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C/n 801/2 - Test Specimen
C/n 803 - G-ARTA
C/n 804 - G-ARVA - 5N-ABD
C/n 805 - G-ARVB
C/n 806 - G-ARVC - ZA144
C/n 807 - G-ARVE
C/n 808 - G-ARVF
C/n 809 - G-ARVG - ZA141
C/n 810 - G-ARVH
C/n 811 - G-ARVI - ZA142
C/n 812 - G-ARVJ - ZD493
C/n 813 - G-ARVK - ZA143
C/n 814 - G-ARVL - ZA140
C/n 815 - G-ARVM
C/n 819 - G-ASIW - 7Q-YKH
C/n 820 - G-ASIX - A4O-AB
C/n 823 - 9G-ABO
C/n 824 - 9G-ABP
C/n 825 - G-ATDJ - XX914
C/n 826 - XR806
C/n 827 - XR807
C/n 828 - XR808
C/n 829 - XR809
C/n 830 - XR810
C/n 836 - XV106
C/n 837 - XV107
C/n 838 - XV108
C/n 839 - XV109
C/n 851 - G-ASGA - ZD230
C/n 853 - G-ASGC
C/n 863 - G-ASGM - ZD241
C/n 881 - 5X-UVA
C/n 882 - 5H-MMT - ZA147
C/n 883 - 5Y-ADA - ZA148
C/n 884 - 5X-UVJ - ZA149
C/n 885 - 5H-MOG - ZA150

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C/n 828 - XR808


XR808 at Bruntingthorpe awaiting the arrival of ZA147 on 25 September 2013.
Photo J. Hieminga

Of the fourteen VC10 C Mk.1 aircraft that were initially delivered to the RAF, XR808 holds the record for duration of service. It was the first to be delivered to 10 Squadron in July 1966 and it was the last to leave RAF service in July 2013. When it was handed over at Wisley to its new owners, a replica Vickers Gunbus was present, one of the first types that the RAF bought from Vickers. When the VC10s retired that also ended a continuous relationship between an aircraft firm and a customer of almost a hundred years.

The retirement of XR808 sparked off some interesting debates. In 2012 the word was out that the RAF Museum would take delivery of this particular VC10 in due course. During an anniversary dinner at Brooklands on 28th June 2012, commemorating the 95th anniversary of 101 Squadron and 50th anniversary of the VC10, a hose drum unit section was signed by all the attendants so that this could be fitted to XR808 after delivery to the museum. In July 2013 the plans had been set in motion but a snag turned up, the runway at RAF Cosford had always been a bit tight for a VC10 and although practice runs were carried out the end result of the analysis was that 'Bob' could not be flown there. Because of this a quiet announcement was put out that the aircraft would go to Bruntingthorpe and this caused resident organisations to switch their attention from ZD241 to XR808 as a potential 'live' exhibit.

Not long after its final flight, the talks continued though. Could 'Bob' be moved to Cosford by road? It took until September 2014 before the cat came out of the bag, but then GJD Services announced that they would carefully dismantle the airframe and prepare it for a road move. This culminated in the forward 93 feet of the fuselage being moved to the museum on 21st June 2015. The wings soon followed and with more and more parts arriving 'Bob' was carefully put together again on the airfield and later on the museum site before going on display next to the resident Hercules XV202. The progress of the whole operation has been documented on a special Facebook page which features lots of photos. On 3rd November 2015 the museum issued a press release stating that the rebuild has been completed. In its new home XR808 will serve to remind the visitors of the hard work that was carried out by the 10 Squadron and 101 Squadron VC10s. It will also serve as a living classroom to support the RAF Charitable Trust's aim to inspire and encourage young people to consider a career in aviation and learn about the technology.

The big question that keeps popping up is: could 'Bob' have flown to Cosford? Seeing as G-ARVM landed there in 1979, surely this was possible? We have to remember that 2013 rules and regulations have changed from the 1979 ones, or even the 1987 ones (when A4O-AB landed at Brooklands). The RAF decided that it was not possible to carry out this flight and that has to be the end of that discussion. I'd rather be thankful for the fact that the RAF Museum didn't give up on its ambition to secure XR808 and decided to go down the undoubtedly costly route of dis- and reassembly.

