctive Avro Vulcan was the most famous of the post war ‘V Bombers’, staying in front line service for longer than the Valient or Victor, and a mainstay at British air shows for many years (I well remember the quite deafening noise it made!). This book focuses almost entirely on the original design process and the ongoing development process that followed. This included attempts to improve the maximum altitude and speed of the Vulcan so it could carry out its original role as a high level bomber, then the work required to make the aircraft suitable for low level work once Soviet SAMs made the high level role too dangerous.
If you are interested in the process of aircraft design then this book will be of interest to you. The wide range of documents that are included mean that you see the aircraft from the designer’s point of view, and from the viewpoint of the RAF and other interested parties. An early example comes when we reach the first flight tests. Until this point we’ve largely had the AVRO point of view, celebrating the achievements of their design team and focusing on the advances introduced in the Vulcan. It thus comes as a bit of a surprise when one comes to the official test flights and find the Vulcan described as being unsuitable for service and requiring some quite major improvements before it can be accepted!
The downside of this approach is that there is quite a bit of repetition, as AVRO produced fresh brochures each time they made a significant change, many of which are reproduced either in full or at some length, and quite a bit of material discussing design features that weren’t in the end used (such as the original plan not to have a conventional vertical tail or rudder). However we do get a great deal of technical detail that you wouldn’t otherwise find, and also a great feel for the nature of the design process. The book doesn’t really suffer from the decision to largely ignore the Vulcan’s service career, as despite its fame the aircraft didn’t actually have an especially interesting career, and didn’t actual see any combat action until the Falklands War!
Overall I’d say that this book is of great value for anyone interested in the process of aircraft design, and how it was changing in the post-war period, although it can be a bit dry in places.
1 - Design and Development
2 - Concept to Reality
3 - Progress through Development
4 - Into Service - Vulcan B.Mk 1/1A
5 - B.Mk2 Development
6 - Conceptual Projects
7 - Types for all Tasks
8 - Final Chapter
9 - B.Mk2 Specifications
Author: David W. Fildes
Publisher: Pen & Sword