Remains of RAF VC10s scrapped
D. Charles (via e-mail) & GJD Services, December 2006
A visitor e-mailed me to let me know that the remains of the last three VC10s to be decommissioned at St. Athan have now been scrapped by Farnborough based GJD Services Ltd. These aircraft were C Mk.1 XR810, K4 ZD240 and K4 ZD230, which was the Super VC10 prototype. One photo on the website of the company shows the three flight decks standing next to each other, having been cut away from the rest of the airframes (one of which is visible in the background). Perhaps these will become available to enthusiastic cockpit collectors? I'm sure that there are people out there who would like the opportunity to add a VC10 cockpit to their collection!
Name the VC10 - part 2
Flypast Magazine, December 2006 issue
In the August 2006 issue Flypast Editor Ken Ellis asked its readers to come up with a suitable name for the VC10 (see below or click here). The offer to win a Flypast goodie bag was apparently a good one since many responded from far and wide. For the VC10 the there were many names with a 'V', including Voyager, Valkyrie, Vigilant, Vanquish and V-liner. There were also titles, obviously to follow on from that other famous Vickers product, the Viscount. These included Countess, Duchess and Sovereign. An obvious entry was Speedbird, which used to be the famous BOAC callsign and there were two towns: Windsor and Ascot. This last option was and probably still is the callsign for RAF VC10 flights. One of the winners was G.A. Thompson of Bolton, Lancs, who sent in the name Ascot.
Many readers voted for the name Viceroy, an option that Ken Ellis himself had been hoping to find. He believes that the Vickers VC-7 (or Type 1000) project for which construction was started in 1954 but which ended with scrapping of the unflown prototype in November 1956 included an RAF version which was to carry the Viceroy name. As this Valiant-based project was in effect a fore-runner of the VC10 this name would fit well and C. Cooper of Banbury, Oxfordshire was the lucky one to claim a prize for this entry.
New book about Wisley airfield
GMS Enterprising, November 2006
Although Brooklands will always remain the place where famous Vickers and BAC designs were designed and built, nearby Wisley definitively deserves a mention as it was here that the crucial phase of flight testing was carried out. For the VC10s the first flight always consisted of a short hop from Brooklands to Wisley and this was to be the base for the rest of the testing period until the airliner would be delivered to the airline.
Today Wisley is a shadow of its former self. Although the layout is still visible from the air (or by using Google Earth, as many people do these days) the airfield is abandoned and only used for agricultural purposes. With so little to see on the ground, it is good that GMS Enterprising's latest issue in their 'Airfield Focus' series is a volume about this forgotten field. Written by Stephen Skinner, who previously published books about the BAC 1-11 and BAe 146, it covers the entire history of the airfield. For more information see visit the publisher's website here.
Fuselage of G-ARVM arrives back home
Brooklands Museum, October 2006
Ever since the RAF Museum announced in January that the British Airways collection at RAF Cosford was under review, the fate of Standard VC10 G-ARVM has been left partly undecided. On April 3rd British Airways issued a press release which stated that the forward fuselage and some other parts would move to the Brooklands Museum, but it wasn't until very recently that the final steps were taken and the decision was finalized to transport the whole fuselage in two sections to the Weybridge site where the aircraft was originally built. Museum director Alan Winn posted a short statement on the Flypast forums announcing the move in September and the result of this is that the forward section of 'VM's fuselage arrived at Brooklands on 19th October and has now been unloaded, with the rest of the fuselage to follow on the next day.
The wings, tailplane, engines and undercarriage of the aircraft have been removed and will not be preserved (apart from some small items perhaps). While this will undoubtedly anger some supporters, the structure of the aircraft was in such a bad state that these parts were effectively beyond saving. The fuselage has been sectioned at one of the original manufacturing joints, which is the first time that this has been done on a VC10, and because of this the fuselage will be structurally complete and without any additional cuts after rejoining.
When this has been done the restoration work can start, and for that 'VM is in capable hands! For an example of what the combined efforts at the museum can achieve just look at Concorde G-BBDG which was resurrected from a sad looking hangar-queen into a shining icon of British design.
What to get for Christmas? New VC10 items on the market!
It's the end of October so I think I won't be too far out of line to state that Christmas is getting near again! Not that we need an excuse to go shopping for interesting items, but it may help to have some handy tips while compiling the yearly wishlist. Over the past weeks several VC10 related items have surfaced so I'll list them here for you:
Images from Gemini Jets website
Images from www.Tricatus.co.uk
That should be enough to keep us enthusiasts happy!
