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VC10 Timeline

Back in 2012, John McCrickard produced an extensive timeline of the 50 year history of the VC10, and a bit more. As we just saw the 60th anniversary of the VC10's first flight, I decided to share this timeline here, with some additions to bring it up to date. It includes some of the main events and highlights of 60 years of the Vickers VC10 - not just from first flight on Friday, 29 June 1962, but including those events preceding this date as the aircraft was developed. Events in bold italics are not directly related to the VC10 but provided for background - and hopefully to illuminate the chronology in a wider context. The timelines on the individual airframe pages will often provide more detail for a particular VC10, not all of the events listed there are in this main list, and vice-versa.

It is fitting that this timeline starts with George Edwards (later Sir George). As Chief Designer, Director and General Manager he was a big influence on the VC10 programme.
Photo Keystone Pictures USA

1935: George Edwards joined design staff of Vickers (Aviation) Ltd at Weybridge; 1945-53: Chief Designer, Vickers-Armstrongs, Weybridge and in 1953 is appointed Director, General Manager and Chief Engineer, Vickers-Armstrongs Aviation Section and subsequently Managing Director.

27 Jul 1949: De Havilland DH 106 Comet first flight - the world’s first production jet airliner.

2 May 1952: BOAC introduced world’s first scheduled jet airliner services with the Comet 1 between London and Johannesburg.

8 Apr 1954: BOAC Comet 1 Naples crash (G-ALYY) - fleet grounded the following day.

15 Jul 1954: Boeing 367-80 ‘Dash 80’ prototype first flight - forerunner of the Boeing 707 civil airliner and military KC-135 tanker plus wide variety of other variants for the United States Air Force (see 20 Dec 1957).

1955-67: George Edwards serves as Director, Vickers Ltd.

25 May 1955: Sud-Aviation Caravelle makes its first flight - the world’s first rear-engined production jet airliner.

28 Nov 1955: Vickers 1000 cancelled by the Government; prototype is 80% complete and just 6 months away from first flight; the RAF will receive Bristol Britannias instead. BOAC declines to support VC7 civil version of the Vickers 1000. “The biggest blunder of all” Sir George Edwards will later opine on the cancellation, which effectively gives away the big-jet lead to the US with the Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8.

1955-56: In the wake of the Vickers 1000 cancellation, Vickers-Armstrong undertakes extensive project studies of jet airliners, under the leadership of Ernest Marshall, Assistant Chief Engineer (Projects); amongst the many designs considered are: jet Viscount with four Rolls-Royce Nenes (May 1956); Vanguard fuselage with either Valiant outer wings powered by three rear-mounted Rolls-Royce Avons, swept wings with four Bristol BE47s or Scimitar wing-form and three rear-mounted Rolls-Royce Avons, leading up to the Vanjet (see Oct 1956).

1 May 1956: Gerard d’Erlanger succeeds Sir Miles Thomas (appointed 1 Jul 1949) as BOAC Chairman; Basil Smallpeice is new Managing Director.

Oct 1956: ‘Vanjet’ - rear three-engine Rolls-Royce Conway development of the Vanguard - proposed to meet BEA and Trans Canada Airlines (TCA) short-range jet requirements; not proceeded with, BEA eventually buying the DH121 Trident, and TCA the Vanguard.

27 Sep 1956: BOAC issues ‘Aircraft for Eastern and African routes’ requirement for a jet airliner to operate over these sectors, which could not be met by the Boeing 707 or Douglas DC-8 without economic penalty. Of key importance was the need for outstandingly good performance as the airfields on these routes were some of the most exacting in the world, combining high temperatures, high altitudes and relatively short runways.

24 Oct 1956: Government approval given for BOAC to buy 15 Boeing 707-436s, powered by Rolls-Royce Conway engines, primarily for North Atlantic services; contract placed 8 Nov, aircraft delivered 1960 - the same year the Vickers 1000/VC7 would have been in service! (See 27 May 1960.)

1957: George Edwards is made Knight Bachelor.

- Jan 1957: ‘Vickers Medium Range Jet Transport VC10 Mk IV’ specification issued to satisfy BOAC Eastern/African requirement - it will form the basis of the definitive VC10 as selected by BOAC (see 30 Apr 1957).

6 Jan 1957: BOAC Douglas DC-7C London - New York services commenced.

30 Apr 1957: BOAC confirms its intention to order 35 VC10s; the aircraft is chosen in preference to the proposed DH118 and Handley Page HP97.

22 May 1957: BOAC letter of intent to Vickers for purchase of 35 VC10s following Government approval the same day (see 14 Jan 1958).

19 Dec 1957: BOAC Britannia 312 London - New York services commenced - first gas-turbine airliners on the route.

20 Dec 1957: Boeing 707-120 definitive production version of the airliner makes its first flight.

14 Jan 1958: BOAC signs £60m contract for 35 VC10s, with an option on 20 more. The aircraft has been developed since the original (May 1957) specification, with higher power Rolls-Royce Conways and has been given full transatlantic capability - assisting BOAC’s aim of a one-type fleet for all its routes.

Mar 1958: VC10 detailed design work starts, following a year of project design; whilst Weybridge has overall design and manufacture responsibility, a major portion of detail work will be undertaken by the company’s Hurn plant.

30 May 1958: Douglas DC-8 makes its first flight.

4 Oct 1958: BOAC Comet 4 introduced on London - New York route - the first ever trans-Atlantic commercial jet service.

26 Oct 1958: Boeing 707 first enters service, with Pan American on the North Atlantic route, New York - Paris.

11 Jan 1959: Boeing 707-320 ‘Intercontinental’ developed long-range version of the airliner makes its first flight.

20 Jan 1959: Vickers Type 951 Vanguard prototype G-AOYW first flight from Brooklands.

27 Jan 1959: Convair CV-880 makes its maiden flight.

Summer 1959: VC10 first assembly jigs erected; there would be no prototype, the first aircraft being produced with full production tooling. The wind tunnel programme achieves 2,000hrs thus far using 34 major models in 13 tunnels.

