XM655 Maintenance and Preservation Society

Avro Vulcan B.Mk2 XM655 News

Wings and Wheels 2015 DVD

DVD Sleeve

PlanesTV are now taking orders for our new dvd, which includes Wings and Wheels 2015, the V-Force Tour visit to Wellesbourne by XH558, and exclusive footage of XM655. The dvd, which costs £16.99, can be ordered from PlanesTV

XM655 Under Threat!

Wellesbourne Matters

Wellesbourne Airfield is under the very real threat of being closed to make way for a very large housing development. You can help to prevent that from happening.

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.

20/07/2015 IACE comes to Wellesbourne!

On Monday 20 July MaPS hosted a special visit to 34 air cadets and staff from the International Air Cadets Exchange (IACE) who were in the UK to help with the organisation of the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford. The visit had been organised by our own David McCulloch, both a MaPS volunteer as well as Instructor with 150 (City of Oxford) Sqn, who himself spends nearly three weeks each year with his Squadron helping at RIAT. The visit was facilitated by Sqn Ldr Gordon McElroy (RAFVRT), the Wing Staff Officer HQ - Central & East Yorks Wing.

David brought two of the senior cadets from 150 Sqn to help with looking after the IACE cadets - it was a pleasure to have Cadet Cpl Asia Szalecka and Cadet Kaisha Smith with us; as Asia said afterwards "It was one of the best days of RIAT for me and I didn't realise just how much I knew about '655 until I was asked lots of questions and could answer them all!".

Wg Cdr Mike Pollitt was on hand as usual to host all the cockpit visits, and Charles Brimson, Eric Ranshaw and Nick Sarchet ran a systems demonstration and fielded hundreds of questions from the attentive and very impressed air cadets during their three hour visit with us. By all accounts it made a very welcome change for them from the intense activities that they had all been immersed in at Fairford.

certificate presentation

The countries represented at the visit were the USA, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong. A representative from each country presented Charles with a certificate of appreciation signed by each visiting cadet - these certificates are now all proudly displayed in the Visitors Centre at the airfield. Here is the Australian groups' representative presenting their certificate to Charles.

certificate presentation

The group photograph shows the complete contingent standing in front of XM655 smartly grouped by country, with the MaPS volunteers standing in the centre. The two City of Oxford cadets stand at extreme left and right of the photograph.

Hopefully we can make this an annual visit!

18/07/2015 Shipston Rotary Club Visit

With only seven volunteers on Saturday (due to attendance at RIAT by others), it was fortuitous that the Shipston Rotary Club was a small group of only ten.

The visitors also benefited from being a small group, as it allowed us to extend the time they each had for the cockpit tour to twenty minutes rather than the usual fifteen.

Being a lovely sunny day, the cockpit cooler was employed as soon as the aircraft was opened. Due to the tight confines of a Vulcan cockpit, we have to split our visitors into sub-groups of not more than four, so in this case it was one group of 4 and two of three each.

Charles gives the group an introduction to XM655
Charles gives the group an introduction to XM655
Copyright © Av Magill

With Charles having completed his introduction, and telling of the history of XM655, the visitors assembled for their group photograph.

the photo-call
The visitors gather before XM655
Copyright © Av Magill

We then carried out the usual systems demonstration of the Powered Flying Controls, exterior lighting, airbrakes and bomb door operation.

Eric points out the anti-collision warning lights
Eric points out the anti-collision warning lights
Copyright © Av Magill

Systems demonstration over, Eric started the cockpit tours whilst Len give each of the groups a guided tour of the bomb bay, giving them the history of the UK's independent nuclear deterrent and later the tactical roll of the V-Force. They were also told about the radars, electronic counter measures, infra-red decoys and chaff dispensers, as well as the aircraft in service.

Meanwhile Bry gave his group an insight into the engineering work currently being carried out on XM655, much of it being done by Bry himself.

Bry shows a group the construction of part of an elevon
Bry shows a group the construction and corrosion on part of the number 4 elevon which is currently being remanufactured and replaced by Bry.
Copyright © Av Magill

05/07/2015 MIRA visit

Our MIRA visitors brought a beautiful July day along with them, and following a welcome from MaPS Chairman Charles Brimson, the group of 16 assembled for the group photo-call before XM655.

