The RAF's first Cold War strategic bomber, the Vickers Valiant, was procured as an insurance measure in case either the Vulcan or Victor was found to have a serious flaw. The Valiant was the equivalent of the US B-47 Stratojet, and it blazed the trail for the British airborne nuclear deterrent as the aircraft enjoyed a far more active service career than later V-bombers. It was the launch platform for all British free fall nuclear weapons tests both in the Pacific and in central Australia, it took part in the Suez campaign in 1956 and it was the only V-bomber to drop (conventional) weapons in anger until the Falklands operation in 1982. The Valiant was modified to serve in the electronic warfare, strategic reconnaissance and airborne tanker role, but it had to be grounded in early 1965 when the aircraft succumbed to metal fatigue.
Read an extract of Valiant Units of the Cold War
Table of Contents
Valiant creation /The first V-bomber into service – trailblazer for high level Cold War bombing tactics /The Suez Campaign /Christmas Island nuclear weapons tests /High level bombing capability and Cold War organisation /The Versatile Valiant (strategic reconnaissance and tanking) /Allocation to SACEUR for low-level operations in the tactical nuclear role /Metal fatigue and sudden demise /Appendices: Detailing all units equipped with the Valiant and where they were based; Comprehensive plate commentaries