Vickers Valiant
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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.

Vickers ValiantA three-view drawing (800 x 549)

 MODELVickers "Valiant" B.Mk.1
 ENGINE4 x Rolls-Royce RA.28 Avon 204/205, 44.7kN
    Take-off weight63503 kg140001 lb
    Empty weight34419 kg75881 lb
    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
    Max. speed912 km/h567 mph
    Ceiling16460 m54000 ft
    Range w/max.fuel7242 km4500 miles
 ARMAMENT9525kg of bombs

Comments1-20 21-40 41-60
IAN DRYDEN, 05.02.2018

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.

Revd Andrew MacKenzie, 21.11.2016

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

Garry O'Keefe, 12.09.2016

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.

Simon Welburn, 01.08.2016

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!!

Paul Scott, 01.07.2016

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.

Sue Bennett, 02.01.2016

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 .

Jennie Rogers, 18.11.2015

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?

rob mather, 19.10.2015

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

Revd Andrew MacKenzie, 13.08.2015

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.

Anthony guy, 31.01.2015

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

J.L.Jones, 17.01.2015

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

Bill Neish, 14.01.2015

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.

Garry O'Keefe, 04.12.2014

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.

Bill Neish, 18.10.2014

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

KEITH MELLOWES, 24.06.2014

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.

David Chapman, 03.11.2012

In response to the item from Dave McCormack,, 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.

Alistair Allcroft, 20.10.2012

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.

Jack Carr, 03.10.2012

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

Richard Ayres, 04.07.2012

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.

Alan Wrigglesworth, 07.06.2012

I was at Gaydon 1957/1958 .on 232OCU.
My trade was airframe and I worked in ASF in 1 and 2 Hangars.
I looked after port wing , wheels and undercarriage. In for a minor service the aircraft would be jacked up, flaps and wheels removed before beginning inspection. Main spars being part of my remit.I well remember the leaky tanks and on one occasion being the only one slim enough having to
go inside the wing through one of the small panels to fit a new liner.Not pleasant complete with mask.
I worked on most of the WZ numbered aircraft

1-20 21-40 41-60

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