22 November 2017
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Established 2005
Vickers Viscount Network
A Virtual Museum dedicated to the Vickers-Armstrongs VC2 Viscount
   

Viscount c/n 1

Operational Record

Photo of Viscount c/n 1
Ministry of Supply


England flag England

This V.630 series Viscount was built for
Ministry of Supply as G-AHRF

It first flew on Friday, 16 July 1948 at Wisley, Surrey, England powered by Rolls-Royce Dart 502 engines.


During its life this aircraft was also owned and/or operated by
Vickers-Armstrongs (Aircraft) Ltd. and British European Airways (BEA)


Photo of Viscount c/n 1
Vickers-Armstrongs (Aircraft) Ltd


England flag England

Its final owner/operator was
Vickers-Armstrongs (Aircraft) Ltd as G-AHRF.

Its fate:-
Damaged beyond economic repair landing at possibly Wadi Seidna Airfield, north of Khartoum, Sudan 27 August 1952.

The remains were buried in the sand. Are they still there? The single runway airfield at Wadi Seidna is now used by the Sudanese Air Force. An older, and now disused runway may well have been the one that the Viscount used, if this truly is the location of its demise.


Operational record
Photo of Vickers-Armstrongs (Aircraft) Ltd Viscount None

Country of Registration United Kingdom

April 1945 to May 1946

Vickers-Armstrongs (Aircraft) Ltd

None - c/n 1 - a V.630 series Viscount
United Kingdom registered

19 April 1945
Sir Ralph Sorley of Ministry of Aircraft Production (MAP) instructed his Director of Technical Development NE Rowe to arrange for Vickers to proceed with a development of the Brabazon 11B requirement.

11 May 1945
Type V.609 outline design requirements passed from the Ministry of Civil Aviation to Vickers - Armstrongs for a 24 seater / 3 flight crew aircraft with a payload of 7,500 lb at a range of 700 miles and a cruising speed of 240 kt at 20,000 feet. The aircraft must be capable of taking off on three engines within 1,200 yards and land within the same distance.

13 June 1945
Vickers submitted their proposal for the VC2 at an estimated cost of £58,000 powered by Rolls-Royce Dart engines.

17 April 1946
Specification 8/46 issued by the Ministry of Supply to Vickers for four Armstrong Siddeley Mamba powered prototypes but this was later reduced to two.

23 May 1946
Vickers VC2 registered to the Ministry of Supply.


Photo of Ministry of Supply Viscount G-AHRF

Country of Registration United Kingdom

May 1946 to October 1948

Ministry of Supply

G-AHRF - c/n 1 - a V.630 series Viscount
United Kingdom registered

23 May 1946
Vickers VC2 registered to the Ministry of Supply.

11 November 1946
It was in the Flight Magazine 'Paris Aero Show' report that the Vickers VC2 was first referred to as the Viceroy.

Flight Magazine - 28 November 1946 - Vickers VC2 becomes the Viceroy


7 August 1947
Vickers-Armstrongs announces that the type name of the VC2 is to be changed from Viceroy to Viscount. This change is due to the political changes in India resulting in an independent state within the British Commonwealth.

Flight Magazine - 7 August 1947 - Viceroy becomes Viscount


27 August 1947
Ministry of Supply approved the fitment of Rolls-Royce Dart Mark 502 engines in place of the Armstrong Siddeley Mambas before assembly was finalised. The airframe was built at Foxwarren, Surrey, England.

Flight Magazine - 20 November 1947 - Introducing the Viscount


The prototype was now known as the type V.630.

Aircraft transferred by road from Foxwarren, Surrey, England to Wisley Airfield, Surrey, England for final assembly in 12 passenger configuration. This airfield was owned by Vickers.

June 1948
Aircraft rolled out at Wisley Airfield, Surrey, England in natural metal with no markings except for the registration.

