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News

Dear reader, please bear in mind that news about VC10s is sparse. I don't expect many news items, on the other hand... you never can tell, so be sure to check frequently. For the latest news please keep an eye on the VC10 forum and the A Little VC10derness Facebook page as items of interest sometimes turn up at these locations first, before these pages are updated. Scroll to the bottom of this page for archived news items.


Roden kit for VC10 K4 ZD241 available

Roden.eu, March 2017

In February 2017 Roden released a new version of their 1:144 scale VC10 kit, this time allowing you to build K4 tanker ZD241 as it is preserved at Bruntingthorpe airfield. The only markings missing on the decalsheet are the GJD Services logos that were applied by its current owner.


New VC10 book by Lance Cole

Pen and Sword Publishing, March 2017

Lance Cole has written about the VC10 in the past but he has now picked up a new take on its story. His latest title was released by Pen and Sword on 2nd March and covers the political side of the VC10's story. Amazon's page about this book is here, but please note that the reviews are actually about Lance's previous book and they have used an incorrect cover image. Hopefully Amazon will correct this before too long.

The press release for this new title is below, a review will be added to the site soon.


Lance Cole's new book about the VC10 and some of its political problems.

VC10 Icon of the Skies: BOAC, Boeing and a Jet Age Battle

Lance Cole - Pen and Sword Publishing

In a new approach to an established aviation story, Lance Cole frames the plot of one the world's most famous airliners and the toxic tale of its procurement and deployment by Britain's Governments and by its national airline as the British Overseas Airways Corporation – BOAC. The author sets the tale within the 1950s-'60s circumstances that on the one hand, produced the beautiful VC10 yet on the other, signalled the end of large airliner production in Great Britain – in a 'golden age' that was in fact, tarnished by all sorts of machinations and agendas.

In a book of broader discussion than Cole’s original technical history of the VC10 published nearly twenty years ago, the new narrative ranges from 1919 at Hounslow Heath, to Imperial Airways flying-boats, the Comet and then the VC10. This new book provides the airliner enthusiast and the historian with a fresh perspective of what happened. With contributions from Tony Benn, Brian Trubshaw, Sir George Edwards and his team, and a cast of observers, the book reveals the conflicting and turbulent tide of events that ruined the VC10's chances amid a difficult period for the British aviation industry.

The VC10 could operate from difficult airports all over the world – its rivals could not achieve this. But the VC10 was thrown into the battle of the airlines when accountants and 'maximum-payload-range' would dominate affairs and Boeing's mighty 707 and the Douglas DC-8 were airliners built without the constraints of the BOAC route demands.

The VC10 and Super VC10 paid the price for their dedicated, thoroughbred design and tropical abilities. The Royal Air Force also framed its own VC10 story to great effect. But only 54 of the VC10 family were built, Boeing manufactured nearly 2,000 of its 707s.

So if the VC10 was so good, what went wrong? The answer lies in Britain's history, a mess of political and airline policy and a bizarre set of twists and turns.

 


Roy Radford

25 April 1928 – 4 March 2017

Well known for his flights in BAC 1-11 G-ASYD and Concorde, Roy Radford also captained the first flight of the K2 tanker variant of the VC10 on 22nd June 1982, together with John Lewis. Roy had been in the RAF since 1946 and flew both Valiants and Victors before taking an ETPS course and joining A&AEE at Boscombe Down. In 1964 Roy left the RAF and became a test pilot for BAC under Chief Test Pilot Brian Trubshaw. He captained two first flights for G-ASYD and became Chief Test Pilot himself in 1981. In 1985 he became the Flight Operations manager at Filton, a post that he held until his retirement in 1989. Roy Radford passed away on 4th March 2017, aged 88.


The BAe newsletter announcing ZA141's first flight

Official photo of Roy Radford as BAC test pilot with 1-11 G-ASYD.
Photo copyright BAE Systems/collection J. Hieminga

Roy answering questions from the audience at the VC10's 50th anniversary gathering.
Photo J. Hieminga

Open day for ZA150 at Dunsfold

Brooklands Museum, February 2017

On Saturday 11th March there will be an open day at Dunsfold Aerodrome for VC10 K3 tanker ZA150. The team that looks after the aircraft will conduct tours of the inside and will also perform a taxi run on the runway. Entry is by pre-booked ticket only, so visit the Brooklands Museum website if you want to get up close to this VC10.