">Charles welcomes the visitors
Charles welcomes the MIRA Visitors
Copyright © Av Magill

The Photo-Call
The Photo-Call
Copyright © Av Magill

Our visitors then moved to the back of the aircraft while Len demonstrated the huge Vulcan flying controls operating, whilst Charles, also in the cockpit monitored the ground power input to the aircraft.

Our Crew Chief Eric then moved the group to the front of the aircraft where they could see the anti-collision lighting, air brake and bomb door operation

Following the systems demonstrations, Eric entered the cockpit to carry out all the cockpit visits, whilst Len was to tell them about the Vulcan in service and Bob the Falklands operations.

Len explains the ECM kit
Len explains the ECM kit
Copyright © Av Magill

It transpired that one of our visitors worked for Rolls Royce, and she did an excellent explanation of the workings of the Olympus engines to the group.

28/05/2015 XH558's Salute to the V-Force Tour

XH558's final formal visit to fly over her 'sister' Vulcan, XM655, at Wellesbourne Mountford airfield was witnessed by a huge crowd of happy enthusiasts at 1:34pm yesterday afternoon. This was the second of two nationwide 'Salute to the V-Force' flights to pay homage to every complete surviving Vulcan, Victor and Valiant nuclear bomber that provided Great Britain's strategic (latterly tactical) nuclear deterrent during the Cold War between the 1950s and 1980s.

XM655 was towed across to the Market site on the airfield especially for yesterday's event in order that visitors could make the most of the excellent car parking and viewing facilities at the eastern side of the airfield. It was appropriate that so many enthusiasts chose Wellesbourne as the place to view this spectacle as XM655 is the most originally complete as well as fully operational of the remaining Vulcans.

XH558 puts on a fine performance.
Copyright© Av Magill

Vulcan to the Sky supporters 'rattled buckets' in the car park, whilst MaPS volunteers did the same 'airside' to allow even closer access to XM655 whilst viewing XH558 in the air close overhead.

A great turnout for XH558's last official appearance at Wellesbourne>
Copyright© Bryan Hull

XH558 at her Best.
Copyright© Bryan Hull

MaPS collected £2,100 in donations during the day and I am delighted to announce that the MaPS committee immediately agreed to pass on 50% of the total collected to Vulcan to the Sky Trust to support their activities during this final flying season for the only remaining airworthy Vulcan in the world. A payment has already been made to VTTST of £1,050. MaPS committee and volunteers are very grateful to everyone who donated money yesterday!

Charles Brimson
Chairman - 655MaPS

23/05/2015 Manc Riders Visit

Saturday saw one of the smallest pre-booked visits we have had when 5 members of the Manc Riders came to wonder at the technology of our 50 year old bomber. They had originally booked to come in February, but had to postpone their visit until now.

Being such a small group, we reverted to our previous arrangements whereby one volunteer takes up to 4 group members through the whole tour, cockpit, Vulcan history, Vulcans in service and Cold War, the Black Buck Falklands raid, Engineering and of course our merchandise in the Visitors' Centre!

Charles meets and greets
Charles greets our visitors and tells them about MaPS.
Copyright© Av Magill

The visitors loved being able to bring their bikes onto the airfield for a photo-shoot with XM655

The photo-shoot
The Manc Riders with their bikes.
Copyright©Av Magill

The day after the visit, Damaris, our visits organiser, received a very nice email from our visitors in which they said "The lads were chuffed as a monkeys uncle especially to get photos with XM655. Brilliant day!"

16/05/2015 Alfa Romeo Owners Club

Even though we have a lot of engineering work ongoing at present, we still found time to welcome a group of Alfa Romeo enthusiasts. As this was a small group of just 12 visitors we allowed a 'walk-in' visitor to join the group.

Then it was time for a quick group photo followed by the Systems Demonstration. With the bomb doors now open, Charles told them something of the history of XM655, and of the Vulcan in general.

