The Avro Vulcan was the second and most famous of the RAF's V Bomber force to enter service. Its delta wing design made it instantly recognisable. The Vulcan stood Nuclear Alert from its service entry in 1957 until the RAF stood down its Nuclear role in 1969. It was armed with either Nuclear free-fall bombs, or the Blue Steel stand-off attack missile. After giving up their nuclear role, the Vulcan squadrons were reconfigured for conventional bombing, filling that role for another dozen years. In the twilight of their careers, after having never dropped a bomb in anger, a few Vulcans were saved from the scrap heap and hastily refitted to fly the then longest bombing operations in history for the Operation Black Buck attacks on the airfield at Port Stanley during the Falklands war of 1982. Their aerial refuelling systems had to be completely rebuilt after having been unused for more than a decade, and the crews once again drilled in refuelling techniques. Each Black Buck raid called for multiple refuellings, tankers refuelling tankers which refuelled tankers so they could reach the Vulcan and keep it flying to the target and back. In all, 6 Black Buck operations were flown, 3 bombing and 3 air defence suppression.
This is Dragon's second release of the Vulcan, the first having been a nuclear armed Blue Steel bomber in overall anti-flash white. The kit offers an amazing amount of detail considering its scale. There is a representation of cockpit seats and crew figures which may or may not be visible behind the cockpit windows. The boarding ladder will not be accurate if the instructions are followed, as it is shown backwards, and I do not see a representation of the open crew hatch. Study reference pictures to learn what the hatch looked like when it was open. The instructions would have you attach all the small dangly bits before closing the main wing/fuselage halves together. This would make both handling and painting very difficult so they should be left off until afterwards. The plastic hasn't changed, meaning that there is a Blue Steel missile in the box, which will be destined for the spares bin. The instructions are a bit of a disappointment, having inadequate and confusing painting directions. They are painted on a single folded paper just large enough to fit into the bottom of the box. Those of us of a certain age definitely need magnifying glasses in order to read the ridiculously tiny print and sort out the confusing drawings.
Fuselage and wings
The fuselage and wings are moulded in upper and lower halves. The lower half is smaller than the upper, leaving the join line inboard of the leading and trailing edges. Both conventional and Blue Steel bomb bay doors are offered in the kit, but the decal options all require the standard doors. Part B8 appears to be an interchangeable air data probe and antenna. On the nose, there are 3 shown mounted facing forward, and the fourth is to be mounted to the upper fuselage behind the cockpit. On the actual aircraft, this is an antenna, which sweeps backwards, pointed at the fin. It is shown pointing forward, which is incorrect. The underwing pylons are correctly asymmetrical, and the proper dual-mounted Shrike anti-radar missiles and ALQ-101 jamming pod are provided to hang on them. The pylon mounting holes need to be opened up before the fuselage/wing halves are closed. A fairly detailed cockpit and instrument panel are provided, yet the pilot figures are not mentioned in the instructions. They are not even drawn in the parts map.
Since this aircraft was a tailless delta, there is no empannage as such to discuss. Separate fins are offered, with and without Radar Warning Receiver fairings. The fin with the RWR is required for this build.
The engine exhausts are moulded into the trailing edges, making good use of slide mould technology for seamless mouldings. The intakes are split top and bottom, being closed off by the engine faces. Filling the gap may be slightly difficult due to the small size of the parts. They should be painted prior to assembly. The completed intake assemblies need to be attached to the inside of the upper surface before gluing the lower into place.
The nose wheel is shown with a strange dual-wheel setup that I have never seen on a Vulcan. The main struts and wheels should build up to portray the complex main gear bogies well. The instructions show the main gear doors closed when the gear is down, which according to my references is incorrect.
I don't compare models to drawings or published measurements. When assembled it looks like a Vulcan
Decals and Markings
The decal sheet provides markings for 2 of the Operation Black Buck aircraft and also the last flying Vulcan. The box top aircraft is XH558 shown armed with Shrike ARMs and ALQ-101 jammer pod, something it never did in reality, having been a Maritime Radar Reconnaissance aircraft. This aircraft wore the standard Vulcan wraparound camouflage of Medium Sea Grey and Dark Green It was never fitted with the Terrain-following radar "thimble" on the nose, so that will have to be removed for this option. The other two aircraft offered are XM607 and XM597, both with the Extra Dark Sea Grey undersides that were applied for the Black Buck strikes. The Shrikes carried by XM597 had dark green field-applied camouflage, not the black shown by the instructions. 607 was not fitted out to carry Shrikes although it did carry the jamming pod.
The decal sheet is quite small, but the markings are crisply printed and in good register. The Vulcan didn't carry much in the way of markings, so what you get is perfectly adequate to complete the model.
Strangely, some of the paint colours called out for in the marking options are not otherwise listed in the table at the beginning of the instructions. There are absolutely no painting instructions for any of the detail parts nor the interior. The paint table lists "smoke blue" but nowhere is it shown in the painting guide.
The real thing
The first and last Vulcan B.2, XH558
in the air where it belongs, keeping company with some other famous British aircraft.
preserved at RAF Waddington.
at East Fortune, keeping company with a Blue Steel shape.
On Target Special: V Bombers
Glen Sands and Gary Madgwick
The Aviation Workshop Publications, 2010 ISBN 978-1-904643-22-1
Warpaint No. 30 Avro Vulcan
Hall Park Books Ltd, ISSN 1361-0369
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