Dismantling of G-ARVM has started
Flypast forums, September 2006
Sadly the work to dismantle Standard VC10 G-ARVM at the RAF Museum Cosford has started. After the outer wings were removed, she was moved to a location with a hard surface, then the engines were removed from the fuselage. A few days later the distinctive look of the VC10 tail was no more as her vertical fin and horizontal tail were lying in the grass next to the airframe. Although no official confirmation has been announced yet, The Brooklands Museum aims to rescue a fuselage section, lets hope there will be more news about this soon. The photos below were kindly supplied by Richard Coltman, for more images click on the link to the Flypast forums above, or look in the forums for more links.
Amazon.co.uk, August 2006
Sutton Publishing has now published its authorised biography of aviation legend Sir George Edwards, which was written by Robert Gardner. Having been asked by Sir George himself, Gardner has provided us with a wonderful book which manages to convey both Sir George's achievements and his personality to the reader. The VC10 is of course only a small section of Sir George's large aviation legacy and therefore does not feature very prominently in the book, but I'm sure that many who visit these pages will find it a compelling read.
To get more information about the book, or to order it directly, a mouseclick
on the image at the right side of this newsitem will take you to the Amazon
XV104 Air to air photos
Via R. Lee, July 2006
XV104 now also stars in some air-to-air shots, and participated in a 3-ship VC10 formation. Photos can be found at Rick Lee's website here: http://vc10.mackrick.co.uk
Flypast, August 2006 issue
On page 66 of the current issue of Flypast editor Ken Ellis comments on the recent trend of not naming military aircraft. Given the long tradition that the UK has with names instead of numbers as aircraft designators it is strange to see that several designs were never given a proper name. A few examples are the A109s for 32nd Sqn, the BAe 146s and HS.125s also flying from Northolt and of course the VC10. With several new designs on the horizon Ken Ellis feels that it is time to stop this unwelcome movement, and therefore Flypast asks its readers to come up with suitable names for the yet to fly A400M military transport from Airbus, but also for the VC10. Answers on a postcard or sealed down envelope to 'Name that plane', Flypast, PO box 100, Stamford, Lincs, PE9 1XQ, UK. E-mails with suggestions (including name and postal address) can be addressed to melissa.peck [at] keypublishing.com (please insert the @ symbol yourself, I wouldn't want to cause unnecessary spam for the lady), all before August 26, 2006.
XV104 celebrates in style
Via R. Lee, July 2006
2006 is a significant year for the world's only VC10 operator, as the RAF has clocked up 40 years of continuous service with our favourite airliner! To celebrate this feat in style C Mk.1K XV104 was chosen to carry special tail markings. These consist of a bright red tail with '40 years of RAF Service' and '1966-2006' on the engine nacelles.
Update: XV104 has been spotted at an airshow: RNAS Culdrose on 13th July. Pictures here: http://forum.keypublishing.co.uk/showthread.php?t=60053. I'm guessing that a visit to RIAT would also be a possibility, we'll wait and see!
Update 2: It performed a flypast on both days, and photos (in formation with the Red Arrows!) can be found at these links:
VC10s in the picture
With summer weather upon us again the airshow season had obviously started again, and this means that the VC10 has also been seen at various locations around the globe. Some highlights (not all of them are airshows actually) include:
I would have expected a VC10 at RAF Waddington on 1st July, but somehow it didn't turn up. I'm sure there will be lots of other opportunities to see one though!
Different future for G-ARVM at RAF Museum Cosford
British Airways press release, April 2006
Ex-BOAC and British Airways Standard VC10 G-ARVM, until now preserved at RAF Museum Cosford, will be moving to a new venue in the near future. Unfortunately it looks as though only her front fuselage will be traveling, with the rest of the aircraft destined for the scrapman.
In January of this year a press release that, as turned out later, should not have been released, made it onto the internet stating that the future of the collection of airliners at Cosford known as the 'BA Collection' was under review by the boards of trustees of both the RAF Museum and British Airways. When all the commotion died down again the fate of the airliners remained under review and all went quiet. Last week a British Airways press release finally broke the silence, stating that four of the five airliners would be moving to the Museum of Flight at East Fortune, Scotland, but only two would be moving as a whole. G-ARVM will be reduced to a forward fuselage section which will end up at its birthplace, Brooklands Museum in Weybridge, Surrey.
Not all the details of the situation are known today, but work seems to have started already on dismantling of the 707 so the other airliners may soon follow. For more about this situation, and a chance to share your views on this, have a look at the forum on this site.