Autumn 1959: VC10 full scale engineering mock-up outwardly complete, in use for systems evaluation.

23 Nov 1959: Boeing 720 short-range version of the Boeing 707 makes its first flight.

- Jan 1960: Super VC10 initial specification issued by Vickers-Armstrongs (Aircraft); this new variant is a developed version of the Standard VC10 to meet a BOAC requirement for North Atlantic route capability, where airfield runway length was not a limiting factor, enabling maximum performance benefit to be extracted from the existing wing and Conway engines - this permitted a stretched fuselage of much greater passenger capacity (see 23 Jun 1960).

27 May 1960: BOAC Boeing 707-436 enters service on London - New York route.

18 Jun 1960: British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) formed with Lord Portal as Chairman and Sir George Edwards as Executive Director (Aircraft). Vickers and English Electric each holds 40% of BAC’s shares and Bristol Aeroplane Company the remaining 20%. Immediately after it came into operation, BAC acquired a controlling interest in Hunting Aircraft. Four companies are thus merged, with financial responsibility for existing aircraft and weapons remaining with the original companies; the VC10 is thus referred to as an ‘old account’ aircraft.

22 Jun 1960: Boeing 707-120B turbofan prototype first flight from Renton.

23 Jun 1960: BOAC contract for 10 Super VC10s, by take-up of 10 of 20 existing options on Standard VC10 order (placed 14 Jan 1958); the Super VC10 features a 28ft fuselage stretch to accommodate 212 passengers, with extra fuel carried in two 750gal wing-tip tanks, but taking advantage of the existing wing with uprated Conway engines. Deliveries expected from 1965.

1 Jul 1960: BAC legal formation date.

29 Jul 1960: Rear Admiral Sir Matthew S Slattery succeeds Sir Gerard d’Erlanger as BOAC Chairman.

- Sep 1960: Super VC10 developed version with 222 seats announced for BOAC; not proceeded with.

16 Oct 1960: BOAC Comet 4 London - New York last service after less than two years on the route, ousted by the Boeing 707.

17 Dec 1960: Vickers Vanguard enters service with BEA on London - Paris route.

1961-8: Sir George Edwards serves as Chairman and Managing Director, British Aircraft Corporation (Operating) Ltd.

24 Jan 1961: Ghana Airways £7m contract signed by Ghanaian Government for 3 Standard VC10s.
This is the second order for the Standard VC10; the first two aircraft (9G-ABO/P) are delivered in 1964-5 as Type 1102, the second fitted with the large cabin freight door. The third aircraft (9G-ABQ) is sold to BUA whilst still on the production line, and delivered in 1965 as Type 1103 G-ATDJ as built with cabin freight door; VC10 Constructor’s No 840 is allocated as a later replacement (9G-ABU), but this aircraft is never built.

24 Jan 1961: Convair CV-990 Coronado makes its first flight.

- Mar 1961: BAC Board gives go ahead to BAC One-Eleven and cancels the proposed VC11.

7 May 1961: VC10 Type 1100 prototype G-ARTA - fuselage completed and rolled out at Brooklands.

31 May 1961: British United Airways (BUA) announces £10m order for 4 Standard VC10s; the contract is signed on 3 Jan 1962 for two aircraft with an option on two more.
This is the third and final order for the Standard VC10; both aircraft (G-ASIW/X) are delivered in 1964 as Type 1103, being the first VC10s to have the large cabin freight door. The option on two more aircraft is not exercised - although BUA do eventually acquire another two Standard VC10s - Type 1103 G-ATDJ in 1965 and Type 1109 (refurbished former prototype Type 1100 G-ARTA) in 1969.

- May 1961: Super VC10 definitive version (Type 1151) announced for BOAC; this seats 163 in a fuselage stretched 13ft over the Standard VC10 (Type 1101) - much smaller than the 212-seater originally ordered (23 Jun 1960), as the airline decided this had too much capacity for the expected traffic on the North Atlantic route; the additional fuel is now carried in the fin, replacing the originally-proposed wing-tip tanks. BOAC existing order for 45 VC10s revised concurrently - from 35 Standard/10 Super to 15 Standard/30 Super.

5 Sep 1961: VC10 for RAF Transport Command - first order for five aircraft announced at SBAC Farnborough show (later increased to 11 and then 14). RAF Air Staff Requirement 378 is issued to cover the new aircraft - fulfilling the worldwide strategic jet transport role originally to be met by the cancelled Vickers 1000!

28 Dec 1961: BOAC Standard VC10 order reduced from 15 to 12 to stay within Treasury expenditure limits; the number of Super VC10s remains unchanged at 30.

9 Jan 1962: De Havilland 121 Trident makes its maiden flight.

31 Jan 1962: Boeing 707-320B Intercontinental turbofan first flight.

15 Apr 1962 (Sunday): VC10 Type 1100 prototype G-ARTA rolled-out; ready for extensive system tests, resonance tests and engine runs, latter commenced 15 May 1962.

29 Jun 1962 (Friday, 17.25hrs): VC10 Type 1100 prototype G-ARTA first flight following a day of taxiing tests; airborne in just 2,220ft of Brooklands’ 4,500ft runway, G-ARTA positioned to Wisley for an immediate start of the test and certification programme. Chief Test Pilot, G R (‘Jock’) Bryce, was in command with E B (Brian) Trubshaw as Second Pilot and another test pilot W B (Bill) Cairns as Flight Engineer; Flight Test Observers C A Mullen and I R Muir together with Assistant Flight Test Manager G R Holland were also on board.

3-9 Sep 1962: VC10 prototype G-ARTA participates in the Farnborough air show.

8 Nov 1962 (15.10hrs): BOAC first VC10 Type 1101 G-ARVA maiden flight.

1962-4: VC10 trials and certification programme involves prototype G-ARTA and the first five BOAC aircraft (G-ARVA-C/E/F); participating is BOAC’s VC10 special duties pilot, Captain Peter Cane.

