Vickers Valiant

1951

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Vickers Valiant

As World War II came to an end, the strategic bombers which had served Britain so well throughout the war had become dated as a result of wartime developments. The immature turbine engine promised power that would enable new-generation aircraft to operate at greater heights and higher speeds; because of such enhanced performance they would require no defensive armament. Airborne electronics had been designed to locate enemy aircraft, moving ever faster in three-dimensional space, or to pin-point one's position in the sky for navigational purposes or accurate bombing attack by day or night. And the atomic bombs which had spurred the end of war in the Pacific meant that a single aircraft could launch a devastating attack on any potential enemy.

Such thinking led to the development of the RAF's V-bomber force, comprising the Avro Vulcan, Handley Page Victor and Vickers Valiant - the latter being the first to enter squadron service. 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 retractable tricycle type. Despite being an advanced concept, the Valiant was largely conventional in construction. 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 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.

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.

Intended for fast high-altitude strategic bombing (a role frustrated by the evolution of potent surface-to-air missiles), 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 wing-span metal fatigue first reported in late 1964, and which led to the scrapping of all Valiants in January 1965.

3-View 
Vickers ValiantA three-view drawing (800 x 549)

Specification 
 MODELVickers "Valiant" B.Mk.1
 CREW5
 ENGINE4 x Rolls-Royce RA.28 Avon 204/205, 44.7kN
 WEIGHTS
  Take-off weight63503 kg140001 lb
  Empty weight34419 kg75881 lb
 DIMENSIONS
  Wingspan34.85 m114 ft 4 in
  Length32.99 m108 ft 3 in
  Height9.8 m32 ft 2 in
  Wing area219.43 m22361.92 sq ft
 PERFORMANCE
  Max. speed912 km/h567 mph
  Ceiling16460 m54000 ft
  Range w/max.fuel7242 km4500 miles
 ARMAMENT9525kg of bombs

Comments1-20 21-40 41-60
David Sykes, e-mail, 12.09.2020 10:42

OPERATION TOO RIGHT â€" Destination New Zealand
‘Operation Too Right’ was the code name for the first Overseas Proving Flight carried out by RAF V-Bombers and which featured two Valiant B Mk1 aircraft, WP206 and WP207 of 138 Squadron, based at RAF Wittering, Northamptonshire, UK. Valiant aircraft were the first of the V-Bombers to enter service and, at the time of Operation Too Right, it was the only operational V-Bomber; the Victor and Vulcan not being available for delivery to the RAF at that time. The two Valiant aircraft taking part in ‘Too Right’ were under the immediate command of Squadron Leader R.G.Wilson DFC, the Captain of WP206 and Operation Too Right was under the overall command of Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Bomber Command, Air Marshall Sir George Mills who accompanied the tour with his wife, Lady Mills, flying in their distinctive VIP Hastings. The most southerly destination of Too Right was to be Christchurch, New Zealand and all aircraft, consisting of the two Valiants, the VIP Hastings and four other Hastings transport aircraft, which carried the ground support crews, spares and ground-equipment, were due to arrive at Harewood Airport, Christchurch on Monday 19th September 1955. As a member of the ground-crew, I was allotted to Handley Page Hastings TG608, initially flying from RAF Wittering and being one of the four Hastings aircraft, which were flying in relays across the world, in order that a ground-crew, with the necessary spares and equipment, would be in place for the faster Valiants when they landed at the planned destinations on their way to Australia and New Zealand. For the last leg of the outward journey, I departed on TG608 from RAAF Edinburgh Field, South Australia, bound for Harewood Airport, Christchurch, New Zealand, leaving early on the morning of Monday 19th September and arriving at Harewood in the late afternoon. Our flight path on the approach to Christchurch took us over the Southern Alps, which looked absolutely stunning. I appeared to be the only participant of ‘Too Right’ with a camera and I took the opportunity to take a few shots as we flew over those snow-covered mountains. Hastings TG608 belonged to 24 Squadron. RAF and this squadron was referred to as ‘The Commonwealth Squadron’ due to the fact that a significant number of the Squadron’s aircrew were from various Commonwealth countries. Our particular flight was no exception and our aircrew consisted of a British Navigator and Air Quartermaster, whilst the First and Second Pilot were Kiwis. Our Captain (First Pilot) was quite a character and was known as Flt. Lt. ‘Sport’ King. On our approach to Harewood Airport, we made a few steep banked circuits over a remote hill-country farm, which looked just as though it was nestled in a rolling blanket of dark-green velvet. The Second-Pilot was hoping that his family would come running out of the farmhouse waving a tablecloth or something similar but, as this did not happen, our two pilots resumed their original course and pressed on, albeit, I suspect, with some disappointment! They need not have worried, however, because a large group of eager family members were waiting excitedly, for both Kiwi pilots, at the side of the aircraft parking area as we rolled in to our allotted spot and, as we pulled in, I glanced out of the aircraft window on the airfield side and spotted what I now know to be a NZ Frontiersman, standing motionless at attention, in his khaki /green uniform complete with lemon-squeezer hat and it was at that moment I realised that we were well and truly in New Zealand! The pilots evacuated TG608 at speed once they had parked and it was heart-warming to see them being welcomed and fussed over by their families after being away from home for some considerable time. There were crowds of onlookers waiting to see the arrival of the Valiants and the accompanying aircraft and nearby was parked the previously arrived, gleaming, VIP Hastings which had conveyed Air Marshall Sir George Mills and Lady Mills to New Zealand. The Air Marshal was greeted by a Guard of Honour, consisting of RNZAF personnel, assembled there at Harewood.
Our official programme had been well advertised before our arrival and the Valiants gave a flying display over Christchurch before landing. It was the normal practice for schoolchildren and local people to gather outside to see the display and the aircraft followed an itinerary to give as many people as possible the opportunity to see the flights. The aircraft usually did a low- level pass with flaps and landing gear down and with their bomb doors open and then they would gain height and do a high speed run, at low level, with everything closed and retracted, showing a very fast and streamlined profile and making the streaking Valiant blast through at a speed as good as any top-line fighter of the day! It was very impressive! The aircraft were on static display to the general public at Harewood on 20th Se ...

