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Surviving Bits & Pieces

The VC10 population apart from those flying with 10 or 101 squadron only consists of 4 preserved airframes. Officially all the other VC10s have been scrapped or destroyed, but some bits and pieces managed to evade this faith for a little while longer. Although not complete, some of these sections still exist, while others may have served a useful purpose for a while but still got scrapped in the end. On this page I have tried to describe the fate of some bits and pieces that managed to survive a little bit longer than the aircraft that they came from.

G-ARVC / ZA144
G-ARVI / ZA142
G-ARVJ / ZD493
G-ARVM
G-ATDJ / XX914
XR806
XR809 / G-AXLR
XV109
G-ASGE / ZD233
G-ASGF / ZD234
G-ASGK / ZD239
G-ASGN
G-ASGO
G-ASGR / ZD243
Small items


G-ARVC / ZA144

For a long time I have been under the impression that ZA144 was completely chopped up in 2002. On a base visit by the local St. Athan Aviation group in September 2002 the cockpit section was spotted, but I completely forgot about this. Now I've received a photo that shows the forward fuselage of ZA144 still in existence at the maintenance base, and in use by the Aircraft Recovery and Transportation Flight for training.

In 2008 a photo turned up on Airliners.net showing the same nose section, the accompanying text explains that this nose section is often transported around the country for battle damage repair training. That explains the two photos below then!


The nose of ZA144 still lying around at RAF St. Athan.
Photo M. Burrell

Photo R. Lee

Photo R. Lee

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G-ARVI / ZA142

Although she had been stored at St. Athan awaiting her demise since 2001, ZA142 was still in existance as a fuselage section minus wings in March 2004. The last remains of this VC10 K.2 were cut up two months later on 30th May 2004.


ZA142 seen at RAF St. Athan in August 2001
Photo M. Davison via www.Airliners.net

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G-ARVJ / ZD493

This particular VC10 has been owned by BOAC for almost it's entire life, although it did end up in another airline's colours. Through a long-term wet-lease construction the ruler of Qatar used the aircraft between 1975 and 1981. During these years she was flown by BOAC crews for whom it provided an interesting posting with some different sights to see. Although not owned by them the aircraft did fly in Gulf Air colours, apparently she was sometimes used as a spare aircraft for their services, and in this livery she was returned to BOAC in 1981. She was then sold on to the RAF as a spares source for the tanker conversion program which had just started. Re-registered ZD493 the last flight was made to RAF Brize Norton where she was stripped of spares and left. The photos below show the airframe in 1987.


Now with the RAF as ZD493, stripped of spares at RAF Brize Norton.
Photo M. Burrell

Seen from the rear.
Photo M. Burrell

G-ARVJ seen at Brize Norton in 1991, looks like part of the wing is lying next to it
Photo F. Goodman via www.Airliners.net

At some point the maintenance serial 8977M has been allocated to this airframe, which suggests that a further use was found for it. Indeed she was used in the early nineties for a trial repair to the wing centre section torsion box. After the feasability of this repair was tested on ZD493 the ex-BA Supers were similarly repaired before their ferry flights to Filton and conversion to K4 tankers.

The official fate of ZD493 is 'broken up and burnt' but there is a suggestion that the forward fuselage was saved for battle damage repair training. As this position was also filled by XR806 - see below - the chance of this section still surviving is very slim, but I have not been able to confirm its demise either. As XR806 wasn't damaged until 1997 perhaps ZD493 filled this spot for some of the previous years.

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G-ARVM

The story of G-ARVM is told on this page, including its partial demise in 2005. After the fuselage was moved to Brooklands the rest of the airframe was basically scrap and was carted off. Not everything is gone though, Mark Taylor (also owner of a VC10 galley) contacted me and told me that he is now the proud owner of the tailplane bullet front and rear sections. He has already started to replace the faded red paint with the proper colour.


The tail of 'VM lying on the grass after removal.
Photo R. Coltman

The nose and rear cone of the tailplane bullet in the owner's garden.
Photo M. Taylor

A closer view of the nose cone, on the left some brighter red paint is visible under the faded coat.
Photo M. Taylor

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G-ATDJ / XX914

This airframe started its life as an order from Ghana Airways but they decided not to buy a third aircraft and the position on the assembly line was subsequently sold to British United and the airframe finished as a type 1103 VC10. After flying with BUA and British Caledonian the aircraft entered RAF service as XX914, flying for the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Bedford. After 10 years of service the aircraft was scrapped, but sections were saved and moved to RAF Brize Norton where they were 'reassembled' to form a training object for aircraft loaders. Now registered under the maintenance serial 8777M she is often referred to as the 'VC5', being only half a VC10. As can be seen from the photos below the VC5 is not a continuous fuselage section, but rather the rear end aft of the main gear bays grafted to the front fuselage section over the front cargo bay, which includes the main deck cargo door. With this setup loading procedures for all the VC10 cargo areas can be practiced without running the risk of damaging an airworthy VC10, or having to keep one on the ground for this purpose.

