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A different V force in the 1960s

uk 75

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If the Vickers Valiants had been transfered from strike to tankers earlier could the fatigue problems have been avoided.
Their strike role could have been taken on by Vulcan or Victor B1s.
With the Valiants serving into the 1970s the Victors could have continued in the recce and conventional bombing role, providing an alternative to the Vulcan.
 

Archibald

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Tankers fly quietly at medium height, in circles, waiting for thirsty fighters and bombers.
So I suppose indeed the Valiants could have lasted longer.
Being the least capable of the V-bombers it also make sense to make it into a tanker ASAP. This also applies to the Mark.1 variants of the other two.

GB should have really focused on the Victor mk.2 first and foremost, with the Vulcan B2 as backup. Everything else - tanker or recon ASAP.
 

zen

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Frankly evolutions of the Valient ought to have provided sufficient capability across the board. Certainly such concepts existed and one flew for the low level needs.

Certainly saving the Valiant fleet from low level strike and the rapid fatigue issue has much merit if it could have happened.

Though strictly the VC10 is likely to be substantially cheaper per hour, per mile and per flight.
 

kaiserd

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1. Hard not to argue the Valiants should have still gone low level given what happened but they were clearly inferior tankers to what came after them (and apart from tanking they had no other role, and had to go low level for any vestige of survivability). Not seeing the obvious gain.
2. The RAF effectively favoured the Vulcan over the Victor as a bomber, despite the Victor having some advantages in terms of weapon load, range etc. They clearly saw it as the better bet in this regard, hence why the Victor became the new RAF tanker. Not sure what in your scenario changes that view and decision.
3. Legitimate questions re: why so many V-bomber types (I .e going into production - prototypes more understandable given chances of project failures and or serious issues at this time). However Valiant developments (particularly the low altitude B2) are perhaps generally overhyped in this context (was the B2 really that good or capable a low altitude bomber, even just in comparison with the Vulcan?).
 

Archibald

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Not seeing the obvious gain.
Opportunistic move and use (milk out) of existing airframes. But I readily agree that VC-7 or VC-10 tankers are far better.

Incidentally, both aircraft are from Vickers... makes one think (me don't give a damn about Valiant, VC-7 could have ruled the skies)

Screw Valiant after some prototypes (like Sperrin) and get Vickers build VC-7s to support the other two V-bombers... but of course it was far more complicated than that, and hindsight is alway 20/20.
 

alertken

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Insurance duplication at the scheming, even prototype stages is obviously a sensible use of our money. So, well done Ministers, 11/47, to initiate 2 Mediums.

Launching No.3, 4/48, was in response to Stalin ratcheting up the issue of Germany: well done Geo.Edwards for persuading Ministers that his conventional airframe with look-it-works Avon could be rapidly deployed as Interim.

Initiating their Fat Man clone by mid-48: well done Ministers: by the time they lost 26/10/51 Election they had only ordered 25 Valiant (9/2/51). The new lot then tried very hard to abandon the whole thing, and extracted a US offer of loan B-47+Bombs. Remember there was a War on, which we all read as rehearsal for WW3. B-47B was deployed by SAC rather earlier than we were likely to do Valiant+Blue Danube. Who carried the Case that UK should not do that?

Arise Saviour Sandys. He extracted a US contribution to Valiant production cost, tried (several times) and failed to do so for Victor/Vulcan. So UK ordered all 3 into production, hoping to get something+ some Bombs before WW3 began.

Turn now to 31/5/56, when Ministers funded R&D of Mk.2 Victor+Vulcan to carry the Mt weapon funded by WSC, 7/54, on an ASM R&D funded 4/5/55 to bridge to the MRBM, R&D funded 4/55 (Sandys involved in none of this). They did not insure/duplicate Blue Steel, Blue Streak or the Mt weapon, so: Q: why did they duplicate Mks.2 Mediums?

My A: why not: it was quite cheap, and at some point in flight test they had the option to drop one and put both firms onto production of the Vic...winner.
So why, 5/3/57 did they order 60 each? Sandys did that. He (hoped) both would fly, giving earlier deployment in volume than either one alone. Which he did.
 

Zoo Tycoon

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The Valiant fatigue life was properly screwed up as a result of its use of DTD 683 aluminium. Early (1956) attempts to establish a cleared flying life came out at something like 200hrs per aircraft. As they gradually began to understand the problem the cleared life increased and switching to tanking helped. I was told by a former Vickers structural engineer that modifications were developed, and tested on a fatigue rig at South Marston, that got the airframe up to about 5000hrs in a tanking type operation. This would have got about half the fleet into the early 70’s, had they decided to proceed.

I think in the early days of this in 55-56 they were almost expecting to scrap the fleet after only a year or two in service.
 

zen

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Yes the mkII issue is curious, especially considering that the Victor was better for belly carriage of standing off missile. As was the wing.....

I suspect the Vulcan's performance and operational costs might have swayed continuation.
Could even be the accidental LO features......

Then again HP was falling afoul of politics through this while Avro as part of HSA would be favoured over them.
 

uk 75

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Looking at this again, I think I was trying to get more use out of the Vulcan B1s which could have taken on the three squadron Saceur role until the B2s took on the role in 1970.
Also the Victor had a much larger conventional bomb load than the Vulcan. In fact I think in one of the RAF with TSR2 acounts here it was mentioned that a Victor squadron would be kept for long range strike/recce. But Vulcan B2 was the better nuclear striker.
Probably the K1 and K2 tankers were the best use for the Victors once we gave up East of Suez.
Secondhand VC10s left British Airways followed by used Tristars in time to replace the Victors.
So keeping Valiants would not have helped much.
 

Dilandu

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Also the Victor had a much larger conventional bomb load than the Vulcan.