- 1963: Appointment of Sir George Edwards as Chairman of British Aircraft Corporation Ltd.

3 Jan 1963: VC10 Russian copycat, the Ilyushin IL-62, makes its first flight.

- Mar 1963: VC10 first passenger flight - members of the press are conveyed aboard BOAC’s G-ARVA on a sortie from Wisley.

13 May 1963: VC10 modifications to eliminate unforeseen drag announced a success following trials by Minister of Aviation Julian Amery in the House of Commons; these mods will now be embodied in all VC10s before delivery to customers. The drag problems - not unbeknown on new aircraft types - had unfortunately been the subject of much ill-informed and speculative ‘scare stories’ in the national press.

cMay 1963: VC10 ‘05’ returns to Weybridge - the first to do so - to have the drag reducing slat mods embodied (Standard VC10 G-ARVE).

6-16 Jun 1963: VC10 Type 1101 G-ARVC participates in the Paris air show.

20 Aug 1963: BAC One-Eleven maiden flight by G-ASHG from Hurn.

19 Sep 1963: BOAC Super VC10 order amended to have eight of the 30 aircraft delivered as Type 1152 Combined Passenger-Freighters (CPFs) incorporating the large cabin freight door; BOAC also specify the following four aircraft as pure freighters with the configuration of the final six Supers to be decided.

The first flights of the route proving programme were all between London and Beirut. Other destinations would be added in November 1963.

17 Oct 1963: BOAC VC10 Type 1101 G-ARVF departs Wisley at start of ‘1000hr Development Flying’ route proving shakedown programme to African, Middle East and Canadian destinations - to prove reliability of the aircraft and systems under normal operational conditions; successfully completed 14 Mar 1964, the aircraft having demonstrated exemplary performance and availability, day-in, day-out - auguring well for service introduction with BOAC planned for Apr 1964.

- Nov 1963: BOAC Chairman Sir Matthew S Slattery and Managing Director Sir Basil Smallpeice both resign in the wake of publication of the Government White Paper ‘The financial problems of the British Overseas Aircraft Corporation’ investigating BOAC’s increasing deficit (see 1 Jan

19 Dec 1963: BOAC VC10 crew training programme commences at Shannon, using G-ARVG, joined early in 1964 by G-ARVF/H; under command of Capt A S M ‘Flaps’ Rendall, BOAC VC10 Flight Manager.

1 Jan 1964: Sir Giles Guthrie succeeds Sir Matthew Slattery as BOAC Chairman. Guthrie immediately launches searching examination of airline to deal with the airline’s large debt which grown to £80m by the end of financial year 1962/3.

8 Feb 1964: VC10 first Atlantic crossing performed by G-ARVF, London Heathrow - Montreal in 7hrs at start of winterisation trials, part of 1000hr route proving programme (see 17 Oct 1963 above).

22 Apr 1964: First VC10 (G-ARVI) delivered to BOAC.

29 Apr 1964: VC10 entered airline service with BOAC - G-ARVJ flies London Heathrow to Lagos; the aircraft had been delivered on 23 April 1964 in the airline’s stunning new ‘Golden Speedbird’ livery.

30 Apr 1964: Nigeria Airways VC10 services introduced using aircraft leased from BOAC, G-ARVJ operating the first flight.

7 May 1964: Super VC10 Type 1151 prototype G-ASGA (c/n 851) first flight from Brooklands by Brian Trubshaw and Bill Cairns - the first of 17 for BOAC; G-ASGA is the 13th VC10 off the production line.

20 Jul 1964: Minister of Aviation Julian Amery announces in the House of Commons that BOAC will take 17 of the 30 Super VC10s it has on order; of the remainder, 10 are placed on option and the other 3 transferred to the RAF (to be manufactured to the same Type 1106 variant as its other 11, making 14 in total for the Service); under BOAC Chairman Sir Giles Guthrie’s rationalisation plan to arrest the Corporation’s parlous finances - coined the ‘Guthrie Plan’ - all 30 Super VC10s would have been cancelled in favour of Boeing 707s.

7-13 Sep 1964: Super VC10 Type 1151 G-ASGA and VC10 Type 1103 G-ASIW (BUA pre-delivery) take part in the Farnborough air show - the latter on the final day only, prior to departure on an eight-day demonstration tour of Central and East Africa; G-ASIW taxis down the Farnborough runway with cabin freight door open to reveal a gleaming new Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud which will be taken on the trip, which has 80 guests on board including BUA Managing Director Freddie Laker.

1 Oct 1964: BUA VC10 inaugural service, G-ASIW operates a trooping charter from London Gatwick to Nairobi.

17 Oct 1964: VC10 Type 1103 G-ASIX for British United Airways makes its first flight from Brooklands with Vickers Production Test Pilot Lew Roberts in command, BAC’s 600th turbine powered transport. (See also 6 Jul 1987.)

2 Nov 1964: BUA first VC10 scheduled service on behalf of its associate company Sierra Leone Airways: London Gatwick - Freetown.

3 Nov 1964: BUA first VC10 scheduled service on their East African route: London Gatwick - Entebbe (Uganda) and Nairobi (Kenya) with the following day (4 Nov) seeing initial Central African services to Entebbe, Ndola and Lusaka (Zambia) and Salisbury (Southern Rhodesia). The inaugural schedules were completed on the next day (5 Nov) with the new South American services (inherited from BOAC) to Rio De Janeiro (Brazil), Montevideo (Uruguay), Buenos Aires (Argentina) and Santiago (Chile) - 22¼hrs for the 8,250 miles.

1 Feb 1965: VC10 first Royal flight - HM The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh travel in BOAC’s G-ARVL from London to Addis Ababa for their state visit to Ethiopia.

