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Vickers types

Vickers Vanguard


The Vanguard was developed as a private venture to meet the differing requirements of British European Airways (BEA) and Trans-Canada Air Lines (TCA). BEA wanted a 100-seater for its short haul network, while TCA was seeking an aircraft with transcontinental range. Unsurprisingly, the Vanguard was something of a compromise, with BEA having to give considerable ground on weight and basic aircraft configuration. Despite this, it was BEA that placed the launch order, contracting for 20 aircraft on 20 July 1956; an order from TCA for a further 20 followed in January 1957. TCA’s Vanguards went into service first, on 1 February 1961, with the first BEA Vanguard service being flown exactly a month later. With production of turbojet airliners in full swing by this time, no further order materialised save for a repeat buy from TCA for three. The last Vanguard was retired on 30 September 1996 and it remains the only survivor.


First flight: 20 Jan 59 (c/n 703, G-AOYW)

Production: 44, at Weybridge, UK

First delivery: 14 Jan 61 to BEA (c/n 706, G-APEC)

Last delivery: 3 Apr 64 to TCA (c/n 746, CF-TKW)

Variants: Vanguard 950 – prototype powered by 4 Rolls-Royce RTy1 Tyne Mk.506 turboprops, with seating for up to 126 passengers, (1 built);

   Vanguard 951 - initial production version for BEA (6 built);

   Vanguard 952 - production version for TCA with higher weights and longer range, powered by RTy11 Tyne Mk.512s and with seating for up to 139 passengers (23 built);

   Vanguard 953 - Vanguard 951 with higher weight of Vanguard 952, powered by Tyne Mk.506s and with seating for up to 135;.

Conversions: Vanguard Cargoliner - 1 Vanguard 952 converted for all-cargo operations by Air Canada in 1966;

    Vanguard Merchantman - 9 Vanguard 953s converted by BEA at Heathrow for all-cargo operations


Vickers Viking, Valetta and Varsity


Despite the best efforts of the Brabazon Committee, it was becoming increasingly clear towards the end of World War II that most of the designs it had spawned were still many years away from entering service. The Ministry of Aircraft Production therefore commissioned several firms to develop interim civil transports that could be available quickly. The Avro York was one such design; another was the Vickers Viking. Like the York, the Viking was based on a heavy bomber and was originally known as the Wellington Transport Aircraft, the design drawing on the Wellington’s tail-wheel configuration and incorporating components from both the Wellington and Warwick. The Ministry placed an initial production order for 50 Vikings on 5 April 1946 and the type entered service with British European Airways on 1 September 1946, with a flight from Northolt to Copenhagen. In the same year, the Air Ministry placed its first order for the Viking and successful operation of the type by both the King’s Flight and Transport Command led to development of the Valetta utility transport as a Dakota replacement. A flying classroom version of the Valetta paved the way for the Varsity, the last Vickers aeroplane to use radial engines. Varsities remained in Royal Air Force service until 1976, when they were replaced by Handley Page Jetstreams.


First flight: 22 Jun 45 (c/n 101, G-AGOK)

Production: 578, made up of 432 at Weybridge, UK (comprising 163 Vikings, 252 Valettas and 17 Varsities); and 146 at Bournemouth-Hurn, UK (all Varsities).

First delivery: Viking - 8 May 46 to BOAC (c/n 104, G-AGON); Valetta - 30 Mar 48 (VL262); Varsity - 17 Jul 49 (VX828)

Last delivery: Viking - 25 Apr 49 to BEA (c/ns 263 and 264, G-AKBG and G-AKBH respectively); Valetta - 9 Jan 52 (c/n 583 and 584, WJ498 and WJ499); Varsity - 24 Feb 54 (WL692)

Variants: Viking 1 - unpressurised short-haul airliner powered by 2 Bristol Hercules radials, with seating for 21 passengers;

   Viking 1A - retrospective designation applied to early Vikings with fabric covering (19 built, most converted to Viking 1);

   Viking 1B - stretched development of Viking 1 powered by Hercules 634s, with seating for up to 27 passengers;

   Viking 2 - military version of Viking 1 for RAF Transport Command (8 built);

   Valetta C.1 - developed version optimised for military use as troop carrier, freighter, ambulance, glider-tug, paratroop transport and supply drop platform, featuring strengthened floor, cargo door and other detail changes, with accommodation for up to 34 fully-equipped soldiers, powered by Hercules 230s (202 built; first flight 30 Jun 47);

   Valetta C.2 - Valetta C.1 optimised for VIP transport (10 built);

   Valetta T.3 - Valetta C.1 optimised for navigation training (40 built, 18 modified as radar training as Valetta T4)

   Varsity T.1 - re-engineered and slightly up-scaled development of the Valetta T.3, powered by 2 Bristol Hercules 264s and featuring nosewheel configuration (163 built).

For the Viscount see here.

For the VC-10 see here

Vickers types survivors.docx
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