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IAN DRYDEN, e-mail, 05.02.2018 08:56

In addition to the above information I had the experience to fly as a passenger in Valiant XD828 from Malta to Honington at 45000 ft doing 500mph. On landing there was a fault in the nosewheel alighnment gear when caused severe shuddering. the plans landed okay, thankfully.

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Revd Andrew MacKenzie, e-mail, 21.11.2016 21:13

For Gary O'Keefe. If you let me have your email address I will get in touch. Mine is epimeth@aol.com

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Garry O'Keefe, e-mail, 12.09.2016 05:07

Andrew McKenzie: Hello Andrew, Its been some some since l last posted my appeal and I just saw your comment so thanks very much. If you are able to supply any more info on the cracked spar repair kit and any other memories when convenient then I will be most grateful as I am trying to bring as many people's memories together in a publication that I can bring together to show what a significant aircraft this was and what it meant to those involved with it.
All the best.

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Simon Welburn, e-mail, 01.08.2016 17:13

Jennie Rogers commented about the landing of the Valiant in 1960, it was at RAF Changi, my Dad took us to the Met Office balcony to watch it fly in. Have photographs. I was 9!!

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Paul Scott, e-mail, 01.07.2016 19:20

Although not as evocative as the superb Vulcan and Victor, the Valiant should not be forgotten. Seen in all three colours, Anti-Flash White, camouflage and metallic as well as a large-ish early swept-wing bomber, it is still iconic look back at the Royal Air Force's early, cold-war jet era.

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Sue Bennett, e-mail, 02.01.2016 01:03

Interesting reading. Does anyone remember a aircrew member at Marham in the early 60s by the name of F /O Ivan Spring. He was from S. Africa originally .

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Jennie Rogers, e-mail, 18.11.2015 18:57

My father Flt Lt Bernard Albert Sedgley was part of 214 Squadron at RAF Marham from 1956 - 1963, and was heavily involved in the flight refuelling trials and demonstrations. He was Navigator for John Garstin, and was Navigator of the crew that flew Valiant 390 on the initial record breaking non stop flight from RAF Marham to Singapore in May 1960. I am trying to establish whether the first landing point in Singapore was at RAF Changi, or the civil airport at Paya Lebar, which had the longer runway. Most sources just say Singapore. Can anybody confirm which is correct please?

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rob mather, e-mail, 19.10.2015 22:12

My Dad was Flt Lt Roy Mather DFC, AFC. He flew Valiants for 138 squadron and BCDU. I'd love to hear from anyone who remembers him

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Revd Andrew MacKenzie, e-mail, 13.08.2015 18:58

I worked in the Mod. Bay at Marham from Jan-September 1964. Myself and anothe Corporal were given the job of fitting a Vickers repair kit to the cracked spar. Not to bore anyone, but it all ended in tears! If Gary O'Keele wants any more info let me know. I also worked on ECM at Watton from 1957-61, but on Canberras and Comets. The other side of the hangar was for the Valiant stuff.