15 Feb 1965: Ghana Airways VC10 inaugural service, 9G-ABO flies Accra - London Heathrow.

7 Mar 1965: BOAC Super VC10 first Atlantic proving flight, London - New York with G-ASGD.

- Mar 1965: East African Airways announces £10m order for 3 Super VC10s; contract signed 10 May 1965.
This is the second order for the Super VC10; all three (5H-MMT, 5X-UVA, 5Y-ADA) are delivered in 1966-7 as Type 1154, being the only Super VC10s to have the large cabin freight door. Two more aircraft are ordered - delivered in 1969 (5X-UVJ) and 1970 (5H-MOG) - the latter being the final VC10 built.

1 Apr 1965: Super VC10 entered airline service with BOAC - G-ASGD flies London Heathrow to New York; the aircraft wears the newly modified ‘Golden Speedbird’ livery, also with BOAC-Cunard logos, reflecting tie-up between the airline and the famous shipping company in the quest to secure the lion’s share of traffic on the lucrative North Atlantic ‘Blue Riband’ services.

27 May 1965: VC10 C Mk 1 first forward/rear fuselage built under subcontract by Short Brothers & Harland is shipped from its factory at Queen’s Island, Belfast bound for Weybridge.

2 Jul 1965: BAC announces details of the Super VC10-DB265 Double-Deck aircraft; accommodating up to 265 passengers on two levels and demonstrating a 20% reduction in seat-mile costs compared to current long-range jetliners, the new variant is to meet a BOAC requirement for six such aircraft - and is also dubbed the ‘Super Super’ or ‘Superb’ VC10.
The following year (11 May 1966), the Government declines to provide launch funding for the Super VC10-DB265 and BOAC buy the Boeing 747 instead.

- Oct 1965: Air Ceylon VC10 services introduced using aircraft leased from BOAC.

23 Nov 1965: BOAC Comet 4 last service; the type however remains in use with many operators worldwide until the last commercial Comet service is operated by Dan-Air on 8 Nov 1980.

26 Nov 1965: VC10 Type 1106 C Mk 1 for RAF first flight at Brooklands made by XR806.

3 Dec 1965: Middle East Airlines (MEA) signs letter of intent for 3 Super VC10 Combined Passenger-Freighters (CPFs) with an option on two further aircraft.
This is the third order for the Super VC10, to be delivered 1967; unfortunately, a contract is never progressed due to inability to raise necessary loan finance, although MEA does lease two Standard VC10s in 1967-9 from other operators.

10 Mar 1966: BOAC cancels option on last 10 Super VC10s; maximum fleet size will be 17. BOAC paid £7½m to BAC in cancellation charges. (This sum would have bought 3 of these cancelled aircraft!)

21 Apr 1966: Varanair-Siam announces £10m order for 3 Super VC10s with an option on 3 Super VC10 Combined Passenger-Freighters (CPFs).
This is the fourth order for the Super VC10, to be delivered 1967-8 to equip a new Thai airline formed by Prince Varanand; sadly, a contract for the Super VC10s is never placed due to inability to raise necessary finance.

1 Jul 1966: RAF Transport Command 10 Sqn officially reformed at RAF Brize Norton in readiness to receive its new VC10 C Mk 1s (see 7 Jul).

7 Jul 1966: VC10 Type 1106 C Mk 1 first aircraft XR808* ceremonially handed-over at Wisley to RAF 10 Sqn, temporarily based at Fairford (see 23 May 1967); Brooklands’ recently-completed Vickers Gunbus replica ‘2345’ (G-ATVP) also graced the occasion.
*actually the third aircraft off the production line; the first two (XR806/7) are already on CA Release trials at A&AEE Boscombe Down and are delivered later.

11 Aug 1966: VC10 G-ASIX is debut aircraft for BUA’s new sandstone and blue livery, operating a London Gatwick - South America service. The new scheme is applied as a sandstone/blue window cheat line from the cockpit to the fin upon which it sweeps up in a curve, with white top and tailplane, and grey wings/undersurfaces - a relaxed and colourful scheme much more suited the ‘swinging sixties’ than the previous ‘formal’ blue/white/grey livery. The other two VC10s were similarly repainted together with the rest of the BUA fleet in due course.

1 Sep 1966: BOAC orders 6 Boeing 747 ‘Jumbo Jets’; increased to 12 aircraft in Nov 1968.

5-11 Sep 1966: VC10 C Mk 1 XR807 (RAF 10 Sqn) and VC10 Type 1103 G-ASIX (BUA) participate in the Farnborough air show, the latter on the final day only.

13 Oct 1966: East African Airways Super VC10 services introduced with 5X-UVA - the first of an eventual fleet total of five.

- Apr 1967: Middle East Airlines VC10 services introduced using Standard Type 1102 9G-ABP leased from Ghana Airways.

4 Apr 1967: RAF Transport Command VC10 C Mk 1 scheduled services commence.

May-Nov 1967: First major RAF VC10 deployment: Operation ‘Jacobin 2’ - the British evacuation of Aden.

23 May 1967: RAF Transport Command 10 Sqn and its VC10 C Mk 1s relocate from Fairford to their permanent home of Brize Norton, upgraded as the RAF’s strategic transport main operating base.

1 Aug 1967: RAF Transport Command renamed Air Support Command, its first overseas schedule operated by a VC10 C Mk 1 today.

1968-75: Sir George Edwards serves as Chairman and Managing Director, British Aircraft Corporation Ltd.

1 Feb 1968: VC10 Type 1109 OD-AFA departs on delivery flight on lease from Laker Airways to Middle East Airlines, Beirut; this is former Type 1100 prototype G-ARTA refurbished to airline standard.

16 May 1968: BOAC Super VC10 first automatic landing in commercial service made by G-ASGK at London Heathrow.

16 Sep 1968: Flooding of Brooklands when River Wey burst its banks at 2pm - BAC aircraft production (including work on Concorde) was badly disrupted.

16-22 Sep 1968: VC10 C Mk 1 XV107 (RAF 10 Sqn) participates in the Farnborough air show.