Article about BOAC's VC10 orders

The Aviation Historian, 15 January 2017

Anyone interested in the political background of BOAC's VC10 orders might want to take a look at the latest issue of The Aviation Historian. In issue 18 of the quarterly magazine Professor Keith Hayward continues on from his previous articles on the Vickers 1000 and Hawker Siddeley Trident with a good look at the troubled process of the VC10's procurement. For the full story have a look at the back issues and get hold of issue 14 for the story about the Vickers 1000 and issue 16 for the story about the Hawker Siddeley Trident. The Aviation Historian is not available in the shops but only online as single issues or through a subscription. The editors have a lot of experience in aviation publishing and have combined forces to create a unique, high quality and different magazine that features articles that would not normally reach the regular high-street aviation magazines. See the link above for more info or to order your copy.


More VC10 bits for East Midlands Aeropark

XV108 Facebook site, November 2016

At the end of November a lorry delivered a complete left-hand engine nacelle and a Rolls Royce Conway engine to the East Midlands Aeropark for display next to XV108's forward fuselage. The team quickly got started with some restoration work on the nacelle and the Conway will also receive some TLC in due course. The plan is to get the nacelle back in original 10 Squadron colours with the registration XV108 on it.

XV108 itself has not been forgotten in the meantime. Lighting has been installed in the cabin roof with work started on the sidewall cove lighting. The flightdeck flood lighting is working and on the outside the team is re-wiring taxi lights and anti-collision lights so that these can be shown in working order, without blinding all the visitors.


Book signing at Brooklands Museum

ZA150 Facebook site, November 2016

With apologies for the late announcement, author Keith Wilson will be signing copies of his Haynes VC10 manual at the Brooklands Museum on Sunday 20th November from 11:30am.


Haynes Manual about the VC10 has been released

Haynes Publishing, 6 October 2016

Earlier this year news emerged that a new Haynes manual was being written about the VC10 by air-to-air photographer and aviation journalist Keith Wilson. After an initial planned release date in June that had to be postponed (as Keith was determined to make the book even better than it already was), the first copies have now reached UK shores and have been on sale since October 6th. Orders can be placed through Amazon, Haynes Publishing through the link above, or via your favourite bookseller of course.

Click here for a full review of this book. And read on for the press release:


The front cover of the new Haynes manual.

Sky is the limit for new Vickers/BAC VC10 manual from Haynes

New Haynes manual takes in-depth look at British aircraft that served in both civil and military roles

30 September 2016: The Vickers/BAC VC10 was arguably one of the most versatile aircraft in aviation history, having served as an iconic commercial airliner before entering a long-standing and varied military service.

Now a new title from Haynes, the Vickers/BAC VC10 Owners’ Workshop Manual, provides enthusiasts and historians with the most-up-to-date account of the VC10 yet published, covering its full service history until its retirement from RAF duty in 2013 and its subsequent restoration.

Designed in the 1950s to operate on the long-distance ‘Empire’ routes, the four-jet Vickers VC10 saw service with the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) and a number of other airlines from the 1960s until 1981. It also enjoyed a further career with the RAF as a strategic transport before later being modified as an aerial refueling aircraft.

Authored by air-to-air photographer and aerospace journalist Keith Wilson, the manual examines the design, construction, maintenance and use of the all-British aircraft. The latter is told through a series of personal accounts from the viewpoint of aircrew and ground engineers in both civil and military service. This includes first-hand commentaries of flying the VC10 in military air-to-air refueling sorties, putting the reader in the pilot’s seat.

The manual is lavishly illustrated throughout, including air-to-air photography and detailed 'under the skin' colour photography of an engine change on RAF VC10 C1K tanker (XR808), along with maintenance on former RAF VC10 K.3 (ZA147) and K.4 (ZD241) tanker aircraft still ‘running’ under preservation. Also included are a series of technical drawings and cutaways of the aircraft and its key features, in Haynes’s inimitable style.

The specific roles the VC10 held while in military service are examined in the manual with the help of Government material, some of which has been published for the very first time having been obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. This includes roles that were not ultimately fulfilled, but which nonetheless demonstrated the significant versatility of the aircraft.

As author Keith Wilson explains: “In addition to its refueling and transport functions, one of the lesser known military roles conducted by the VC10 was the ‘sniffer’ role, which saw it fitted with nuclear debris sensors in the place of its refueling pods. The VC10 carried out this role in a number of areas but especially when it was flown close to North Korea after it had reportedly conducted nuclear tests in 2006. Here, it played a critical role in assessing the size of the actual blast carried out.