First flight from the grass runway at Wisley, Surrey, England.
First flight from the grass runway
at Wisley, Surrey, England

16 July 1948
First flight from the grass runway at Wisley Airfield, Surrey, England piloted by Joseph 'Mutt' Summers and Gabe Robb 'Jock' Bryce.

The flight lasted for twenty minutes around the local area. The only defect was a faulty fuel flow gauge for one of the Dart engine instruments. Mutt remarked after the flight that it was 'the smoothest and best flight I have ever flown', a comment that was to be echoed by thousands of airline pilots and tens of thousands of their passengers in the following years and decades to come.

Flight Magazine - 22 July 1948 - Another British first


2 September 1948
Introduced to the press at Weybridge Airfield, Surrey, England, now in a full Vickers-Armstrongs livery including flying demonstrations.

September 1948
Exhibited at the SBAC show at Farnborough Airfield, Hampshire, England including flying demonstrations with a total time of only 15 hours flying at that point.

20 September 1948
Flown to a French military airfield at Villacoublay, near Paris, France for demonstration flights.

October 1948
Civil registration cancelled and allocated military serial VX211.


Photo of Ministry of Supply Viscount VX211

Country of Registration United Kingdom

October 1948 to August 1949

Ministry of Supply

VX211 - c/n 1 - a V.630 series Viscount
United Kingdom registered

October 1948
Civil registration cancelled and military serial allocated. Roundels applied to the Vickers-Armstrongs livery.

29 October 1948
Captain Mutt Summers took the aircraft to Hucknall Airfield, Nottinghamshire, England and Rolls-Royce staff, including Managing Director Mr E W Hives and Chief Development Engineer Mr R N Dorey were taken on a local demonstration flight. They were all very impressed on how quiet and smooth the flight was.

Other Dart powered aircraft based at Hucknall at that time for flight trials were an Avro Lancaster and a Vickers Wellington.

December 1948
Flights carried out for the press with George Edwards in attendance to answer questions. 'Have you ironed out the bugs?' asked one reporter. 'That's what's worrying us,' was Edwards' characteristic reply. 'We can't find any!'

June 1949
Pressurisation system fitted.

19 August 1949
Registered to Vickers-Armstrongs (Aircraft) Ltd.


Photo of Vickers-Armstrongs (Aircraft) Ltd Viscount G-AHRF

Country of Registration United Kingdom

August 1949 to July 1950

Vickers-Armstrongs (Aircraft) Ltd

G-AHRF - c/n 1 - a V.630 series Viscount
United Kingdom registered

19 August 1949
Re-registered from the Ministry of Supply - VX211 to Vickers-Armstrongs (Aircraft) Ltd for trials use.

6 - 11 September 1949
Exhibited at the Society of British Aircraft Constructors (SBAC) air show at Farnborough Airfield, Hampshire, England with British European Airways Corporation (BEA) titles, logo and Union flag applied to the basic Vickers livery.

15 September 1949
Restricted Certificate of Airworthiness (No.7796) issued after 290 hours and 160 flights which did not include the pressurisation or thermal de-icing systems or tropical operations. This was the first C of A issued to a turbine transport aircraft anywhere in the world.

September 1949
Pressurisation trials carried out involving flights above 30,000 feet and emergency descents.

December 1949
During a demonstration flight to Aer Lingus from Collinstown Airport, Dublin, Ireland with George Edwards on board there was an incident near Dublin which could have been disastrous.

Vickers test pilot Gabe Robb 'Jock' Bryce found that the elevators, ailerons and rudder became jammed as he reached 19,000 feet. He advised the Aer Lingus passengers to put on their seat belts due to 'bad weather' and requested that George Edwards should join him in the cockpit. Jock explained the serious situation to George and after they both attempted to move the controls Jock started to gently manoeuver the aircraft by reducing engine power. As he descended towards Dublin Airport the controls gradually became free and he was able to make a normal landing without the need to alert the control tower of his difficulties. The Aer Lingus representatives were unaware of the drama and were advised that the demonstration was cut short due to the impending bad weather.

