Legendary RIAT Vulcan bomber will have final 'howl' before retirement

The legendary Vulcan bomber which wowed crowds at RAF Fairford in 2015, on the Wiltshire border 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 RIAT showstopper engine’s iconic “howl” for the last time has been invited to stand on a road outside of Doncaster Airport, where it will be easily audible.

© John Giles/PA Wire Vulcan XH558, a restored nuclear bomber, on its final flight at Doncaster’s Robin Hood Airport in 2015.

The XH558 Vulcan has had a turbulent time since its retirement in 1984 as the last of its kind flying in the RAF. It was grounded for much of the 90s before being restored to flying fit in the mid-2000s after a public fundraising effort raised £6.5 million to save the Vulcan, GloucestershireLive reports.

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After the RIAT airshow in 2015 the plane XH558, named the Spirit of Great Britain, made its final ever flight to its current home at Doncaster Airport. Though there were plans for the plane to become an educational resource, with the potential closure of the airport it Is based in, its future has become uncertain once again.

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

A group campaigning to save the plane broke the news to supporters, saying: “With a heavy heart, on [Sunday] November 20, 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.”

Developed by northwest aircraft manufacturer Avro, the Vulcan rose out of a postwar need for a nuclear-capable long-range multi-purpose bomber. The Vulcan was one of the key pieces of Britain’s early nuclear deterrent during the Cold War as the bomber could launch the Blue Steel nuclear missile which, at the time of development, could fire from the bomber while outside of anti-air missile range.

First introduced in 1956, the British bomber saw almost 30 years of service before retirement in 1984, when the remaining Vulcans were mothballed or used at airshows and in air displays. Their only combat sorties were near the end of their service, in the 1982 Falklands War when Vulcans flew over 6000 kilometres from an RAF base on Ascension Island to strike Port Stanley Airport, the longest-such bombing mission ever at the time.

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