Well, yes, but how exactly it was supposed to penetrate air defenses was still a question - especially after USSR and USA started to sell their SAM's to third world customers.
 

Archibald

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As far as missile carriage go - Victor was better for conformal Blue Steel but Blue Steel was a dog of a weapon.
For everything else the Vulcan perched on its tall undercarriage and having no fuselage whatsoever was better - Hound Dog, Skybolt... more ground clearance.

So it was kind of draw.

Didn't Vickers got chastized by the British government for refusing to merge - and losing 25 Victor B2 in the process ? the ones wanted by the SAAF ?
 

uk 75

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Archibald Handley Page but otherwise yes
Dilandu True. It would have met the same fate as US B52s over North Vietnam.
But it could have made a real mess of the airfield at Port Stanley.
 

uk 75

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Bloodhounds not very mobile. Hawks however would fit the bill.. Soviet systems also very mobile.
Oh well, just for comparison.....
 

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Grey Havoc

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Incidentally, there were mobile and semi-mobile versions of the Bloodhound Mk. II, the former using the Indigo Corkscrew (Type 86) radar system if I'm not mistaken. Though of course not as mobile as SAM systems mounted on dedicated TELs or TELARs.
 
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Hood

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You have to wonder if Valiants would have lasted that much longer anyway, lugging full loads of fuel on long loitering sorties would still have eaten up precious fatigue life. Even if they lasted until 1968-70 the RAF would have needed to have converted Victors. In the worst case the post-Polaris cuts might have seen too many Victors chopped up before tanker conversion were needed and then we might really have been in the do-do. At a push Labour might have ordered more VC-10s to keep Weybridge open, but then would BAC have let FRL get on with the necessary conversion work without slapping a huge bill on the price to cover the changes?
 

NOMISYRRUC

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Turn now to 31/5/56, when Ministers funded R&D of Mk.2 Victor+Vulcan to carry the Mt weapon funded by WSC, 7/54, on an ASM R&D funded 4/5/55 to bridge to the MRBM, R&D funded 4/55 (Sandys involved in none of this). They did not insure/duplicate Blue Steel, Blue Streak or the Mt weapon, so: Q: why did they duplicate Mks.2 Mediums?

My A: why not: it was quite cheap, and at some point in flight test they had the option to drop one and put both firms onto production of the Vic...winner.
So why, 5/3/57 did they order 60 each? Sandys did that. He (hoped) both would fly, giving earlier deployment in volume than either one alone. Which he did.
I agree.

If both firms been put onto production of the Vic...winner instead of ordering 60 of each then Avro would have had to re-tool to build the Victor Mk 2 or Handley Page would have had to re-tool to build the Vulcan Mk 2. Re-tooling would have cost money and more importantly cost time as the Avro-built Victor Mk 2s would have been in service later than the Vulcan Mk 2 and Handley Page-built Vulcan Mk 2s would have been in service later than the Victor Mk 2.
 
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NOMISYRRUC

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Didn't Vickers got chastized by the British government for refusing to merge - and losing 25 Victor B2 in the process ? the ones wanted by the SAAF ?
Strictly speaking it was Handley Page that was chastised for refusing to merge. It's also been suggested that the RAF bought the Andover instead of the Herald for the same reason. It was one of the reasons why the Belfast was ordered instead of the H.P. design that was preferred by the RAF. (The other reason was that Short & Harland was one of Northern Ireland's biggest employers and it was necessary that it continued to be for political and economic reasons.)

However, I've also read that the 25 Victors were cancelled because they became surplus to requirements.

This is the September 1957 Version of Plan L for Bomber Command...

Plan L Bomber Command September 1957.png

It shows a front-line of 160 V-bombers in 20 squadrons of 8 aircraft at the end of March 1962 which includes 18 squadrons of medium bombers and 2 long-range photographic reconnaissance (LRPR) squadrons as follows:
24 Victor B.1s in 3 squadrons​
48 Victor B.2s in 6 squadrons (i.e. 4 squadrons of medium bombers and 2 LRPR squadrons)​
16 Vulcan B.1s in 2 squadrons​
72 Vulcan B.2s in 9 squadrons​

The Air Ministry requirements section of the plan shows:
46 Victor B.1 (However, 50 were built)​
58 Victor B.2 (However, 59 were ordered and 34 were built)​
40 Vulcan B.1 (However, 45 were built)​
87 Vulcan B.2 (However, 89 were built including one used as a static test airframe)​
So about 150 Mk 2 V-bombers (58 Victors and 87 Vulcans) were required to maintain a front-line of 120 aircraft (48 Victors and 72 Vulcans).

The Aircraft Programmes section of the plan shows all but 5 of the Victors delivered by the end of March 1962 and all but 3 of the Vulcans delivered by the end of March 1962.

I read in Humphrey Winn's RAF Nuclear Deterrent Forces that the front-line of 144 medium bombers was to be replaced by 144 Skybolt missiles. The planned force of 72 Vulcan Mk 2s could carry them and therefore it was decided to reduce the number of Victor B.2s that were on order. I haven't checked, but as far as I can remember it was done to save money, rather than to punish Handley Page for not joining BAC or Hawker Siddeley.

Bomber Command never reached a strength of 160 V-bombers in 20 squadrons either. At the end of March 1962 the actual total was 17 squadrons (16 medium bomber and one LRPR) as follows:

4 Valiant medium bomber squadrons (Nos. 7, 90, 138 and 214). (But see the note at the end of this post.)​
1 Valiant LRPR squadron (No. 543)​
4 Victor B.1 squadrons (Nos. 10, 15, 55 and 57)​
1 Victor B.2 squadron (No. 139)​
3 Vulcan B.1 squadrons (Nos. 44, 50 and 101)​
4 Vulcan B.2 squadrons (Nos. 9, 27, 83 and 617)​

However, there were also 3 Valiant squadrons (Nos. 49, 148 and 207) that were serving in the tactical bomber role. They took the place of the 64 Canberras in 4 light bomber squadrons that were planned for the end of March 1962 in the September 1957 version of Plan L.

