The Handley Page Victor was a British jet-powered strategic bomber, developed and produced by the Handley Page Aircraft Company, which served during the Cold War. It was the third and final of the V-bombers operated by the Royal Air Force (RAF).
XH648 was originally built as a B1 and its first flight was on 27th November 1959. It was delivered to No. 57 Squadron at Honington on 21st December 1959. In October 1960 it went to Handley Page at Radlett for conversion to B1A status, which involved new ECM equipment as well as changing the engines to Sapphire mk 20701s. Improved radio and radar equipment was also fitted.
After the conversion and a period of test flying, XH648 was delivered to RAF Cottesmore on 11th May 1961 to join 15 Squadron. Flown as part of the Far East Air Force during the confrontation with Indonesia in 1962-63 it was the only Victor to drop 35 1000lb bombs at the same time over the Song Song area. On return from Indonesia, XH648 remained with 15 Squadron, until 3rd April 1964, when it was delivered back to RAF Honington, to join 55 Squadron.
Less than a year later, in 1965 it was converted by Handley Page in 1965 into a two-point tanker, making it a B(K)1A This involved the fitting of Mk 20B refuelling pods under each wing. It then returned to 55 Squadron, who shortly afterwards moved to RAF Marham. It was here that XH648 remained for the next ten years.
On 23rd June 1975, XH648 was transferred to 57 Squadron (also based at Marham), where it supported the Squadron's final year as a Mk1 tanker Squadron. It was retired to Duxford on 2nd June 1976.
Submarines played a key role in operations throughout the Cold War. Commodore Frederic Thompson, kept himself and his crewmates entertained, by creating ‘radio’ programmes, which were then broadcast over the submarine’s internal speakers.