Avro Vulcan Cold War Archive
 

 

 

Air Frames

Armament

Black Buck

Bibliography 

Changing Roles

Crew

Dedication

Display Flight

F.A.Q.

Forum

Goose Bay

Image Map

Memories

Photo Archive

Squadrons

Survivors

Tech Specs

V Force

Vulcan Clubs

Vulcan History

Vulcan Multi-Media

Vulcan Links


Arsenals

Bunkers

Effects

Nuke FAQ's

Glossary

History

How They Work

Damage

Nuclear Facts

Protect & Survive

UK Weapons

Delivery Systems

Homepage

 

 

 

Vulcan Armament

 

The Avro Vulcan was designed to carry a range of different weapons.
 This page briefly explains a little about the main types which were carried by the Vulcan fleet 
between 1953 and 1998. 

 

 

Blue Danube


Blue Danube Nuclear Bomb

The above picture shows the United Kingdom's first operational nuclear weapon. It was called Blue Danube and was a free fall device, capable of delivering a 15 kilo-ton yield. The Avro Vulcan, and other V-force aircraft, were all designed to carry this bomb. Only around 20 were produced. It had retractable fins to allow easier loading into the bomb bay.
It was a fission bomb.

Weapon Type Free-Fall Fission Bomb
In Service 1953 - 1961 
Yield 15 Kilotons
Diameter 5 ft
Length 24 ft

 

Blue Steel


Blue Steel on display in hangar at IWM Duxford

By providing the ability to attack a target from outside the range of an enemy's defences, the Blue Steel air-to-surface thermonuclear missile provided to be an effective weapon used by the V-force.

Work on the weapon began in the mid 1950's. A four-year test programme, which included firing in both Australia and the UK, saw the missile enter production in 1959. By 1963 the missile was being delivered to RAF squadrons around the country.

The main quality of this weapon was the fact that, once released, it required no further signals from outside. Meaning it was impossible for it to be jammed or diverted by enemy counter-measures.

Blue Steel on display in hangar at IWM Duxford

It had an operating range of 100 miles. Around four seconds after being deployed by the carrier aircraft the missile's Rolls Royce Stentor rocket motor would ignite and propel the missile  to an altitude of 70,000ft at a speed in excess of 1000 mph.

The missile was claimed to be accurate to within 300ft in ideal conditions.

Although an effective weapon, the Blue Steel did present a number of problems to RAF ground crew. Not least of which was the highly dangerous nature of the missile fuel, and the fact that the complicated electronics used to guide the missile had to be protected from environmental extremes to prevent malfunction. The later problem was reduced by storing the missile in specially constructed heated, air-conditioned storage facilities.

Blue Steel on display at RAF Museum Cosford

Weapon Type Air-to-Surface Thermonuclear guided missile
In Service 1963 - 1970 
Engine Stentor Rocket with 2 propulsion chambers
Span 13 ft
Length 35 ft

click to return to top of page

Yellow Sun

The Yellow Sun thermonuclear bomb was a free-fall weapon supplied to the V-force.

Yellow Sun was not carried by the Valiant. All three V-bombers were fitted with an integrated wiring system, circa 1958, that would make them compatible with three new weapons that were due to enter service: Yellow Sun, Red Beard and the US Mk-5. 
Whilst this programme was underway, it was decided not to allocate Yellow Sun to the Valiant fleet. The new wiring harness was neither compatible with Blue Danube nor the interim megaton weapon 'Violet Club'.

Megaton tests using Valiants used Blue Danube carcasses containing experimental warheads.
 The Green Grass warhead in Mk1 Yellow Sun was never tested!

Yellow Sun underwent successful trials off Christmas Island, and was operationally deployed  in 1962, at the time of the Cuban missile Crisis.

Weapon Type Free Fall Thermonuclear Bomb
In Service Mk 1 1958 - 1961

Mk 2 1961 - 1972 

Yield  Mk 1 500Kt

Mk 2 1Mt

Diameter 4 ft
Length 20 ft

The weapon was replaced by the WE177. 