The formation of the Victor and Vulcan Mk 2 squadrons took longer than planned.

There were 3 Victor Mk 2 squadrons from May 1965. No. 139 Squadron reformed on the type on 1st February 1962 and No. 100 Squadron reformed on 1st May 1962, but No. 543 Squadron did not exchange its Valiants for Victors until May 1965. (No. 100 Squadron disbanded on 30th September 1968, No. 139 disbanded on 31st December 1968 and No. 543 survived until 24th May 1974.)

9 squadrons of Vulcan B.2s (9, 12, 27, 35, 44, 50, 83, 101 and 617) were formed. The first was No. 83 which disbanded on Vulcan B.1s on 10th August 1960 and reformed on Vulcan B.2s on 10th October 1960. However, No. 101 the ninth squadron didn't complete conversion from the Vulcan B.1 until October 1967. The force of 9 squadrons wasn't maintained for long because No. 12 Squadron disbanded on 31st December 1967. (The next squadron to go was No. 83, but that wasn't until 31st August 1969.)

Note re the 4 Valiant medium bomber squadrons that existed on 31st March 1962.
  • Nos. 90 and 214 Squadrons became tanker squadrons on 1st April 1962. (Source: Humphrey Winn, RAF Nuclear Deterrent Forces.) However he also wrote that No. 214 Squadron had been flight refuelling since August 1958 and No. 90 Squadron went into the FR role in October 1961.
  • No. 138 Squadron was disbanded on 1st April 1962.
  • No. 7 Squadron disbanded on 30th July 1962.
 
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NOMISYRRUC

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3. Legitimate questions re: why so many V-bomber types (I.e. going into production - prototypes more understandable given chances of project failures and or serious issues at this time). However Valiant developments (particularly the low altitude B2) are perhaps generally overhyped in this context (was the B2 really that good or capable a low altitude bomber, even just in comparison with the Vulcan?).
It's along the lines of what @alertken wrote in Post 6.

It was decided to save time by ordering the three most promising types into production in 1951 and 1952 instead of waiting until the prototypes of the four medium bombers (i.e. Sperrin, Valiant, Victor & Vulcan) had been tested and then placing production contracts for the best of the four designs.

If the RAF had ordered 116 medium bombers of a single type (insert your favourite here) 1951-52 instead of 66 Valiants, 25 Victors and 25 Vulcans its likely that the aircraft would have been built by Avro, Handley Page and Vickers. This is because the RAF wanted as many medium bombers as it could get as soon as it could get them even if they cost more by setting up three production lines to build them instead of one and forfeiting economies of scale.

Avro, Handley Page and Shorts built Canberras and I suspect that this happened for the same reason. I.e. the RAF wanted hundreds of them by 1955 as part of the 1951 Rearmament Programme and English Electric didn't have the capacity to build all of them in the allotted time.
 

Archibald

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@NOMISYRRUC very detailed and useful, as usual. Thanks for that.

A force of 150 V-bombers is quite an impressive achievement for a country the size of Great Britain - even more when taking into account all the economic miseries suffered between 1945 and 1975. Compared to the Soviet strategic forces of Tu-95s and 3M / M4, that's quite a respectable number.
 

Hood

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As NOMISYRRUC has said, production was the vital factor. Tooling took time and money, waiting a year or two for the A&AEE and RAE to iron out the bugs in a fly-off contest before ordering production would be too slow. Ordering two sets of jigs for both types would be expensive.
The rational mind with hindsight says order one type and mass produce it with sub-contractors, but at the time there was no perceived time to be rational, the danger (rightly or wrongly) was seen to very near and having a counter to it was deemed vital.

Not ordering Valiant, the only type capable of relatively rapid development would be a bad move. Waiting until 1954-55 to get the first V-Bombers would have been a bad blow in an era when getting a nuclear deterrent up and running was priority number 1. Plus Valiant was on hand to finish-off Blue Danube testing and iron out bugs in the NBS.
The Air Staff probably silently seethed when they saw the advanced designs submitted and wondered how long they would take to perfect (Avro talking about building two sets of scaled prototypes (707 & 710) etc.).

In a Vulcan Vs Victor fly off I'm not sure which one would win out. Perhaps the Victor for its greater payload and, perhaps the Vulcan for its handling. Doubtless the floor space, numbers of design staff and track record would have counted for a great deal in the MoS assessment, perhaps tipping the edge for Avro.

Ordering Sperrin does seem a complete waste however, I can't see any redeeming reasons for that decision.
 

yellowaster

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3. Legitimate questions re: why so many V-bomber types (I.e. going into production - prototypes more understandable given chances of project failures and or serious issues at this time). However Valiant developments (particularly the low altitude B2) are perhaps generally overhyped in this context (was the B2 really that good or capable a low altitude bomber, even just in comparison with the Vulcan?).
It's along the lines of what @alertken wrote in Post 6.

It was decided to save time by ordering the three most promising types into production in 1951 and 1952 instead of waiting until the prototypes of the four medium bombers (i.e. Sperrin, Valiant, Victor & Vulcan) had been tested and then placing production contracts for the best of the four designs.

If the RAF had ordered 116 medium bombers of a single type (insert your favourite here) 1951-52 instead of 66 Valiants, 25 Victors and 25 Vulcans its likely that the aircraft would have been built by Avro, Handley Page and Vickers. This is because the RAF wanted as many medium bombers as it could get as soon as it could get them even if they cost more by setting up three production lines to build them instead of one and forfeiting economies of scale.

