XM655 Maintenance and Preservation Society

Avro Vulcan B.Mk2 XM655

Avro Vulcan XM655 was third from last of the Vulcan bombers produced for the Royal Air Force, being delivered in late 1964, and was part of the UK's nuclear deterrent force throughout the 1960s and 1970s. It is now owned by Wellesbourne Airfield, and is looked after by 655 Maintenance and Preservation Society (655MaPS) which is a volunteer organisation of Vulcan enthusiasts.

XM655 is one of the few Vulcans remaining in ground running condition, the only one with the most powerful of the engine variants (Bristol Olympus 301s) and 655MaPS aim to keep it running for as long as possible. 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.

XM655 is maintained by a small team of skilled and dedicated volunteers, many of whom are ex-RAF, (some even ex-V-Force personnel and one of whom actually worked on XM655 in service), who give up their Saturdays to preserving XM655.

26/07/2014 Briskoda Skoda Owners forum

Even by 08:00 we knew it was going to be a 'roaster' of a day and so by 08:30 we had the cooler blowing into the cockpit and the D/V windows removed so we could get a little airflow through the aircraft, ready for our visitors who were due to arrive at 10:30.

As Charles was back with us, he welcomed our visitors and managed to control his natural urge to repeat very old Skoda jokes!

Charles welcomes the visitors
Charles welcomes the visitors.
Copyright©Av Magill

When we came to carry out the systems demonstration, we discovered the intercom was playing up, and so we had to revert to a system of hand and voice signals relayed from cockpit to crew chief via Roger standing at the bottom of the cockpit steps.

Roger acts as relay
Roger relays messages between cockpit and pan whilst Ben watches the bomb doors opening.
Copyright©Av Magill

Following the systems run, each of our visitors (in groups of four) received a cockpit tour. Even with the cooler blowing at full blast, the temperature in the cockpit soon became a little uncomfortable

Once everyone had had a cockpit tour, our visitors brought their vehicles onto the pan for the usual photo-call.

The photocall
The vehicles lined up before XM655.
Copyright©Av Magill

After lunch, Ben and Len checked all the intercom fuses, and then tested the intercom which was then working fine, except for the Nav Radar's station. When Tim arrived, Len and Tim replaced the Nav Radar's station box without improvement, and so further diagnostics will be required.

19/07/2014 Triumph Owners Motorbikes Club (South East)

Well, it started out reasonably dry for the 24 hardy souls from the Triumph Owners Motorbikes Club who visited XM655 on Saturday - unfortunately the dry weather wasn't to last!

Len welcomes members of the Triumph Owners Motorbikes Club
Len welcomes members of the Triumph Owners Motorbikes Club
Copyright© Av Magill

The volunteers were joined by Nick Dennis, an ex-Vulcan Pilot, who we had “press-ganged” into doing all the cockpit tours. Many thanks for your valuable assistance, Nick. Despite the lack of sunshine, the humidity had made it quite uncomfortably warm in the cockpit, so we brought out the cooler to give some temperature control and airflow around the area.

The remainder of the volunteers took up various positions around the aircraft, each talking about their “Vulcan specialist subject” to groups of 4 visitors, who would then move on to the next volunteer.

Once the tours were completed, our visitors brought their machines over to the aircraft for the photo-call. This was the signal for the heavens to open and the start of a mega thunderstorm!

Av braves the downpour
Av valiantly braves the downpour to take the photo!
Copyright© Av Magill

Within minutes of the storm starting, the aircraft pan was becoming flooded, and one lightning strike briefly put out the power to the airfield.

A very wet pan
A very wet pan!
Copyright© Av Magill

Once all the bikes were neatly lined up under '655's port wing, Av again ventured out into the downpour to take a photo.

A posse of Triumphs
A posse of Triumphs!
Copyright© Av Magill

28/06/2014 Chipping Camden Mens Keep Fit Group Visit

Saturday morning saw our female volunteers getting quite excited at the thoughts of a visit by the Chipping Camden Mens Keep Fit Group and there did appear to be a little extra make-up in evidence! We think they were expecting a group of young body-builders!

Still without our Chairman and Chief Engineer, it once again fell to Len to welcome our visitors and give them a little history of XM655.