XR808 and Polo shirts

After XR808 was delivered to Bruntingthorpe there was a lot of public support for Bob's preservation. Two members of the forum on my site, Helen and Andy, took it upon themselves to design and produce a special commemorative polo shirt. All the proceeds from the sales of these shirts were to assist in preserving XR808 at Bruntingthorpe. 31 were produced in the first print run and due to popular demand a second batch was produced a few weeks later. As news emerged that XR808 might be moving to Cosford, the money that was collected through this action was initially kept in reserve until the plans were finalised. It was handed over to the RAF Museum in 2015. £285.28 was collected through the sale of these shirts and although this is a relatively small amount compared to the overall costs of preserving a large airliner it must be remembered that this represents a group of enthusiasts who put a lot of work into this project. Everyone who has one of these great looking shirts will wear them with pride.

 

Timeline

Date  
9 June 1966 First flight.
7 July 1966 Delivery to RAF 10 Squadron (at RAF Fairford) as XR808, first of the original fourteen RAF VC10s to be delivered together with XR806. Official handover took place at Wisley.
22 August 1966 Carried out the first overseas training/proving flight (by RAF VC10) from RAF Lyneham to Hong Kong.
30 March 1967 Overflew Torrey Canyon tanker with press and VIPs on board, prior to the bombing from Buccaneers, Hunters and Sea Vixens to sink the wreck.
29 April 1968 Landed with some burst tires at RAF Tengah.
November 1968 Named 'Kenneth Campbell VC'.
April 1972 Carried the survivors from the 5X-UVA accident back to the UK.
11 April 1975 Flew from RAF Gan heading for Hong Kong but returned after a 55 minute flight, having dumped fuel, due to a failure of no.4 engine during take off.
29 March 1976 Last RAF aircraft to leave RAF Gan.
June 1978 Used at Boscombe Down to assess the feasibility of using the VC10 as a tanker.
1989/90 When passing through RAF Gatow for a weekend XR808 was painted up as a USAF transport for a movie, netting a hefty donation for the RAF Benevolent Fund (possibly this movie).
10 November 1995 Flew last operational flight of an unmodified Standard VC10 C Mk.1 over the North Sea, then continued to Bournemouth for conversion to C1K.
4 February 1997 First flight after conversion to C1K tanker/transport.
7 February 1997 Delivery to 10 Squadron as C1K, last conversion to be completed.
14 October 2005 Transferred to 101 Squadron upon disbandment of 10 Squadron. Tail letter 'R' allocated.
2 May 2009 Visited Prague airport, used to support joint Czech Republic/UK exercise 'Operation Rhino'.
December 2011? Scroll for 'Hugh Malcolm VC' added to XR808. This particular scroll had not been seen for many years, since G-AXLR was grounded in 1975.
7/8 July 2012 Took part in static park at RIAT at RAF Fairford with anniversary markings on tail.
28 August 2012 Flew in three-ship formation with XV108 and ZA147 over several RAF bases.
November 2012 Scroll for 'Thomas Mottershead VC' added to XR808 due to retirement of XV106.
20 March 2013 Original planned out of service date for XR808, extended in late 2012 when decision was made to keep XR808 on strength as it had low hours since major service.
23 April 2013 XR808 was used as a venue for a gala dinner at RAF Brize Norton.
10 July 2013 RAF Waddington Air Show, last air show visit for 'Bob'.
29 July 2013 XR808 performed its last landing at Bruntingthorpe around 11:30LT after a 40 minute flight. Total flying time 43866:50 hours. Total of 47 years and 3 weeks in RAF service.
   