11 Nov 1968 (Remembrance Day): RAF VC10 C Mk 1 XR810 named David Lord VC in a ceremony at Brize Norton, the first of the fleet of 14 to honour RFC and RAF winners of the Victoria Cross; names are carried in a commemorative scroll just ahead of port side forward entrance door, with internal plaques also.

9 Feb 1969: Boeing 747 ‘Jumbo Jet’ makes its first flight.

2 Mar 1969: Concorde 001 maiden flight from Toulouse, piloted by Andre Turcat.

- Mar 1969: Middle East Airlines VC10 services end with return of Type 1109 OD-AFA to the UK for British United Airways (later Caledonian/BUA thence British Caledonian), reverting to its original registration G-ARTA.

1 Apr 1969: BOAC VC10 Pacific services commenced.

9 Apr 1969: Concorde 002 maiden flight from Filton, piloted by Brian Trubshaw.

17 Apr 1969: RAF VC10 XR809 leased to Rolls-Royce for conversion to an airborne test-bed for the new RB211 engine which replaced both Conways on the port side (see 6 Mar 1970).

31 Jul 1969: VC10 C Mk 1 of 10 Sqn completes round-the-world flight in 45hr 15min.

29 Nov 1969: BEA take delivery of first of nine Merchantman all-freighter conversions of their Vickers Vanguard fleet.

16 Feb 1970: Last Super VC10 (5H-MOG) flown out of Brooklands (to Wisley) at 12.10hrs by Bill Cairns and Brian Trubshaw; delivered to East African Airways on 27 Feb.

6 Mar 1970: VC10 RB211 airborne test-bed G-AXLR (formerly XR809) first flight at Rolls-Royce Hucknall; the flight envelope of the VC10 closely replicated that of the Lockheed Tristar which will be powered by the new engine.

1 Apr 1970: Gulf Aviation VC10 services introduced using aircraft leased from BOAC.

1 Jul 1970: 241 Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) reforms at RAF Brize Norton upon amalgamation of the VC10, Belfast, Britannia and Comet Air Training Sqns.

29 Aug 1970: McDonnell Douglas DC-10 makes its maiden flight.

7-13 Sep 1970: VC10 RB211 test bed G-AXLR (Rolls-Royce) and VC10 C Mk 1 XV109 (RAF 10 Sqn) both display at the Farnborough air show.

16 Nov 1970: Lockheed TriStar makes its first flight.

- Apr 1971: BOAC Boeing 747 enters service on North Atlantic routes.

Jun-Jul 1971: RAF VC10 C Mk 1s participate with Belfast and Hercules aircraft to fly over 390,000Ib of supplies into Calcutta as relief for East Pakistan and India floods.

28 Jan 1972: VC10 Type 1109 G-ARTA (the former prototype) is severely damaged by a heavy landing in gust conditions at London Gatwick Airport and is sadly declared a write-off and subsequently scrapped.

14 Apr 1972: Closure of Wisley airfield. Departure of Piper Cherokee G-AWPS (to Blackbushe) at 16.30hrs was the last official aircraft movement there.

25 May 1972: BOAC order for five Concorde supersonic airliners announced; contract signed, London, 28 Jul 1972.

30 May 1972: An RAF VC10 C Mk 1 became the first British military aircraft to visit China since 1946.

31 May 1972: An RAF VC10 C Mk 1 flies the body of the late Duke of Windsor from Paris to RAF Benson.

26 Sep 1972: BEA order six Lockheed TriStars with options on 12 more.

28 Oct 1972: Airbus A300 makes its first flight.

Nov 1972: Chinese interest in purchasing the Super VC10 sees a BAC delegation visit the country to open negotiations; the ‘CHIBAC’ proposal follows in 1973 and envisages the first 20 aircraft built by BAC, followed by 10 with increased Chinese involvement, with license production in China from the 31st aircraft. Unfortunately, the costs of reopening production prove too costly and the proposals proceed no further.

Oct 1973: Super VC10 G-ASGE carbon brake trials for Concorde commence.

1973: Global fuel crisis causes major problems for the airline industry.

1 Apr 1974: British Airways formed by merger of BEA and BOAC.

On 1st April 1974, G-ARVI carried out the first 'Golden Falcon' service between the Arabian Gulf and London, and is seen here landing at London Heathrow after this first Gulf Air VC10 flight.
Photo copyright BAE Systems/Brooklands Museum archives

1 Apr 1974: Gulf Air ‘Golden Falcon’ VC10 six times weekly services inaugurated between London Heathrow and the Arabian Gulf using two Standards recently purchased from BOAC (G-ARVI/L); maintenance responsibility for the VC10 fleet will remain throughout their Gulf Air service with BOAC/British Airways at London Heathrow.

20 Jul 1974: Turkish invasion of Cyprus - emergency airlift of UK nationals out of Akrotiri begins same day, including 10 Sqn VC10s, together with Belfasts, Britannias, Comets and Hercules, 13,430 civilians flown to Britain by 8 Aug.

Nov 1974: VC10 bows out of service with British Caledonian, the last aircraft (G-ASIW) sold to Air Malawi.

3 Dec 1974: Air Malawi VC10 services introduced with 7Q-YKH ex-BCAL G-ASIW operating weekly London Gatwick - Blantyre via Nairobi.

1974/5: British Airways Annual Report - Super VC10 is type with highest utilisation in BA fleet, each of the 15 aircraft averaging 3,867 flying hours during the report financial year; next is the B747 (3,761 flying hours) with the B707 trailing third (3,511 flying hours). BAC remarked - “this achievement clearly reflects the continuing high popularity and utility of the aircraft which was first introduced into service with British Airways ten years ago”.

12 Jan 1975: British Airways Lockheed TriStar enters service between London and Malaga.

Sep-Oct 1975: VC10 C Mk 1s undertake emergency evacuation of Portuguese citizens from Angola, airlifting out 5,700 people and 350,000Ib of freight from Luanda to Lisbon over a seven week period.

