The Avro Vulcan’s beautiful lines and distinctive shape make it an icon of cold-war aviation. The Vulcan first flew in 1952, based on a design by Roy Chadwick, and entered RAF service in 1957 and the final Vulcan flight was back in 1993. Thankfully, the last of these milestones has changed - Vulcan XH558 is airborne again thanks to a Heritage Lottery Fund grant and the tireless work of its dedicated fans.
Now updated for FSX compatibility, RAF Vulcan includes a faithful model from acclaimed developers PSS (Phoenix Software Simulations) sadly no longer in business: Of XH558 as it appears currently, an additional eight all-new liveries from some of the aircraft involved in the Falklands conflict of 1982, and some of the preserved aircraft in the UK.
RAF Vulcan contains a total of eighteen examples in different Squadron liveries and with different model variations, including the 2K air-to-air refueling tanker variant and those carrying the Blue Steel British nuclear cruise missile, the Shrike anti-radar missile as used in the Falklands, and the ‘project cancelled’ Sky Bolt missiles.
RAF Vulcan is officially licensed by the Royal Air Force.
To record the first display of Avro Vulcan XH558 since its rebuild and major overhaul, the following photos, both real and FS2004 are shown to display the RAF Vulcan at its best at the Farnborough International Air Show 2008. I have used Real Air Show photos provided courtesy of Mr. Stuart Moreton, and also the Farnborough Air Show Scenery purchased from Visual Flight.
Installation and Documentation
The boxed version contains the DVD, and additional documentation in the form of the Vulcan Pilot’s Notes, and these notes comprehensively cover the installation procedure for the DVD, which went on to my machine without fault. In addition, the Pilot’s Notes cover all aspects of control keys, performance tables and anything else that you need to know about the Avro Vulcan.
Once on the Hard Drive, opening up the Vulcan via FSX or FS9 is a standard operation, In accordance with Microsoft’s loading procedures, and with a choice of 18 aircraft, one is never going to be bored with setting up the next flight. At a cost of £19.99 or 29.95 Euros or $39.99, this package really does represent true value for money and is worth adding to the simulator fleet of anyone’s collection.
The New aircraft in RAF Vulcan (8 New + 10 other Models)
Built in 1964 with 301-engines, it served with 9, 101, 44 and 50 Squadrons before being bought, along with XL426, with the intention of getting them flying again. It was delivered to Wellesbourne Mountfield airfield on 11 February 1984 and is now preserved in full working order and carries out taxi runs. This is the most powerful Vulcan in working order and the youngest Vulcan in existence. Only two Vulcan’s were built later, and both have now been scrapped. This scheme represents XM655 as it is now.
Built in 1960, with 201-engines, this was the first B2 delivered to the RAF and served with 230 OCU, 27, 50 and 55 Squadrons. It was converted to a maritime reconnaissance aircraft and then a tanker before being returned to standard specification as a display plane. This was the last Vulcan flown by the RAF display flight and was flown to Bruntingthorpe on 23 March 1993 with the intention of getting the aircraft flying again. Following an extensive restoration to a specification set by the CAA, XH558 has seen been airborne again! This scheme represents XH558 as it was on the 18th October 2007, with some of her markings retouched and slight changes around the rebuilt and repainted control surfaces.
In April 1982 558 became one of six Vulcan’s to be converted to a tanker to ease the shortage of UK-based tankers during the Falklands conflict. 558 was only a tanker for a year before the drum unit was removed for fitting in a VC10. This scheme represents XH558 in her brief role as a tanker.
Built in 1961 with 201 engines, and served with 27, 9, 35, 44 and 101 Squadrons, and twice with 230 OCU. It is now preserved indoors at Duxford Imperial War Museum, having been flown there on 13 March 1982 by Flight Lieutenant Martin Withers. This scheme represents XJ824 as it now appears at Duxford.
Built in 1962, with 201-engines. The aircraft served with 83, 617 and 55 Squadrons as well as 230 OCU, and was the RAF Vulcan display flight predecessor to XH558. This was one of two planes bought with the intention of getting them flying again. It was delivered to Southend airport on 19 December 1986 and maintained in working order. It currently carries out taxi runs and this scheme represents XL426 as the aircraft is now.