After the aircraft was pushed into a hangar puddles of water started to appear on the floor adjacent to both tailplanes and the rudder. Both Jock and George began to realise that the control problem had been caused by an ice build-up in the small gap between the elevators and rudder and the static tailplanes and tail fin. This gap was covered by a thin fabric which had frozen as the altitude increased.

Both Jock and George were grateful that this design problem was found so quickly and hadn't resulted in a crash, which could have been disastrous for the Viscounts' reputation at such an early stage in its career. The fabric covering was deleted from this and all subsequent aircraft.

January 1950
Icing and de-icing trials were carried out, with the aircraft based at Shannon Airport, County Clare, Ireland. Over a three day period it flew out into the Atlantic at altitudes between 5,000 and 10,000 feet to locate areas of icing. A total of 10 hours flying was utilised in performing these trials which proved to be very successful.

20 March 1950
Departed from Northolt Airport, England on an eight European capital tour with the aircraft painted in a new British European Airways (BEA) livery. 4,400 miles were flown by Vickers test pilots Gabe Robb 'Jock' Bryce and Joseph 'Mutt' Summers together with BEA Captain W J Wakelin which involving 61 flying hours and 70 landings. One sector was flown with two engines feathered during a descent to demonstrate the engines reliability and potential fuel economy measures at low altitudes, although this was later abandoned for safety reasons. The aircraft remained in BEA colours for the rest of its life.

4 June 1950
Departed Wisley Airfield, Surrey, England to Blackbushe Airport, Hampshire, England, flown by Vickers test pilot Joseph 'Mutt' Summers and BEA Captain Richard 'Dickie' Rymer, who was the first airline pilot to have a turboprop endorsement on his licence. They were accompanied by Ministry of Supply Vickers 607 Valetta C Mk.1 VX541 on loan to Vickers flown by Brian Powell and Gabe Robb 'Jock' Bryce.

5 June 1950
Departed from Blackbushe Airport, Hampshire, England at 07:57 (local) for tropical trials at Khartoum Airport, Sudan and Eastleigh Airport, Nairobi, Kenya, flown by Vickers test pilot Joseph 'Mutt' Summers and BEA Captain Richard 'Dickie' Rymer. They were accompanied by Ministry of Supply Vickers 607 Valetta C Mk.1 VX541 on loan to Vickers flown by Brian Powell and Gabe Robb 'Jock' Bryce to carry all the support crew and equipment and described as a 'tender'. Mutt Summers and Jock Bryce swapped roles during the various test and demonstration flights. Representatives from Vickers-Armstrongs, BEA, Rolls-Royce and A & A E E Boscombe Down travelled with them. During the month of trials eighty takeoffs were performed using a new Water Methanol injection system developed by Rolls-Royce for the Dart engine.

Arrived at Cote D'Azur Airport, Nice, France at 10:54 (local) from Blackbushe Airport, Hampshire, England.

Departed from Côte D'Azur Airport, Nice, France at 13:05 (local).

Arrived at Luqa Airport, Malta 15:42 (local).

6 June 1950
Departed from Luqa Airport, Malta 14:29 (local).

Arrived at RAF El Adem, near Tobruk, Libya at 16:56 (local).

Departed from RAF El Adem, near Tobruk, Libya at 23:38 (local).

7 June 1950
Arrived at Wadi Halfa Airfield, Northern Sudan 03:03 (local) .

Departed from Wadi Halfa Airfield, Northern Sudan 06:21 (local).

Arrived at Khartoum Airport, Sudan at 08:24 (local).

8 June 1950 to 14 June 1950
A total of 2 hours 22 minutes of test and demonstration flying was carried out whilst based at Khartoum Airport, Sudan.

15 June 1950
Departed from Khartoum Airport, Sudan at 03:18 (local) on its way to Nairobi, Kenya.

Arrived at Malakal Airfield, South Sudan at 05:07 (local).

