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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 Twitter feed 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.


Two new JC Wings 1:200 scale models

Aviation Retail Direct, December 2023

December 2023 and January 2024 will see the releases of two new JC Wings models in 1:200 scale. The first model is now available and will be a representation of G-ASIX in the short-lived BUA/Caledonian livery, before they moved over to the British Caledonian name. Later this month the company will release a 1:200 scale representation of G-ARVF in its UAE government 'Golden Falcon' colours. While the earlier JC Wings VC10 models had some oversized aerials, the later versions are very nicely detailed, with various small details and clear and detailed printing. See here for an overview of the models they released over the years.


ZA148's forward fuselage is now at St. Athan

South Wales Aviation Group blog, November 2023


Photo Ian Grinter via South Wales Aviation Group

Last month K3 ZA148 was seen lying on its belly on the tarmac. Not too lang afterwards the airframe was cut up and the forward fuselage was transported to the South Wales Aircraft Museum at St. Athan in Wales. The blog chronicling the movements at this airfield states that the forward fuselage arrived on 17th November 2023. No doubt the rest of the airframe has been reduced to scrap metal. I understand that only a few small parts and one fuselage section were spared this fate.


Avion Video going out of business sale

Avion Website, October 2023

Due to the retirement of the company's owner, Howard Ashbridge, Avion Video will be going out of business at the end of this year. That means that there are only a few months left to get hold of a copy of what is the ultimate VC10 DVD (see here). If you do want to order your own copy, it is available from Avion Video's website here. And don't forget to get a good look at the other titles on offer, especially since a lot of these are now available at a discounted price. Over the years Howard has restored miles of old footage and released a lot of very good DVDs, so a last chance to get hold of a couple should not be missed.


Work on dismantling ZA148 has started

X, e-mail, October 2023

News has emerged that the first steps in dismantling VC10 K3 tanker ZA148, previously part of the CAHC collection at the Newquay airport, have been taken. Photos taken on 6th October show that the airframe is lying on its belly on the tarmac, having had its undercarriage removed. Apparently corrosion problems with the main gear necessitated this move and it is not clear when this work was carried out. It may have been lying about like this for several days already. We can only hope that a part of this aircraft will survive but the work carried out so far confirms that at most this will be a fuselage section. Let's keep our fingers crossed that a museum somewhere will be able to look after a large chunk of VC10, keeping the memory of ex-EAA airliner 5Y-ADA and K3 tanker ZA148 alive.

Update (26 October): someone close to the museum has stated that the cockpit with perhaps a fuselage section will be preserved but no more details are available right now.

Photos Rob Curling / Top Landing Gear


BAC 1-11 fuselage will move to Southampton

Key Aero, September 2023

We are still awaiting the final verdict on what remains of the Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre's collection after its unfortunate closure. News emerged today that the last flying BAC 1-11 in the UK, ZH763 (ex British Airways G-BGKE) will be reduced to a 60ft long fuselage section, which has been taken on by the Solent Sky museum in Southampton. It will be installed along the front wall of the museum, allowing wheelchair access to the flight deck with a cafe in the rear of the passenger cabin. The final fate of VC10 K3 ZA148 is still unknown, but scrapping will most likely be involved.

Update: ZH763 has been moved to Solent Sky, see here: https://www.bbc.com/news/av/uk-england-hampshire-67531284


VC10's Final Landing - 10 years on

25 September 2023

Today is the 10th anniversary of what was in itself a sad event, the final ever landing of a Vickers VC10. The final airframe to fly was VC10 K3 ZA147, ex-EAA airliner 5H-MMT rebuilt to aerial refueling tanker. This airframe was stored at Bruntingthorpe after its final landing, an attempt was made to sell it on to a museum and raise the funds for a move, but unfortunately there were no takers and the VC10 was scrapped in November 2021. Ten years later, the outlook for preserved VC10s has shifted significantly. We have also lost the other Bruntingthorpe VC10, ZD241, which was always a crowd favourite at the Cold War Jets days, and the scrapper is expected to catch up with K3 ZA148 any day now since the Newquay museum that looked after it lost its home earlier this year.

The number of surviving airframes is now down to six and this will go down to five once ZA148 is removed from the Newquay aerodrome where it landed in 2013. Out of those five, the future of ZA150 is also uncertain. Having been sold to a US company, via a UK intermediary, with plans to get it flying again, for a while it looked as if the flying career of the type could get an unexpected extension. The sale was in 2020 though and over the past three years no significant work has been carried out on the airframe, as far as I can tell. While ZA150 was an excellent candidate for such a plan, never having been decommissioned and with a lot of expert care having been lavished on it since its final flight, three years of idleness means that the work needed to get it going again is going to be significant. Idle VC10s tend to develop corrosion problems, just ask anyone who has ever been involved in looking after them, and this will most likely prevent further flying for this airframe. I think that the best outcome for it will be someone who is willing to look after it at its current home, perhaps in a future museum setting.

