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XL164 'Saucy Sal', one that met a gruesome end at the hand of the scrapman. Its nose is preserved, however at the Gatwick Aviation Museum.Five in fifty

One that was lost
One formerly preserved example was sadly lost in the early nineties -struck off charge on 2 July 1986, XL189 had shared gate guard duties at Waddington alongside Vulcan XM607, but changes in policy to 'one gate guard only' meant she was surplus to requirements and as the Victor was still in service, duly scrapped. A shame, as she was involved in the first 'Black Buck' raid on the Falklands and was involved in a dramatic fuel-swapping exercise when XH669 broke its probe - XL189 had to fly further beyond its fuel limit, for which pilot Sqn Ldr Tuxford was awarded the AFC.

Gary Parsons looks at the last few remaining Victors

After fifty years, just five complete Victors remain to remind us of part of perhaps the British Aircraft Industry's greatest achievement - the V-bombers of the fifties and sixties.

Out of 50 B1s and 34 B2s, just one and four respectively have survived the scrapman's axe, a poor total in comparison to the numbers of Vulcans that escaped to preservation groups and museums. Perhaps it was timing - the Vulcan was retired soon after its glory days of bombing the Falkland Islands, whereas although the Victor enjoyed a longer service career its relatively mundane task of tanker kept it away from the headlines and wider public appeal. It was bigger, faster and could fly higher than the Vulcan, but somehow always lost out to its Avro rival.

B1 survivor - XH648

B2 survivors:

XH672 XH673 XL231 XM715
XH672 XH673 XL231 XM715
First flew 26 May 1960. Originally ordered as a B1 under contract 6/Acft/11303/CB6, XH668-675 inclusive were upgraded to B2 standard on the production line. Served as a B2 until 2 July 1964, she then was converted to SR2 standard and served with 543 Squadron at Wyton. The last K2 conversion by 24 May 1978, she served in the Gulf as 'Maid Marian' and was the last Victor to fly, landing at Shawbury for preservation at Cosford's Aerospace Museum on 30 November 1993. Although looking a bit tatty after ten years outside, she is due for a re-paint once work in the neighbouring Vulcan is complete.

First flew 1 September 1960. Suffered a hydraulic failure in December 1960 while with the Ministry of Aviation. She went for conversion to B2R standard in April 1962 and joined the Wittering Wing. After returning to HP for conversion to K2 standard she joined 57 Squadron on 17 December 1976 and was one of the first K2s to be retired, going on display at RAF Marham on 2 July 1986. Repainted in '99, her future has been the topic of speculation since the MoD's 'one gate guard' policy and the announcement of a Tornado GR1 for the 'official' duty, but as she is owned by an un-named individual the base intends to hold onto her for as long as possible!

First flew 31 January 1962. Part of the main B2 contract 6/Acft/123996/CB6(a) of January 1956 for 21 aircraft, she served at Wittering with 139 Squadron and was converted to B2R standard by July 1964. Converted to K2 standard by 11 July 1977, she swapped squadrons at Marham regularly until retirement. Nicknamed 'Lusty Lindy' in the Gulf after after Marham's first female VSF team leader, she was purchased on retirement by businessman Andre Tempest and flown to Elvington Airfield near York where she is lovingly cosseted by Andre and his engineering team, led by Roger Brooks. Regular taxi runs are made when the airfield and conditions allow!

First flew 31 December 1962, XM715 was one of five of the last Victors to be delivered under contract 6/Acft/15566/CB6. After conversion to SR2 standard in 1965 she had a brief spell before passing back to HP where she accrued very little flying time. After conversion to K2 standard she passed to 232 OCU on 12 May 1975 and was heavily used to 'catch-up' on fatigue index. She spent most of her later life with 55 Squadron and was nicknamed 'Teasin' Tina' in the Gulf, and was eventually sold to the Walton family and flown to Bruntingthorpe where the British Aviation Heritage look after her. Repainted in the summer of '98, 'Thunder runs' are a regular feature of the 'Cold War Jets' open days.

In service Details In service In service
XH672 heads the 55 Squadron line in September 1993 57 Squadron emblem On approach to Marham On approach to Marham
Last flight Permanent fixture Nose art On show at Bruntingthorpe
Getting ready for that final flight to Shawbury She ain't going nowhere! Gulf-fresh nose art 'Tina' taxies out in 2000
"She had her quirks - it could take up to ten minutes to get a green light for the nose wheels to be locked down - planning ahead was essential!" - Dave Upton
Some that didn't make it Heartbreak corner - Marham's dump in early 1994
XH671 XL160 XM717 - the nose now resides at the RAF Museum, Hendon The unknown soldier...
XM717 - the nose is now on display at the RAF Museum, Hendon
The unknown soldier...

More details of nose sections can be found at Damien Burke's excellent Thunder & Lightnings site


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