Vickers VC.1 Viking

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VC.1 Viking
Vickers Viking 1a - G-AGRN.jpg
Vickers Viking 1A, G-AGRN
Role airliner
Manufacturer Vickers-Armstrongs Limited
Designer R.K. Pierson
First flight 22 June 1945
Introduction 1946
Status retired
Primary user British European Airways
Produced 1945–1954
Number built 163
Developed from Vickers Wellington
Variants Vickers Valetta
Vickers Varsity

The Vickers VC.1 Viking was a British twin-engine short-range airliner derived from the Vickers Wellington bomber and built by Vickers-Armstrongs Limited at Brooklands near Weybridge in Surrey. In the aftermath of the Second World War, the Viking was an important airliner with British airlines pending the development of turboprop aircraft like the Viscount. An experimental airframe was fitted with Rolls-Royce Nene turbojets and first flown in 1948 as the world's first pure jet transport aircraft. Military developments were the Vickers Valetta and the Vickers Varsity

Design and development[edit]

The Ministry of Aircraft Production ordered three prototype Wellington Transport Aircraft to Air Ministry Specification 17/44 from Vickers-Armstrongs Limited. The specification was for a peacetime requirement for a short-medium haul passenger aircraft. To speed development the aircraft used the wing and undercarriage design from the Wellington but the fuselage was new. Although the original contract referred to Wellington Transport Aircraft, on completion, the name Viking was chosen.

The first prototype (designated the Type 491 and registered G-AGOK) was built by the Vickers Experimental Department at its wartime Foxwarren dispersal site and was first flown by 'Mutt' Summers at Wisley Airfield on 22 June 1945.[1] This aircraft crashed on 23 April 1946 due to a double engine failure; no fatalities occurred as a result of the crash. Following successful trials of the three prototypes the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) ordered 19 aircraft. The first BOAC aircraft flew on 23 March 1946. The prototypes were then used for trials with the Royal Air Force which led to orders for military versions (the Viking C2 (12 ordered as freighter/transports) and the modified Valetta C1).

The jet-powered Vickers Nene Viking G-AJPH

The initial 19 production aircraft (later designated the Viking 1A) carried 21 passengers, they had metal fuselages and - except for the wing inboard of the nacelles - fabric-clad geodetic wings and tail units. Following feedback from customers, the next 14 examples, known as the Viking 1, featured stressed-metal wings and tail units. The next variant, the Viking 1B, was 28 in (71 cm) longer, carrying 24 passengers with up-rated Bristol Hercules piston engines, achieved a production run of 115. One of this batch was changed during production to so that it could be fitted with two Rolls-Royce Nene turbojet engines, with its first flight on 6 April 1948. In 1948, on the 39th anniversary of Blériot's crossing of the English Channel, the Type 618 Nene-Viking flew HeathrowParis (Villacoublay) in the morning carrying letters to Bleriot's widow and son (secretary of the FAI), who met it at the airport. The flight of 222 miles took only 34 minutes. It then flew back to London in the afternoon. It obtained a maximum speed of 415 mph (668 km/h) at 12,000 ft (3,700 m) and averaged 394 mph (634 km/h).[2] In 1954 it was bought from the Ministry of Supply and underwent the substantial conversion to Hercules 634 piston engines by Eagle Aviation to join their fleet.[3]

Production finished in 1948, including 16 for the RAF of which 4 were for the King's Flight,[4] but in 1952 BEA adapted some to a 38-passenger layout, taking the maximum payload up from 5,500–7,200 lb (2,500–3,300 kg). All Vikings featured a tailwheel undercarriage.

The 58th Viking (c/n 158) became the prototype of the military Valetta, of which 262 were produced for the RAF. When production of this strengthened but externally similar type ended in 1952, a flying classroom version with tricycle undercarriage was already being delivered to the Royal Air Force (RAF), called the Varsity.[5] All but one of those entered RAF service, the other example going to the Swedish Air Force. The production of 161 Varsities kept the Hurn works busy until January 1954, and they enjoyed a long service life. Examples are preserved at Brooklands Museum, the Imperial War Museum Duxford and the Newark Air Museum.