Time for the group photo, before the Systems Demonstration
Time for the group photo, before the Systems Demonstration
Copyright © Edward Banks

Charles gives some history
Charles gives the visitors a Vulcan history lesson.
Copyright © Isi Jackson

Crew for the Systems demo was Isi(AEO), Len(P1) and Roger(Crew Chief). The visitors were also treated to the sound of the Rover Airborne Auxiliary Power Pack (AAPP) running.
As part of the pre-Wings and Wheels maintenance, the cockpit canopy has been released and raised by some 10cm to facilitate some corrosion treatment. This made for some interesting and unusual photographs from inside the cockpit.

View from between the ejection seats
View from between the ejection seats while Len does the pre-200 Volt checks.
Copyright © Isi Jackson

Cockpit views
The view looking from the P1 seat (left) and backwards (right).
Copyright © Len Hewitt

Looking out from the P1's side window was something of a surprise for Len, finding Nick and Phil looking back at him!

Cockpit views
Phil and Nick await the cockpit to clear before continuing work from off the giraffe.
Copyright © Len Hewitt


The remainder of the visit followed its established pattern with John doing the cockpit tours, Damaris the Black Buck Falklands missions and Len the Cold War and the Vulcan in service.

With a quiet flying day, the visitors were able to bring their vehicles onto the airfield for a shot if them by the Vulcan.

The car line-up
A variety of Alfa Romeos along with a small but powerful Fiat Arbarth.
Copyright © Isi Jackson

09/05/2015 Sporting Bears Motor Club Visit

The Sporting Bears Motor Club are a group of car enthusiasts who raise money for charity, and have a toy bear as their mascot.

As soon as the formalities of the greeting and briefing were over, the group assembled in front of XM655 for their photograph. Needless to say the bear crept into the shot too! (Can you spot him?)

The photo line-up
The photo line-up.
Copyright© Av Magill

Next came the Systems Demonstration, with Roger as Crew Chief, Len as P1 and Charles as AEO. Control surfaces having been exercised, the group were moved forward so that they could see the anti-collision, landing and taxy lighting. Air brakes were deployed and left at the full drag position, as there was engineering work to be carried out on them.

The bomb-bay doors were then opened and in amazingly short time, the Bear had mysteriously re-appeared sitting upon one of the seven 1,000 lb. bombs!

That bear gets everywhere
The Bear certainly isn't camera shy!
Copyright© Av Magill

The group then split up into parties of four for the cockpit tours all hosted this time by Charles. The individual groups move between the various volunteers who took them through various topics, Jon talking about the Black Buck Falklands missions, Len the Vulcan in service and the Cold War, Alex the ongoing engineering work, Damaris the Vulcan's history and Isi and Av manning the Visitors Centre

Not wishing to be totally eclipsed in the "Muscle Stakes" by our four Olympus 301 engines, the group then brought their muscle onto the airfield for a photo shoot. It must be one of the most expensive collection of cars we've had visiting us as it included a Maclaren 12C Spider, a 1989 Corvette, a Mercedes 2005 SLK, and a 1966 Austin Healey 3000 Mk111.

The Muscle Cars
The Muscle Cars!
Copyright© Av Magill

The camera shy
As for that bear, it seeks out the photo opportunities like a seasoned politician!
Copyright© Av Magill

19/04/2015 Bugatti Owners Club Visit No.7

The Vulcan seems to be a magnet to all Bugatti Owners Club Members, with this Sunday seeing the 7th. time they have visited us.

Despite the previous day having been wonderfully warm and sunny, our twenty-four visitors arrived in a freezing cold NorthEasterly wind which didn't let up all day.

Charles welcomes
While Charles briefs our visitors, Roger and Alex are busy fitting new mainwheel tyres.
Copyright© Av Magill


“Mumbai” John photographs the visitors
Before entering the cockpit to host all the cockpit tours, John takes a group photograph for one of the group.
Copyright© Av Magill

John hosted all the cockpit tours whilst Edward, Len, Alex, and Damaris took each group in turn through their speciality, and Isi and Hayley manned the shop.

There were no Bugattis with us this time, but one visitor did arrive in his Caterham Super Seven which was duly arranged before XM655 for a photograph.

