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Handley Page Victor: The RAF V-Force.

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Handley Page Victor Nuclear Bomber.

Sketch of a Handley Page Victor Nuclear Bomber.

[Victor: Sketch by Joe Bosher.]

The Third V-Bomber for the RAF.

The third of the RAF's trio of V Bombers, the Handley Page Victor flew for the first time on 24 December 1952, and the first production B Mk.1 flew on February 1, 1956. Production aircraft had Armstrong-Siddeley Sapphire engines of 11,000lb thrust and 232 OCU got its first aircraft with these engines on 28 Nov 1957.

The First Victor Squadrons for the RAF.

Sketch of a Handley Page Victor Nuclear Bomber on an airfield.

[Victor B1 with white anti flash finish blending with its wintry surroundings: Sketch by Joe Bosher.]

No 10 Squadron was the first operational Victor squadron, forming at RAF Gaydon in April 1958. Initial B1s were joined by B1A aircraft, which had additional Electronic Counter Measures (ECM) equipment fitted under the nose aft of the radome and in the rear hatch bay. In all, fifty B1 and B1A aircraft were produced, equipping two wings of the V-Force, No 10 Squadron and No 15 squadron at RAF Cottesmore and No 55 Squadron, and No 57 Squadron at RAF Honington. These squadrons were part of  No 3 Group of RAF Bomber Command.
Later a photo-reconnaissance version, the B (PR)1, was delivered to the R.A.F.'s Photographic Reconnaissance Unit at RAF Wyton. Carrying a crew of five, the Victor B1 and B1A could accommodate a variety of conventional or nuclear free falling weapons in a large weapons bay. The Victor B1 has flown at speeds only marginally below Mach Number 1.0 at altitudes above 50,000 feet, and could exceed Mach 1.0 in a shallow dive. Formation of the planned total of four Victor B1 squadrons was completed in 1960.

The Victor B2 Long-range Medium Bomber.

The first Victor B2 flew on 20 February 1959, and a reconnaissance version using a variety of advanced techniques was designated Victor B(PR)2. The Victor B2, which entered service with No. 3 Group of RAF Bomber Command early in 1962, the first squadron to receive this long-range medium bomber being No 138 Squadron. The first Victor B2 unit to become operational with the Avro Blue Steel Mk. 1 rocket-propelled, supersonic-cruise stand-off weapon was No 100 Squadron. By comparison with the B Mk 1, the Victor B2 had substantially increased wingspan, enlarged intakes to feed the appreciably more powerful Conway turbojets, and a retractable scoop on each side of the rear fuselage to supply ram air to two turbo-alternators.

I would be pleased to hear from anyone who has any stories about this aircraft; humorous, technical or historical. Please use the Feedback Form to contact me briefly, in the first instance.

Joe Bosher (74th).


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