31 Dec 1975: Sir George Edwards retires at the age of 67 after 40 years in the aviation industry.

21 Jan 1976: Concorde operations begin with British Airways and Air France - the world’s first supersonic passenger services.

24 May 1976: BA Concorde North Atlantic supersonic services commence between London and Washington; London - New York from 22 Nov 1977.

1976-7: BA Standard VC10s G-ARVB, G-ARVE and G-ARVH crudely broken-up at London Heathrow Airport by Boeing; aircraft traded-in by BA against new Rolls-Royce RB211-powered Boeing 747-236s!

28 Jan 1977: East African Airways final Super VC10 service; airline goes into liquidation and is grounded later that day; its four Super VC10s are subsequently repossessed by BAC, being flown back to Filton, May-Aug 1977.

29 Apr 1977: Amalgamation of BAC with Hawker Siddeley Aviation to form the new nationalised British Aerospace.

Jul 1977: Five VC10 C Mk 1s and 19 Hercules transport some 700 troops and 750 tons of equipment into Belize to support Harriers and Pumas deployed to guard against threat of a Guatemalan invasion, with a British military presence maintained in the country ever since.

13 Mar 1978: RAF VC10 AAR tankers announced in the House of Commons by Secretary of State for Defence Fred Mulley as part of Statement on the Defence Estimates, 1978; the RAF will purchase nine ex-airline VC10s - five Gulf Air Standards and four East African Airways Supers - for conversion. The VC10 tankers will significantly expand the Service’s AAR assets, essential for support of the new Tornado combat aircraft to be introduced during the 1980s. RAF Air Staff Requirement 406 is issued to cover the operational need for the VC10 AAR tankers (see 4 Apr 1979).

4 Apr 1979: VC10 AART contract placed with BAe for 9 aircraft: five VC10 Type 1112 K Mk 2s ex-Gulf Air Standards and four VC10 Type 1164 K Mk 3s ex-East African Airways Supers (see 13 Mar 1978); conversion work will be undertaken at BAe Filton in the former Brabazon assembly hangar, the nine aircraft already in storage at the airfield awaiting start of work.

29 Oct 1979: Air Malawi VC10 final service arrives at London Gatwick and 7Q-YKH ferried same day to Bournemouth Hurn for open storage.

21 Dec 1979: VC10 C Mk 1s participate in Operation ‘Agila’, the airlift of the Commonwealth Monitoring Force into Zimbabwe to ensure peace during the country’s elections.

18 Dec 1980: Ghana Airways last VC10 (9G-ABO) is ferried to Prestwick for open storage following end of services; the final Standard VC10 in airline service.

29 Mar 1981: British Airways last Super VC10 scheduled service - G-ASGF arrives at London Heathrow from Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.

30 Mar 1981: British Airways last Super VC10 passenger flight - G-ASGL makes farewell tour of UK from London Heathrow, with low fly-bys over Manchester, Prestwick, Filton and Farnborough; unfortunately the planned flypast over Brooklands was abandoned due to the weather conditions; ‘Mr VC10’ Ernie Marshall is amongst the 137 passengers. G-ASGL is the final Super VC10 – and indeed VC10 - in airline service.
During their 17 years since entering service in 1964, BOAC/BA's 12 Standard and 17 Super VC10s safely carried some 13m passengers over 560m miles, the fleet accumulating a total of 1.2m+ flying hours with 250,000 landings!

Apr-Jun 1982: Operation ‘Corporate’ - the retaking of the Falklands Islands; RAF VC10 C Mk 1s are heavily involved in transport and casualty evacuation flights.

22 Jun 1982: VC10 K Mk 2 first flight made by ZA141 from BAe Filton piloted by Roy Radford and John Lewis - the first of nine K Mk 2/3s being converted; the aircraft has grey/green camouflage and soon becomes known as the ‘lizard’, but will be the only VC10 tanker to bear these colours, eventually being repainted into the RAF’s standard reduced visibility hemp scheme in which all others are delivered from new.

5-12 Sep 1982: VC10 K Mk 2 ZA141 with Nimrod AEW Mk 3 XZ286 in line astern AAR receiving position both participate in the flying display at the Farnborough air show.

25 Jul 1983: VC10 Type 1112 K Mk 2 first of five, ZA140, delivered to RAF Brize Norton Tanker Training Flight.

1 May 1984: RAF Strike Command 101 Sqn reformed at Brize Norton to operate the VC10 K Mk 2/3 AAR tankers.

4 Jul 1984: VC10 K Mk 3 first flight made by ZA148 from BAe Filton.

1 Feb 1985: First of four VC10 K Mk 3s (ZA150) delivered to 101 Sqn at RAF Brize Norton; last aircraft (ZA148) followed on 27 Mar 1986.

21 Nov 1986: VC10 C Mk 1 XV103 is the first fully-loaded RAF passenger carrying transport aircraft to be refuelled mid-air during a trooping flight to Oman; fuel was received from a VC10K of 101 Squadron over Sicily as part of the 4,200 mile, 9½ hour flight.

1 Apr 1987: VC10 Design Authority transferred to BAe Manchester as part of rundown and closure of BAe Weybridge.

8 Apr 1987: VC10 K Mk 3 ZA147 of No 101 Squadron sets new non-stop world record between RAF Brize Norton and Perth, Australia in Exercise PUP. The 9,625 miles were covered in 16 hours and 1½ minutes, with mid-air refuelling twice on route, by another VC10K and a 216 Sqn TriStar K Mk 1, respectively, the flight beating the previous record, held from 1963 by a Vulcan also of 101 Squadron, by 2 hours 4½ minutes.

29 Jun 1987: VC10 25th anniversary is celebrated by a special flight undertaken by RAF C Mk 1 XR806 from Brize Norton with some 132 former Brooklands staff aboard who had been closely associated with design and production of the airliner; flypasts were made over both Wisley and Brooklands, with ‘VAFA 09’ commemorative philatelic covers also carried, signed by Sir George Edwards and others.

