| In the early 1950's Vickers were already working
on designs for a 4 engined jet airliner, originally known
as the V1000. It had a similar layout to the Comet,
but it was a more modern design, featuring a wider fuselage,
slotted flaps and much better performance.
Unfortunately, the government pulled the plug on the
project, as the prototype neared completion.
It has been speculated that behind the scenes dealing
with the Americans may have led to this strange decision.
The government's action stopped the aircraft from becoming
the commercial success that it could have been.
got an outstanding aircraft, loved by passengers
and crew, but due to its specification, never
a favourite with the airlines.
BOAC stated that it still wanted the
aircraft, but only to fly their 'Empire routes' to Africa
and Australia. They stated specifically that they
did not want a Transatlantic airliner. Their
strict requirements had to be incorporated by Vickers
and the project continued as the re-designed VC10.
BOAC ordered 35 in 1957, with an option for
The prototype first flew on 29th June 1962 and it entered
service with BOAC in April 1964.
The VC10 was designed to give good takeoff performance
from hot and high altitude airports, often with short
runways. Powered by 4 Rolls Royce Conway bypass
engines, its large wings, leading edge slats and huge
Fowler flaps, gave it the take off and landing performance
of a much smaller aircraft.
|One of the
few to have a real use for the VC10, East
African was always able to schedule flights
from Nairobi, no matter what the temperature.
But in designing it this way, other trade offs had to
be made, particularly in fuel economy. In hindsight BOAC
had made a bad judgment in asking for a design to fit
the existing airports. With the arrival of the Boeing
707 and Douglas DC-8, most of the airports began to extend
their runways, so as not to be left behind. This
made the VC10's design advantage unnecessary to most major
destinations and hindered its future sales.
Vickers, worried about the type's appeal to
other airlines, had set the VC10's fuel capacity high
enough to allow non-stop flights across the Atlantic.
BOAC had stated from the start that they did not want
this. Vickers also set about a stretched version,
with a 28ft fuselage extension. BOAC demanded that
the stretch be reduced to just 13ft before they would
place an order. This not quite as stretched version
became the Super VC10.
The Super VC10 entered service with BOAC in April
1965, bizarrely on the 'not wanted' Transatlantic service
to New York.
it outlasted BOAC !
BA had sold most of its Standard fleet by
the mid 70's, but used the Super VC10's until
Relations between Vickers and BOAC were not particularly
good, with the airline repeatedly changing its order quantities
and even publicly criticising the aircraft in an attempt
to gain a subsidy for operating it.
A leaked memo from BOAC also showed that they were losing
money with the VC10 and were better off with the 707.
The VC10 was more expensive to buy than a 707 and BOAC's
damning figures cost Vickers a number of overseas sales
and effectively doomed the VC10 to commercial failure.
Later figures showed that its massive passenger appeal,
meant that it averaged a higher income than a 707 on the
same route. Coupled with much lower maintenance
costs, BOAC were actually shown to be making a profit
with the aircraft. BOAC's negative attitude was all a
ones to worry about things like fuel economy
and noise. The RAF has had excellent
use out of VC10's as transport and in flight
The final blow for the VC10 was the development of
newer, more efficient engines. It was not very adaptable,
due to it's clustered engine configuration. While
the 707 and DC-8 could easily take advantage of the newer
powerplants, the VC10 was basically stuck with its uneconomical
Conways for life.
Other airlines did take up the VC10, but never in great
quantities. BUA (later British Caledonian), Ghana,
Malawi, Gulf Air, Nigerian had the Standard and East African
had the Super. BOAC later became British Airways,
who flew both types for many years. The RAF also
used both types, taking most of the surplus from BOAC's
BA started to replace the Standard VC10, many
were taken on by Gulf Air, where they were
subsequently replaced with the more efficient
Renowned for its distinctive looks, quiet cabin and sparkling
performance, the VC10 was amazingly popular with both
flight crews and passengers. It did managed some
passenger service into the 1980's, but was on the whole
phased out rather early.
In all, only 54 VC10's were built.
The VC10 now only operates in the RAF, where it has
been a good servant for many years as the converted 'K'
series of transport and in-flight refueling tanker.
modern face of the VC10. The commercial
aircraft may now be a museum piece, but the
RAF will keep them flying for as long as possible.
Originally the RAF (10 squadron) had the Standard VC10
in a transport role only. The original tanker conversions,
the K2, were started in the late 70's on Standard VC10's
acquired from the airlines. These were then assigned
to 101 squadron.
With East African going bust in 1977, their Super VC10's
eventually ended up as 101 squadron's K3 tankers.
The ex BA VC10's followed some years later as the K4.
Finally, the 10 squadron Standards were converted to the
C1K in 1996, with wing pods only. Both squadrons of VC10's
were based at Brize Norton and can be seen flying regularly.
However the RAF are looking to replace the aircraft by
2011 and are reducing the number of aircraft in service
10 squardron disbanded in October 2005 with all aircraft
and personnel transfered to 101 squadron.
(Article by David Maltby)
Vickers Super VC10 data
Crew & upto 174 passengers
Engines: 4 Rolls-Royce Conway 43 mk 550 turbofans
Span: 146ft 2in
Length: 171ft 8in
Gross weight: 335,000lb
Max payload: 58,172lb
Max cruise: 568mph at 38,000ft
Range: 4,630 miles with max payload at 550mph
data Civil Airliner Recognition
| VC10s preserved
in the UK
1103 VC10 A40-AB in Oman Royal Flight livery
VC10 G-ASGG in BOAC livery at Duxford
in other countries
1101 VC10 G-ARVF in UAE livery at Hermeskeil,