Departed from Malakal Airfield, South Sudan at 06:17 (local).

Arrived at Kisumu Airfield, Kenya at 09:17 (local).

Departed from Kisumu Airfield, Kenya at 10:05 (local).

Arrived at Eastleigh Airport, Nairobi, Kenya at 10:55 (local).

16 June 1950 to 24 June 1950
A total of 11 hours of test and demonstration flying was carried out whilst based at Eastleigh Airport, Nairobi, Kenya.

22 June 1950
A photographic sortie was carried out near Mount Kilimanjaro, (Kibo cone), Tanganyika. The photographs were taken from the removed port rear door position of Ministry of Supply Vickers 607 Valetta C Mk.1 VX541 which was flown by Vickers test pilot Brian Powell. They reached an altitude of 19,600 feet which was bitterly cold for the four on board, even those in the cockpit with the door shut.

26 June 1950
Departed from Eastleigh Airport, Nairobi, Kenya at 03:29 (local) on its way to Khartoum Airport, Sudan. At an early point during the flight the radios (WT) failed, so they returned to Nairobi at 06:04 (local).

27 June 1950
Departed from Eastleigh Airport, Nairobi, Kenya at 03:15 (local) on its way to Khartoum Airport, Sudan after the radios (WT) were repaired.

Arrived at Malakal Airfield, South Sudan at 06:55 (local).

Departed from Malakal Airfield, South Sudan at 08:16 (local).

Arrived at Khartoum Airport, Sudan at 10:07 (local).

28 June 1950 to 5 July 1950
A total of 13 hours of test and demonstration flying was carried out whilst based at Khartoum Airport, Sudan.

6 July 1950
Departed from Khartoum Airport, Sudan at 05:14 (local) on its way back to the UK.

Arrived at Wadi Halfa Airfield, Northern Sudan at 07:18 (local).

Departed from Wadi Halfa Airfield, Northern Sudan at 08:06 (local).

Arrived at Cairo Airport, Egypt at 10:38 (local).

7 July 1950
Departed from Cairo Airport, Egypt at 15:20 (local) on a one hour demonstration flight with representatives from Misrair on board.

8 July 1950
Departed Cairo Airport, Egypt at 04:32 (local) to continue its journey back to the UK.

Arrived at RAF El Adem, near Tobruk, Libya at 06:38 (local).

Departed from RAF El Adem, near Tobruk, Libya at 07:59 (local).

Arrived at Luqa Airport, Malta at 10:52 (local).

10 July 1950
Departed from Luqa Airport, Malta at 07:10 (local).

Arrived at Cote D'Azur Airport, Nice, France at 10:14 (local).

Departed from Cote D'Azur Airport, Nice, France at 12:16 (local).

Arrived at Blackbushe Airport, Hampshire, England at 15:32 (local) and cleared customs.

Departed from Blackbushe Airport, Hampshire, England at 16:37 (local).

Arrived at Wisley Airfield, Surrey, England at 16:46 (local) after a successful completion of the tropical trials.

The Vickers 607 Valetta C Mk.1 VX541 support aircraft (tender) arrived back at Wisley Airfield at 17:05 (local), having followed the same route home. The Valetta was eventually delivered to the Ministry of Supply 26 July 1950 with more flying hours than was normal for a new aircraft.

27 July 1950
Full Certificate of Airworthiness (No. A-907) issued to allow British European Airways Corporation (BEA) to carry out trial commercial operations.


