Vulcan XH558

A Vulcan flies again! My mum rang to tell me yesterday, excitedly, that she’d been watching this live on News 24. The ‘We Love Vulcans’ sticker in our Austin Maestro had, we always claimed, been hers. (There’s a much better takeoff video than the BBC’s here, which captures the authentic Vulcan howl.)

There’s always been something a bit special about the Vulcan. Concorde, the other great delta, was svelte and lean and pretty; the Vulcan was squat and dense and functional. Not to mention loud. But there was something about it, something just a little unexpected. Almost alien.

It was designed to drop nuclear bombs on the Soviet Union, but while the Cold War was hardly a happy period of history, there’s nevertheless a hopeful aspect about the Vulcan’s design. It first flew in 1952, yet somehow epitomised Wilson’s ‘white heat of technology’ vision of a decade later, despite the occasionally baroque testing procedures – see link on this entry.

The Victor was hardly less inspiring – similarly compact, with its weird crescent-curved wings, Küchemann carrots, spaceship nose, and ‘are you sure they got the scale factor right?’ area ruling.

The British public had seen these sorts of designs a few years earlier. In Dan Dare comics. Somewhere deep inside I still believe they hail not from more than fifty years ago, but from the near future.

Welcome back, Vulcan. I’ve missed you.

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