Avro 730

During 1951 the British Government under Winston Churchill became worried at the bomber gap developing between the RAF and the Soviet Union. Also, intelligence reports indicated the USSR was planning a massive action of an unspecified nature in 1953. With these thoughts in mind the RAF was asked to consider the use of "flying bombs" made from plastic as the primary weapon of Britain's nuclear strike force. Bristol Aircraft designed the Type 182 (codename "Blue Rapier") which was entering the testing phase when it was cancelled in 1953, much to the relief of the RAF who wanted a new manned bomber. The new bombers were the Vulcan, Valiant and Victor.

Avro 730This left one area which the RAF lacked and that was strategic reconnaisance. To this end the Air Staff concentrated on specifying the new reconnaisance aircraft. It was clear that it must have a radius-of-action which would reach the Soviet Union and be able to avoid air defences. In 1954 a specification was issued for an aircraft capable of a Mach 2.5 cruise at 60,000 feet and a range of 5,000 nautical miles. During the Summer of 1955 Avro were awarded the contract to develop the Type 730. The 730 was three-man canard aircraft, 163 feet 6 inches long with a wing span of 59 feet 9 inches and a wing area of 2,000 square feet. Flying surfaces were controlled by a "fly-by-wire" system. Four Armstrong-SiddeleyP.159 turbojets were mounted in wingtip pods.

Avro 730The "Red Drover" sideways-looking radar was to be the primary reconnaissance device and this was housed within the fuselage. The undercarraige was dependent on the take-off weight. For weights upto 158,000 pounds, the standard landing gear was to be used. Weights upto 200,000 pounds required additional main wheels to be added to the main undercarriage leg. Both the nose and main undercarraige were mounted on the fuselage with outriggers on the engine pods. Take-off runs were estimated to be within 2,230 yards at which time the 730 would be at 50 feet altitude. Landing distance would be 1,150 yards with a 24 feet diameter brake chute deployed. Initial climb rate was to be 12,300 feet per minute. First flight would be in 1959 with the eighth and last flying prototype in use by December 1961.

Avro 730Avro had originally suggested that the 730 could be used in the bomber role as well as a reconnaissance aircraft. The Air Staff had taken this onboard as, in October 1955, they modified the specification to incorporate a bombing capability. By a stroke of luck the "Red Drover" radar antenna had been shortened which allowed a bomb bay to be installed in the fuselage to house a new 1 Megaton stand-off missile of 50 feet length. The revised 730 had another four engines added making a total of eight housed in two pods, an increased wing area (2,100 square feet), an increased fuselage diameter of just under 10 feet and reduced fuselage length of 159 feet.

The first 730 fuselage was well advanced at Avro's Chadderton factory when Duncan Sandys announced his decision to cancel all work on the majority of manned aircraft. The 730 was broken up and the World's first Mach 2+ bomber ended up being used as scrap bins.