With the change to low level operations forced by the increasing capability of Soviet SAMs, the Vigilante GR.1 gave an unacceptably 'bumpy' ride due to the large size of its wing, though removing the wingtips to create the GR.1A provided a partial solution there were still concerns about the fatigue life of the wing and tail in these conditions. However, with the TSR.2 still over 18 months away from reaching operational status, it was decided to extend the usefulness of the Vigilante, and a number of GR.1As were refitted with a smaller wing and tail surfaces ( eventually most of the GR.1/GR.1As were converted to GR.2 standard, the sole exception being the airframe used as the F.1 prototype ). To reduce development costs the wing was based very closely on that already in production for the TSR.2 .
Modifications were also made to the weapons bay to allow carriage of WE.177 nuclear weapons as well as the Red Beard store.
With its small wings, the GR.2 echoed the experience with the B-26 Marauder, with comments being made that it had no visible means of support.
This was the final RAF strike version of the Vigilante as its role was increasingly taken over by the Eagle. However the GR.2 proved to have such outstanding performance at low level that it was retained in service in various roles much longer than planned, with 23 additional ex-USN RA-5Cs also being purchased and converted, and some even saw service in Operation Desert Storm carrying laser target designators before being finally retired in 1995.
Horizontal tail from a Tornado, as the originals were way too big for the new wing - their span was actually greater than the new wingspan ! Fin is from the TSR.2.