Vulcan Aircraft

Ricoh GR ISO800 f5.6 1/2000sec Via Lightroom.

Hand Made

Looking at the Vulcan Bomber, up close and impersonal, it's impossible not to be impressed with the skill of it's makers and 'hand-madeness' of the thing.  Apparently, no two panels are interchangeable, in fact, the same panel from another Vulcan doesn't necessarily fit.  

In an age of accurate mass production, it's astonishing to see the level of craft in these planes.   The Vulcan was modern :- even on the day it retired, it looked like a message from the future.   From a distance epitomised at once the techno optimism of the 70's and evoked the teenage feeling of foreboding caused by 'The Bomb' this aircraft was designed to carry.  Delta wing design impressed everyone who saw this modern dart fly overhead like it had just arrived from tomorrow.  The engine bay does look like it might be a time machine like the DeLorean used in 'Back to the Future'...

I had mixed feelings as I was shown around.  Respect for the machine, awe, affection and finally back to respect this time for the Men and Women who conceived and built and flew these things. Respect. 

What about cameras....

This is a site about cameras, so the first paragraph might seem a bit 'left field'. There is a point to this though:  This is one of the first times I've been out with my cameras and actually been absorbed by the subject rather than with the technology I'm using. This time tech took second place to telling the story.  I wanted to capture the essence of the planes and used the little GR, GXR and Sigma DP3 were like they were part of my brain and eyes.  I think that says a lot for these little tools, at least as much as it does for me!


Titanium detail from the engine bay door
Ricoh GR ISO800 f5.6 1/160sec Via Lightroom.

Titanium 'Hot' Engine bay door
Ricoh GR ISO800 f5.6 1/250sec Via Lightroom.

Vulcan MK2 16/10/1975
Ricoh GR ISO800 f5.6 1/125sec Via Lightroom.

Just over 2m long, (7 feet) But powerful enough to help Vulcan climb vertically ' on it's tail'
Ricoh GR ISO800 f5.6 1/250sec Via Lightroom.

Still Weeping

The Vulcan MK2 pictured here last flew in 1984. It is maintained and looked after by volunteers who paint and polish, open and close, clean and protect their charge.  Some electronic and hydraulic systems still work, but flying is now a memory.  Standing close to this strangely beautiful icon of the 'cold war', you do get the impression it's just sleeping and, if the need arose, it would dust itself down and rally to the cause again.  At the back of the aircraft, there are ominous black tanks containing the secret avionics and the oil that was used to keep them cool.  This oil, the viscosity of very fine baby oil, oozes, seeping out very very gently covering the avionics bay door and slowly dripping every minute or so, a clear drop down to the ground.  It's not been refilled or touched since 1984, but feels alive, weeping oily tears. 

Parked, and retired but loved and respected by a devoted band of volunteers.
GXR with A12 M Mount - Using Voigtlander 15mm ISO200 f5.6 1/130sec

Rain traces it's path over the wing surface, now with just the power of the wind.

Everything sculpted by hand, from Aluminium or Titanium. 

The AeroPark. GXR A12M

The GXR A12 x Voigtlander 15mm tells it's own story. Wider angle than the GR, only by a few mm but it makes a heck of a difference.  I really like the GXR x A12 M (Mount) when combined with the little Voigtlander 15mm.  It's a combination that I come back to time and time again.  Pictured here are variously Hunter, Buccaneer, Viscount (VC10) - movingly every VC10 was named after someone who had been awarded the Victoria Cross:  A highest British award for gallantry,  made from metal reserved from the Russian canon captured in 1855 after the Siege of Sevastopol. Only 14 VC's as of writing have been awarded since the end of World War 2.

AeroPark x Sigma DP3.

Instant change of feel.  The 75mm angle of view instantly apparent and gives the photographer a powerful intimacy.  Compressed perspective and intensity so suited to portraiture gives these old machines a very different connection through the screen.