Avro, Handley Page and Shorts built Canberras and I suspect that this happened for the same reason. I.e. the RAF wanted hundreds of them by 1955 as part of the 1951 Rearmament Programme and English Electric didn't have the capacity to build all of them in the allotted time.
Regarding the Canberra - in 1950-51 the UK still had the concept of 'war reserves' - which produced some truly mind-boggling figures. At one point Plan H projected a war reserve of over 1,000 Canberras by 1955 (representing two and a bit month's worth of attrition).
 

NOMISYRRUC

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Would building more prototypes have helped? E.g. had four prototypes of each medium bomber been built instead of two? (I know that strictly speaking it was three Valiant prototypes and five of the 25 aircraft in the first production contract were completed as pre-production machines.) The flight testing programmes might have a few years knocked off them and it would be less of a blow if one of the prototypes was written off.

Would that have worked?
 

NOMISYRRUC

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Avro, Handley Page and Shorts built Canberras and I suspect that this happened for the same reason. I.e. the RAF wanted hundreds of them by 1955 as part of the 1951 Rearmament Programme and English Electric didn't have the capacity to build all of them in the allotted time.
Regarding the Canberra - in 1950-51 the UK still had the concept of 'war reserves' - which produced some truly mind-boggling figures. At one point Plan H projected a war reserve of over 1,000 Canberras by 1955 (representing two and a bit month's worth of attrition).
Plan H included a sizeable first-line of Canberras too.

I have a National Archives File for Plan H for Bomber Command that includes 610 Canberra bombers in 61 squadrons of 10 and 24 Canberras in 3 MRPR squadrons of 8 aircraft at the end of March 1955.

That's out of a grand total of 3,600 first-line aircraft in the RAF (including the RAuxAF).
 

NOMISYRRUC

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@NOMISYRRUC very detailed and useful, as usual. Thanks for that.

A force of 150 V-bombers is quite an impressive achievement for a country the size of Great Britain - even more when taking into account all the economic miseries suffered between 1945 and 1975. Compared to the Soviet strategic forces of Tu-95s and 3M / M4, that's quite a respectable number.
You're welcome.

This is the January 1957 version of Plan L for Bomber Command...

Plan L Bomber Command January 1957.png

It shows a front-line of 200 V-bombers in 25 squadrons of 8 aircraft at the end of March 1962 which includes 23 squadrons of medium bombers and 2 long-range photographic reconnaissance (LRPR) squadrons as follows:
24 Valiant B.1 & B.K.1 in 3 squadrons​
24 Victor B.1s in 3 squadrons​
56 Victor B.2s in 7 squadrons (i.e. 5 squadrons of medium bombers and 2 LRPR squadrons)​
16 Vulcan B.1s in 2 squadrons​
80 Vulcan B.2s in 10 squadrons​

That's 40 medium bombers in 5 squadrons more than the September 1957 version of Plan L. The extra squadrons were 3 of Valiants, one of Victor B.2s and one of Vulcan B.2s.

The Air Ministry requirements section of the plan shows:
46 Victor B.1 (However, 50 were built, but see below)​
71 Victor B.2 (However, 59 were ordered and 34 were built)​
40 Vulcan B.1 (However, 45 were built, but see below)​
102 Vulcan B.2 (However, 89 were built including one used as a static test airframe)​

So about 173 Mk 2 V-bombers (71 Victors and 102 Vulcans) were required to maintain a front-line of 136 aircraft (56 Victors and 80 Vulcans).

The Aircraft Programmes section of the plan shows all 71 Victor B.2s and all 102 Vulcan B.2s delivered by the end of March 1961. Only 34 Victor B.2s and 63 Vulcan B.2s were to be delivered by that date in the September 1957 version of the plan.

The Note (vi) on Page 15 referred to in the attachment says...
The Victor and Vulcan production programmes have been drawn up on the following assumptions:-​
(a) The peak rates of production will be three Victors and four Vulcans a month:​
(b) There will be only 50 Victor B.1s (including C.A.s quota of four);​
(c) There will be only 45 Vulcan B.1s (including C.A.s quota of five). And;​
(d) The Vulcan B.2 will be powered by the Olympus B.OL 6 engine.​
 

NOMISYRRUC

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If the Vickers Valiants had been transferred from strike to tankers earlier could the fatigue problems have been avoided.
Their strike role could have been taken on by Vulcan or Victor B1s.
With the Valiants serving into the 1970s the Victors could have continued in the recce and conventional bombing role, providing an alternative to the Vulcan.
That won't work. I'll have to write a few posts to explain why. To start off this is how the Valiant force was built up.

According to the UK Serials Resource Centre website (http://www.ukserials.com) the 104 production aircraft were delivered between 17/08/53 and 27/09/57.

According to the above source 13 aircraft had been struck off charge to the end on 1962, which reduced the total to 91. No aircraft were struck off charge in 1963, but 12 were struck off charge during 1964 which left 79 at the beginning of 1965.

The reference books show that a total of 10 Valiant squadrons were formed, but the actual total was 9 because Bomber Command's E.C.M. squadron had it's numberplate changed from 199 to 18 on 17/12/58.