No Bugatti, but a Caterham Super Seven 7
The single Caterham Super Seven 7 gets to star with XM655.
Copyright© Av Magill

19/04/2015 Vulcan to the Sky Club

With both morning and afternoon visits from the VTTSC members, and lots of engineering work in preparation for a rapidly approaching Wings and Wheels, we were very grateful that our two regular pilots of Wg Cdr Mike Pollitt RAF (Retd.) and former Vulcan QFI Flt Lt Nick Dennis RAF(Retd), agreed to host all the cockpit tours between them, Nick taking the morning stint and Mike the afternoon 'shift'.

As usual, following a welcome from Charles, each group got to see a Systems Demonstration. This consists of running and exercising the Powered Flying Controls (PFCs), running exterior lighting, extending the airbrakes and opening the bomb doors.

The Systems Demo
Our visitors watch as the huge control surfaces are moved
Copyright©Clive Hanley

Following the systems demonstration, the visitors divided themselves into groups of four, this being the maximum number we can take into the cockpit.

Nick takes the sun before entering the cockpit
Nick takes a few moments in the sun before entering the cockpit
Copyright©Clive Hanley

Whilst each group in turn had their cockpit visits, other groups were told about the Vulcan during the Cold War by Len, the Black Buck Falklands raids by Dave, Vulcan history by Damaris, and Isi manned the Visitors' Centre.

Occasionally, some of our younger visitors get the opportunity to sit astride our 1,000 lb. (inert!) bomb.

One to make the classmates envious!
One to make the classmates envious!
Copyright©Clive Hanley

As always, it is a pleasure to talk about and show off our Vulcan to enthusiastic visitors, and they don't come much more enthusiastic than members of the VTTSC!

As it sometimes proves difficult to get everyone together at the end of a visit, we have started arranging for the group photo to be taken immediately after the systems demonstration.

The two groups
The morning and afternoon groups take their photo call.
Copyright©Clive Hanley

28/02/2015 Tewkesbury and Dowty ATC Squadrons Visit

Two ATC squadrons, 785 (Tewkesbury) and 2322 (Dowty) Sqns. joined forces this week to visit XM655. The 4 Dowty Sqn cadets were tasked by Charles to find Dowty plates on the aircraft.

As it was an ATC visit, our regular captain, Wg Cdr Mike Pollitt RAF (Retd.) joined us to give the cadets their cockpit tours, whilst one group were shown around a Cessna at the South Warwickshire Flying School and Len gave those not in the cockpit or at SWFS, a tour of the exterior and told them something of the Vulcan in service, its armaments and counter measures.

the briefing
Charles welcomes the 9 cadets and 2 instructors whilst Mike Pollitt (right) warms up with a coffee!
Copyright © Av Magill

As the cadets watched the operation of the air brakes during the systems demonstration, all their mobiles appeared as they took their photographs!

the systems demo
Photo Opportunity!
Copyright © Av Magill

Dowty Sqn Cadets
The 2322 (Dowty) Sqn cadets with Charles
Copyright © Av Magill

Tewkesbury Sqn Cadets
The 785 (Tewkesbury) Sqn cadets with their two instructors.
Copyright © Av Magill

The photo of the Tewkesbury cadets unusually also shows the upper-surface air brakes and the deployed ram air turbine (RAT).

All Cadets
Both Squadrons along with their two instructors.
Copyright © Av Magill

21/02/2015 Megapixles Visit

The 21st of February saw XM655 at the mercy of an invasion of cameras as the Megapixles photography group visited

Eric opted to host most of the cockpit tours on this occasion, (possibly because it was quite cold outside!) whilst 'Bovril' took the middle visit

Charles' Briefing
Eric waits for Charles to finish his briefing so he can get out of the wind!
Copyright © Av Magill

However, before Eric could install himself in the cockpit, he had the additional task of being crew chief for the systems demonstration. In addition to the usual routine of flying controls, exterior lights, air brakes and bomb doors, Isi also ran the Rover AAPP (Airborne Auxiliary Power Pack) whilst Charles looked on

Once the systems demonstration was complete, the group split themselves into smaller groups of four for the cockpit tours with Eric, whilst those not in the cockpit endeavoured to find a shot of the Vulcan that nobody else had!

Photographers Galore!
Photographers Galore!
Copyright © Av Magill

A rather less than formal group shot completed the visit with a little mutual snapping taking place!

Mutual Admiration!
Av both snaps and gets snapped!
Copyright © Av Magill

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