vickers armstrong


Britain’s Cold War nuclear bombers:

The Short Sperrin - August 1951, an insurance policy for the truly space-age endeavors being undertaken at Handley Page and Avro - only two were built.

The Vickers Valiant - May 1951, a very capable but less advanced aircraft, crucially available much sooner than the competition.

The Avro Vulcan -  August 1952, the most iconic and enduring design, rugged and highly maneuverable at high altitude, they were effectively immune to interception by early jets.

The Handley Page Victor - December 1952, with its crescent-shaped swept wing it was the most aerodynamically advanced aircraft to fly at that time. Downward lift on the tailplane also meant that in calm winds the aircraft would level itself out and land smoothly without input from the pilot.

The Vickers Valiant B.2 - September 1953, an all black one-off badass independently developed by Vickers. Capable of 640 mph (1030 km/h) at sea-level it could even outrun the Boeing B-47 Stratojet. It was scrapped in 1958 however, ironically as new missiles would force the ill-suited V-Bombers to low altitude - where this thing thrived. When Vickers test pilot Brian Trubshaw saw the bomber’s muscular shape in the Vickers design office, he signalled his approval, then added “And paint the fucker black”. Best of the lot.

The TSR-2 - September 1964, it represented the same generational jump in capability as the Vulcan and Victor had from the Lancaster. As an all-weather mach 2+ low level penetrator, the aircraft was groundbreaking. Spiraling costs, a hostile press and an idiotic Labour government however, all contrived to steal a truly magnificent aircraft and valuable export product from the nation. As James Holland said: ”…it’s the culmination of 20 years of being at the top of their game - makes you wanna weep".


SP tank destroyer 17pdr Valentine Mk I “Archer”

General characteristics

Country: Great Britain.
Designed Vickers-Armstrongs.
Manufacturer: Vickers-Armstrongs.
Built Units: 655 units.
Purse: Four men.
Total length: 6.68 m.
Hull Length: 5.54 m.
Width: 2.76 m.
Height: 2.25 m.
Weight: 16,527 Kg.
Wade: 0.91 m.
Inclination: 32%.
Vertical obstacle: 0.84 m.
Trench: 2.36 m.
Shielding: Among the 14 mm to 60 mm.
Main Armament: A cannon of 17 pounds (76.2 mm).
Secondary armament: A Bren machine gun 7.7 mm.
Ammunition: 39 rounds of 76.2 mm.
Speed: 32.2 km / h.
Autonomy: 225 Km.
Fuel capacity: 230 liters.
Engine: General Motors diesel engine six-cylinder 6-71.
Power: 192 hp.
Power / weight ratio: 10.1 hp / t

One of very few photographs of the only Vickers Valiant B.2, WJ954, in colour. Designed to operate at low altitude as a pathfinder, her performance was astonishing for the day - first flying on 4 September 1953. 

 With four smaller wheels instead of the two large wheels of the B.1, the assembly retracted backwards into large fairings to the rear of the wings, clearly visible here. The subsequent removal of wheel-wells from the wings allowed for an uninterrupted wing torsion box structure, making the design incredibly tough. To correct the center of gravity on the aircraft, now displaced toward the tail, the B.2 had a lengthened fuselage, a 4 ft 6" extension behind the cockpit - giving room for more avionics. Sadly, while her happiness to perform at low altitude and speeds far greater than Britain’s other V-Bombers would later prove greatly desirably, she was killed off in 1958, with the realisation that the pathfinder concept, born in a time of mass raids, was obsolete in the nuclear era.

She was supposedly adorned her unique gloss black scheme after Vickers chief test pilot saw the design, approved and exclaimed: "And paint the fucker black.”

A Vickers Valiant at Cambridge in the late 1950s. Contrary to belief the cracks in their wing spars which grounded the fleet in ‘65 were actually due to the materials used in construction being corrosive to one another. Thankfully the phenomenon revealed itself in a Valiant which held itself together when the wing spar failed in flight. Like the de Havilland Comets of 1953 and ‘54, brought down by catastrophic metal fatigue, the Valiant was a pioneering design which helped advance the metallurgic and engineering practices of the time. For an aircraft which flew 6 years (to the month) after the Second World War ended in Europe, they were pretty sound designs.