The 9 squadrons were formed in the following sequence:
  1. 01/01/55 No. 138 Squadron reformed - It's last incarnation was a Lincoln bomber squadron disbanded on 01/09/50.
  2. 01/04/55 No. 543 Squadron reformed - It's last incarnation was a Spitfire PR squadron disbanded on 18/10/43.
  3. 21/01/56 No. 214 Squadron reformed - It's last incarnation was a Canberra PR squadron disbanded on 01/08/55.
  4. 01/04/56 No. 207 Squadron reformed - It's last incarnation was a Canberra bomber squadron disbanded on 27/03/56.
  5. 01/05/56 No. 49 Squadron reformed - It's last incarnation was a Lincoln bomber squadron disbanded on 01/08/55.
  6. 01/07/56 No. 148 Squadron reformed - It's last incarnation was as a Lincoln bomber squadron disbanded on 01/07/55.
  7. 01/11/56 No. 7 Squadron reformed - It's last incarnation was a Lincoln bomber squadron disbanded on 01/01/56.
  8. 01/01/57 No. 90 Squadron reformed - It's last incarnation ws a Canberra bomber squadron disbanded on 01/05/56.
  9. 30/06/57 No. 199 Squadron which exchanged its Lincolns for Valiants in June 1957.
    • This squadron was originally a Radio Counter Measures (R.C.M.) squadron that was disbanded on 27/07/45.
    • Its current incarnation began on 16/07/51 when it was reformed as a R.C.M. squadron and according to RAFWEB it was equipped with Lincolns and Mosquitoes.
    • According to RAFWEB Canberras replaced the Mosquitoes in March 1954.
    • The earliest establishment that I have for the squadron is the February 1953 version of Plan K that shows it having 7 Lincolns & one Mosquito at 31/12/52 and that the establishment of the squadron was to be 9 Lincolns & one Mosquito at the end of March 1954.
    • According to the January 1957 version of Plan L its establishment at 31/12/56 was 9 Lincolns & one Mosquito, which was to increase to 9 Lincolns, one Mosquito & one Valiant by the end of March 1957 and that by the end of March 1958 the establishment of the squadron would be one Canberra & 7 Valiants.
    • According to the September 1957 version of Plan L it's establishment at 30/06/57 was 9 Lincolns, one Canberra & one Valiant, which by the end of December 1957 was to be changed to one Canberra & 7 Valiants.
    • However, according to RAFWEB the Lincolns were replaced by Valiants in June 1957.
    • No. 199 Squadron was disbanded on 17/12/58 to become No. 18 Squadron whose last incarnation was a Canberra Bomber squadron disbanded on 17/12/58.
No. 543 Squadron was a Long Range Photographic Reconnaissance (L.R.P.R.) unit and as already related No. 199 Squadron was an E.C.M. unit. The other 7 squadrons were Medium Bomber (M.B.) units.

The Unit Equipment (U.E.) of the M.B. & L.R.P.R. squadrons was 8 aircraft and the U.E. of the E.C.M. squadron was one Canberra & 7 Valiants. That made a total U.E. at the end of June 1957 of 71 aircraft (56 M.B., 8 L.R.P.R. & 7 E.C.M.).
 

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Would building more prototypes have helped? E.g. had four prototypes of each medium bomber been built instead of two? (I know that strictly speaking it was three Valiant prototypes and five of the 25 aircraft in the first production contract were completed as pre-production machines.) The flight testing programmes might have a few years knocked off them and it would be less of a blow if one of the prototypes was written off.

Would that have worked?
Possibly. Its clear that there was a lot of caution, nearly all the submissions had an associated flying scale demonstrator(s):
Armstrong Whitworth A.W.52 - arguably became a demonstrator for the A.W.56 design
Avro 707 - one-third scale of the Type 698, 2 ordered June 1948 but eventually 5 built due to cancellation of the 710 (707 FF 4/9/49 - 3 years before the 1st proto 698 on 30/8/52; 707A FF 14/7/51, 11 months before 698)
Avro 710 - half-size scale of the Type 698, 2 ordered June 1948 but cancelled in Feb 1949 (though work stopped around Sept 1948) as not needed as some 698 features could not be incorporated
Bristol Type 174 - four-tenths scale of the Type 172, 2 ordered in May 1947, later cancelled,
Bristol Type 176 - three-tenths scale of the Type 172, nearly ordered as a swept-wing research aircraft in its own right
Handley Page H.P.87 - scale glider of the H.P.80, never built due to desire for a powered aircraft.
Handley Page H.P.88 (aka GAL.63, aka Y.B.2 aka Supermarine Type 521) - two-fifths scale of the H.P.80, 2 ordered in July 1948, only 1 completed (FF 21/6/51, crashed only 2 months later after 14 flying hrs - 18 months before 1st proto H.P.80 on 24/12/52)
Short S.B.1 - glider for the aero-isoclinic wing for the S.B.1 (re-use of designation), 1 built (FF 14/7/51) and later rebuilt into S.B.4 Sherpa
Short P.D.10 - high-speed transonic aero-isoclinic wing, based on Swift fuselage, technically not for S.B.1 as not proposed until 1953 but likely to have been needed sooner had the S.B.1 been selected, never ordered

The only designs submitted that didn't need scale demonstrators were the more conventional designs; EECo B.35/46, Short S.A.4 and the Vickers B.35/46.
Its too easy when discussing the four V-Bombers to ignore this host of aircraft, this was a large R&D effort and far more extensive than just the bombers. A lot was at stake, in some ways British post-war aerodynamic development was tagged onto the B.35/46 entrants (and doesn't include the delta-wing research aircraft like the P.111 and F.D.1 and F.D.2 linked to fighter research and the cancelled AW.58 and early 1950s VG-wing research types).
There are also the NBC/NBS testbeds; the two Sperrins, a RRE Hastings conversion with H2S Mk.9 and the Avro Ashton conversions for visual and H2S blind-bombing research.

The S.A.4 had been designed to the long-range 5,000 mile draft requirement (OR.230) and the smaller 4-engine version selected as the interim bomber as soon as November 1946 - its buried engines giving way to the two mid-span nacelles. In January 1947 Spec B.35/46 (OR.229) for a medium-range bomber was issued. In March 1950 the MoS wanted to cancel it due to the Type 660 Valiant now being in development (selected July 1948). But they wanted the two prototypes for flight testing which they hoped would bring V-Bomber service readiness forwards by 18 months. £1.15M had already been spent, Shorts needed £870,000 to complete the prototypes and even if cancelled, about £300,000 would still need to be spent on make-work for Shorts until something else came along - so the Treasury released the extra money. Despite such a head start, the prototype Type 660 flew 3 months sooner than the first Sperrin!

