17th Jul, 2018

Volunteers fear for future of historic Vulcan bomber plane which was once nuclear deterrent

DEDICATED volunteers who care for an historic Vulcan bomber based at Wellesbourne Airfield fear for its future.

The XM655 Maintenance and Preservation Society look after the Avro Vulcan XM655 – one of the last of the Vulcan bombers produced for the RAF. Built in 1964, it was part of the UK’s nuclear deterrent force throughout the 1960s and 70s.

No longer airworthy, the society enthusiasts keep it in ground running condition, and in recent years it has been powered up to taxi along the runaway at the airfield’s annual Wings and Wheels event.

That was cancelled last year with little warning, and the society has just heard from airfield owners Littler Investments the event would not be taking place this summer either. No reason has been given and The Observer has not been able to get a response from the owners.

Society members fear volunteers who help fund and look after the Vulcan could lose interest in the plane’s preservation without the regular annual opportunity to showcase it to the public.

Society treasurer Eric Ranshaw said: “Volunteers work extremely hard throughout the year to keep this historic aircraft in excellent working condition, and they are obviously very disappointed that the success of their efforts cannot be enjoyed by a wider audience.

“We anticipate it will lead to a reduction in new memberships and renewals, and inevitably reduce the funding available to us to maintain and preserve the aircraft, which is the sole remaining ‘live’ example of the most powerful variant of the Avro Vulcan – the aircraft type in service throughout the Cold War and the record-breaking ‘Black Buck’ bombing raids during the Falklands conflict in 1982.”

The airfield’s history stretches back to 1941 when the Government bought 200 acres of farmland. RAF Wellesbourne Mountford was a training centre for British and Commonwealth aircrews during the Second World War, turning out pilots, navigators, wireless operators and air gunners.

The RAF sold the airfield to the Littler Family in 1965.

The site, which is also home to a handful of businesses and a Saturday market, has been the subject of much controversy after its proposals were revealed in 2016 to build some 1,500 homes on the site – but the plans were rejected by Stratford District Council.

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