Engine test beds

The Vulcan’s large size, excellent ground clearance, high speed and outstanding altitude performance made it an ideal vehicle for testing high-performance jet engines. Throughout the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s, a small number of Vulcans were assigned to testing duties, including the development of the Olympus engine for Concorde and the ill-fated TSR-2 programme, as well as the RB199 which went on to power the Tornado.

XA903 fitted with the Rolls Royce Olympus engine that would go on to power Concorde. (Avro)
XA903 testing the Turbo-Union RB199 engine destined to power the Panavia Tornado. (VRT Collection)

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