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Adam Poultney

Valiant B.2 what if

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Just thinking about one day building a Valiant B.2 and that made me think, what if it was put into production? Not really a serious question just interesting to think about....

 

What sub variants could we have seen? What other roles would it have filled? Perhaps a Mk.2 tanker or a blue steel aircraft... Skybolt trials even?

What schemes would it have worn? Would it ever be painted anti flash white? Camouflage? Maybe even hemp like the Victor K.2s or wrap around camouflage like later Vulcans?

How long might it have been in service? As long as the Vulcan, maybe even as long as the Victor? 

 

Just an interesting thought, I'd like to build one in a what if configuration one day... Along with a bunch of TSR2s and all sorts... Shame how much was cancelled, and how much we really could have done with not cancelling in hindsight...

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Contrary to many other beliefs on various forums I personally don't think the Valiant B.2 would have been around for too long.

Compared with the Vulcan and Victor the Valiant was far more traditional in both flight systems and construction than those two.  The B.2 with Conway's would really have only had the edge over the B.1, and possibly to a lesser extent, the Victor (not enough evidence on that) in the low-level and redundant target market roles.

In reality the low-level role was far more suited to smaller types such as the interdiction Canberras, Buccaneer, and robust Vulcan.

 

In an alternative world the TSR.2 would have made it redundant, but even then the Canberra and Vulcan would have filled the gap.

 

However I know how popular 'what-ifs' are and there seems to be alsorts of versions of reality!

Colour scheme wise it would have been in the same scheme as the Canberras with the black undersides.

 

The B.2 was exciting looking thing at the time, but too late to have been truly effective, and probably the right decision was made that it didn't progress. 

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If the UK had not pulled out of the middle east it may have gone there, resulting in a sand/stone finish.........maybe.

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No post-war bomber including MEAF/FEAF Canberras wore the sand/stone finish, only really applied to transport & liaison aircraft that were expected to operate in rough strips.

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No reason for anti-flash white either - the whole point of the B.2 was to go fast at low level. 

Riffing on Canberra schemes if you really want to go out on a limb you could think about a Martin licence-built one in Vietnam... 

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17 hours ago, 71chally said:

Compared with the Vulcan and Victor the Valiant was far more traditional in both flight systems and construction than those two.

 

Which is really saying something, since the Vulcan and the Victor were essentially WWII-era designs (in terms of their systems) with jet engines.

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If the strengthening of the airframe for its low level role avoided the fatigue problems (aluminium alloy, DTD683) that doomed the Mk. 1, then Valiant B2 would have been a better aircraft over the Victor and Vulcan as both also suffered some problems when switched to low level role.  Bill Gunston voiced this opinion in his Bombers Of The West. It would have saved boatloads of money but also deprived us of two very sexy aircraft. 

Grant

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I'm with here as I don't think the B.2 would have had a particularly distinct career for a number of reasons.

The most important is that it is often assumed that the B.2 would have not suffered from cracks in the wing structure that led to the dismissal of the whole Valiant fleet, but we don't really know if this would have actually happened. The B.2 featured a redesigned wing structure supposed to work better in low level flight at high speed but this was designed without any knowledge of the problems that later affected the B.1s. In particular, it was the choice of materials that proved to be the problem and the B.2 would have used the same materials. Would the different structure have avoided these problems ? Hard to tell without some proper structural analysis.

There is then the matter of the capability of the type to perform the strategic missions later assigned to the other V bombers. The B.2 was judged by the RAF to be lacking in range and would have required a redesign of the bomb bay to be able to carry the Blue Steel. I have also read in some source that while the bomb bay on the B.2 was longer than on the B.1, the extra weight of the new engines meant a reduction in bomb load, so much that the type would have struggled to carry the early RAF nuclear weapons. This would have not been a problem for a pathfinder, but would have been a serious problem for a bomber. Other sources however do not mention any reduction in bomb load so this matter is still open.

Had all the issues been sorted, I still don't think that the type would have served for as long as the Vulcan as at some point the added cost of operating two bombers for similar missions would have meant axing one of them, in the same way as happened to the Victor. At that point it would have likely fell on the older Valiant to be retired or if possible converted to tanker.

