A Vulcan Bomber in flight

Final Vulcan Bomber to be retired

The Vulcan Bomber is set to take its last flight this month before it loses its permit to fly.

The model was originally developed for the RAF in the 1950s and was regularly used throughout the Cold War until 1984.

The 55-year-old XH558, which is based at Doncaster's Robin Hood Airport, was last used for military operations in 1992 but has been flying at air shows up to this summer.

The engineering firms that maintained the aircraft over the years have finally decided to retire it because they no longer have have the 1950s skills available to ensure safety.

Richard Clarke, a trustee of Vulcan to the Sky Trust, said: "We've had eight full flying seasons and the impact on the British public has been absolutely amazing. We estimate around 22 million people have seen the aircraft in her flying years, which is absolutely incredible.

"This aircraft has got an amazing emotional connection to the British public. It's one of those aircraft that's been taken to the heart - a bit like Concorde, really.

"I think that's due to not just the power and the manoeuvrability but also the grace of the aircraft, the shape of the aircraft - those beautiful delta wings which, of course, led to so many other engineering innovations in the following years."

The Vulcan fleet was designed in the late 1940s and delivered to the RAF in the mid-1950s to carry Britain's independent nuclear deterrent.

When the Royal Navy's Polaris missile submarines took over this role in the early 1970s, the Vulcans carried on as conventional bombers.

The models were last used for a major operation in 1982 when they bombed the runway at Port Stanley during the Falklands War.

As well as plans for a new visitor centre at its Doncaster base the trust has pledged to keep it maintained for fast-taxiing. This is when XH558 roars down the runway to take-off speed, letting enthusiasts hear the sound of its engines without it actually lifting off the ground.

"It's sad it's got to stop flying but there is a new life for the Vulcan," Clarke said.

"We want to let people have the ability to come and see the aircraft and get up close and personal to her - under the wings - and see what a fantastic engineering achievement she is and what a beautiful aircraft she is at first hand."

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