17 November 2013 Posed in a photoshoot with the extensive collection of aircraft at Bruntingthorpe, including VC10s ZD241 and ZA147.
September 2014 - June 2015 Aircraft dismantled by GJD Services in preparation for move by road to RAF Museum Cosford.
21 June 2015 Fuselage moved by road to RAF Cosford.
3 November 2015 Completion of rebuild announced by RAF Museum Cosford

 


Photo BAE SYSTEMS / Brooklands Museum archives

Photo BAE SYSTEMS / Brooklands Museum archives

Photo M. Skinner

Photo L. Bean

1-2. The first flight of XR808 from the Weybridge factory. The two photos appear to have been taken from different locations but show the wing assembly building in the background.
3. XR808 approaching over a line of parked Gloster Javelins at RAF Tengah in 1968, the aft wheels on the left bogie seem damaged when compared to the righthand ones.
4. Touchdown with the left-hand gear on a foam strip laid down by the fire brigade.


Photo R. Rodwell, Flight Magazine

Photo BAE SYSTEMS / Brooklands Museum archives

Photo R. Pontin

Photo R. Pontin

1. Turn around at RAF Gan, XR808 carrying the full Transport Command titling on the fuselage.
2. XR808 seen somewhere in Africa. By this time the titling on the fuselage has been changed to just 'Royal Air Force'.
3. In 1978 XR808 was used at Boscombe Down to assess the feasability of using the VC10 as a tanker. The C1 was flown in formation with another VC10 so that turbulence and interference could be assessed.
4. This image shows XR808 in trail behind the lead VC10 as seen from the periscope.


Photo collection J. Hieminga

Photo collection J. Hieminga

Photo S. Ludlow

Photo M. Taylor

1. Bob as a crossdresser, where have we seen that before? This photos shows the temporary USAF colours that were applied for a movie in 1989 or 1990 at RAF Gatow.
2. XR808, seen here undergoing maintenance, has sprouted an inflight refuelling probe. The trials were obviously succesfull.
3. Turning final while staying in formation off the right wing of C1K XR808 which is also known as 'Bob' after the last three digits of its registration.
4. XR808 parked at Brize in the grey colours of 10 Squadron.


Photo M. Birch

Photo Geoffrey Lee, Planefocus Ltd.

Photo T. Bracey

Photo J. Hieminga

1. Ready for take off from Brize Norton after XV108 and ZA147.
2. XV108 leading ZA147 and XR808 over the North Sea on 28th August 2012.
3. This photo of XR808, taken at Waddington airshow 2013, shows that the scrolls from XR809 and XV106 have been added.
4. XR808 stored at Bruntingthorpe. In 2014 GJD Services announced that they would take 'Bob' apart and move the airframe to Cosford. Progress on this project has been documented on XR808's Facebook page.


Photo J. Hieminga

Photo RAF Museum

Photo RAF Museum

Photo Crown Copyright / RAF Museum

1. A close up of the anniversary paint scheme on the tail of XR808.
2. The forward fuselage of XR808 negotiating a tricky turn in Shifnal, on its way to RAF Cosford.
3. The fuselage is mounted on a special trailer which is able to negotiate difficult turns by steering all the rear wheels.
4. Eight months later: XR808 complete again and in its new parking position at the RAF Museum Cosford.


Photo J. Hieminga

Photo J. Hieminga

Photo J. Hieminga

Photo J. Hieminga

1-4. XR808 at the RAF Museum Cosford in February 2016.

 


Video copyright R. Arterton, with thanks to R. Blow


The Simplyplanes.co.uk website has published this great video of XR808's last landing. It is in HD quality and was filmed from several angles.
Video copyright Simplyplanes.co.uk

Colourschemes

RAF White over grey scheme with large blue lightning flash down the fuselage. Initially "Royal Air Force Transport Command" titles and roundels on the fuselage, later this became "Royal Air Force Air Support Command" titles. Titles changed to just "Royal Air Force" in 1972.
RAF All over grey scheme with large lightning flash down the side of the fuselage. Toned down roundels and fin flashes, code letter 'R' on fin (since 2005).
RAF Same as above but with special tail markings to commemorate 95 years of 101 Squadron and the VC10's 50th anniversary.


 

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