Built in 1963 with 301-engines. The aircraft served with 27, 101 and 44 Squadrons before being bought privately. It was delivered to Newark Air Museum at Winthorpe in February 1983. This scheme presents XM594 as it is now.
Built in 1963 with 301-engines, and served with 35, 44, 9 and 101 Squadrons. This is the Black Buck Vulcan that bombed Port Stanley runway on 1st May 1982, completing – at nearly 8,000 miles – the longest air attack in history. It was hastily modified to carry weapons and jamming pods on specially made pylons fitted where the wings had been designed to carry the aborted Sky Bolt missile. The aircraft is still owned by the RAF and is on display beside the A15 at RAF Waddington. This scheme represents XM607 during the Black Buck missions armed with Shrike missiles and with the dark grey underside and squadron badges painted.
The Exterior Model
Who could not fail to fall in love with this huge Delta-Wing Mammoth, a giant moth or bat which blots out the sun as it passes overhead, engines shrieking and exhaust smoke belching out of the back-end, leaving a trail of pollution and noise that environmentally would be banned in normal circumstances. But in the case of the Avro Vulcan this is not only acceptable, as I have seen thousands of people part with large amounts of currency for the privilege of being deafened and polluted just to see this huge beast perform at its best in Air shows and Displays the length and breadth of the UK and other countries as well.
Just Flight have captured this magnificent aircraft perfectly, in all its guises and colour schemes, glistening in the sun with protrusions displayed for all to see. The huge delta wing taking up acres of ground, and atop it all the tiny, in comparison, cockpit. The bomb bay opens to reveal a cavernous internal warehouse, capable of carrying enough weaponry to destroy just about anything on earth. With the aircraft in the sky and this huge bomb bay open, one wonders why the aerodynamic drag caused by this gaping slash in the underside doesn’t bring the aircraft down. But of course the designer knew exactly how to prevent this happening, and the result is a huge flying weapons platform that presented a formidable opponent to those who wished to monger war, and was of sufficient threat to calm even the most aggressive enemies of the 1980’s.
I had the privilege of spending a day with the Avro Vulcan B2A XJ824, at RAF Duxford, where it is displayed very neatly in a big dry hangar. From the moment I set foot on the crew ladder underneath the forward fuselage below the cockpit, I knew that this was going to be a rare experience into the insight and operation of a “V-Bomber”.
External inspection reveals a fairly standard nose gear oleo set-up, with powered steering of course, but moving back from the nose gear reveals the biggest weapons bay you are ever likely to see. Surpassed only by the B52, but that is another story! One can never get wet whilst out in inclement weather with the Vulcan, because its huge “Bat wing” or Delta profile covers such a vast area, that one is shielded by wing for almost the entire length of the aircraft.
With no tail plane as such, only a ventral fin, hence the discovery of “Elevons” and a mixing unit which allowed the movement of control column to move either elevators or ailerons in a complicated sequence, to allow for climbing, diving and banking. All hinged around appendages at the trailing edges of the huge wing surfaces, where one would otherwise expect to see just a set of ailerons. In the tail plane area, a set of elevators, but of course this monster does not conform to standard aerodynamic design in that respect, but a complete set of laws centered around the “Delta wing” design. The only standard flight control is the rudder, and that is quite large, but fits in nicely with the scale of the rest of the airplane.
The main landing gear, of which there are two, one each side of the airplane, are large 4 wheel bogey units, designed to spread the weight of this “Bat” on the ground evenly between the total of eight wheels, and allow stowage in the underside wing area neatly and smoothly, complicated only by the retraction/extension sequence of events.
The Cockpit and Panels
The cockpit area of the Vulcan is fairly compact, and appears to be displayed faithfully by the “Just Flight” Team. The instruments that are important for flight are working properly, although not in the case of every switch and knob visible. Aesthetically it looks good, as can be judged by my photos of the real Vulcan XJ824 cockpit, and those of the FSX version, which is the same as the FS2004 version too. The layout works well overall, and the views from the flight deck are exactly as per the real Vulcan, and the “Virtual Cockpit” pilot is catered for very neatly too.
