B(PR).1 / B(PR)K.1
The Vickers Valiant was to be the first of the Royal Air Force's V force and on the 18 May 1951 the first flight of the prototype Type 660 took place, this only lasted 5 minutes due to bad weather. And it was a the Farnborough air show of 1951 that the Valiant was unveiled to the world. The initial order placed by the British government was for only 25 Valiant's, 5 pre-production types and 20 Type 706 production model, the B Mk.1.
On the 1 March 1954 authority was given for No.232 Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) to be formed to convert aircrew to the new aircraft, however, No.138 Squadron was raised to be the first Valiant Squadron in the RAF before the OCU, both Units being based a Gaydon in Warwickshire and the first B Mk.1 arrived at No.138 Squadron in early 1955.
In keeping with the importance of photographic reconnaissance, the production of the reconnaissance of the Valiant was slotted into the main bomber production line at the factory at Weybridge. The first Valiant B (PR) 1 (Type 710 Bomber/Photo Reconnaissance), serial number WP205, flew on the 8 October 1954, a further 10 more were produced and they equipped No.543 Squadron which had been re-formed also at Gaydon, the squadron was later to move to RAF Wyton in Cambridgeshire the following year.
Valiant B(PR).1 of No 543 Photo Reconnaissance Squadron Wyton, Cambridgeshire
The conversion from bomber to reconnaissance aircraft required the installation of 525 gallon fuel tank in the forward part of the bomb bay and a further two fuel bags to the two rear fuel tanks. A camera crate was developed to fit into the aircrafts bomb bay, there were three types of camera installations for different roles, day, night and survey tasking. The first flight of WP205 in true PR configuration was undertaken on the 28 June 1955, all eleven cameras! were tested and also the operation of the camera doors was undertaken. On its third test flight, the sortie lasted three hours and thirty minutes and during the flight camera vibration was measured up to a height of 45,000 feet.
(c) Jerry Hughes
During this test flying WP205 was fitted with eight F.52 36" cameras, arranged three each as port and starboard oblique's and the other two in the vertical position. Three F.49 6" vertical position, one in the camera crate and the two mounted in the fuselage aft of the bomb bay and a final F.49 12" camera mounted just aft of the camera crate.
In early 1954, the RAF decided that all the other aircraft of the V-bomber force, that is the Vulcan and the Victor, should be capable of in-flight refuelling. So it was decided that the Valiant would have a tanker role but maintain its photographic reconnaissance capability. These airframes were produced as Type 733 Valiant B(PR)K.1 (Bomber/Photo-reconnaissance/Tanker) aircraft.
The Vickers Valiant was withdrawn from RAF Service in early 1965 after severe metal fatigue was found in the main wing spars, due to the costs of repair to the fleet, it was decided to scrap the whole fleet of aircraft.
|Serial No.||Type||First Flow||Units||SoC||Remarks|
|WP205||B(PR).1||8.10.1954||Gaydon, Farnborough||16.07.1961||1960 - Aircraft overshot runway and hit runway control caravan, extensive damage to pressure cabin and port inner mainplane|
|WP217||B(PR).1||27.04.1955||543, 207, 7
|17.08.1964||1964 - While airborne experience a load bang, aircraft landed safely however was not flown again|
|WP219||B(PR).1||13.05.1955||543, 207 Sqns,
|01.03.1965||1961 - Used for flight trials of 2,100lb weapon installation|
|WP221||B(PR).1||27.05.1955||543, 207 Sqns.||05.03.1965|
|WP223||B(PR).1||20.06.1655||543 , 214, 7 Sqns.||03.03.1965|
|15.11.1955||Vickers, A&AEE||18.04.1967||Aircraft used for flight refuelling conversion trials.|
|WZ377||B(PR).1||23.11.1955||7, 49, 90, 148, 214, 543 Sqns, 232 OCU.||01.03.1965|
|WZ378||B(PR).1||28.11.1955||7, 49, 214 Sqns, 19 MU||16.06.1965||1964 - Airframe classed as Non-effective|
|WZ381||B(PR).1||23/12.1955||7, 49, 214,
Sqns, 232 OCU
|16.06.1965||1962 - Airframe classed as Non-effective|
|WZ383||B(PR).1||12.01.1956||Farnborough||03.09.1965||Aircraft used for low-flying, ballistic and night PR trials. Later used to trail the PR fit for the TSR2.|
|WZ384||B(PR).1||20.01.1956||138, 148 Sqns, 19 MU||01.01.1967||1965 - Airframe classed as Non-effective|
|WZ389||B(PR)K.1||01.01.1956||7, 138, 543 Sqn, 32 MU||03.03.1965||Aug 1958 - Detached to Operation GRAPPLE|
|WZ390||B(PR)K.1||29.03.1956||213 Sqn A&AEE, 32 MU||01.03.1965|
|WZ391||B(PR)K.1||27.02.1956||543 Sqn, 71 MU.||03.03.1965|
|WZ392||B(PR)K.1||01.03.1956||543 Sqn, 71 MU||03.03.1965||1957 - Detached on Operation ANTLER|
|WZ393||B(PR)K.1||09.03.1956||49, 98, 148, 207, 543 Sqns||01.03.1965||1965 - Transferred to RAF Cosford the radio training.|
|WZ395||B(PR)K.1||23.03.1956||148, 214 Sqns||01.03.1965||Jun 1958 - Detached on Operation GRAPPLE|
|WZ396||B(PR)K.1||06.04.1956||543 Sqn||02.11.1964||1963 - After a demonstration flight at the USAF base Bentwaters a bang was heard, vibration and then silence. Starboard D-door missing off undercarriage. Unable to lower main undercarriage so a wheels up landing on foam at RAF Manston was undertaken.|
|WZ397||B(PR)K.1||16.01.1956||214, 543 Sqns||03.03.1965||1956 - Undertook bombing trails in
1965 - Transferred to RAF Cosford for radio training.
|WZ398||B(PR)K.1||21.04.1956||543 Sqn||14.09.1957||Sep 1957 - Caught fire in a hanger at RAF Wyton.|
|WZ399||B(PR)K.1||28.04.1956||543 Sqn||06.11.1961||Nov 1961 - Abandoned take off at Offutt USAF base Nebraska USA, overran end of the runway, then went down a steep slope and across a main highway before coming to a stop on a railway embankment; on fire and burnt out, the crew survived because the cockpit broke off and was catapulted across the railway line and away from the burning aircraft.|