ZD230, ex G-ASGA, features in RAF Brize Norton magazine
Gateway magazine, March 2006 issue
The ex-Super VC10 prototype which made its very last flight to the scrapman at RAF St. Athan in December features in the latest issue of 'Gateway', the magazine of RAF Brize Norton.
The article commemorates the aircraft and highlights its significance to the development of this major version of the VC10, which is still in frontline service today. A PDF version of the magazine can be downloaded through the link above.
RAF Brize Norton resumes normal operations
RAF Brize Norton, February 2006
Operation 'Bolthole' which saw all the aircraft normally stationed at RAF Brize Norton moving to RAF Fairford so that major work could be carried out on the main runway at Brize, has finally ended. This means that all the VC10s that are not away on detachment or undergoing major maintenance can be seen around the airfield again.
Super VC10 prototype makes last flight
RAF Brize Norton, 16th December 2005
Today saw the final flight of ZD230, a VC10 K4 which started its career as the Super VC10 prototype. First flown on 7 May 1964 as G-ASGA on the short trip from Brooklands to Wisley, it paved the way for the stretched, higher capacity Super VC10 to take back some of the market that was slowly but surely falling in the hands of rival Boeing's 707. After the end of the development period it served BOAC, and later British Airways for many years. It's career didn't end there as it did for many other Super VC10s, as it's structure seemed sound enough to warrant conversion to VC10 K4 tanker specification.
Today the curtain finally dropped though. Third in the line of recent scrappings after ZD240 and XR810, it took of from RAF Fairford where 101 Squadron is currently based, performed a slow flypast over the top of Base Hangar at RAF Brize Norton around noon and then set course for its final ever landing at RAF St. Athan.
Ex-Vickers Test Pilot Dizzy Addicot dies in road traffic accident
A road accident on the evening of Saturday, 10th December sadly took the life of Dizzy Addicot, ex-Vickers test pilot and airshow personality. After his career in flight testing he brought enjoyment to many, either with his display flying or by sharing the often humourous tales of his varied experiences and exploits in aviation.
To remember him by, this story of Dizzy flying a VC10 across the pond will surely help:
"Friend of mine (Dizzy Addicott) was the test pilot on the VC10. Back sometime in the '60's he was sent over to the US to fly one back that had some problem. He bought the flight crew back with him & the wagon dragons were in the 'self loading cargo' compartment. At some point over the Atlantic he decided to do a barrel roll.... no problems with the crew in the office, but they didn't mention the plan to the girls in the back.... they were a bit freaked out by the move & the subsequent drop of several thousand feet."
Heading for the scrapper...
St. Athan, November 2005
Back in June of this year a downsizing of the VC10 fleet was announced, and the three aircraft that will succumb to the scrapper's axe this year are K4 ZD240, C1K XR810 and K4 ZD230.
Of these three ZD240 has already undergone the first step of this process with all reusable spares having been removed by now. XR810 is also at St. Athan undergoing the same process which will last for a few weeks to come. ZD230 is due to make its final flight in the coming months.
10 Squadron disbandment
Brize Norton, 14th October 2005
Today marks the last day of operations for 10th Squadron. To mark this momentous and sad occasion a fly-past of 3 VC10s was planned together with a Canberra to mark 10 Squadron's association with this type, but initial reports showed inclement weather around the area. In the end the flypast did take place, with the Canberra replaced by an Air Atlantique Dakota. With thanks to Damien Burke (who braved the weather!) photos of the event are below.
Throughout its history 10 Squadron has been formed and disbanded many times as needs arose and disappeared again. Initially formed at Farnborough from elements of no.1 Reserve Squadron it first saw service in France with BE2C aircraft. The end of WW1 meant that the need for the Squadron had disappeared, and it was disbanded in 1919. In January 1928 it reformed with Handley-Page Hyderabads at Upper Heyford as a Heavy Bomber Unit. In 1937 the first monoplane bomber appeared in the shape of the Armstrong Whitworth Whitley. With this mount leaflet dropping operations were carried out over Germany during the first months of WW2, but in 1941 the Handley Page Halifax appeared and equipped with this type 10 Squadron remained an important part of the heavy bomber force throughout the war. The Squadron's first steps as a transport Squadron were taken when it was transferred to Transport Command in May 1945 with Dakota's, only to be disbanded in December 1947 after service in India, and to be reformed again a year later for the Berlin Airlift. After a brief spell operating Canberras during the Suez crisis, and a few years of flying Victor bombers from Cottesmore the next major benchmark in the Squadron's colourful history is on 7th July 1966 at Fairford. On this day XR806 becomes the first VC10 in the RAF as it is delivered to the new long-range transport Squadron. With 6 aircraft on strength, the following May sees the Squadron at RAF Brize Norton, which will become it's homebase for the next 38 years. In August 1968 the delivery of XV109 completes the order of 14 type 1106 VC10s for the RAF, and soon the RAF VC10 becomes a common sight on airfields around the world.
