Collection Item

Vickers Vanguard 953C

The Vanguard was a private venture airliner built to a British European Airways (BEA) specification for high-density medium range routes. Powered by new Rolls-Royce Tyne turboprop engines, the prototype was first flown by Jock Bryce and Brian Trubshaw from Brooklands on 20/1/59. Twenty Vanguards were sold to BEA and 23 to Trans Canada Airlines - a total of 44 built at Brooklands from 1959-63. Passenger operations ended in Indonesia in 1987. Some of the nine 'Merchantman' freighter conversions for BEA in the early 1970s still flew with Hunting Cargo Airlines Ltd (previously Air Bridge Carriers) in the 1990s.

G-APEP ('EP) first flew from Brooklands on 29/11/61. Named 'Superb', it joined BEA at Heathrow on 13/12/61.

After nine years carrying passengers, ‘EP was converted into a Merchantman by BEA in 1969-70. It re-entered service on 23/2/70 and joined the new British Airways Cargo division on 1/4/74.

On 8/11/79, ‘EP was sold to Air Bridge Carriers and stored at East Midlands Airport until entering service in 1981. With stalls fitted inside temporarily in 1991, 'EP carried upto 18 racehorses but, in early 1995, it became the world’s last airworthy Merchantman.

Retired on 30/9/96, its last flight came when donated to Brooklands Museum by Hunting PLC and landed here on 17/10/96, with help from British Airways, the CAA, National Rescue and Trafalgar House Property.

In June 2004, ‘EP was carefully moved across the river from the airfield to its current location.

Collection Data

Date Built

Aircraft Park


Technical Specification

  • Engine: Four Rolls-Royce Tyne Mk 506 propeller turbine engines
  • Wing span: 118ft 7ins (36.2m)
  • Length: 122ft 11ins (37.5 m)
  • Height: 34ft 11ins (10.6m)
  • Payload: 43,000 lb (19,505 kg) of freight
  • Max. take-off weight: 146,500 lb (66,448 kg)
  • Cruising speed: 400 mph at 20,000 ft
  • Max. altitude: 27,000 ft.
  • Operational range: 1,830 miles (with max. payload)