In hindsight the selection of the 'Interim Bomber' based on the larger OR.230 bomber in late 1946 seems a mistake, the Air Staff rejected the long-range jet bomber and felt medium-range was far more practical even if advanced aerodynamics were required. Even Shorts had another roll of the dice with the S.B.1. It would have been better to have let B.35/46 take its course and then pick the Type 660. Given Shorts had a 20 month advantage over Vickers to work on the Sperrin there was no corresponding urgency to show any advance in the first flight date or development, it wouldn't have appeared any sooner than Valiant in frontline use so with hindsight the selection seems a waste of time and money. Waiting 20 months wouldn't have hurt the Air Staff at all.
 
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NOMISYRRUC

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Avro 707 - one-third scale of the Type 698, 2 planned but eventually 5 built due to cancellation of the 710
Avro 710 - half-size scale of the Type 698, 2 planned but later cancelled
Handley Page H.P.88 (aka GAL.63, aka Y.B.2 aka Supermarine Type 521) - two-fifths scale of the H.P.80, 2 ordered, only 1 completed, crashed
I've read that the lessons learned from scale models could not be incorporated into the Victor and Vulcan because their designs had been frozen before said scale models flew. Is that true?
 

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Would building more prototypes have helped? E.g. had four prototypes of each medium bomber been built instead of two? (I know that strictly speaking it was three Valiant prototypes and five of the 25 aircraft in the first production contract were completed as pre-production machines.) The flight testing programmes might have a few years knocked off them and it would be less of a blow if one of the prototypes was written off.

Would that have worked?
Possibly. Its clear that there was a lot of caution, nearly all the submissions had an associated flying scale demonstrator(s):
Armstrong Whitworth A.W.52 - arguably became a demonstrator for the A.W.56 design
Avro 707 - one-third scale of the Type 698, 2 planned but eventually 5 built due to cancellation of the 710
Avro 710 - half-size scale of the Type 698, 2 planned but later cancelled
Bristol Type 174 - four-tenths scale of the Type 172, 2 ordered in May 1947, later cancelled,
Bristol Type 176 - three-tenths scale of the Type 172, nearly ordered as a swept-wing research aircraft in its own right
Handley Page H.P.88 (aka GAL.63, aka Y.B.2 aka Supermarine Type 521) - two-fifths scale of the H.P.80, 2 ordered, only 1 completed, crashed
Short S.B.1 - glider for the aero-isoclinic wing for the S.B.1, 1 built and later rebuilt into S.B.4 Sherpa
Short P.D.10 - high-speed transonic aero-isoclinic wing, based on Swift fuselage, never ordered

The only designs submitted that didn't need scale demonstrators were the more conventional designs; EECo B.35/46, Short S.A.4 and the Vickers B.35/46.
Its too easy when discussing the four V-Bombers to ignore this host of aircraft, this was a large R&D effort and far more extensive than just the bombers. A lot was at stake, in some ways British post-war aerodynamic development was tagged onto the B.35/46 entrants (and doesn't include the delta-wing research aircraft like the P.111 and F.D.1 and F.D.2 linked to fighter research and the cancelled AW.58 and early 1950s VG-wing research types).

The S.A.4 had been designed to the long-range 5,000 mile draft requirement (OR.230) and the smaller 4-engine version selected as the interim bomber as soon as November 1946 - its buried engines giving way to the two mid-span nacelles. In January 1947 Spec B.35/46 (OR.229) for a medium-range bomber was issued. In March 1950 the MoS wanted to cancel it due to the Type 660 Valiant now being in development (selected July 1948). But they wanted the two prototypes for flight testing which they hoped would bring V-Bomber service readiness forwards by 18 months. £1.15M had already been spent, Shorts needed £870,000 to complete the prototypes and even if cancelled, about £300,000 would still need to be spent on make-work for Shorts until something else came along - so the Treasury released the extra money. Despite such a head start, the prototype Type 660 flew 3 months sooner than the first Sperrin!

In hindsight the selection of the 'Interim Bomber' based on the larger OR.230 bomber in late 1946 seems a mistake, the Air Staff rejected the long-range jet bomber and felt medium-range was far more practical even if advanced aerodynamics were required. Even Shorts had another roll of the dice with the S.B.1. It would have been better to have let B.35/46 take its course and then pick the Type 660. Given Shorts had a 20 month advantage over Vickers to work on the Sperrin there was no corresponding urgency to show any advance in the first flight date or development, it wouldn't have appeared any sooner than Valiant in frontline use so with hindsight the selection seems a waste of time and money. Waiting 20 months wouldn't have hurt the Air Staff at all.
I wrote my original post because I'd read that one of the reasons why the aircraft begun in the late 1940s took so long to develop was that they didn't build enough prototypes.

The lesson was learned and that's why so many prototypes and pre-production aircraft were ordered for the aircraft that were begun in the middle of 1950s. For example the 20 Buccaneers, 23 P.1B (3 prototypes and 20 pre-production), 21 pre-production Sea Vixens and 19 thin-wing Javelins (one prototype and 18 pre-production).
 

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That is largely true.
The 698 had largely been defined by late 1948 and the 710 was a big job and proved nothing in terms of the 698's structure and a 698 prototype was the best way to prove the higher-speed/altitude envelope.
The 707s were intended as low-speed aerodynamic testbeds, but they were never intended to be completely representative of the full-scale wing and were more about exploring low-speed delta wing handing. Handling was surprisingly good, revealing the initial fears of tricky handling to be groundless.
Only the 707A had one-third scale representative wings and wingroot intakes, but the 707A didn't fly until July 1951, only a year before the real thing flew (the second did not fly until Feb 1953). But the 707A did uncover the 'buzzing' that led to the Phase 2 wing. So they did serve some useful purpose in validating wind-tunnel test data.