With all aircraft available to the Squadron, the VC10s are quickly flying up to 1000 flying hours per month, conducting 27 flights each month to the Persian Gulf alone. For many years the major task for 10 Squadron is operating the scheduled routes, and in this role the VC10 was operated as a regular airliner, flying mixed loads of cargo and passengers to many destinations. Next to this task the Squadron supports preplanned exercises and deployments, and also carries VIPs to many important meetings.
With the British Military withdrawal from the Far East, many flights are soon changed from daily to weekly, only to disappear shortly after. Over the years 'RAF Airlines' slowly declines as the need for it disappears, or as the still somewhat noisy VC10 is frowned upon at major civil airports. This same problem applies to VIP flights, and these too become less as the years progress. To support the VC10 Tanker Squadron (101 Sqn) a major upgrade to the C Mk.1 model is carried out during the 1990's. The wings and fuel systems are modified to accept two external refueling pods under the wings, creating the multi-role C Mk.1K variant. The main role of the Squadron is still transport, but the multi-role aspect does make the VC10 much more versatile, and adds valuable strength to the aerial refueling capacity of the Air Force.
In 2005 the combined strength of 10 and 101 Squadrons has decreased to 19 airframes, with 3 due for scrapping soon due to old age, technical problems and lack of spares availability. Even though the VC10 is supposed to fly on until 2011, especially technical issues will probably see the fleet size diminish sharply between now and then. Because of this it makes sense that the assets of 10 Squadron will be added to those of 101 Squadron to combine the VC10 operation, but it is poignant that only one more year would have meant that 40th years of continuous VC10 operation could have been celebrated by 10 Squadron.
If the history of the Squadron is anything to go by, I am sure that we will see 10 Squadron again someday. It will not be as a VC10 operator though. In the meantime the VC10 will fly on, even if it is for a little while, and I am sure that the memories of 10 Squadron, both the happy ones and the sad, will always remain. 'Rem Acu Tangere' - To hit the mark. With 39 years of excellent service as a VC10 Transport Squadron I am sure that 10 Squadron has accomplished this.
VC10s move west
RAF Website, September 2005
Due to runway resurfacing at RAF Brize Norton, all aircraft operating from this base will be moving to RAF Fairford during September 2005. Apart from the major runway work the lighting system will also be replaced, and other flight safety related work will be carried out. Known as 'Operation BOLTHOLE' over 30 aircraft, consisting of VC10s, Tristars and C-17s, will operate from RAF Fairford until January 2006. Passengers travelling 'RAF Air' will still be processed through RAF Brize Norton though as the facilities for this are not available at RAF Fairford.
I guess now that Concorde is grounded, they'll have to go for the next best thing...
Royal Flypast 2005
RAF Website, June 2005
The Queen's birthday was celebrated in style on 11th June 2005 with a Royal Flypast over Buckingham Palace consisting of 5 elements of RAF aircraft. Element four was the important one for this site as that consisted of VC10 K3 ZA150, escorted by two Jaguars. An interesting combination in a way as they are both types that have seen the majority of their career by now and will not be in RAF service for many more years.
Tonkenna, 11 June 2005
As of 14th October 2005, 10 Squadron will be disbanded, leaving 101 Squadron as the only operational VC10 squadron. This is sad news, and that when 10 Squadron could have celebrated 40 years of VC10 operation next year, as the first airframe, XR806, was formally handed over on 7th July 1966 in a ceremony at Wisley.
Back in April there were already rumours about the further plans for the VC10s in RAF service, but this announcement confirms the gossip. In connection with the disbandment three VC10 airframes will be scrapped later this year, one C1K and two K4s.
XR807 goes stealthy
Various sources reported the departure of VC10 C1K XR807 from Cambridge to St. Athan on Friday, 13th May. Not because the flightcrew decided to take flight on such an unlucky day, but because the aircraft sported a very unusual colourscheme. The consensus seems to be that it is a coat of primer paint which will be covered with its normal grey colours. To make the story even more interesting, the right wing of the aircraft showed a 'normal' green primer, perhaps the painters didn't get the chance to finish the job?
This PPRuNe topic shows a different photo of the aircraft on the ground.
With thanks to Damien Burke for the use of his superb photography!