The first VC10 flew from Brooklands on the 29th June 1962, and was the largest all-British production airliner ever built. With four Rolls-Royce Conway engines grouped in pairs at the back it is very loud by modern standards, although for its time it was regarded by passengers as quiet and comfortable, something the original operator, BOAC, was keen to trumpet, describing it as “triumphantly swift, silent, serene”. A further 53 examples (32 ‘standard’ and 22 Super VC10s) left the factory here over the next eight years. The largest VC10 customer was the British Overseas Airways Corporation, other operators including British United Airways, Ghana Airways and the Royal Air Force.
The RAF bought 14 new VC10s in the 1960s for strategic transport and later went on to purchase aircraft retired from the commercial market, converting a further 14 into air-to-air refuelling tankers during the 1980s and ‘90s. In total, the RAF has operated 28 VC10s of differing variants, and the aircraft conducted a range of tasks from troop and VIP transport, aero-medical missions and air sampling after nuclear tests.
In recent years the VC10s have been used solely for air-to-air refuelling, with their last missions in this role having been completed on Friday 20th September 2013. The VC10 is the second longest serving type in the RAF’s inventory with 47 years of service, just narrowly eclipsed by the English Electric Canberra which was withdrawn in 2006.
Vickers 1103 VC10 ex G-ASIX/A4O-AB (1964)
This aircraft operated in the Sultan of Oman’s Royal Flight, based at Muscat. It was built at Brooklands and initially delivered to British United Airways in 1964. It was eventually sold to the Omani Government in 1974. A4O-AB’s final flight was from Muscat to Brooklands via Heathrow on 6th July 1987.
Vickers 1101 VC10 G-ARVM (1964)
This was the last of the 12 Standard VC10s built at Brooklands for BOAC, making its maiden flight in July 1964. It operated both as a passenger carrier as well as a crew trainer with BOAC and British Airways. In 1974 the British Airways Standard VC10 fleet was retired, apart from Victor Mike, which remained in service as a training aircraft and also as a standby aircraft for the airline’s Super VC10 and Concorde fleets. In 1977 it performed a very low flypast for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Air Display. Finally being retired in October 1979, it made its final flight to the RAF Museum at Cosford and became the first VC10 to be preserved.
In 2006 British Airways offered the fuselage of G-ARVM to Brooklands Museum and it arrived at the Museum in October of that year in two pieces. It has since been rejoined and is now the only surviving VC10 1101 in Britain. The interior was refurbished in 2012 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first flight of the VC10.
Vickers VC10 ZA150 (1969)
VC10 ZA150 was the very last VC10 of 54 built at Brooklands in the 1960s and was one of the last two to fly with the RAF from Brize Norton in Oxfordshire. On its retirement in September 2013 it was acquired by Brooklands Museum and flew in to Dunsfold Aerodrome, where a team of dedicated volunteers maintain it in running order. It has been open for visitors to go on board at the Wings & Wheels events of 2014 and 2015 and at last year’s event it completed a full-bore-acceleration taxying demonstration on the Sunday. It is hoped that an open day for visitors will be held in Spring 2016 – details will be announced on this website as soon as they are confirmed.
ZA150 was originally built as 5H-MOG for East African Airways as a “Combi”, based on the Super VC10 but with a large forward freight door – which greatly eased the conversion of this variant into a tanker aircraft, allowing five huge fuel tanks to be installed on the main deck. After its airline service was completed, this aircraft was stored at Filton for several years before making its first flight as a tanker in 1984.