6 Jul 1987: VC10 Type 1103 A4O-AB delivered from Muscat via London Heathrow to Brooklands - runway specially reopened for the purpose - at the conclusion of its 13 years service with the Sultan of Oman Royal Flight, who generously donates the aircraft to the museum; Sir George Edwards is amongst the many ex Weybridge workers to greet the aircraft on its arrival. (A4O-AB was BAC’s 600th turbine powered transport when originally built as G-ASIX for British United Airways in 1964.)

19 Dec 1987: VC10 C Mk 1 XR806 sets record for non-stop direct flight between RAF Brize Norton and the Falkland Islands (Mount Pleasant) on a rapid deployment exercise; the total flight time is 15hr 45min with fuel received twice en route from VC10Ks from 101 Sqn; XR806 is the first VC10 to land in the Falklands.

16 Jan-3 Mar 1991: Operation ‘Granby’ deployment in the Gulf Area, RAF contribution to US-led operation ‘Desert Storm’ multi-national campaign to free Kuwait from invading Iraqi forces; along with the TriStar and Victor AAR tankers, the VC10 makes a creditable contribution - with all nine K Mk 2/3 detached to Riyadh airport (King Khaled International); VC10 C Mk 1s provided air transport support. The VC10 K Mk 2/3s exemplary availability saw flying rates nearly FOUR times greater than normal peacetime levels achieved at times, with a sortie success rate of 99%!

Aug-Nov 1991: VC10 C Mk 1s are involved in the high-profile repatriation of three British hostages held in Lebanon - John McCarthy (7-8 Aug, XV104), Jackie Mann (24-25 Sep, XV109) and Terry Waite (18-19 Nov, XR810); all three flights were from Damascus to RAF Lyneham via RAF Akrotiri.

3 Dec 1992: RAF VC10 C Mk 1(K) first aircraft XV103 delivered back to 10 Sqn at Brize Norton after conversion to AAR tanker by FR Aviation, Bournemouth.

29 Jul 1993: RAF VC10 Type 1170 K Mk 4 maiden flight made by ZD242 (ex-BA Super VC10 G-ASGP) from BAe Filton.

28 Apr 1994: VC10 Type 1170 K Mk 4 first of five, ZD242, delivered to RAF Brize Norton 101 Sqn.

8 Mar 1996: VC10 Type 1170 K Mk 4 last of five, ZD235, delivered to RAF Brize Norton 101 Sqn.

7 Feb 1997: RAF VC10 C Mk 1(K) XR808, last of 13 aircraft converted to AAR tankers from C Mk 1 delivered back to 10 Sqn at Brize Norton from FR Aviation, Bournemouth.

4 Apr 1999: Operation ‘Allied Force’ sees VC10 tankers supporting Tornadoes flying their first sorties from RAF Bruggen to dislocate bridges and tunnels on the main routes between Kosovo and Serbia.

24 Mar 2001: Brian Trubshaw, the fondly remembered Concorde test pilot, sadly passed away aged 77. His long and illustrious career included many other Vickers and BAC types - including the VC10 where he was co-pilot to Jock Bryce on the maiden flight.

27 Mar 2001: VC10 K Mk 2 bows out of service, the last aircraft, ZA142, making its final flight from RAF Brize Norton to St Athan.

2 May 2002: Royal Mail issues set of stamps marking 50 years of commercial jet aviation; the VC10 features on the 45p stamp, with the Airbus A340, Comet, Concorde and Trident on the others.

4 Jun 2002: VC10 C Mk 1(K) XV109 takes part in the RAF flypast over Buckingham Palace to mark HM The Queen’s Golden Jubilee.

5 Jul 2002: VC10 40th anniversary is commemorated by a celebratory luncheon at Brooklands Museum, with many famous guests in attendance including Jock Bryce, pilot of the first flight on 29 Jun 1962; the event also marks the 15th anniversary of arrival at the museum of A4O-AB, the Sultan of Oman's VC10, on 6 Jul 1987.

2 Mar 2003: Sir George Edwards passes away peacefully, aged 94, at his home in Guildford, Surrey, surrounded by his family; he was born on 9 Jul 1908.

2003-2011: RAF VC10s play a crucial role in Iraq under ‘Operation Telic’.

14 Oct 2005: RAF 10 Sqn is disbanded after 39 years proud service operating the VC10 C Mk 1 and C Mk 1(K); the aircraft transfer to 101 Sqn to join its VC10 K Mk 3/4s.

- Jul 2006: VC10 C Mk 1(K) XV104 is turned-out with a bright red-painted fin with the titles ‘40 years of RAF Service’, the engine nacelles bearing ‘1966-2006’.

19 Oct 2006: VC10 Type 1101 G-ARVM ex-British Airways fuselage moved from RAF Cosford Museum by road to Brooklands Museum for continued preservation.

- Jun 2007: VC10 C Mk 1(K) XV105 follows the lead set by XV104 the previous year with another commemorative scheme - this time to celebrate 90 years operations by 101 Sqn; the black-painted fin carries ‘101 Squadron’ in large gold letters plus large rendition of the Squadron badge.

- Sep 2007: VC10 C Mk 1 (K) XV102 carries special tail markings commemorating a thousand years of Oxfordshire.

17 Jan 2010 (Sunday evening): G-ARVM fuselage stars in the ‘backdrop’ to an episode of BBC1 TV’s ‘Antiques Roadshow’ programme held at Brooklands Museum.

6 Apr 2010: VC10 fleet drawdown commences in earnest with retirement of the first two of the 15 aircraft left in service; C Mk 1(K)s XR807 and XV109 make their final flights into Bruntingthorpe for spares recovery and break up by GJD Services, who have the contract to similarly deal with the rest of the fleet - save for XR808 due to go to the RAF Museum at Cosford and any others that might be saved for preservation.

2011: RAF 101 Sqn VC10s provide vital transport and air-to-air refuelling for Operations ‘Deference’ and ‘Ellamy’ over Libya. Continued support is also provided for Operation ‘Herrick’ RAF activities in Afghanistan.

