Historical Photo Reveals the Damage to Vulcan XH556 due to Undercarriage Collapse, 1966

vulcan-xh556-undercarriage-collapse-finningley (Image: Allan Dowdeswell, reproduced with permission)

The loss of Avro Vulcan B2 XH556 on April 18, 1966 was one of the more unusual incidents to befall the type throughout its service history. During engine start-up on the flight line at RAF Finningley, the aircraft’s undercarriage slowly collapsed – despite three safety systems in place to prevent such a mishap. Thankfully nobody was hurt and the crew managed to blow the canopy and scramble down the nose.

vulcan-xh556-undercarriage-collapse (Image: Allan Dowdeswell, reproduced with permission)

After a lengthy inquiry, the undercarriage collapse, which came on the first day of good weather after several weeks of heavy rain, was attributed to an ingress of moisture that affected XH556’s circuitary over a sustained period. The Vulcan, of 230 OCU, broke its back as its undercarriage collapsed and was struck off charge as a result. The airframe was later towed to the Finningley dump and served out its days as a fire trainer (the same fate that befell XL427 at Machrihanish two decades later).

Below: the last airworthy Vulcan B2, XH558, stands in a hangar at Robin Hood Airport (formerly RAF Finningley) near Sheffield, UK. Visit Vulcan to the Sky for more information.

vulcan-xh558 (Image: Urban Ghosts)

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