The Avro Vulcan, along with the Handley-Page Victor and the Vickers Valiant, were Britain's "V" Force of bombers in the 1950s and 60s. The Vulcan was the first jet bomber to use the delta shaped wing, which made it extremely agile and acrobatic for such a large aircraft. The first prototype flew in 1952 and the Vulcan became operational in 1956. A second version, the B.2, became operational in 1960. A total of 133 Vulcan bombers were produced.
Armed with the "Blue Steel" nuclear air to ground missile, the Vulcan represented a good portion of the United Kingdom's nuclear force. However, the Vulcan bombers were relegated to a conventional role in 1966, when the Royal Navy's Polaris submarines became operational. Later, some Vulcans were converted to the role of Strategic Reconnaissance.
The Vulcan made its mark in aviation history during the Falkland Islands War of 1982. Several Vulcan bombers were converted back to bomber status and flew several bombing raids against the Port Stanley Airport and several radar sites. These missions, code named "Operation Black Buck", held the record for the longest (distance) bombing raid in history. This record has since been broken by the Strategic Air Command during Desert Storm in 1991. The Black Buck missions were flown from the Ascension Islands to the Falklands and back, a distance of over 7,700 miles.
The aircraft on display at Castle Air Museum, XM 605, is a B.2 version which was operated by the Royal Air Force's 44 Squadron and was based at R.A.F. Waddington, Lincolnshire, England. It arrived in 1981 and is on indefinite loan to the museum, courtesy of Her Majesty's Government.