Vickers Valiant

Vickers Valiant
RAF Valiant in anti-flash white
RoleStrategic bomber
First flight18 May 1951
RetiredJanuary 1965
Primary userRoyal Air Force
Number built107

The Vickers-Armstrongs Valiant was a British four-jet bomber, once part of the Royal Air Force's V bomber force.

The Valiant was originally developed for use as high-level strategic bomber. When the other V-bombers came into use it was also used as a tanker. However, when the RAF moved to low-level attacks, low-level flying in the Valiant caused premature fatiguing. Rather than repair or rebuild the fleet, it was grounded and the Handley Page Victor took over the tanker role.


V-Bomber origins: B.35/46 and Sperrin

The British Royal Air Force (RAF) Bomber Command left World War II with a policy of using heavy bombers with four piston-engines for massed raids. It remained committed to this policy in the immediate postwar period, adopting the Avro Lincoln, an updated version of the Avro Lancaster, as its standard bomber.

The development of jet aircraft and nuclear weapons soon made this policy obsolete. The future appeared to belong to jet bombers that could fly at high altitude and speed, without defensive armament, to act as a deterrent particularly to a Soviet attack and, if deterrence failed, to perform a nuclear strike.

After considering various specifications for such an advanced jet bomber in late 1946, in January 1947 the British Air Ministry issued a request in the form of Specification B.35/46 for an advanced jet bomber that would be at least the equal of anything the US or the USSR had. The request went to most of the UK's major aircraft manufacturers. While Short Brothers submitted a design that was judged too ambitious, the Air Staff accepted another submission from the company for a separate requirement, B.14/46, to provide a very conservative bomber design as "insurance" in case the advanced B.35/46 effort ran into trouble.

Short's conservative design became the S.A.4 Sperrin. A prototype Sperrin was completed and flew in 1951, but its design was too conservative when compared with the contemporary Vickers Valiant with swept wings and a