The H.P.88 was ping-ponged across most of the industry and ended up a bitsa airframe, it only flew 18 months before the Victor prototype, by then the wing design had been altered and couldn't be replicated faithfully on the H.P.88 due to stability concerns and it lacked the all-moving tailplane and elevons. The 14 flying hours it accomplished were spent ironing problems of the H.P.88s own configuration before it crashed fatally.

(I have edited my post above with first flight dates as comparators)
 

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Reading your posts make me understand why MacMillan blew a fuse over Skybolt cancellation in 1962. V-bombers really were at their peak, the last B2 being just build. Compared to the necessary submarines to carry Polaris, it is no surprise Skybolt was picked in 1960 to replace Blue Streak.
The B2 V-bombers to carry them were still rolling out of british production lines...
 

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If the Vickers Valiants had been transfered from strike to tankers earlier could the fatigue problems have been avoided.
Their strike role could have been taken on by Vulcan or Victor B1s.
With the Valiants serving into the 1970s the Victors could have continued in the recce and conventional bombing role, providing an alternative to the Vulcan.
Carrying on from Post 29...

At the end of January 1957 the Medium Bomber Force (M.B.F.) of RAF Bomber Command included 56 Valiants in 7 squadrons of 8 aircraft.

This force was run down between the beginning of January 1960 and the end of July 1962 as follows:
  1. 01/01/1960 - No. 207 Squadron became a Tactical Bomber Force squadron.
  2. 01/07/1961 - No. 49 Squadron became a Tactical Bomber Force squadron.
  3. 13/07/1961 - No. 138 Squadron became a Tactical Bomber Force squadron.
  4. 01/04/1962 - No. 90 Squadron became a tanker squadron.
  5. 01/04/1962 - No 138 Squadron disbanded.
  6. 01/04/1962 - No. 214 Squadron became a tanker squadron.
  7. 30/07/1962 - No. 7 Squadron disbanded.
The M.B.F. had a total of 13 squadrons (7 Valiant, 3 Victor B.1 and 3 Vulcan B.1) at the end of 1959 and 14 squadrons (4 Victor B.1, 2 Victor B.2, 3 Vulcan B.1 and 5 Vulcan B.2) at the end of July 1962.

The 24 Valiants in 3 squadrons that formed the Tactical Bomber Force (T.B.F.) were assigned to NATO's SACEUR. They replaced the SACEUR assigned Light Bomber Force (L.B.F.) of 64 Canberras in 4 Squadrons that was in the January 1957 and September 1957 versions of Plan L. The decision to assign 3 Valiant squadrons to the T.B.F. role was taken by the Air Council on 15/05/58 (Wynn P. 363).

The redundant Canberra squadrons were Nos. 9, 12, 35 & 139 and they were disbanded in the following order:
  1. 31/12/59 - No. 139 Squadron.
  2. 13/07/61 - Nos. 9 & 12 Squadrons.
  3. 11/09/61 - No. 35 Squadron.
No. 18 Squadron that operated Canberras and Valiants in the E.C.M. role was disbanded on 31/03/63. That reduced the number of Valiant squadrons to 6 consisting of 3 T.B.F., 2 tanker and one L.R.P.R. squadrons.

All Valiant aircraft were grounded on 09/12/64 and the Valiant force was withdrawn from service on 26/01/65. The 6 squadrons were disbanded (or in the case of No. 543 Squadron re-equipped with Victors) as follows:
  1. 01/03/1965 - No. 90 Squadron disbanded.
  2. 01/03/1965 - No. 214 Squadron disbanded.
  3. 01/05/1965 - No. 49 Squadron disbanded.
  4. 01/05/1965 - No. 148 Squadron disbanded.
  5. 01/05/1965 - No. 207 Squadron disbanded.
  6. 01/05/1965 - No. 543 Squadron converted to Victor S.R. Mk 2s in May 1965.
Quote from Page 466 of RAF Nuclear Deterrent Forces by Humphrey Wynn...
A note prepared for the Prime Minister early in the New Year said that the R&D costs were difficult to identify because a good deal of its equipment and engines were common with other aircraft; development of its airframe cost about £10m, and 100 Valiants had been bought by the RAF at a cost of £57m. At one time there were 72 Valiants in the RAF front line, but since 1959/60 their numbers had been: 24 assigned to SACEUR as a TBF, equipped with 48 American nuclear weapons; 16 converted for use as tankers; and eight in the SR role. The total number of Valiants, including those used for training and research, was currently 61.
 

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Some interesting facts about US and British bombers.

- The last B-58A (number 116) and the very last B-52H(last of 744 build and still in service today !) rolled out the same day at Wichita and Forth Worth. And guess which day that was ? October 26, 1962 - right in the middle of the Cuban missile crisis. Had WWIII started, they would have had extremely short lifespans.
This explains through Congressional procurement - B-52H and B-58A procurements were curtailed in FY61-62 and thus, production ended late 1962.

- the last Victor B2 and Vulcan B2 were also rolled out that same year, 1962 (according to that post in this thread)

The Aircraft Programmes section of the plan shows all but 5 of the Victors delivered by the end of March 1962 and all but 3 of the Vulcans delivered by the end of March 1962.

- remarquably, three years before and as they neared the end of their production, these four aircraft - Vulcan, Valiant, Hustler and BUFF - were candidates to drop WS-138A weapon: which become the Skybolt.
B-58B was screwed in June 1959, and then WS-138A design evolved in such a way, Victor lacked the ground clearance to carry it. This left Victor B2 and B-52H facing each other.