“The RAF had much earlier planned a ‘poffler’ role for the VC10, which would have seen it armed with between four and six air launch ballistic missiles on wing-mounted pods, ready to take aim at Soviet targets at a moment’s notice. However the failure of tests for the US Skybolt ballistic missile programme meant the plans for an armed VC10 never came to fruition. The failure of Skybolt led to a major diplomatic row between the UK and the US; the US later providing the UK with Trident submarine technology.”

Keith continues: “The aircraft was both an elegant commercial airliner as well as a dependable and versatile military machine, which made it one of the last great feats of all-British engineering. Two VC10 models still remain in fully taxiable condition; one at Bruntingthorpe in Leicestershire and the other at Dunsfold in Surrey. I’ve been lucky enough to have had exclusive access to them in writing this new Haynes manual, which is the most comprehensive account of the VC10’s role to date.”

About the author

Keith Wilson is an air-to-air photographer and aerospace journalist who has written numerous titles including the Avro Shackleton Owners Workshop Manual (2015) and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Operations Manual (2015) for Haynes as well as Red Arrows in Camera (2012) and RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight in Camera (2013). He lives in Cambridgeshire.

 


XV106 nose installed at Avro Heritage museum

Facebook, 8th September 2016

On Thursday 8th September the nose section of VC10 C1K XV106 was moved from Bruntingthorpe to the Avro Heritage Museum at Woodford and installed on a purpose-built cradle. See the museum's Facebook page through the link above for photos of the move. On the same day the nose of Nimrod XV235 also made its journey from Scampton to the museum. Both cockpit sections will be open to visitors on dedicated days throughout the year.


ZA150 highlights at Wings & Wheels 2016

Brooklands Museum, August 2016

The weekend of 27th and 28th August featured not just one but two VC10 taxi runs of course. One of these I announced below, but at the 2016 Wings & Wheels show at Dunsfold Aerodrome ZA150 was also given the opportunity to stretch its legs and exercise its Conways on the Sunday morning. After a pushback onto runway 25 the VC10 K3 accelerated away with a satisfying Conway roar, returning in the opposite direction after a quick check of the tyres and a bit of musical chairs on the flight deck. The video below shows the whole performance from several angles, including a chase car. There are more photos on ZA150's own page.


ZA150 parked on the Dunsfold flightline.
Photo B. Cooper

The crew opened up the nose radome to show the weather radar inside.
Photo I. Tovey

A lot of people got the opportunity to visit ZA150 during the weekend.
Photo I. Tovey


Video courtesy of Andy's Video


Taxi run coming up at Bruntingthorpe

Bruntingthorpe Aviation website, August 2016

On Sunday 28th August Bruntingthorpe Airfield will once again host the Cold War Jets open day. This should include a taxi run by resident VC10 ZD241 as well as Lightnings, Canberra and many other aircraft. See the poster or the website linked to above for more details. The team is also planning to open up the VC10 for visitors, subject to this fitting in the day's schedule.


ZA149 installed at Al Mahatta museum

June 2016

The ship that carried ZA149's front fuselage to the UAE docked at Khor Fakkan on 30th April and within the next 24 hours a lot of containers and one bit of VC10 were unloaded. After being placed on a truck and covered with a tarpaulin the VC10 set off again on a road trip to Sharjah. At the museum site the fuselage section has been mounted in place against the outer wall of the museum. To accommodate this new exhibit at the museum a section of wall has been removed and a new custom window fits around the VC10 fuselage. Inside the building a staircase and walkway leads to the rear of the fuselage section so that visitors can enter the inside of the aircraft. Martin Slater has spent several days at the museum to get everything installed and connected. When he left only the Heron needed to be moved into the corner and the information boards mounted against the walls. Apart from that ZA149, ex 5X-UVJ, has safely arrived at its new home.

More photos are on the page about 5X-UVJ / ZA149. With thanks to Martin Slater who took all these photos and shared his experiences in getting the fuselage section to the museum and installed.


ZA149 being unloaded at the Khor Fakkan port.
Photo M. Slater

The front fuselage installed against the outer wall of the museum.
Photo M. Slater

Taxi runs coming up at both Dunsfold and Bruntingthorpe

Brooklands Museum & Bruntingthorpe, May 2016

There are two VC10 related events planned for the upcoming weekends. On 29th May Bruntingthorpe will hosts its Cold War Jets day during which ZD241 will take to the runway again. If you have served with the RAF you might also be interested in the 10/101 Squadron reunion event that will take place after the CWJ day, for details of this have a look at the Facebook page for ZD241 (I hope the link works, I don't always get Facebook links to work).

