Skip main navigation

The Vulcan Bomber

Footage of the interview with Andy at the RAF Cosford Air Show, cut with flight footage of Vulcan XH558 (Vulcan Bomber) in the air.

Footage of the interview with Andy at the RAF Cosford Air Show, cut with flight footage of Vulcan XH558 (Vulcan Bomber) in the air.

Andy was a Vulcan navigator plotter in the RAF, and also flew in the back seat of a Tornado GR1 in the 1980s. He also acted as an instructor for the RAF and for Italian Tornado crews before moving on to multi-engined aircraft for the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, and then to Vulcan to the Sky in RAF retirement.

Polaris and the Vulcan Bombers

In 1970, when Andy Marson joined the RAF, Polaris – Britain’s submarine based nuclear deterrent – had become the primary method of deploying nuclear weapons, with the HMS Resolution taking her first Polaris-armed operational patrol in 1968. The Vulcans were now the secondary strike method for nuclear weapons. The difference between tactical and strategic bombing is often seen as quite a blurred line, however a tactical bomber is usually regarded as aimed at specific targets such as sites of military value, and a strategic bomber is usually regarded as a technique used during total war, with the end goal of gaining victory by destroying the morale of the enemy, or their economy, and usually aim to cause damage to the population rather than a specific target.

TSR2

The TSR2 was a Cold War strike and reconnaissance aircraft developed by the British Aircraft Corporation in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It was an aircraft designed to fly at low altitudes and high speeds, attacking high-value targets with conventional or nuclear weapons. However, they could also fly at high altitudes, and were designed to be able to take photographs at high-speeds. Unfortunately, due to high-rising costs and disagreements within committees, the TSR2 was scrapped in 1965. The replacements for this aircraft included the Blackburn Buccaneer and the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II. Eventually the smaller Panavia Tornado was adopted to fill a similar role to the TSR2.

Flying the Vulcan Bomber

To give you a further view about how cramped it was in a Vulcan, watch this BBC video, which shows the inside of a Vulcan bomber if you were interested in the design of the cockpit, and it gives an insight into the visibility the pilot of the aircraft had.

This article is from the free online

From World War to White Heat: the RAF in the Cold War

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education