(All images by Urban Ghosts)
In aviation circles, Avro Vulcan B2 XM597 is known as the bomber that made an emergency landing at Rio de Janeiro during the Falklands War when its refuelling probe broke off while tanking, leaving the aircraft dangerously low on fuel. In a superb exhibition of airmanship that earned him a Distinguished Flying Cross, pilot Neil McDougall threw the mighty Vulcan into an almost vertical bank to bleed off height and speed during descent. The result was a perfect landing with just 3000 lbs of fuel remaining – just over the minimum amount needed to fly a full circuit. The aircraft and crew were impounded by Brazilian authorities and later released.
Fast-forward 30 years and XM597 enjoys a more quiet existence, preserved at the National Museum of Flight at East Fortune, Scotland. What’s more, the starboard main undercarriage well is providing nesting space for a family of barn swallows – a far cry from the bomber’s role as Britain’s nuclear deterrent during the Cold War.
The small insect-feeding birds were spotted flying in and out of the Vulcan’s wheel well 10 days ago, rearing what must be one of the last swallow broods of the summer. Vulcan XM597 has been preserved at East Fortune since its retirement from military service in 1984.
Keep reading – learn about the strange story of Vulcan XM652′s dismantling at RAF Waddington, and browse Rare Photographs of the Vulcan Bomber Mock-up from Bond Film Thunderball.