Aviation History

Time to cry because it’s ended: Vulcan XH558 to start her engines for one last time on Nov. 20 before being put to sleep forever

Anyone that wants to hear the Vulcan engine’s iconic “howl” for the last time has been invited to stand on a road outside of Doncaster Airport, where she will be easily audible.

The iconic Vulcan XH558 strategic bomber will roar for the final time this week after a decision that the plane should be “put to sleep forever”. Anyone that wants to hear the Vulcan engine’s iconic “howl” for the last time has been invited to stand on a road outside of Doncaster Airport, where she will be easily audible.

Avro Vulcan XH558 “The Spirit Of Great Britain” was the last remaining airworthy example of the 134 Avro Vulcan jet powered delta winged strategic nuclear bomber aircraft operated by the RAF during the Cold War. She was the last Vulcan in military service, and the last to fly at all after 1986. She last flew on Oct. 28, 2015, when she made her final ever flight to her current home at Doncaster Airport. Though there were plans for the plane to become an educational resource, with the potential closure of the airport she is based in, her future has become uncertain once again.

According to GloucestershireLive, the old bomber plane became a crowd favourite at many airshows for her distinctive engine noise, called a howl by many. This loud piercing noise is made by the Vulcan when her intake is limited to 90 per cent before takeoff.

KEEP XH558 Flying Forever Facebook Page says;

‘With a heavy heart…

‘On 20th November 2022 at 10am-2pm

‘You will be able to view the last engine testing ever of XH558 before she is put to sleep forever.

‘This is to make the public aware that they can view this from Old Bawtry Road opposite the airport.

‘If you wanted to hear that last howl be there for the last time.

‘Such a sad end to the very finest example of the Vulcan Bombers remaining.

‘Time to cry because it’s ended.’

The Vulcan was the second of the Royal Air Force’s ‘V bombers’ and like the Valiant and Victor provided part of Great Britain’s nuclear deterrent force for fifteen years, until the Royal Navy’s Polaris submarines took over that responsibility in 1969, according to Royal Air Force Museum.

The prototype B1 first flew on 30 August 1952; four years later work began on an improved B2 design. The increased performance offered by the Vulcan B2 made it ideal for modification to carry the Blue Steel nuclear stand-off bomb. This weapon allowed the aircraft to launch its attack from outside the immediate missile defences of a target and thereby extended the effectiveness of the Royal Air Force’s airborne deterrent.

By 1966 Soviet missile defences had become so effective that Vulcans switched from high- to low-level penetration. In 1970, following their withdrawal from the nuclear deterrent, Vulcans switched to the conventional bomber role in support of NATO forces in Europe.

The Vulcan’s range could be greatly increased by in-flight refuelling which was used to such good effect in the long range attacks on the Falkland Islands from Ascension Island in 1982. The last Vulcans retired from operational service in 1984.

Photo credit: John5199 via Wikipedia

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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