This brings to the variants that could have been possible. A tanker may have been likely, however it would have depended on the kind of performance of the aircraft at mid level, as in-flight refuelling is not generally conducted at the low levels for which the type was designed. The same applies to any test work with missiles like the Skybolt, that were supposed to be launched at higher levels.

If the aircraft had shown good behavious at slower cruise speed, there is a role that could have been interesting: maritime patrol. Who knows, maybe a Valiant based aircraft would have been a better option than the Nimrod... of course there would have been the matter that the Comet offered much more room for all the crew needed for such an aircraft while redesigning a bomber fuselage would have been an expensive job so it's likely that the Nimrod would have been better anyway.

Speaking of variants, Vickers also proposed a dedicated low level bomber, based on the B.2 but with modified wing (with higher sweep at the leading edge due a wider chord at the root), longer fuselage to carry more fuel and revised tailplanes. That Vickers themselves redesigned the type to get a proper bomber is another indication that the B.2 as it was would have been lacking in the bomber role.

 

And that's it, in the end the B.2 was a variant designed for a role that did not exist anymore by the mid '50s. That later most bombers had to move to low level missions is something that is mentioned as a good reason for the B.2 to have been put in production but we can not really say if this type would have proved better than Vulcans or Victors. It made sense for the RAF to cancel the type in the early '50s, more so as working on the B.2 would have meant diverting resources that were needed to get the other bombers in service.

 

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On 1/19/2020 at 3:49 AM, Adam Poultney said:

Just an interesting thought, I'd like to build one in a what if configuration one day... Along with a bunch of TSR2s and all sorts... Shame how much was cancelled, and how much we really could have done with not cancelling in hindsight...

 

A general comment: the great advantage that cancelled types have is that they never had to prove their value in the longer term. As such none of them ever developed structural problems or proved unreliable or too expensive to maintain and so on.

The types that entered service on the other hand all had to cope with all sorts of issues during their operational life, from changes in the military doctrines to economic issues to all the kind of troubles that may come when an aircraft has been in real service for a certain number of years.

For this reason, an air force is always much more powerful when equipped with what-ifs and modellers and enthusiasts look with rose-tinted glasses at this prospect.

The reality however is that it is very likely that all those cancelled types would have had to cope with all the potential problems that affected the ones that entered service, with one more disadvantage: that if they were cancelled, there often were good reasons for this, technical and/or budgetary. Cancelled projects all make for fascinating stories and interesting modelling subjects, but 99% of the times their cancellation was the right thing to do. Both the Valiant B.2 and the TSR.2 fall into that 99%

Edited by Giorgio N

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2 hours ago, Gmat said:

If the strengthening of the airframe for its low level role avoided the fatigue problems (aluminium alloy, DTD683) that doomed the Mk. 1, then Valiant B2 would have been a better aircraft over the Victor and Vulcan as both also suffered some problems when switched to low level role. 

There is nothing that states that anywhere really.

Getting to NorthBayKids point, all the V bomber designs were technology of the 1940s, but the Vulcan, and particularly the Victor, did have novel construction techniques which put them over the Valiant, and flight systems were far more advanced. 

The Valiant was a traditional and safe 'belt and braces' design which is why it was ordered in the first place (over the even more traditional Sperrin), before the other two designs were known quantities.

 

The Valiant B.2 is only known to be stronger than the Valiant B.1, the only reason being is that the spars were uninterrupted by the landing gear cutout, I have never seen evidence that it was stronger than the other two bombers.

There wasn't any reduction in span to reduce gust and turbulence loading on the wing, and it was constructed from the same alloy that eventually brought down the Valiant fleet.

Of course these issues could have been remedied, but would have taken years to achieve on an already known to be outdated design, Canberra developments, the Buccaneer and other cancelled types were already being specified for the role.

Conversely, I haven't heard of the issues that @Giorgio N raises, I have only seen it with the same bomb bay dimensions, which was adaptable to Blue Steel on test Valiant.  The Conway engines were vastly superior and powerful than the Avon, and I wouldn't have thought that lifting the established Nukes would have been an issue.

 

All aircraft suffer to some extent on sustained low-level ops, even more so when designed for one role and then switched to that role, but the Vulcan dealt with it more admirably than most.