Operational history[edit]

BEA Vickers Viking 1B G-AHPO "Venturer" at Manchester Airport in 1952

The first Viking was flown from Vickers' flight test airfield at Wisley, Surrey, by chief test pilot Joseph "Mutt" Summers on 22 June 1945 and the third aircraft built was delivered to BOAC at Hurn near Bournemouth on 20 April 1946. Upon the delivery of nine examples to BOAC for development flying, including the two remaining prototypes, British European Airways (BEA) was established on 1 August 1946 to operate airliners within Europe and these first VC.1 Vikings were transferred to the new airline.[6]

After a trial flight from Northolt to Oslo on 20 August 1946 by the newly formed BEA, the first regular Viking scheduled service commenced between Northolt and Copenhagen Airport on 1 September 1946.[7]

In all 163 Vikings were built. The initials "VC" stood for Vickers Commercial,[8] echoing the "VC" precedent set by the earlier Vimy Commercial of 1919. Vickers soon ceased to use the 'VC' letters, instead using type numbers in the 49x and 600 series, which indicated the specific customer airline.

Viking 1B of the Arab Legion Air Force (Jordan) at Blackbushe Airport, Hants, in April 1955

BEA operated their large fleet of Vikings on many European and UK trunk routes for eight years. From 1951, the remaining fleet was modified with 36, instead of 27 seats, and named the "Admiral Class". BEA operated the Viking until late 1954, when the last was displaced by the more modern and pressurised Airspeed Ambassador and Vickers Viscount.

BEA sold their Vikings to several UK independent airlines for use on their growing scheduled and charter route networks. Some were sold to other European operators. An ex-BEA Viking 1B was fitted out as a VIP aircraft for the Arab Legion Air Force, mainly for the use of the King of Jordan.[9] Most Vikings had been retired from service by the mid-1960s and the sole surviving example in the UK is owned by Brooklands Museum where it is under long term restoration.


Prototypes with two 1,675 hp (1,250 kW) Bristol Hercules 130 engines, three built.
Viking 1A
Initial production version with geodetic wings and two 1,690 hp (1,261 kW) Bristol Hercules 630 engines.
Viking 1
Production aircraft with stressed skin mainplanes and two 1,690 hp (1,261 kW) Bristol Hercules 634 engines.
Viking 1B
Viking 1 with "long nose", 113 built.
Nene Viking
One Viking 1B aircraft modified for trials with two 5,000 lbf (22.3 kN) Rolls-Royce Nene I turbojets.
Viking C2
British military designation of the Viking 1; VIP transport aircraft for the King's Flight of the RAF.
Valetta C1 & C2
Modified design with strengthened floor and large freight door.
Varsity T1
Highly modified Valetta design with tricycle undercarriage for navigation and crew training.

Type numbers[edit]

Type 491
First prototype
Type 495
Second prototype
Type 496
Third prototype
Type 498
Viking 1A for British European Airways
Type 604
Viking 1B for Indian National Airways with two Hercules 634 engines.
Type 607
Valetta prototype for Ministry of Supply with two Hercules 634 engines.
Type 610
Viking 1B for British European Airways
Type 613
Projected fuel transport variant, not built.
Type 614
Viking 1A for British European Airways
Type 615
Viking 1 for the Argentine government with two Hercules 634 engines.
Type 616
Viking 1 for Central African Airways
Type 618
Nene Viking for Ministry of Supply
Type 620
Viking 1 for the Argentine government with two Hercules 630 engines.
Type 621
Viking C2 for the Royal Air Force with two Hercules 130 engines.
Type 623
Viking C2 for the Royal Air Force with two Hercules 134 engines. Two ordered for use by the King's Flight for a royal tour of South Africa, one aircraft for the King and one for the Queen.
Type 624
Viking C2 for the Royal Air Force with two Hercules 134 engines. One ordered for use by the King's Flight for a royal tour of South Africa for use by the state officials in 21-seat configuration.
Type 626
Viking C2 for the Royal Air Force with two Hercules 134 engines. One ordered for use by the King's Flight for a royal tour of South Africa as a mobile workshop support aircraft.
Type 627
Viking 1B for Airwork Limited
Type 628
Viking 1B for DDL with two Hercules 634 engines.
Type 631
Projected 34-seat variant, not built.
Type 632
Viking 1B for Air India with two Hercules 634 engines.
Type 634
Viking 1B for Aer Lingus with two Hercules 634 engines.
Type 635
Viking 1B for South African Airways with two Hercules 634 engines.
Type 636
Viking 1B demonstrator.
Type 637
Valletta C1 for the Royal Air Force with two Hercules 230 engines.
Type 639
Viking 1 for British European Airways
Type 641
Viking 1 for Suidair International
Type 643
Viking 1 for Suidair International with two Hercules 630 engines.
Type 644
Viking 1B for Iraqi Airways
Type 649
Viking 1B for Pakistan Air Force with two Hercules 634 engines.
Type 651
Valetta C1 for the Royal Air Force with two Hercules 634 engines.
Type 657
Viking 1A conversions from Type 498 for BSAAC.


