The Vulcan, the second of the three V bombers built to guard the UK during the Cold War has become an aviation icon like the Spitfire, its delta shape is instantly recognisable as is the howling noise it makes when the engines are opened for take-off. Vulcan Boys is the first Vulcan book recounted completely first hand by the operators themselves. It tells the story of the aircraft from its design conception through the Cold War when it played out its most important job as Britain’s nuclear deterrent; before unbelievably, at the end of its service life, also playing a significant role, with its bombs and missiles, in liberating the Falkland Islands for which it gained much celebrity. The individual accounts detail how hours at a time were spent on readiness, waiting to be scrambled to defend their country in the event of a third world war. In addition how their aggressive skills were honed by carrying out Lone Ranger sorties flying to the States and westward around the world, and taking part in Giant Voice and Red Flag, competitive exercises against the United States Strategic Air Command. The attacks in the Falklands using Shrike missiles are described accurately and in great detail for the first time including the landing at Rio de Janeiro alongside a vivid account of Black Buck 2. Vulcan Boys is a fascinating and completely authentic read reminding us of the Cold War, how it was fought and the considerable effort required to prevent all-out nuclear war.
The Handley Page Victor was the third of the three V Bombers and the most long lasting, serving in the RAF until 1993, and still doing invaluable service in the first Iraq war. Moreover, in 1982 it was only the Victor tanker fleet based on Ascension Island that made possible the Vulcan Black Buck bombing of Port Stanley airfield and the long-range reconnaissance of Argentina by Nimrods. “Victor Boys” tells the story of all the great things that were achieved, recounted first hand by the operators themselves, aircrew and ground crew. Starting with accounts by test pilot Johnny Allam, who undertook the major development of the aircraft, through its work as a nuclear bomber during the cold war, testing Blue Steel in Australia, to its superb work during the Falklands war and later as a first class air-to-air refuelling tanker and vital support tool for fighters and other aircraft. Published to co-incide with the Victor’s 60th anniversary, the gripping text is superbly illustrated with photographs from the operators themselves, never released before. The stories are collated and set in context by Tony Blackman, ex chief test pilot of Avros who helped develop the Vulcan and initiated the development of the Victor K2 tanker. For him, initially, the Victor seemed a competitor but he now readily admits what a wonderful aircraft the Victor became.
Following on from the success of Victor Boys and Vulcan Boys, Tony Blackman, in collaboration with Anthony Wright, brings you Valiant Boys to complete the V Force set. This is a fascinating collection of personal accounts of operating Britain’s first V bomber by aircrew and ground crew. The book tells the story from the aircraft’s birth taking off from Vickers’ tiny airfield at Wisley near Brooklands to its premature death from fatigue. There are tales of testing atom bombs in the Australian desert, dropping hydrogen bombs in the middle of the Pacific and, as a complete contrast, attacking airfields with conventional bombs in Egypt during the very brief and abortive Suez campaign. We are reminded of how the Valiant provided the UK’s first nuclear deterrent by always having some armed aircraft on stand-by twenty-four hours a day, supported by their air and ground crews, ready to be flown at a moment’s notice on a one-way trip to launch an atomic war. Some Valiants were given a photographic role providing accurate images from high altitude and were used not only to gather military intelligence but also to survey the UK and countries overseas. Others were developed into flight refuelling tankers breaking point to point records before enabling Britain’s fighter aircraft to be refuelled and fly anywhere in the world. This book completes Tony Blackman’s trilogy of the three V bombers. As Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Michael Beetham makes it clear in his foreword: ‘It is good to have a book written by aircrew and ground crew telling their stories and how they operated the aircraft so that all these things are recorded and not forgotten.’ Not as well known as the Vulcan and Victor, the Valiant is often overlooked; this book will go a long way to redress the balance.