21 Sep 2011: British Airways launches its biggest brand advertising campaign for a decade, based on its historic motto ‘To Fly. To Serve’. A TV advert features various historic aircraft from BA and its predecessors - including the Super VC10, utilising G-ASGC preserved at Duxford - with the assistance of a little ‘computer generated imagery’ made to look like a line-up of VC10s!

23 Feb 2012 (15.50 hrs): Defence Support Group St Athan final VC10 maintenance completed, with departure of K Mk 3 ZA147 for RAF Brize Norton after undergoing Minor Star servicing. The St Athan double-VC10 hangar facility - appropriately nicknamed ‘Twin Peaks’ has been responsible for deep servicing of the fleet since 1992.

A close up of the anniversary paint scheme on the tail of XR808.
Photo J. Hieminga

- Jun 2012: C1K XR808 is turned out with special tail artwork commemorating the 95th anniversary of 101 Squadron and 50 years of VC10 flying. First seen in public at RIAT, RAF Fairford on 7/8 July 2012.

29 Jun 2012 (Friday): ‘VC10 at 50’ celebration held at Brooklands Museum to mark the first flight of VC10 prototype G-ARTA from the same site exactly 50 years previously - and also 48 years successful combined civilian service. VC10 pilots and engineers speak about their experiences operating the aircraft, and a new exhibition in the restored fuselage of ex-BA Standard VC10 Type 1101 G-ARVM is ceremonially opened. Sadly, the planned flypast of one of the last remaining VC10s in RAF service with 101Sqn has to be cancelled due to operational commitments of the fleet.

28 Aug 2012: A planned three-ship formation with all three flying VC10 variants has to be changed due to delays during maintenance of K4 ZD241. K3 ZA147 and C1Ks XV108 and XR808 carry out the formation flight, overflying several RAF bases.

21 Mar 2013: Retirement of last VC10 K4 ZD241, ex-BOAC/BA Super VC10 G-ASGM. Final flight from RAF Brize Norton to Bruntingthorpe, landing at 12.48hrs.

15 Jun 2013: ZA147 flies as element six, together with a 216 Sqn Tristar, in the annual 'Trooping the colour' flypast over Buckingham Palace. Last time a VC10 has participated in this event.

29 Jul 2013: Final flight for last C1K XR808 in service, from RAF Brize Norton to Bruntingthorpe.

3 Sep 2013: ZA147 returns from last ever VC10 detachment to 1312 Flight at RAF Mount Pleasant.

7 Sep 2013: ZA147 takes part in static show at RAF Leuchars Air Show. Last ever air show appearance for a VC10.

13 Sep 2013: A final session is flown in the VC10 simulators at RAF Brize Norton after which they are powered down for the last time.

20 Sep 2013: Last operational sortie for VC10, flown by K3s ZA147 and ZA150. ZA147 carried out flypasts at Newcastle, Warton, RAF Coningsby, RAF Marham and Birmingham. ZA150 carried out flypasts at RAF Lossiemouth, RAF Leuchars and Prestwick. ZA147 performs last even landing by a VC10 at RAF Brize Norton.

22 Sep 2013: Aviation Enthusiasts day at RAF Brize Norton. ZA147 is available for photos and viewing, together with Tristar ZE705 and C-130K XV303.

24 Sep 2013: Final flight for K3 ZA150, from RAF Brize Norton to Dunsfold Aerodrome for preservation by Brooklands Museum. Carries out air-to-air photography sortie along the way in formation with RAF Voyager ZZ331, with Geoff Lee in the backseat of a RAF Hawk doing the honours. Landing at Dunsfold at 13.43hrs, to be met by fans and dignitaries.

25 Sep 2013: Final ever VC10 flight, K3 ZA147 takes off from RAF Brize Norton after delays due to low clouds on the route. Lands at Bruntingthorpe Aerodrome at 16.02hrs.

17 Nov 2013: Three VC10s take part in a 'Cold War' photoshoot event at Bruntingthorpe: XR808, ZD241 and ZA147.

7 May 2014: Gabe Robb 'Jock' Bryce, who piloted the VC10 prototype's first flight from Brooklands to Wisley passes away at his home in Weybridge, aged 93.

25 May 2014: First public taxi run of a VC10 at Cold War Jets event at Bruntingthorpe Aerodrome by K4 ZD241.

- Sep 2014: Dismantling of C1K XR808 commences at Bruntingthorpe.

21 Jun 2015: Fuselage of C1K XR808 moved by road to RAF Museum Cosford.

29 Aug 2015: First public taxi run of a VC10 at Dunsfold Wings & Wheels show at Dunsfold Aerodrome by K3 ZA150.

3 Nov 2015: Rebuild of C1K XR808 at RAF Museum Cosford completed.

Mar - May 2016: Front fuselage of K3 ZA149 is transported to Sharjah and installed at the Al Mahatta museum in partial Gulf Air livery.

4 Mar 2017: Roy Radford, who piloted the first flight of VC10 K2 ZA141, passes away aged 88.

6 May 2019: BAC stablemate, 1-11 N164W, carried out the type's last ever flight at Baltimore/Washington.

25 Aug 2019: Final public taxi run at Bruntingthorpe Aerodrome for K4 ZD241.

12 Oct 2019: Final public taxi run at Dunsfold Aerodrome for K3 ZA150.

- Aug 2020: ZA150 sold by Brooklands Museum to GJD Aerotech, who purchased it on behalf of US-based Kepler Aerospace with the aim of operating the tanker again. Airframe remains at Dunsfold.

- Nov 2021: US registrations assigned to ZD241, ZA147, ZA148 and ZA150 to support the project to return ZA150 to flight.

20 Apr 2022: Last complete VC10 at Bruntingthorpe, K4 ZD241, scrapped.

29 Jun 2022: 60th Anniversary of prototype's first flight.

Sources: Vickers VC10 - Fiftieth Anniversary 1962-2012 Timeline, John McCrickard.

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