Vickers-Armstrong Valiant V-Bomber W2365 in flight, c 1951.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The Vickers-Armstrong Valiant first flew in 1951. A total of 111 Valiants were built in all, performing bomber, photo-reconnaisance and tanker roles for the RAF. The term 'V-Bomber' refers to aircraft which formed Britain's strategic nuclear strike force. Valiants were the first aircraft to drop operational British atomic bombs and hydrogen bombs in tests carried out in 1956 and 1957 respectively. Valiants saw action in the Suez crisis of 1956, dropping conventional high-explosive bombs on Egyptian targets. The aircraft were formally withdrawn from service in 1965, with Victor and Vulcan bombers taking over their strategic role.