Photo of British European Airways Corporation (BEA) Viscount G-AHRF

Country of Registration United Kingdom

July 1950 to August 1950

British European Airways Corporation (BEA)

G-AHRF - c/n 1 - a V.630 series Viscount
United Kingdom registered

27 July 1950
Loaned from Vickers-Armstrongs (Aircraft) Ltd to carry out trial commercial operations.

G-AHRF at Le Bourget.
G-AHRF at Le Bourget

29 July 1950
First turbine powered scheduled commercial flight operated by British European Airways (BEA) as BE392X2 departed at 12:48 from Northolt Airport, London, England to Le Bourget Airport, Paris, France took 70 minutes, and was flown by Captains Richard Rymer and W J Wakelin. On board were 14 fare paying passengers who had booked thinking they would be travelling in a Vickers Viking and 10 guests including George Edwards, Sir Frank Whittle and Peter Masefield. An altitude of 18,000 feet was reached with a cruising speed of 273 MPH.

Film of the first flight taken on the 29 July 1950



Forty years after the event on 29 July 1990, and knowing that Viscounts would not be flying for much longer, 'The Friends of Viscount Stephen Piercey' and British Air Ferries (BAF) set out to re-fly the route using V.806 series Viscount G-AOYN.

Film of the commemorative flight to Le Bourget



August 1950
36 more return trips to Le Bourget Airport, Paris, France were carried out over the next two weeks totalling 94:18 flying hours with 1,516 passengers carried through a bank holiday period.

British European Airways (BEA) letter to the first Viscount passengers


15 August 1950
Daily return flights commenced between Northolt Airport, London, England and Turnhouse Airport, Edinburgh, Scotland for the Edinburgh festival flown by Captains Richard 'Dickie' Rymer and W J Wakelin. Journey time was 105 minutes compared with the DC3 time of 135 minutes. 299 passengers were carried in this period.

23 August 1950
Returned to Vickers - Armstrongs (Aircraft) Ltd.

FURTHER READING: Books about British European Airways



Photo of Vickers-Armstrongs (Aircraft) Ltd Viscount G-AHRF

Country of Registration United Kingdom

August 1950 to November 1953

Vickers-Armstrongs (Aircraft) Ltd

G-AHRF - c/n 1 - a V.630 series Viscount
United Kingdom registered

23 August 1950
Returned from British European Airways Corporation (BEA) loan after a total of 127 flying hours in commercial service.

September 1950
Exhibited at the Society of British Aircraft Constructors (SBAC) air show at Farnborough Airfield, Hampshire, England still in the BEA livery but did not take part in the flying display.

Vickers were advertising the production Viscount for £167,000.00 compared to the de Havilland Comet 1 for £450,000.00 and the de Havilland Dove for £17,500.00.

1951
According to Flight International magazine dated 16 March, BEA planned to operate some more services from London to Edinburgh and also to Paris. Did this happen? Details please to information@vickersviscount.net

27 August 1952
Damaged beyond economic repair when the starboard main undercarriage leg collapsed during a landing at possibly Wadi Seidna Airfield, near Wadi Sayyidna, 10 nautical miles north of Khartoum, Sudan. This airfield was used as the main Khartoum airport was closed for runway repairs.

The aircraft was being used for trials of various landing and navigation aids manufactured by several British companies. Details please to information@vickersviscount.net

There were no serious injuries among the 5 on board. It appeared that the light alloy machined bracket securing the undercarriage leg radius rod to the rear spar had failed and the bolt pinning the radius rod to the bracket was also broken.

21 November 1953
Registration cancelled as the aircraft written off. Due to its location it was considered to be beyond economic repair and had served its purpose. The success of the V.700 prototype development (C/N 3) also had an influence on this decision.

Total time 931:15 hours.

After removal of all useful parts and equipment the remains were reportedly buried in the sand.

1958
An eyewitness stated: 'its twisted skeleton still lies half buried in the shifting sands, a solitary monument to civil aviation among North Africa's many war-time graves'.

Is it still there?

The single runway airfield at Wadi Seidna is now used by the Sudanese Air Force. An older, and now disused runway may well have been the one that the Viscount used, if this truly is the location of its demise.


Photo of BEA - British European Airways Viscount G-AOJC

The Vickers Viscount Network is always interested to hear from anyone who has information or photographs to help complete the story of the Viscount. If you can help please contact us at
Information@VickersViscount.net.


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