WE177

The WE177 free-fall thermonuclear bomb entered service with the RAF in 1966. Its origins can be traced back to 1957 when a joint Naval/Air Staff requirement asked for a medium or low level deployed nuclear device. This, incidentally, was intended for use on the TSR-2 aircraft, which never entered military service.

Despite the cancellation of the TSR-2 programme the trails of WE177 continued and the weapon was given to the RAF V-force.

During its operational life there were three variants.

Type A

Known as a 600 pounder, this variant housed a single stage warhead capable
 of delivering two selectable low yield loads.

It was deployed mainly by the Royal Navy as an anti-submarine
 weapon between 1969 and 1992.

Type B

The type B was the first of the three variants to be deployed, when it was issued to V-force Vulcan aircraft in 1966 as part of the United Kingdom's strategic nuclear deterrent.

It was a two stage device capable of delivering  a higher yield than either A or C variants.

Type C

This variant was used mainly by the RAF and was similar in many ways to the type B. In fact many of the components were inter-changeable between the B & C variant.


WE117 Type A on the left (note : no external wring duct)  Image (c) David Farrant.


WE117 Type B or C


Internal construction of the WE117

  Type A Type B Type C

Weapon Type

Nuclear Free-Fall Weapon Nuclear Free-Fall Weapon Nuclear Free-Fall Weapon
In Service 1969
1998
1966
1995
1973
1998
Yield Around
 10 -15 kilotons
Around 400 kilotons  Around 
300-350
kilotons
Weight 600lb 950lb 950lb
Length 112 inches 133 inches 133 inches

Between 1966 and 1998 most RAF strike aircraft were capable of delivering
 all variants of the WE177.

The weapon had a number of release options including :

 Water Lay Down  
 This was used against enemy submarines.

Low Level Release 
Where the delivery aircraft would drop the bomb whilst flying at low level. Parachutes would retard the decent of the bomb to allow the aircraft enough time to leave the blast area

High Level Release 
 This method of delivery allowed the aircraft crew to select whether the bomb exploded on the ground or in the air above a target.

Toss Realise
This method of delivery was similar to high level release in as much as the manner in which the bomb exploded could be controlled by the air crew. This was used if an enemy had good defences which would have detected a high-flying intruder aircraft.

The crew of the delivery aircraft were able to set the WE177 to ground-burst or air-burst, thus allowing greater tactical options to the commander-in-chief should the weapon need to be deployed.

With an overall in-service life of 32 years the WE177 was the longest serving of all the UK's nuclear weapons.

On 21st April 1998, the final operational loading of WE177 took place at RAF Marham. Shortly after this, the RAF withdrew the WE177 from service.
 Since this point the RAF has become a non-nuclear force.

 

click to return to top of page

Iron Bombs


Close up of a 1000lb iron bomb


21 1000lb bombs displayed at RAF Museum Hendon


Racks used to hold the iron bombs whilst in flight

Although the Vulcan was capable of delivering a thermonuclear payload, it was also able to carry conventional bombs in its huge bomb bay.

Twenty-One 1000lb bombs could be carried at any time.

High Explosive Iron Bombs were the only weapons used in "anger" by the Vulcan.
We should be glad that the V -force was never asked to deliver its nuclear payload.

click to return to top of page

 

Air Frame ListArmamentBlack BuckChanging RolesCrewDedication
Display FlightFAQ'sForumGoose BayImage MapMemories
SquadronsSurvivorsTech SpecsV ForceVulcan ClubsVulcan History

ArsenalsEffectsGlossaryHow They WorkNuke FactsUK Weapons
BunkersNuke FAQ'sHistoryDamageP and SDelivery

Home Page

 

 

 

 

 

                                          

Send mail to info@mongsoft.co.uk with questions or comments about this web site.
Copyright 2008 Grumpy Cat Web Page Design
Last modified: 27-Apr-2008 11:00