From the beginning
XH558 was built by Avro (later British Aerospace and BAE Systems) at Woodford and first flown on 21 May 1960. Painted white overall, it was the first Vulcan B2 to enter service with the RAF when it joined ‘B’ Flight No 230 OCU at RAF Waddington on 1 July 1960. A year later it moved with the OCU to RAF Finningley (today Robin Hood Airport, Doncaster/sheffield). On 23 February 1968 XH558, now in the standard grey/ green camouflage, joined the front-line Waddington Wing and at the end of October 1972 it was allocated to No 101 Squadron.
A new chapter began on 17 August 1973 when XH558 was flown to Bitteswell to be one of nine Vulcans converted for Strategic Maritime Reconnaissance and 13 months later as a B2(MRR) was delivered for service with No 27 Squadron at RAF Scampton.
When this squadron was disbanded on 30 March 1982 it returned to Waddington for No 44 Squadron. With an urgent requirement for more air-to-air tankers, XH558 was one of six Vulcans hastily converted to B2(K)S by BAE at Woodford.
Allocated to No 50 Squadron at Waddington, XH558 was initially used as a trials aircraft at A&AEE Boscombe Down from 25 October 1982. It made a rare public appearance in the International Air Tattoo ‘83 static park at Greenham Common. XH558’S tanker life was cut short on 17 September 1984 when it was flown to RAF Marham for disposal.