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Anthony guy, e-mail, 31.01.2015 01:37

Hi I'm trying to find my dads old squadron I think it was 90 sqn as he was at honington from around 1959 on the valiant he was a chief tech Mr Owen Guy but everyone called him George as he was a Geordie
Hope you can help me
Mr Anthony Guy

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J.L.Jones, e-mail, 17.01.2015 17:46

I was an apprentice with Vickers-Armstrongs Weybridge Surrey 1954-59 and started on the Valliant,Weybridge and Wisley

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John Snelling, e-mail, 07.03.2021 J.L.Jones

Hi, I was also a trade apprentice at Vickers Weybridge from '54 - '59. Starting in the Fitter's tools. Finished in Aug '59 and worked in the fitter's gallery on details till called up in jan '60. later worked for F G Miles at Shoreham on tank simulators.

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Bill Neish, e-mail, 14.01.2015 22:26

Hi Barry,

you have me up the loft now looking for pictures that i still should have but i have no idea where just now. The OC was Wing Cdr. Sutton and we had some times with him. I will try to put some meat on the bone when i have some time about some of the things that happened then.

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Garry O'Keefe, e-mail, 04.12.2014 20:54

Hello Bill, I'm writing about Valiant RCM /ECM as part of a small book on the aircraft which in itself has long been under-rated, much of this I'm sure due to its unfortunate early demise.

Alistair, Jack, David, Keith and Taff, I like all your comments /recollections and would be pleased to use them in conjunction with the book as it has an emphasis from the ground side of things, though any pilots memories will be welcome.

If any other lovers of the first V feel able to add anything to expand on your web comments then I will be delighted to use anything that gives an idea both of the times and capabilities of this much-liked Vickers aircraft.

All the best.

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Bill Neish, e-mail, 18.10.2014 00:36

i was at Finningly for three years on 18 Sqdn on the Valiant where they were disbanded. lots of fond and odd memories. the squadron members were all one family. we were on ECM all the time and caused some embarrassing incidents as well as cocking up others day. it would be interesting to hear from any member still arround

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KEITH MELLOWES, e-mail, 24.06.2014 21:48

I was fortunate to be posted to 543 Sqn in 1963 straight from training as Clerk Progress - the first the squadron had ever had and stayed with them until 1966 when I was posted to Singapore but not before the Valiants were scrapped because of fatigue and re-equipped with Victor BSR2.

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David Chapman, e-mail, 03.11.2012 13:52

In response to the item from Dave McCormack, dnsmcc=yahoo.co, 21.09.2011. I was around 7 when this crash occurred. It was a Friday around lunch time & I was at home during school lunch. The Vulcan crashed into Southwick Recreation ground (West Sussex) with debris spreading over a wide area - plane parts damaged several houses in Croft Avenue, the Brighton - Portsmouth railway line and in the adjacent Manor Hall Road Primary school play ground. The pilot attempted to crash land in the sea close by but lost too much altitude and died in the attempt. Several crew parachuted out with one landing in The Gardens. I can remember returning to school and seeing holes in the playground with parts strewn around. Friends & I spent several weeks afterwards combing the area looking for aircraft fragments to hand in to the crash investigators.

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Alistair Allcroft, e-mail, 20.10.2012 23:44

Worked on B Flight Valiants of 232 OCU at Gaydon from spring of 1963 until the fateful event which brought WP217 home with a cracked stbd rear spar. That was the end for these beautiful machines as they never really flew again after that incident.

Where are you; all the old mates from those days? Doug Watson, Pete Nicholls, Mick Leary, all the lads from Billet 53 and any of the whole 'tribe' of us who worked on the best aircraft ever made.

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Jack Carr, e-mail, 03.10.2012 23:20

I remember whilst serving at RAF Habbaniya staging post, it Iraq , The Valiant cut through the base at zero feet [almost], frightening the life out of all the guys, on it's record breaking run to Australia in1955 I think. My God, what an aeroplane , so beautiful . Gave me a pride in the Airforce just as I was leaving for home after two and half years . Great times

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Richard Ayres, e-mail, 04.07.2012 22:54

My father Flt Lt Hugh Ayres was navigator / bomb aimer on Valiants with 90 Squadron at Honnington between June 1957 and June 1961. He flew mainly with pilot Flt Lt John Cochrane who went on to become Concord test pilot. In September 1958 they took part in the SAC bombing competition in the USA. Later he flew mainly with pilot Flt Lt Davis. My father flew 1222 hours as navigator on Valiants (787 day and 435 night). Hope this is of interest and I'd be interested to hear from anyone who knew him.

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