Following the re-release of Airfix’s 1/72 scale Vickers Valiant, Kev Baxter finally finds a better home for one of his allegedly ill-gotten gains
At exactly 10.38 local time, May 15, 1957, Britain’s first live thermonuclear bomb was released from a Vickers Valiant B.1, XD818, of 49 Squadron, Royal Air Force, over Malden Island in the Pacific Ocean. Leading the operation – named Grapple – and flying this aircraft was the unit’s commanding officer, Wing Commander Ken Hubbard, who (along with his crew) would be awarded the Air Force Cross. The historic airframe flown in this hydrogen bomb test was preserved as the last example of its type and now resides in the RAF Museum Cosford. It remains a testimony to the ingenuity of British engineering and the courage and tenacity of a generation of V-bomber crews that kept the fragile peace during the Cold War.