The RAF's first Cold War strategic bomber, the Vickers Valiant, was procured as an insurance measure in case either the Vulcan or Victor was found to have a serious flaw. The Valiant was the equivalent of the US B-47 Stratojet, and it blazed the trail for the British airborne nuclear deterrent as the aircraft enjoyed a far more active service career than later V-bombers. It was the launch platform for all British free fall nuclear weapons tests both in the Pacific and in central Australia, it took part in the Suez campaign in 1956 and it was the only V-bomber to drop (conventional) weapons in anger until the Falklands operation in 1982. The Valiant was modified to serve in the electronic warfare, strategic reconnaissance and airborne tanker role, but it had to be grounded in early 1965 when the aircraft succumbed to metal fatigue.
Andrew Brookes completed RAF pilot training after reading history at Leeds University. He served as a UK nuclear release officer in NATO and was the last operational RAF Commander at the Greenham Common cruise missile base. He was coordinator of air power studies at the RAF Advanced Staff College. He is now Aerospace Analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. He has written 12 aviation books and he received the Defence Aerospace Journalist of the Year Award in 2004 and 2006. Chris Davey has illustrated more than 25 titles for Osprey's Aircraft of the Aces, Combat Aircraft and Elite Units series since 1994. Based in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, and one of the last traditional airbrush artists in the business, he has become the artist of choice for both USAAF fighters and RAF subject matter, proving his undoubted skill when dealing with large aircraft subjects such as the Halifax and Sunderland.
Valiant creation /The first V-bomber into service - trailblazer for high level Cold War bombing tactics /The Suez Campaign /Christmas Island nuclear weapons tests /High level bombing capability and Cold War organisation /The Versatile Valiant (strategic reconnaissance and tanking) /Allocation to SACEUR for low-level operations in the tactical nuclear role /Metal fatigue and sudden demise /Appendices: Detailing all units equipped with the Valiant and where they were based; Comprehensive plate commentaries