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Vickers 498 Viking 1A

1946, Aircraft Park, On long term display

Developed as a civil version of the Wellington bomber, this was Britain's first postwar airliner and played a significant part in the development of British civil aviation, particularly with many independent airlines. Designed by Rex Pierson and built by Vickers-Armstrongs at Brooklands, the prototype (G-AGOK) made its first flight from nearby Wisley on 22/6/45. Many Wellington components were used in its construction - easing the transition towards peacetime aircraft production at Weybridge - including geodetic wings, engine nacelles and undercarriages. Total production was 163 Vikings, all built at Brooklands from 1945-47.

Registered G-AGRU, this was the 12th Viking built and was the second Viking to be delivered to BEA (named ‘Vagrant’) on 9/8/46. Three crew and 21 passengers were carried. In early 1948 the aircraft was bought by British West Indian Airways and served in the West Indies operating from Trinidad as VP-TAX from April 1949 to late 1954.

Back in the UK by 1955, it then spent four years leased to the Kuwait Oil Company in the Persian Gulf. Despite a landing accident at Basra in Iraq on 16/10/55, it returned to Southend in 1959 to join East Anglian Flying Services Ltd. Finally operated by Channel Airways Ltd, G-AGRU finally retired in September 1963 and made its final flight to Holland on 9/1/64 where it was converted into a roadside cafe near Soesterberg.

After purchase by British Airways, G-AGRU returned to Britain in April 1979 for display at the Cosford Aerospace Museum. In July 1991 British Airways and the National Rescue Group moved the airliner by road to Brooklands Museum and Museum volunteers began its restoration in 1997. Now the UK’s only surviving Viking, G-AGRU was formally donated by British Airways to Brooklands Museum in 2005.

Vickers Viking Data

  • Engines: Two 1,675hp Bristol Hercules 634 radial engines
  • Wing span: 89ft 3ins (27.2m)
  • Length: 62ft 10ins (19.9m)
  • Height: 19ft 7ins (6m)
  • Max. speed: 210mph at 10,000ft
  • Range: 1,500 miles at 190mph
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