The B.2 was a sexy looking aircraft for sure and one of my favourite types of that 'Wellsian' era, but that was it. 

Imagine the discussion being the other way around, why did the RAF have the Valiant B.2 instead of ordering that 'Dan Dare futuristic' HP80 design?!

 

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6 minutes ago, 71chally said:

The Valiant B.2 is only known to be stronger than the Valiant B.1, the only reason being is that the spars were uninterrupted by the landing gear cutout, I have never seen evidence that it was stronger than the other two 

 

Close, but not quite.😉. There were no cut outs in the Valiant B. Mk. 1 spars for the main undercarriage bays, the spars passed fore and aft of the bays.  The Mk. 2 differed in that the lower wing skin wasn’t interrupted by the bays and formed, along with the spanwise lower stringers and new full-depth ribs in that area, additional load paths thereby relieving the spars of some of the stress.

 

@Giorgio N suggests that the additional weight of the Conways in the Mk. 2 would result in degraded performance but ignores the fact that those engines developed significantly greater thrust than the Avon’s in the Mk. 1: if memory serves the R. Co, 11 as installed in the early Victor B. Mk. 2s delivered 17,500 lb, an increase of around 75%  over the Avon.  As an aside I still can’t understand how, on the one hand, Rolls Royce could get that engine to deliver 22,500 lb thrust for the Blue Steel Victor but on the other deny that that rating could be achieved in the very similar installation in the Vickers V.1000 thereby allowing that aeroplane to compete on an equal basis with other aircraft on the lucrative North Atlantic routes

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On 1/19/2020 at 9:28 AM, 71chally said:

Contrary to many other beliefs on various forums I personally don't think the Valiant B.2 would have been around for too long.

Compared with the Vulcan and Victor the Valiant was far more traditional in both flight systems and construction than those two.  The B.2 with Conway's would really have only had the edge over the B.1, and possibly to a lesser extent, the Victor (not enough evidence on that) in the low-level and redundant target market roles.

 

However I know how popular 'what-ifs' are and there seems to be alsorts of versions of reality!

Colour scheme wise it would have been in the same scheme as the Canberras with the black undersides.

 

The B.2 was exciting looking thing at the time, but too late to have been truly effective, and probably the right decision was made that it didn't progress. 

But may have made an effective trials and test platform with the A&AEE even if it only saw a limited front line service.  

 

Plants the seed of the idea of an eye-catching red, white and blue "Raspberry Ripple" scheme and then quietly walks away ………..

Edited by Richard E

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There probably was a big difference between military ratings and civil ratings.  Civil aircraft fly a lot more often than military ones, plus a risk acceptable in the face of nuclear armaggedon might be less so to flying businessmen and tourists every day.

 

PS. The Valiant B.2 greatly predated Raspberry Ripple.  Note the lack of Victors and Vulcans in it.

Edited by Graham Boak

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49 minutes ago, Graham Boak said:

There probably was a big difference between military ratings and civil ratings.  Civil aircraft fly a lot more often than military ones, plus a risk acceptable in the face of nuclear armaggedon might be less so to flying businessmen and tourists every day.

 

PS. The Valiant B.2 greatly predated Raspberry Ripple.  Note the lack of Victors and Vulcans in it.

That wouldn’t surprise me, but don’t forget that those ratings are “sea level static” and not what’s actually developed at 40,000-odd feet over the North Atlantic or the Eastern Bloc.  Most long-haul airliners tend to spend their time at significantly less than full power anyway and in the Conway a lot of thrust is derived from the bypass air although not as much, proportionately, as in a CF-6 for example.  I think we now have EPR as an indication as to how much thrust an engine is producing at any given time but that hadn’t been invented in the timescale we’re discussing; does anyone know if the Victor and VC-10 have EPR gauges?

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1 hour ago, stever219 said:

Close, but not quite.😉. There were no cut outs in the Valiant B. Mk. 1 spars for the main undercarriage bays, the spars passed fore and aft of the bays.  The Mk. 2 differed in that the lower wing skin wasn’t interrupted by the bays and formed, along with the spanwise lower stringers and new full-depth ribs in that area, additional load paths thereby relieving the spars of some of the stress.

