Grounded But...

  • Mar 23, 2016 8:50am GMT

Avro XM655 can no longer leave the ground but as you can see it doesn't mean she can't

The Vulcan was delivered in 1964, third from last of bombers produced for the Royal Air Force. Delivered in late 1964 as part of the UK's nuclear deterrent force throughout the 60s and 70s, it is now owned by Wellesbourne Airfield.

XM655 is one of the few Vulcans remaining in ground running condition, the only one with the Bristol Olympus 301 engines. The aircraft systems are powered up and exercised regularly, engine ground runs are carried out several times every year, and a "Fast Taxi" event is carried out every summer to show off the aircraft and raise funds to support its preservation. The video below was shot at last June's Wings & Wheels event.

The world's last flying Vulcan bomber, XH558, performed fly-pasts around the country last year as a final flying farewell to the Cold War bomber. Grounded forever because of its age, XH558’s airframe and its engines were being looked after by three expert companies who keep the bomber aloft but they decided to end their support after the 2015 display season.

XM655 is maintained by a different small team of volunteers, many of whom are ex-RAF, one of whom actually worked on the aircraft in service. It was the first Vulcan to be "civilianized". Flown to Wellesbourne Mountford in 1984 it was put on the civil register as G-VULC. A plan to fly the aircraft in U.S. only got as far as registering her as N655AV.

The jet keeps fuel in her tanks to keep the system and seals 'wet' and the Vulcan powered up and exercised regularly. Engine ground runs (EGRs) are carried out approximately every three months, together with slow taxi runs to ensure the steering and braking systems are functional. Once each year, usually in June, XM655 takes part in Wellesbourne Wings and Wheels, which is a major public event as you can see in the PlanesTV video below which includes plenty of perspectives from inside, outside and above the event.

The group that maintains the bomber, the 655MapS team said in a recent Facebook post, "We successfully carried out our Spring EGR. We discovered a couple of small problems which we will need to fix before Wellesbourne Wings and Wheels on 19th June, but overall things went very well and a number of previous defects can now be marked as "closed", and our aircrew of Michael Pollitt and Barry Masefield got some useful refresher training in the afternoon."

Video: PlanesTV Two Vulcans: A Last Farewell Vulcan Fast Taxi

Photos below video: by Anne-Marie Walduck