So where does that leave us? With a diminishing number of complete airframes but still lots of preserved bits and pieces, as well as the 'established' museum airframes. And of course a lot of memories of a lovely airliner and military transport and tanker.

Photos J. Hieminga


Viscount Anniversary Flown covers Available

Brooklands Museum, , July 2023

On 16th July 2023 the Vickers Viscount turned 75 as it was that many years ago that the prototype G-AHRF lifted off from the grass runway at Wisley for the first time. This was celebrated at the Brooklands Museum on 18th July 2023 by the team looking after resident Viscount G-APIM 'Stephen Piercey'. On the day of the anniversary, 16th July, Tom Singfield was flown over Brooklands and Wisley, I will let him tell this part of the story:

"On Sunday 16th July 2023 I was flown along the disused runway at Wisley Airfield in Surrey in a DHC Chipmunk where exactly 75 years previously, the first Vickers Viscount made its first flight. We were carrying 200 specially designed postal covers that feature a Jersey postage stamp showing Viscount G-APIM of British Air Ferries in flight. This aircraft, named "Viscount Stephen Piercey", is preserved at Brooklands Museum. Two different covers are available, one signed by the pilot and the artist who painted the stamp and some just signed by the pilot. All profits from their sale goes towards the continued preservation of G-APIM. The covers are not expensive, single signatures are £5 plus P&P and double signatures (only 75 produced) are £10 plus P&P."

Click on the link above to send an e-mail to Tom if you want to purchase one or more of these unique covers.

Photos via T. Singfield


CAHC airframes being sold on Ebay to fund scrapping of VC10 and BAC 1-11

Cornwall Live, June 2023

A news item on Cornwall Live explains how the sale of two airframes from the Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre collection is necessary to pay for scrapping the two largest airframes on site: VC10 K3 ZA148 and BAC 1-11 ZH763. Without a prospective new home, these two airframes face the scrapman's axe, but even that comes at a hefty £60,000 bill and the money for this needs to be raised. Because of this, two airframes are up for sale:

  • English Electric Lightning F.53 ZF580 (Ebay auction here). It was repainted in 2022 to represent Lightning F.6 XS935 'AK' of 5 Squadron.
  • English Electric Canberra T.4 WJ784 (Ebay auction here). Still painted up as VN799, the Canberra prototype.

This confirms that the future for the VC10 is very bleak. A move from Newquay to another site would require a six-figure budget and more time than appears to be available. Hopefully these and the other road-movable airframes will find safe new homes and perhaps some parts of the two Vickers/BAC airliners will be preserved.

Update: The Lightning auction has been withdrawn as 'the item is no longer available'. That might indicate a sale through another channel. The Canberra is still up for grabs for someone with a deep pocket and a large garden, although bidding has ended and the aircraft has not been sold.


Vicky Ten - The Queen of the Skies children's book

Amazon.co.uk, E-mail, May 2023

A new book that has just been released through Amazon is 'Vicky Ten - The Queen of the Skies' by Robert Whittingham. The author's previous title takes us along on his career as an RAF Steward but this book is somewhat different. Using a poem-styled easy to read text he takes children along on the story of how the VC10 was designed, flew as an airliner and changed tack to become the mainstay of the RAF's transport and tanker force. The story is illustrated throughout with illustrations in colour while there are also several pages of B&W line drawings that can be coloured in. This book aims to introduce the story of a wonderful airliner to a younger crowd. Available through Amazon now, just click the link above to order.

Read more about Robert's second book here: Brize Norton veteran writes children's book about Vickers VC10 (Swindon Advertiser)



Aviation Extended Podcast Episode 172

Aviation Extended, May 2023

Pieter Johnson hosts the Aviation Extended podcast and he recently asked me to have a chat about all things VC10. The result of this is episode 172 where we talk about the background behind the design, the various roles it was used in and how the airframe is doing in retirement. Click here to listen on the Aviation Extended website, or visit your favourite podcast app (Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, see previous link for more).


Scarf VC medal saved

RAF Museum, May 2023

The campaign to raise funds to match the winning bid for the Scarf VC medal has been succesful, the RAF museum has now secured the medal which will go back on display in London. When the family of Arthur Scarf put the medal up for auction last year, the winning bid was from an overseas buyer and the option emerged for the museum to match this bid and keep the medal in the UK. Together with a National Heritage Memorial Fund grant of £390k and some funds from its own coffers, the campaign raised enough for the medal to move into the RAF Museum's collection. It will go on display in London this summer before moving to the Midlands location for a short tour of this facility. See the link above for the museum's press release.