 

@Giorgio N suggests that the additional weight of the Conways in the Mk. 2 would result in degraded performance but ignores the fact that those engines developed significantly greater thrust than the Avon’s in the Mk. 1: if memory serves the R. Co, 11 as installed in the early Victor B. Mk. 2s delivered 17,500 lb, an increase of around 75%  over the Avon.  As an aside I still can’t understand how, on the one hand, Rolls Royce could get that engine to deliver 22,500 lb thrust for the Blue Steel Victor but on the other deny that that rating could be achieved in the very similar installation in the Vickers V.1000 thereby allowing that aeroplane to compete on an equal basis with other aircraft on the lucrative North Atlantic routes

 

Not my personal suggestion but information I read on some sources, while not being present in others.

It should also be noted that the B.2 was heavier not only because of the engines but because was a longer airframe. Could this had resulted in a lower bombload ? Maybe not, as said before it's not mentioned in most sources.

Regarding thrust, in Butler's "British Secret Projects - Jet Bombers" it is mentioned that the later Vickers low level bomber design would have struggled with Conways as this engine had an unfavourable thrust/speed curve: at the projected 650 mph at low level, the 4 Conways would have offered a thrust of 21,000 lbs while the aircraft would have required at least 28,000.

I can not comment on the differences between the installation in the Victor and the one in the V.1000, apart from noting that as Graham said it could have been a matter of different ratings for diffeerent uses.. of again of a thrust/speed curve that did not favour the use at the flight regimes more typical of the V.1000. This assuming that the intake design in the V.1000 was optmised for use with the Conway, that I expect was.

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The Victor was also spending it's time at high altitude, but in the cruise, airliner or bomber, you are not at full power anyway.  However, airliner or bomber, you will start the flight at sea level static (more or less) and a commercial engine that has to do this twice a day at least is likely to have a lower maximum rating than a military one required to take off at maximum mass much less often.  Perhaps even only once?

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That kind of down-rating rings true, in those days, and perhaps as likely to be related to cost of operation and good marketing & customer relations for the airlines as flight safety.

 

No-one wanted the new-fangled jets to mirror the early '50s in-flight shut-downs that were absolutely routine on transatlantic and trans-Pacific piston-engined ops: bad for marketing, bad for scheduling reliability and bad for the economics of operation.  

 

Roll forward to today where twin engined airliners are the norm and therefore as Performance Class A types  they have to be grossly overpowered when everything is working, compared to the 4-engined types of yesteryear. So while today's engines are not formally down-rated in quite the same way, in practice they are informally downrated in normal ops. Almost every civilian jet airliner take-off nowadays is part-throttle, calculated to provide the precise performance required for that runway, density altitude, wind and loading while minimising the maintenance requirement and maximizing component lives.

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This is coming from waaaaayy out in Left field here. What about a Whif of one of these converted to long range maritime patrol. Or anti fleet stand off weapons delivery ? 

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...it is, dedicated maritime patrol aircraft generally don't have high wings, the pendulum effect on the crew sat in the fuselage underneath the wing isn't kind on them!

The large anti-ship missile platform thing is interesting, it was something the Soviets got into but the UK never went down that route.

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The Soviet interest in bombers carrying large antiship missiles came from the need to counter the Western powers clear superiority in naval forces. With the Soviet Union being more a "land based" power and with little dependance on sea trades, they never really built large surface fleets but found themselves in the situation of being a potential target for carrierborne strike aircraft. Their large antiship missiles were an asnswer to the US supercarriers, in a sense a poor man's solution to the problem of dealing with a superior naval power.

It is for this reason that such weapons were never really considered in the West, any enemy surface threat would have been dealt with by carrier based aircrafts or by the weapons of the ship themselves. It was only at a later time that a number of Western types were wired to carry antiship missiles but these were smaller types like the AGM-84- And the only bomber that comes to my mind is the B-52.

It is for this reason that it would be hard to conceive a situation where a type like the Valiant could have been considered as a platform for a similar mission- With a strong Royal Navy there would have been little or no use for this kind of platform.

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But you're doing a WHIF.  So whatever you fancy doing crack on ......

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