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Vulcan bomber project reaches for the sky

Millionaire's donation saves restoration trust

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Next year's planned fly past over London to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Falklands war now looks likely to feature a Vulcan bomber after a multi-millionaire intervened with his cheque book to save a restoration project dedicated to getting an example airborne, The Daily Telegraph reports.

Sir Jack Hayward - owner of Wolverhampton Wanderers football club - stumped up a cool £500,000 for the Vulcan To The Sky trust just as the £6m, seven-year project faced crash-and-burn.

To celebrate the timely cash injection from the property developer known as "Union Jack", model XH558 was rolled out of its hanger at Bruntingthorpe, near Leicester, last week.

Former Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Knight, chairman of the Vulcan To The Sky trust and a former Vulcan pilot, said: "We can now look forward to getting this magnificent aeroplane back into the air at last."

Design work on the Avro Vulcan began in 1947, with the first full-scale prototype taking to the air in 1952. The RAF received its first example in 1956, and took delivery of the last of 134 aircraft in 1965.

Powered by four Bristol-Siddeley Olympus 301 turbojets, and boasting a range of 2,000 nautical miles at a cruise speed of 540 knots, the Vulcan carried a crew of five for its primary role as a nuclear weapon delivery platform.

The Vulcan's most famous payload, however, was strictly conventional when, between 30 April and 12 June 1982, the RAF carried out the "Black Buck" missions against Port Stanley airfield and Argentinian installations on the Falklands. The raids are remembered less for their effectiveness (the 21 1000lb bombs dropped during the 30 April strike against Port Stanley airfield caused little damage) than for the 8,000 mile round-trip from Ascension Island required to carry them out.

The Vulcan was due for retirement after the Falklands war, but six aircraft continued in service as air-to-air refuelling tankers until 1984. Of its demise, Sir Jack Hayward lamented: "It should never have been allowed to stop flying. It's a lovely aircraft that will give a real thrill to the British public." ®

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