Len welcomes the visitors
Len welcomes the Chipping Camden Mens Keep Fit Group
Copyright© Av Magill

Once the Systems Demonstration of the powered flying controls, air brakes, bomb doors, navigation and landing lights was completed, our visitors split up into groups of 3 or 4, each with a volunteer, to be shown around the aircraft and given a cockpit tour.

Jon shows off the ECM bay
Jon tells our visitors about the Vulcan's Electronic Counter Measures
Copyright© Av Magill

As the weather was very mixed, with a series of heavy, but fortunately short, downpours, we were lucky to get a dry spell for the group to have their photo-call.

The group photo-call
The Chipping Camden Mens Keep Fit Group and friends
Copyright© Bry Hull

21/06/2014 1st Whitnash Scout Group Visit

17 scouts and leaders from the 1st Whitnash Scout Group came along to Wellesbourne on Saturday and brought perfect weather with them.

We were a little short of volunteers on the day, which meant that Len welcomed our visitors in lieu of Charles and for the usual systems demonstration, a slightly nervous Bry took the AEO seat for the first time, with Roger 'Bovril' Bowen on the long lead and Len in his usual position as P1.

Bry needn't have been nervous as he did a fine job as AEO!

Len explains how the elevons work
Len explains how the elevons work when the aircraft banks to his group of four.
Image Copyright© Av Magill.

The scouts line up in front of XM655
The scouts line up in front of XM655 for their photo-call.
Image Copyright© Av Magill.

25/05/2014 Honda S2000 Club Visit

Around 30 members of the Honda S2000 Club brought some lovely sunny weather with them when they visited XM655 on Sunday

After Charles had welcomed them, Wg Cdr Mike Pollitt (RAF Retired), our regular aircraft Captain, who had come along and valiantly offered to host all the cockpit tours, gave them a brief chat about the Vulcan.

Mike welcomes the visitors
Mike Pollitt tells our visitors about the Vulcan
Image Copyright© Av Magill.

It was then time for the systems demonstration with Len in the P1 seat, Charles as AEO and Eric as Crew Chief. Charles and Len were joined in the cockpit by David in the P2 seat who is currently being trained up on systems demonstrations.

Once everyone had been for a cockpit visit (which in groups of four took some time!) the visitors brought their vehicles round to be photographed with XM655. Arranging 15 Honda S2000s and two Porsches took some doing, but Bob did a fine job as parking attendant!

The photo call
15 S2000s and 2 Porsches made the largest group of vehicles we've had on the pan with XM655
Image Copyright© Av Magill.

18/05/2014 Wellesbourne Airfield Open Day

Sunday was the Wellesbourne Airfield Open Day, and visitor numbers were swelled by the beautiful summer-like weather, giving us the hottest day of the year so far.

The open day also saw a further 63 people sign up for Wellesbourne Matters, the group formed to support keeping Wellesbourne as an active general aviation airfield.

Wellesbourne Open Day
Happy visitors to the airfield's Open Day relax on the grass between the Flying School and XM655
Image Copyright© Av Magill.

As always XM655 was a prime attraction for visitors, and there was quite a queue to visit the cockpit.

Wellesbourne Open Day Visitors
Our visitors queue for a visit to the 655's cockpit
Image Copyright© Av Magill.

18/05/2014 Nene Valley Harley Owners Club Visit

On Sunday XM655 had a visit from a large contingent of 32 bikers from the Nene Valley Chapter of the Harley Owners Club.

The Crew
Nene Valley Chapter of the Harley Owners Club.
Image Copyright© Kay Prestidge.

With a total of 28 Harley Davidsons it is probably the largest number of motorcycles all together that Wellesbourne has ever seen!

The Crew
So many Harley Davidsons together!
Image Copyright© Kay Prestidge.

Some of our regular volunteers were not at the airfield for the Nene Chapter visit or the Open Day as Charles, Damaris and Ben were manning the MaPS stall at the V-Force Reunion, and Len was also at Newark as a V-Force veteran, meeting up with many of his old buddies.

The Crew
The 655 MaPS stand at the V-Force Reunion
Image Copyright© Charles Brimson.

Also at Newark, Tony Blackman was signing copies of his new book, Vulcan Boys, which has a chapter devoted to XM655 and MaPS.

Book signing
Tony Blackman signs copies of his new book, Vulcan Boys
Image Copyright© Charles Brimson.

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