Vickers 660 Valiant   WB210


                                        The Valiant was one of the RAF's new V-bombers (the others were the Avro Vulcan and Handley
                                        Page Victor) destined to replace the aging bomber fleets in the early 1950s.   Seen above is the
                                        prototype, which first flew on 18 may 1951.   This particular machine was lost following an engine
                                        fire early in 1952.   However, approximately 100 Valiants eventually populated RAF bomber
                                        squadrons during the Cold War years.   In March 1957 four 49 Squadron Valiants were detached
                                        to Christmas Island in the Pacific, and on 15 May, Valiant B.1 XD818 released a prototype hydrogen
                                        bomb at 39,000 ft over Malden Island.  Fred Taylor, a childhood friend of mine, and with whom I
                                        was very close during the blitz of 1940-41, was aboard that flight.   Fred died at a young age in the
                                        mid 1970s of cancer, possibly as a result of having flown through the mushroom cloud.   The Valiants
                                        were phased out by the late 1960s, and in April 1968 Bomber Command itself was disbanded and
                                        became RAF Strike Command.