Another item from this airframe that enjoyed a second life is the vertical tail. During testing of the first VC10 K2  tanker conversion, on a flight on 9th June 1983, ZA141 was put into a steep dive for resonance testing. Unknown to the crew there was already a damaged plate in the vertical tail which failed during this testing and caused a strut to break and pierce through the skin. Swift action from the crew saw the airplane return to the airfield safely but inspection showed that one of the three fin attachment frames had broken. This problem was solved by removing the fin from XX914 which had just been withdrawn from use. ZA141 flew on with this fin for 17 years before finally being withdrawn from service herself in 2000. She was subsequently scrapped at RAF St. Athan.


The VC5 seen in 1987, still in its RAe colours.
Photo M. Burrell

This photo was taken in March 2004 showing that the VC5 has since been repainted in 10 squadron colours.
Photo P. Dorward, WW II Airfields of Oxfordshire

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XR806

This VC10 C Mk.1 suffered an unfortunate accident in December 1997 when she ended up with her nose in the air after a defuel session that didn't go as planned. As described on the 'Incidents and Accidents' page this was probably caused by not defuelling the fin tank, a costly error as it turned out as the decision was made not to repair the aircraft. After removing all the still servicable spare parts the aircraft was broken up in March 1999. This however was not the end of this particular VC10 as a large fuselage section moved to the Aircraft Battle Damage repair flight at RAF Brize Norton as a training aid. For this reason mock damage is created on the airframe which the trainees have to repair. As can be seen on the photos below the inside of this fuselage section is completely empty.

Three views of the exterior of the forward fuselage of XR806
Photos P. Dorward, WW II Airfields of Oxfordshire

 


Inside the fuselage section.

A view of the remains of the cockpit.

Inside the avionics bay, looking forward towards the back of the nose gear bay.
Photos P. Dorward, WW II Airfields of Oxfordshire

During the first week of September 2009 the nose section of XR806 was moved from its location between the structures bay and the paint bay at RAF Brize Norton, it ended up out on the airfield in the fire section area to be used for training. Just over a month later during the last week of October, the training apparently over, the final remains were scrapped and removed from the airfield. That leaves the bits shown below as the only remaining parts of this airframe.

Another section of this airframe lives on in a private collection (for other items see here), Mark Taylor succesfully bid on an Ebay listing for the no.3 galley from XR806 when it became surplus to requirements at the Bristol Aero club. The galley had been gifted to them by RAF Brize Norton after XR806's scrapping. The galley unit is stored and awaiting restoration.


Proud owner with galley.
Photo M. Taylor

I was contacted by Andrew Lee who sent me a photo of another surviving (but small) section of XR806. Apparently the cargo door was sent to Farnborough a few years ago for fatigue testing and in August 2007 it was finally scrapped. Andrew managed to acquire a piece of it which contains a window that was part of the door (leftmost window when looking from the outside).


A small section of XR806 cargo door.
Photo A. Lee

This cargo door section is on display at the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust.
Photo J. Hieminga, with thanks to the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust

The rear face of the section shows the extra material that strengthened the door surround on the left.
Photo J. Hieminga, with thanks to the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust

During a visit to the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust in October 2015 I spotted the cargo door section shown above together with a nice display that incorporates some photos, models and small items. When comparing the photos I took I realised that this may be a different section from the same door.

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XR809 / G-AXLR

This fairly well-known VC10, for its days as a Rolls-Royce test bed, does still provide a service to the RAF, even to this day. As described on the page about this aircraft elsewhere on this site (click on the registration above) the airframe was stored at RAF Kemble and subsequently scrapped there as the RAF did not deem the aircraft to be a fit candidate for return to service. It had sustained some damage to the airframe during its testing days and repairing this would have been too costly.

So what has survived then? Apparently at some point the cockpit was stripped, and the center pedestal and flight engineer station were removed. These were positioned at RAF Brize Norton where they served as a training aid for RAF aircrew. While many instruments are represented by drawings affixed in the right place, this cockpit mock-up (or Cockpit Procedures Trainer) can be used to practise checklist routines and emergency drills. As such it is an extension of the training programme and a very cost effective tool in preparing for simulator sessions and real flights.


Only the pedestal is present from the front of the cockpit.

The flight engineerīs station is more complete however, including a photo of the donating aircraft.
Photos A. Townshend

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XV109

When XV109 was 'reduced to spares' by GJD Services at Bruntingthorpe the nose was removed in one piece as can be seen on the last photos on this page: XV109 from Brooklands to Bruntingthorpe.

In May 2011 this same nose section was spotted lying in the grass at Bruntingthorpe airfield. Perhaps it will be saved somewhere?


The nose section just after removal from the rest of the airframe.
Photo F. Wallace

The nose section spotted in May 2011.
Photo G. Buckle

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G-ASGE / ZD233

Acquired by the RAF as a spares source for the K4 conversion program, this aircraft was ferried to Brize Norton and broken up there in 1982. The fuselage was transported to the RAF Fire Fighting & Safety School, Catterick, and later to RAF Manston for a similar purpose. The photo below was taken in 1986 and shows the fuselage at Catterick, with the nose section of Handley-Page Hastings TG536 strategically placed. The chances of any substantial pieces remaining are very slim.

