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Why it failed

The cause of the failure was the last thing on the test engineers minds at this stage as they ran for cover. Within seconds the fire took hold as burning fuel poured from the aircraft, which was on a very slight slope. The attendant Filton fire truck, required for all ground runs was parked in front of the aircraft. But so fast did the fire move that almost before the firemen knew it the flames had completely engulfed the tender. They tried vainly to extinguish it but the fire was still being fed by fuel from the aircraft; they had no choice but to just monitor the total destruction of XA894 and their fire tender. The airfield fire crews had been very proud of their tender, which was kept in immaculate condition and had won several awards. They continued to monitor the fire, which burned well into the evening with brilliant white balls of burning magnesium rising in a continuous fountain above the fire. It made quite a display for the factory staff who witnessed it.When later they were able to reconstruct the failure and establish a chain of events it transpired that again the LP turbine disk had been ejected from the engine. But not before first travelling around the strengthened bomb bay carving open two 150-gallon stainless steel fuel tanks in its progress out. It exited the airframe and hit the ground shedding what remained of the turbine blades, which bouncing back up like shrapnel, puncturing each wing tank. The disk itself ripped a ten foot gash in the port wing leading edge before proceeding east, in great 150 foot bounces; the marks of its passage were clearly visible on the ground and it finally came to rest just short of a T188 supersonic research aircraft being prepared for a test flight.

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This is page 2 of Vulcan - Olympus engine Test Bed - on Fire.
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Dense black smoke filled the evening sky

Dense black smoke filled the evening sky
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The fire burnt on through the night

The fire burnt on through the night
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The fireman were fighting a losing battle

The fireman were fighting a losing battle
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