Avro 698 Vulcan

As one of the three V-bomber, and probably the most famous, the Avro Vulcan is quite a unique aircraft. This is thanks to its design as a very large delta wing aircraft, without any horizontal stabilisers or canards. There is just a swept vertical fin. The Vulcan has four engines, placed in pairs in the wing roots. There are single air intakes, each feeding two engines, in the leading edge, while the exhausts are extending from the wings' trailing edge. The aircraft stand quite high on its legs, a two wheel nose gear retracting rearward and two main landing gears with eight wheel bogeys, four on each axis, retracting forward. The fuselage has a round cross section with a bubble canopy on top. This canopy only has small windows at the front though, with typical round side windows.

Different versions

The different versions of the Vulcan can externally be distinguished by

  • the shape of the wings, especially the leading edge (see figure to the right or below)
  • the wing span
  • the presence of a bulged tail cone
  • the presence of a refuelling hose underneath this bulged tail cone
  • the presence of a refuelling probe on the nose

Wing planform drawings by Andy Leitch, via WikiMedia.

Vulcan prototypes

The first and second Avro Vulcan prototype, and even originally the first production aircraft, had wings with straight leading edges and straight tips. See the planform drawing above. Also, the nose gear of the first prototype was shorter than that of the second prototype and production versions. Finally, it lacked a blister underneath the front fuselage, used for visual bomb aiming.

The straight leading edges of the enormous delta wings of the Vulcan prototype are clearly visible here. (photo: US Navy/WikiMedia)

Vulcan B1

To solve aerodynamical problems with the original wings they were redesigned with a cranked and drooped leading edge: the sweep angle of the middle part was reduced and that of the outer wings increased. Also other, smaller improvements were made. For the rest the Vulcan B1 was much like the second prototype and first production aircraft. It also retains the short tail cone of them.

The wing shape is not visible on this photo of a Vulcan B1, but at least you can well see the tailbone of the first production version. (photo: RuthAS/WikiMedia)

Vulcan B1A

As it proved too expensive to convert Vulcan B1s to Vulcan B2, the B1s were upgraded with B2 features except for the wings. So they have the bulged tail cone with ECM equipment and a refuelling probe on the nose. The wing planform remains the same though.

From this angle you can well appreciate the shape of the Vulcan B1A's wings, that are the same as that of the B1. Also note the larger tail cone and probe on the nose. (photo: Adrian Pingstone/WikiMedia)

Vulcan B2

The wings of the Vulcan could still be further improved, especially to make the bomber suitable for low level flying. So the Vulcan B2 has wider span wings with further reduced sweep angles around the middle of the leading edge, and more rounded tips. Additionally, the ailerons now have two fairings underneath each. The B2 variant has an enlarged tail cone housing ECM equipment, and a fixed refuelling probe extending from the top of the nose.

Another bottom view of a Vulcan, showing the more curved leading edge of the Vulcan B2 and the fairings underneath the ailerons.

The two wheel nose gear of the Vulcan B2 retracts rearward and the eight wheel main gears forward.

A detail photo of the Vulcan B2's nose, with the fixed refuelling probe and bubble cockpit with round side window.

Vulcan B2(K)

During the last years of its career, several Vulcan B2s were equipped with a hose underneath the tail cone, to enable them to refuel other aircraft. These are designated Vulcan B2(K), although they are sometimes referred to as Vulcan K2.

From this rear view you have a clear sight on the housing of the refuelling hose underneath the tail cone of the Vulcan B2, making this a Vulcan B2(K). (photo: Mike Freer-Touchdown Aviation/WikiMedia)

Confusion possible with

Given the appearance of the Avro Vulcan - a large airplane with huge delta wings and four engines in the wing roots - you are not likely to confuse it with other airplanes.