Vickers Valiant B1 – XD818, 49 Sqn RAF, Op Grapple, White (Preserved) 1/144


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1 in stock

Aviation Inceptor Series 1/144th scale AV72FB003 Vickers Valiant B Mk1 XD818 during Operation Grapple on Christmas Island in 1957. XD818 is the sole surviving example of the Valiant, preserved at Cosford.

Operation Grapple was the code name given to the British Hydrogen bomb tests carried out over the Pacific Ocean during 1957. Christmas Island was chosen as the operational base with the island of Malden, 400 miles south-east, designated as the target area. No. 49 Sqn, RAF Wittering was selected for the tests and specially modified Vickers Valiant B1 XD818 arrived in November 1956.
The aircraft had strengthened control surfaces, additional cameras and sensors and metal anti-flash window screens. Piloted by Wg Cdr Kenneth Hubbard, at 09:00 hours on May 15th 1957, Valiant XD818 took off carrying Britain’s first thermo-nuclear ‘H’ bomb, code named ‘Grapple 1’. Released at 10:36 hours from an altitude of 45000ft and detonated at 8000ft, the shock wave from the 0.3 megaton device was felt by the crew some 2.5 minutes after the blast. Wg Cdr Hubbard observed the mushroom cloud before landing back on Christmas Island at 11:20 hours. In recognition of their skill and professionalism, the crew of Valiant XD818 each received the Air Force Cross.

The Vickers-Armstrongs Valiant was a British four-jet bomber, once part of the Royal Air Force’s V bomber nuclear force in the 1950s and 1960s. The Valiant was the first of the V bombers to become operational, and was followed by the Handley Page Victor and the Avro Vulcan; however it was noticably less advanced than its counterparts. Several Valiants were soon converted to perform various support roles, such as aerial refuelling tankers and reconnaissance aircraft.

The Valiant was originally intended for operations as high-level strategic bomber; advances in anti-aircraft technologies meant that a low-level mission profile was assumed. However, continuous low-level flight led to a number of serious problems as the Valiant’s wing spar attachment castings showed premature fatiguing and inter-crystalline corrosion traced to the use of an inappropriate type of aluminium alloy. Rather than proceeding with an expensive rebuilding program, the Valiant was formally retired in 1965. Its duties were continued by the other V-bombers which remained in service until the 1980s.

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