Photo from the Oldprops website

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G-ASGF / ZD234

This airframe was also ferried to RAF Brize Norton and broken up there in 1982 for spares. In 1987 the first two photos below were taken showing a substantial piece of airframe still in place, but in pretty bad shape. The third photo was taken in 1991, showing that by then little remained of the airframe. In all probability the remains have since been scrapped.


Photo M. Burrell

Photo M. Burrell

Photo F. Goodman

The nose section of this aircraft may still be around though. Allocated the maintenance serial 8700M it was apparently converted to a Tanker Simulator. As soon as I can find photos of this I will include them here.

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G-ASGK / ZD239

This Super VC10 was not even moved, but broken up at Abingdon in 1987. The fuselage was then transported to the RAF Fire School, Manston. It is not known whether something still survives, or when the remains were scrapped.

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G-ASGN

As described on the Incidents & Accidents page this aircraft was blown up at Dawson's Field, Zerqa, Jordan. There was one piece that managed to enjoy a second life though. Shortly after the end of the spectacular hijacking a party from BOAC was sent to Jordan to remove any remaining parts that could be used as spares. As it turned the horizontal tail was the only piece that was recovered. It was later fitted to another aircraft and so continued to fly for a little while longer.


G-ASGN seen with the two other airliners at 'Dawson's Field' during the hijacking.

The end of G-ASGN after being blown up by terrorists
Image via www.Airdisaster.com

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G-ASGO

After being hijacked G-ASGO ended up on Schiphol Airport, The Netherlands, where the hijackers made an attempt to destroy the aircraft by fire. Although largely unsuccessfull the aircraft was deemed beyond repairing, and was broken up at the airport in 1974. A small section of the fuselage side panel was removed and donated to the local aviation museum Aviodome.

In 2003 the museum moved to Lelystad Airport and changed its name to Aviodrome, but fortunately the fuselage panel was not thrown out and also made the move to Lelystad. In October 2006 I was finally able to see it for myself. The item hasn't been on display for a while now and is hidden inside a storage container. The fuselage panel is mounted on a small, low table with placards describing it. It was donated to the (then) Aviodome by 'British Airways Overseas Division' and is presented to show the construction of a pressurized cabin. From left to right there are three panels (divided by the fuselage frames) showing the fuselage and window configuration with and without the decorative covering.

I recently found out that two window panels from G-ASGO are still around in a private collection. They still show the effects of the heat and smoke.


G-ASGO during dismantling at Schiphol airport, you can see the large hole in front of the rear door where the fuselage section for the museum was removed.
Photo B. van Drunick

Hiding in a storage container is the only remaining part of G-ASGO: this small fuselage panel mounted on a low table.
Photo J. Hieminga

Although dusty the outside still shows the BOAC cheatline.
Photo J. Hieminga

The panel is set up to display the construction of a pressurized fuselage, from left to right: the (half) window showing the two panes, then the bare structure with window mounted and the finishing that the passenger will see.
Photo J. Hieminga

These two window panels are in a private collection. The discoloration is from the smoke and heat during the incident.
Photo A.J. Altevogt

With thanks to A. v/d Holst/Aviodrome

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G-ASGR / ZD243

Having been stored at Abingdon, this Super VC10 (also known at the time as 'Romeo', this was the next letter in the sequence as ZD242 carries the 'P' on its fin, and 'Q' is hardly ever used for these purposes) was moved to Filton for spares recovery. It was stored there at the Palm Beach site at the far side of the airfield. At the end of the conversion programme in 1993 the airframe was removed by a company called Hanningfield Metals, together with an early BAe 146. From this it appears that there are no sections remaining from this aircraft, contrary to my earlier assumptions. Ironically it was the last Super VC10 to undergo a major overhaul during its time with British Airways, and as such it is surprising that this airframe was not selected for conversion while ZD235, which had once suffered a heavy landing, did get upgraded to K4 specifications. In the end this fact may have led to the early scrapping of ZD235.

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Small Items

Many aircraft enthusiasts seem to have a special gene that enables them to hold on to items no other person would keep in their house. Personally I'm no exception, although fortunately this streak is not as active in me as it is in others (there's no cockpit in my garden yet, one of the reasons I'm still in a relationship I guess). There are some small items in my posession that have a strong VC10 connection as they originate from that design.

In the photo below, from left to right:

  1. Cargo tie-down ring from G-ARVM - These were used to clip into the rails in the cargo holds and provided a secure ring to tie down cargo nets and such.
  2. Two small bolts and nuts from A4O-AB - Taken from one of the Power Control Unit cover panels while restoring/reparing these in 1999.
  3. Neon indicater - This item was donated to me by Godfrey Manning, who took it from the remains of G-ASGD in 1988. It was used in the rear right galley controls unit on that airframe. Mr. Manning has a few other VC10 items in his possession which he exhibits in his own small aircraft museum in the north-west suburbs of London.


Small VC10 related items.
Photo J. Hieminga


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