The name 'Arthur Scarf VC' flew for many years on XV109 and was transferred to ZA147 until its last flight in September 2013.


CAHC being forced to move out within days - Updated

Flyer News, April 2023

In December, news emerged that a new location for the Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre has been found, and the museum is well on the way to organise the huge undertaking of moving their entire collection, but the council has other plans that may force the museum to close immediately. In response to a request to continue trading while the move is organised, the council has refused this request and are asking the museum to vacate the site by Tuesday, 11th April, an impossible deadline. The council has not announced or published any new plans for the site. More in the link above.

12 April 2023 update: The news on social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter) is grim. Due to the lack of support from the Council, the funding that was pledged for the move by a private investor has now been retracted. As the museum has already had an extension to their lease, the Council is unwilling to provide another extension to cover the move. Larger artifacts (read: airframes) can be temporarily stored on a bit of unused runway but the fate of the more fragile airframes and other objects that were kept indoors is unknown. Despite finding an alternative location, receiving a favourable response of the pre-planning application from the Council themselves, attracting investment and creating a viable business plan (according to the CAHC's Facebook post), the future appears to be bleak. Airframes and objects that were loaned to the museum are being retrieved, the immediate pressure is now on the staff to find a storage site or new home for the rest of the collection. The big question is whether the larger airframes will be able to be moved, or if this means a date with the scrapman's axe.

The petition to save the museum is still open, see here: https://www.change.org/p/save-cornwall-aviation-heritage-centre


Sky Talk event at Brooklands Museum

Brooklands Museum, March 2023

Author Phil Hogge will do a talk about his two books 'Sky Talk' and 'Sky Talk 2' at The Brooklands Museum on Thursday, 20th April 2023. Phil flew Britannias, VC10s, 707s and 747s for BOAC and BA, ending up as GM Flight Operational Services in the BA Flight Operations department. In his retirement he has taken experiences from his own career and from colleagues and used these as the background for fictional stories that provide a wonderful insight into the life of an airline pilot in the 1970s and 1980s, sharing both ups and downs. See below for more information about his books. Visit the link above to book tickets for the talk, you can either visit in person or join a livestream of the event (this last option is free but requires registration).

Update: the event is now available to be viewed on Youtube, see below:


BOAC Speedbird Adverts book

Online shop, March 2023

I found out about this book through some online sources and decided to have a look at it. You can order a copy through the online shop linked to above and you will receive a softback A5 sized booklet that reproduces all, or at least most, of the BOAC adverts that were published over the 1940 to 1970 period. As such, it includes several adverts from the VC10's early years as a BOAC airliner. The book is smaller in size than I expected but its 136 pages are printed on glossy paper that reproduces the adverts very well.

I have one copy of this book to give away. If you are interested, send me an e-mail message with 'BOAC Speedbird Adverts' in the subject line and state your full name and address. I will draw a name at random and send the book to the winner three weeks from now, so any submissions should be sent in before 4th April 2023.

And the winner is.... Kathryn Cousens!

Seventeen names went into a hat, and my impartial judge drew one name from it. The book will be making its way towards the lucky winner within days. Thanks everyone for taking part in this giveaway, and if you're very disappointed, it's only a couple of clicks away: Today Design BOAC Speedbird Adverts book.


Save Arthur Scarf's VC medal, keep it in the UK

RAF Museum/GoFundMe campaign, January 2023

Back in March 2016 I photographed Arthur Scarf's medals in the Bomber Command Hall, at the RAF Museum, Hendon. The medals were on loan from Arthur Scarf's family and have been on display for many years, but in 2022 the family decided to put the VC and his other medals up for auction and the winning bid was from an overseas buyer. The RAF Museum has started a GoFundMe campaign to see if it can match the bid and keep the VC medal in the UK. They are hoping to raise £250,000 from the campaign and cover the rest of the needed amount from their own funds and a National Heritage Memorial Fund grant. They have until the end of April 2023 to raise money for this worthy cause.

Arthur Scarf's VC is one of only 22 awarded to RAF personnel and the only one awarded for services in the Far East during WWII. As such, it was an obvious choice to include it in the names that adorned the RAF's 10 Squadron VC10s, and it flew for many years on the side of VC10 C1 XV109, the cockpit of which is preserved in a private collection. For more about the action that led to the posthumous award of this medal, click here, or read this article on Key.aero. The page about the GoFundMe campaign also includes more information about this airman, see link above. After XV109's retirement, the scroll was transferred to ZA147 and continued to fly on a VC10 until the type's final flight in September 2013.


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

News Archive - 2021/2022
News Archive - 2019/2020
News Archive - 2017/2018
News Archive - 2015/2016
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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