One has to witness an Avro Vulcan hurtling down a runway towards take-off and being 100 feet, or meters if you wish, in any direction from it, to remember forever the screaming banshee wail of four Olympus engines at full thrust with smoke trailing from the four tailpipes as well. The whole sky above you darkening as this “Bat-out-of-hell” takes to the ether, with your chest vibrating to the thrashing air being forced out of the back end of the engine at a huge rate of speed.
It passes overhead and continues to climb, a huge Delta wing behemoth that defies gravity as it reaches for the upper echelons, and not far away as it turns on a wing-tip, convincing you it is going to make a huge hole in the countryside as it stalls in, but it turns majestically and returns above your head in a joyous thundering rush of beautiful aero-dynamic design.
That is the thrill of the Vulcan, because it is a huge airplane, and yet it is quite maneuverable within its flight envelope of course. From this you can deduce, correctly, that the sound department at Just Flight and Phoenix has tweaked the Bristol Siddeley (now Rolls Royce) Olympus engines to perfection, and they sound great in the FS2004 or FSX versions. I do not use FS2002 anymore, but I am sure it will sound equally as good in that simulator too.
The power comes in at the right time when the thrust levers are moved, the gauges read well, and the aircraft responds to changes in thrust as near as I can tell quite accurately.
So we finally come to the flying bit, and does this aircraft fly. From the noises humming away in the background as you taxi out, to the reverberating scream as you start rushing down the runway, this airplane is a real fun airplane. Pulling back to initiate a 15 degree climb, which can easily be stretched to 30 degrees with no complaint from the airspeed indicator or altimeter, gear selected up easily and within a few seconds you are flying ”clean”.
Cclimbing to an altitude which can be 60,000 feet if one wishes, and with a range of 4,600 miles in a steady cruise, this plane can take you places that you could only ever dream of with any other type of military 4 engined machine, with a few exceptions of course, but in general the Vulcan can cover a lot of ground. With an air-to-air-refueling probe the world could be circled without stopping, only crew fatigue being in the way.
The “Elevons” give an amazing roll rate, a full barrel roll is possible and it has been done, and the rudder is powerful and harmonizes well with the other control surfaces to give a really re-assuring feeling of being in control of this huge Bat. It is a delta wing however, and respect must be given to the lift surfaces at all times. Any misuse or abuse will result in a stall or worse, and use of power must be balanced with the aero-dynamic forces acting on lift, otherwise you will be working really hard and on your own!
This airplane is thoroughly recommended for anyone and everyone. It flies well, looks fantastic in the air or on the ground, has a tail parachute for braking, although it is aesthetically functional more than aerodynamically functional. In other words, it doesn’t stop you or even slow you down, but the eight brake units will do that for you together with the huge “barn door” air brakes which extend above and below the wing when selected, in three phases if required. Its huge wing area is awesome, and for multi flying groups there is a whole new world of formation flying or target chasing to be gained.
The use of XH558 is not just co-incidental, it is a bonus of the highest magnitude, especially to Vulcan enthusiasts (No, not Star Trekkers). This year has seen the first flight for a long time of an Avro Vulcan in RAF colours, approved for flight by the CAA, and at a historic venue, namely the Farnborough International Air Show.
What more can one ask? Well I am not paid to promote any software package at all, but if only the Farnborough scenery pack could extend to FSX, my world would be getting much better. As it is, see what you think of my shots of XH558 at Farnborough using FS9 and Visual Flight’s scenery package, and I think you will agree it does it credit.
Summary / Closing Remarks
I’m out of breath enthusing over this package, so I’m going flying, with an oxygen mask on of course. Although I am not intoxicated, I could get drunk on the wealth of detail in the Just Flight RAF Vulcan DVD. The number of aircraft and the equipment I can use, even opening the warehouse oops! (I mean Bomb bay doors) if required, or popping the tail braking chute, dropping the crew ladder for internal access, need I go on?
Please yourself, read the review and ignore this package, and regret it, or lay out a few well earned pennies knowing you have purchased a big piece of history, at a fraction of the price of a real Avro Vulcan and no regulatory body to tell you how and where to fly.
My policy has always been safety first with aircraft, because you don’t always get a second chance to put something right. In other words, get it right first time every time, but with this aircraft you can do just what you want when you want, and it will never let you down. You have control...
What I Like About The RAF Vulcan
What I Don't Like About The RAF Vulcan
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