- Yes - as a tech tree vehicle
- Yes - as a premium / pack vehicle
- Yes - as an event / battle pass / squadron vehicle
- I said “No” to the first question
I would like to suggest the Avro Vulcan B.2 be added to the game. I know a lot of people’s instinctive reaction to this is to say “post-war strategic bombers have no place in the game”, but I ask you read the suggestion before coming to that conclusion. Specifically I am suggesting the Vulcan B.2 be added with the various modifications it received during Falklands War. I feel these modifications; along with the characteristics of the Vulcan B.2 in general make it far more suited to the game than its contemporary Cold War bombers.
The Avro Vulcan was one of Britain’s three “V Bombers” (the others being the Vickers Valiant and the Handley Page Victor), the name collectively given to the tree aircraft tasked with delivering Britain’s nuclear deterrent throughout the 1950s and 1960s.
Development began in 1947 and the first Vulcan B.1 entered service in 1956 (having first flown in 1952). Of the three V-bombers the Vulcan was considered to the most advanced and riskiest design featuring a massive delta wing. The Vulcan B.2 was a significantly improved version of the B.1; it featured a larger wing, vastly more powerful engines (20,000 lbf each compared to 11,000 lbf each on the first B.1s) and much better self defence capability.
With the growing threat of Soviet radars and surface-to-air missiles V bomber tactics were changed from high altitude strategic bombing to low altitude penetration. The Vulcan was the only one of the three V bombers to excel under these conditions, there are plenty of stories of Vulcan’s flying at tree to level in American exercises.
By 1982 the Vulcan force was being wound down ready for retirement. When the Falklands War began these plans were paused with the Vulcan being tasked to carry out a series of bombing raids against Argentine positions in the Falkland Islands. These missions were known as Operation Black Buck 1 through 7 and were the longest-ranged bombing raids in history at that time. While their impact on the war is still debated they resulted in a number of unique modifications being carried out to the Vulcan which will be discussed in this suggestion.
The main criticisms directed at adding post-war strategic bombers can usually be summed up as:
- They would be defenceless missile fodder.
- If put at a lower BR where they are not defenceless missile fodder they would fly too high to be easily intercepted by enemy fighters.
- They carry a massive bomb load capable of ending a game in one bombing run.
- All their good for bombing enemy bases from the edge of space.
In my opinion none of these arguments truly apply to the Vulcan in a post-Falklands configuration. To tackle the bomb load matter first: the Vulcan’s maximum bomb load is 21,000 lb; that is less than a Tu-4 (26,000 lb) and not massively more than aircraft like the Phantom and Buccaneer (~15,000 lb). As for the other points I believe the Vulcan’s self-defence capabilities would allow it to be placed at a BR where aircraft have adequate performance to intercept it, while still providing it significant protection from missiles. Meanwhile the weapons the Vulcan could carry, and the characteristics of the aircraft, would allow it to have a more interesting playstyle than most strategic bombers.
The standard conventional armament of the Vulcan B.2 for most of its service life was 21 x 1,000 lb bombs. This is not an overly impressive bomb load (compared to other strategic bombers), what is however slightly interesting is that it could carry standard British parachute retarded bombs for low level operation.
A Vulcan deploying retarded bombs:
Where things get interesting is with the Falklands War modifications. The most well-known of these is the addition of AGM-45 Shrike anti-radiation missiles. But less known is the addition of a second type of anti-radiation missile, the AS.37 Martel. I know we do not have anti-radiation missiles now, but the developers have confirmed they are being worked on, so will likely be in game by the time the Vulcan is added.
The Vulcan could carry up to four AGM-45 Shrike missiles, or potentially two Martel missiles (in testing only a single missile was carried, but as Shrike could be carried under both wings Martel probably could of too). Having the choice between Shrike and Martel would give an interesting gameplay dilemma as each missile has its own benefits. Shrike is a much faster missile and twice as many can be carried; while Martel is a large sub-sonic missile (easier to shoot down) but features a larger warhead, better range, and a limited ability to hit a target after it has shut its radar down. The Vulcan would also be the only British aircraft capable of carrying two different types of anti-radiation missile.
Far less known (but arguably more interesting in game) than the integration of Martel and Shrike, was that AIM-9G sidewinder missiles were briefly trailed on the Vulcan. No photos are known to exist of this happening, but a declassified RAF report on the Falklands War confirms that “the installation [of AIM-9Gs] was successful”, but that “the project was not taken further during the Operation”. That would strongly suggest that that at least one Vulcan was successfully modified to be able to carry the AIM-9G missile. How many missiles could be carried is not clear, but as it says the Martel pylons (rather than the shrike pylons) were used that would imply one missile under each wing.
The final weapon added to the Vulcan during the Falklands War was the 1,000 lb Paveway II laser guided bomb. The Vulcan could carry up to three laser guided bombs in the bomb bay, but did not feature a targeting pod so had to rely on external laser designators (either from ground units or other aircraft). This means the Paveways would not be any use in game unless Gaijin adds buddy lasing.
