Air International 1994-08
G.Paloczi-Horvath - More Bark Than Bite?
Tornado GR.I squadrons are now the UK's tactical nuclear weapon force and the aircraft would reportedly carry WE 177A/B on shoulder pylons. Unlike early nuclear bombers, the Tornados would rely on low-level penetration of hostile defences to deliver their weapons.
Loading an inert Yellow Sun Mk 2 on a Victor bomber was a complicated business. Note presence of civilian (in overalls), probably from the AWRE.
Vulcan B.2 XH537 with two dummy Skybolts. Skybolt was cancelled in December 1962 after four out of the first five test firings failed. The previous year Avro had proposed a Vulcan Phase 6 programme, comprising a major redesign of the aircraft to carry six Skybolts.
Initially flown in an all-white scheme, with pastel roundels and fin flash, for protection against nuclear flash, the Vulcans later carried green/grey camouflage on their upper surfaces. This was more appropriate for the bomber's low-level role. Blue Steel Vulcan B.2 XL445 of 27 Squadron.
Vulcan B.2 XL321 of 617 Squadron armed with Blue Steel. Blue Steel's inertial guidance system was so accurate that the missile navigated the bomber on the outbound leg of the mission.
Valiant B.I XD818, flown by Sqn Ldr Hubbard during the claimed first H-bomb test on May 15, 1957, was returned to Vickers on three occasions in 1959-1961, possibly implying work to enable it to carry particular types of weapons.
Valiant B.I WP223 of 90 Squadron, piloted by Sqn Ldr Norfolk, drops a dummy Blue Danube atomic bomb casing at the Jurby range on the Isle of Man.
But for its cancellation in April 1965, TSR2 would have carried a version of the WE 177 in its nuclear strike role.