Avro Vulcan B.2MRR - XH537
Built in 1959 and delivered to Boscombe Down on 31st August 1959.
In January 1960 she was chosen to be one of the development aircraft for the Douglas Skybolt ALBM (Air-Launched Ballistic Missile). Conversion work was completing in June 1961 and XH537 flew with dummy Skybolts as can be seen in the video below.
The Skybolt project was cancelled on 19th December 1962, the same day as the first successful firing of a Skybolt (from a USAF B-52) after previous attempts had all ended in failure. The cancellation of the Skybolt programme caused a major political fall-out in the UK after the British government had cancelled all other projects to concentrate on the Skybolt. This crisis lead to then UK Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan engaging in emergency meetings with US president John F Kennedy, and the signing of the Nassau Agreement in which the US would provide the UK with Polaris nuclear missiles in return for the UK leasing the Holy Loch nuclear submarine base to the Americans.
After having the Skybolt equipment removed, XH537 entered normal RAF service with 230 OCU at RAF Finningley. In 1978 she was converted to a B.2MRR with 27 Squadron. In March 1982, her delivery to Abingdon, to be a maintenance airframe, proved to be her last flight.
She was scrapped in May 1991. However, the nose was saved and bought by Vulcan fan Colin Mears in 1994, who sold it to another fan - Paul Hartley - in 1997. There had been a plan for XH537's nose to carry out crew escape and rescue trainer for XH558, however in late 2001 she moved to Bournemouth (Hurn) Airport instead, with Channel Express sponsoring her restoration before her sale to the Bournemouth Aviation Museum in March 2003.