- the British build more 100 tons medium bombers in 10 years (1953-1963: 200 or more) than the Chinese build Tu-16s in 60 years (according to Wikipedia, Tu-16 / H-6 production presently stands at 100 - 120 aircraft)

- Checking Strategic Air Command versus Bomber Command reasons for wanting Skybolt is interesting.

In the US case it was somewhat an "embrassment of riches" related to Lemay and Tommy Power desire of keeping the SAC bomber fleet relevant against their own Minuteman and most importantly, against the hated USN Polaris submarines.
Just like Operation CHROME DOME, Skybolt was an atempt at turning B-52s into "flying boomers" (look, bombers can loiter and hide, too !) Skybolt was to be SAC bombers very own Polaris.

In the British case things were much more on the edge.

@NOMISYRRUC detailed analysis shows how much of a colossal effort development of the V-bomber fleet was for Great Britain; and how it peaked circa 1962-64.
After Blue Streak proved obsolete and was canned in 1959-60, Skybolt was seen as a golden opportunity to use that enormously expensive bomber fleet that was just peaking in size in 1962.
In the British case, while Mountbatten for all his flaws had correctly guessed that Polaris was superior and tried to get it, in 1960 (he failed) and in Nassau (he won) Polaris wasn't THAT obvious either in 1959-60 or even in 1962.

- the V-bomber fleet had just peaked in 1962-64

- nuclear subs amounted to 3 to 4 attack subs

- most importantly, for the Americans any Polaris for Europe (France, GB, Italy, Germany, any other country) would be attached to NATO MLF: Multi-Lateral-Fleet, with dual-keys.

De Gaulle hated the idea for obvious reasons, but MacMillan equally hated it for the same reasons: Britain independant nuclear deterrent would be screwed for NATO dual-keys weapons.
That was the very core of Nassau hard bargain: the Americans (Kennedy, McNamara) compromised (screwing the two Deans: Archeason and Rusk in passing) and accepted that the British could take control of their Polaris in case of grave crisis - Falklands, cough, Suez - COUGH, COUGH !

It is no surprise the British were incensed by McNamara decision to screw Skybolt: the two options left were
- toothless "B2 V-bombers" (Blue Steel was not a viable long-term weapon)
- NATO-attached Polaris with dual-keys

McNamara however cancelled Skybolt for "reasonable" reasons, basically it brought no additional value compared to Polaris while being insanely expensive, complex, and failure prone. It wasn't worth the fight nor the money - not for the Americans at least ! For the British of course, that was a different matter.
Remarquably, both McNamara and Thorneycroft blundered in this case.
McNamara really did not thought he would throw the British in disarray.
Thorneycroft was seemingly unaware of the grave threat on Skybolt.
And of course the Cuban Missile Crisis had everybody extremely busy in October.

The Nassau crisis really was as brief as it was violent: started early November, peaked in December, mostly solved by January.
 
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Archibald

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The very last B-52 ever build, rolled out October 26, 1962.


In a world where WWIII breaks out the next day: October 27, 1962

- over Rudolph Anderson U-2 being shot and killed with B-59 captain losing his nerves and sending a T-5 nuclear torpedo into USS Randolph and his escort ( vaporizing them and opening the "nuclear pandora box" to nuclear WWIII)

- that aircraft life has been merely hours.

In our world where B-59 did not fired, that peculiar B-52 airframe has been in service for 58 years and counting !
 

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- the last Victor B2 and Vulcan B2 were also rolled out that same year, 1962 (according to that post in this thread)
The Aircraft Programmes section of the plan shows all but 5 of the Victors delivered by the end of March 1962 and all but 3 of the Vulcans delivered by the end of March 1962.
@NOMISYRRUC detailed analysis shows how much of a colossal effort development of the V-bomber fleet was for Great Britain; and how it peaked circa 1962-64.
Firstly...

The January 1957 version of Plan L had 71 Victor B.2s and 102 Vulcan B.2s delivered by the end of March 1961. (See Post 28.)

You're quoting the September 1957 version of Plan L. (See Post 21.) Under that plan 54 Victor B.2s (of 59 on order) and 86 Vulcan B.2s (of 89 on order) were to be delivered by the end of March 1962 with the last 5 Victors and last 3 Vulcans delivered in the financial year ending 31st March 1963.

However, the aircraft were not delivered on schedule.

According to Air Britain RAF Aircraft XA100-XZ999 the 34th Victor B.2 was delivered in September 1963 (because 25 were cancelled) and the 89th Vulcan B.2 was delivered in January 1965.

I suspect that the 59th Victor B.2 would not have been delivered until late 1964 or early 1965 if the number of Victor B.2s on order had not been reduced from 59 to 34.

Secondly @NOMISYRRUC's analysis isn't detailed because he hasn't completed it.
 

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Stop being modest to the point of speaking like Jule Cesar or Alain Delon - in third pronoun (persona ?) LMAO

Let's say the data you are patiently collecting and assembling is very interesting and useful.

In my case: for my TL I presently have some fun with Skybolt fate from the US side of the fence; and the related Nassau crisis, the Polaris (or no Polaris) result evidently impacting British nuclear and non-nuclear forces over the next decade and beyond.

And considering the sheer amount of absurd waste, harsdships and miseries happened to British aerospace industry in the 60's, change one small detail in 1962 and by 1970 the whole thing is barely recognizable.
 
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uk 75

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My understanding is that Skybolt was intended to keep the Vulcans in service until the UK could get Polaris or its own equivalent after 1970.
The cancellation created the missile gap which was addressed by a flurry of projects after 1962.
Polaris was such a success that the first sub came into service to allow Vulcan Blue Steel to be out of service by 1970.
The US eagerness to fit RN Polaris missiles with an "electronic" lock to allow the US President to control their use is the theme of Chapman Pincher's 1967 novel "The Penthouse Conspirators".
As far as I have read there was no US double key officer on RN subs.
 
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