For an early cold war bomber the Vulcan has excellent self defence systems. The Vulcan B.2 had a large “window compartment” in each wing (window was the old British name for chaff). Each window compartment could house either a Primary Conventional Window Dispenser (PCWD) or a Cartridge Discharger, alongside a Secondary Conventional Window Dispenser (SCWD).
Each PCWD could hold up to 1,872 chaff packets and each SCWD could hold up to 468 chaff packets (and these were seriously big chaff packets – as in 9” x 3” x 1.5” blocks of chaff). Each cartridge discharger could hold 264 flare or chaff cartridges, and again these were big cartridges (2.25” diameter cylinders). That means a Vulcan could carry up to 4,680 chaff packets (in two PCWDs and two SCWDs) or a mixed load of 528 flares and 936 packets of chaff (in two cartridge dischargers and two SCWDs). The Vulcan achieved this massive countermeasure count using belt fed countermeasure dispensers (diagrams below).
Primary Conventional Window Dispenser and Secondary Conventional Window Dispenser:
Chaff packet used by the Vulcan:
Another self defence system the Vulcan B.2 had was the Red Steer Mk 2, tail warning radar. This was essentially a rearward facing search radar (presumably that can’t be a hard thing for Gaijin to implement), that allowed the crew to detect aircraft and missiles approaching the Vulcan from behind. It could apparently detect targets out to 20 nautical miles with a search area ±70° in azimuth and ±25° in elevation.
Gaijin could either implement this as a rear facing search radar for the player to monitor or make the warning somewhat more automatic to simulate the fact that a separate crewman would be monitoring the tail warning radar in real life.
Here is a section from Red Steer Mk.1 manual, which confirms it can detect approaching missiles. The Red Steer Mk.2 was known to be a far more capable radar, so it likely could too.
The Vulcan B.2 did of course also have a radar warning receiver. There’s not much to talk about here; it was the ARI 18228, which was a pretty decent RWR used on many British aircraft.
Finally the Vulcan B.2 had a large Electronic Counter Measures suite, with the tail of the aircraft containing a number of powerful radar jammers. In the Falklands War this was improved with the addition of an ALQ-101-10 ECM pod to counter modern (at the time) anti-aircraft radars.
A final feature of the Vulcan B.2 worth discussing is the “howl”. For those unaware this is a unique noise made by the B.2 version of the Vulcan at certain throttle settings due to the massive amount of air being sucked through the air intakes creating a harmonic resonance. Despite being an unintentional design feature (that gradually caused fatigue in the intakes) it has become a very iconic part of the Vulcan.
There are plenty of videos online if you search “Vulcan howl”, but none of them can truly convey what it is like to hear the noise in person (it is incredibly loud - you can feel it). Here is one of the better videos:
Unfortunately however the howl was exclusive to Vulcans fitted with less powerful Olympus Mk 201 engines; this raises the issue of how the Vulcan should be represented in game. One the one hand the howl one of the most iconic features of the Vulcan, so it would be a shame not to see it in game. On the other hand it would be nice if the Vulcan in game represented the ultimate version of the aircraft with the more powerful Olympus Mk 301 engines. From a historical accuracy point of view I believe all Vulcans used in the Falklands were fitted with Mk 301 engines.
I’m not sure how best to handle this. Perhaps a Mk 201 engined Vulcan could be added as a separate event vehicle, maybe a modification could be added to switch the engines from Mk 201 to Mk 301 (letting us choose howl or more thrust), or perhaps Gaijin could just take creative liberty and give the Mk 301 engines a howl noise.
- Crew: 5
- Length: 105 ft 6 in (32.16 m)
- Wingspan: 111 ft (33.83 m)
- Height: 27 ft 1 in (8.26 m)
- Engines: 4 x Bristol-Siddeley Olympus 301 (20,000 lbf each)
- Never exceed speed: 450 kts
- Max speed at altitude: Mach 0.93 indicated
- Max g: +3
- Empty weight 101,000 lb
- Max takeoff weight: 204,000 lb
- 21 x 1,000 lb bomb (normal or retarded)
- 2 x AS.37 Martel
- 4 x AGM-45 Shrike
- 2 x AIM-9G
- 3 x 1,000 lb Paveway II
- AP101B-1902-15 Vulcan B.2 Aircrew Manual
- AP101B-1902-16 Vulcan B.2 Operating Data Manual
- AP101B-1902-1A, B & C Vulcan B.2 Aircrew Servicing Manuals
- AP114M-0200-1 ARI.5919 General and Technical Information
- Avro Vulcan B.Mk.2 - Summary of Development Proposals (Avro company report)
- Narrative of RAF Operations During the Falklands Conflict 1982
- Royal Airforce Historical Society Journal 28 - Electronic Warfare
- Haynes Owners Workshop Manual - Avro Vulcan 1952 onwards (B2 Model)
- Wikipedia - Avro Vulcan