On June 4th there will be an open day for ZA150 at Dunsfold during which the aircraft will perform a taxi run on the runway and will be open to visitors afterwards. Tickets for this event are limited in number and can be obtained through the Brooklands Museum link above.


New VC10 K3 model kit available

Roden, May 2016

Earlier this year Roden released two new 1:144 scale model kits that allows you to build either a BOAC or EAA Super VC10. They have now also released a kit that will enable you to build a K3 tanker. The parts for this had already been spotted in the civil kits so the adventurous may already have used this to build a tanker, but now the kit also includes decals to build a model of ZA149 in one of two possible colour schemes. If you are interested, ask your supplier to order kit #327. I expect this kit to become available in specialised stores soon.


5X-UVJ/ZA149 is on its way to Sharjah

Bruntingthorpe, April 2016

On 23rd March the forward fuselage of ex-EAA Super VC10 5X-UVJ, later K3 ZA149, left Bruntingthorpe on the back of a trailer, headed for the United Arab Emirates. Over a period of almost two years the forward fuselage section of this aircraft has been repainted into a Gulf Air 'Golden Falcon' colour scheme and modified inside to serve as a display commemorating the five Standard VC10s that flew for Gulf Air between 1974 and 1978. The forward fuselage section will be mounted against the outside of the building, standing on two supports and its own nosewheel, and will be accessible from inside the building. For an impression of the inside once the display boards are finished, have a look at Jem Shaw's blog about his design.

The journey that ZA149 set off on is a long one. From Bruntingthorpe the trailer moved it to Southampton harbour where it was loaded inside the containership Marco Polo. This ship set off from Southampton on 6th April and is currently in the Mediterranean on its way to the Suez canal. Around 29th April it will dock at Khor Fakkan, which is a deep water port on the Eastern side of the UAE, and ZA149 will be moved by road across the UAE to Sharjah.


The end result of a long conversion process.
Photo J. Hieminga

The front fuselage loaded ready for the trip to Southampton.
Photo M. Slater

After a slight change to the loading arrangement (the radome had to go inside to fit on the pallet) ZA149 is ready to be loaded inside the vessel.
Photo M. Slater

Haynes Manual on VC10 due out in June 2016

Amazon.co.uk, March 2016


The front cover of the new Haynes manual.

A few weeks ago news emerged that a new Haynes manual was being written with the VC10 as the subject. Today the front cover has been shown on the Amazon page for the first time. The Haynes manuals are well known to everyone who has ever maintained their own car, but over the past years they have branched off into different directions, producing manuals on subjects as diverse as the Avro Vulcan, London Heathrow Airport and Star Trek's Enterprise. Author for this volume is Keith Wilson who has also produced the well-received manuals about the Shackleton and the BBMF operations manual in the same series. Going by previous issues, this book is sure to include many photos, for which, amongst others, XR808 and ZA147 at Bruntingthorpe have posed as the main subjects. The book is due out in June of this year but the above link to Amazon will allow you to pre-order your copy.


XV106 cockpit moving to Woodford

Facebook, January 2016

When XV106 was scrapped in August 2013 the front fuselage was set aside and recently the Avro Heritage Museum announced that they will take delivery of this VC10 cockpit for display at Woodford. On a long term loan from GJD Services, this cockpit section will join resident Vulcan XM603 and a Vulcan cockpit section and will become available for cockpit tours. Woodford became the design authority for the VC10 after Weybridge closed and for many years supported the RAF's VC10s.


The front fuselage of XV106 at Bruntingthorpe in 2013.
Photo J. Hieminga

New 1:200 scale models

SMTS Models, January 2016

The Hastings based company SMTS models will be creating some new 1:200 VC10 models based on the tooling from Skyline and other sources. Have a look on the models page for some more details, I hope to be able to add some photos to that page soon.


News items from previous years can be found on the pages below:

News Archive - 2015/2016 (only 2015 so far)
News Archive - 2013/2014
News Archive - 2011/2012
News Archive - 2009/2010
News Archive - 2007/2008
News Archive - 2005/2006
News Archive - 2003/2004
News Archive - 2001/2002

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