Civil operators[edit]

Vickers Viking 1 of Aero-Transport (Austria) in 1958
  • Aero Transport
  • Bernado Pasquelle
  • Government of Mexico
 Portugal (Portuguese India)
  • It was In personal use of first Governor General of Pakistan Quaid E Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah
 South Africa
Central African Airways Vickers Viking at London Heathrow in May 1953
 Southern Rhodesia
 Trinidad and Tobago
Viking C.2 of Channel Airways at Manchester Ringway on 25 July 1964
Viking 1B of Eagle Airways at Manchester Ringway in July 1959
 United Kingdom

Military operators[edit]

 United Kingdom

Accidents and incidents[edit]

Of the 163 aircraft built 56 aircraft were lost in accidents – the following were some notable accidents:

  • 5 April 1948 (1948-04-05): G-AIVP operated by British European Airways collided with a Soviet Yak-3 near Berlin, 15 killed.
  • 21 April 1948 (1948-04-21): British European Airways Flight S200P (G-AIVE) crashed on approach to Glasgow-Renfrew Airport. No one was killed but 14 were injured.
    Remains of 21 April 1948 G-AIVE crash
  • 8 February 1949 (1949-02-08): OY-DLU operated by Det Danske Luftfartselskab (DDL) crashed into the sea off Copenhagen, Denmark, with the loss of all 27 occupants.[10]
  • 31 October 1950 (1950-10-31): G-AHPN operated by British European Airways crashed during a Ground Control Approach landing in bad visibility (40-50 yd) at London Northolt airport, England. The pilot failed to overshoot and 25 passengers and three crew died. It was subsequently recommended that it be an offence for aircraft to go below a minimum height when ground visibility was low.[11]
  • 17 February 1952 (1952-02-17): G-AHPI operated by Hunting Air Travel flew into the La Cinta mountain range, Italy, with the loss of all 31 occupants.[12]
  • 5 January 1953 (1953-01-05): G-AJDL operated by British European Airways crashed on approach at Belfast-Nutts Corner Airport, Northern Ireland, three crew and 24 passengers died.[13][14]
  • 12 August 1953 (1953-08-12): G-AIVG operated by British European Airways crashed on take-off at Le Bourget-Paris, France, four crew and 30 passengers injured but survived.[15]
  • 1 May 1957 (1957-05-01): G-AJBO operated by Eagle Aviation crashed after engine failure near Blackbushe Airport, England, five crew and 29 passengers died.
  • 2 September 1958 (1958-09-02): G-AIJE operated by Independent Air Travel crashed into a house as the flight crew were trying to return to London Heathrow Airport after reporting engine problems. All three crew died and four on the ground also died.[16]
  • 9 August 1961 (1961-08-09): G-AHPM operated by Cunard Eagle Airways crashed into a mountainside near Holta on approach to Stavanger Airport, Sola in Norway with the loss of all 39 occupants.[17] The Norwegian report on the incident[18][19] concluded that the pilot was off-course for unknown reasons. The 50th anniversary was marked by a book published in summer 2011, The Lanfranc Boys by Rosalind Jones, sister of Quentin Green, one of the victims.[20] The aircraft carried 34 boys and 2 members of staff from The Archbishop Lanfranc School in Croydon
  • 11 September 1963 (1963-09-11): F-BJER operated by Airnautic crashed into a mountain in the Pyrenees with the loss of all 40 occupants, the worst Viking accident.[21]

Aircraft on display[edit]

G-AGRU under restoration at the Brooklands Museum in 2009

Several Viking aircraft are on public display in aerospace museums worldwide, they include:

South Africa
United Kingdom

Specifications (Viking 1B)[edit]

Vickers Viking 1B

Data from Vickers Aircraft since 1908 [30]

General characteristics


See also[edit]

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era


  1. ^ Andrews and Morgan 1988, p. 398.
  2. ^ "First Jet Transport", Flight: 134, 29 July 1948 
  3. ^ "From Jets to Pistons", Flight: 464, 17 September 1954 
  4. ^ Owen Thetford 'Aircraft of the Royal Air Force' 1988 8th Ed, p. 649.
  5. ^ Green and Pollinger 1955, p. 184.
  6. ^ Taylor 1983, p. 39.
  7. ^ Chorlton Aeroplane Monthly Winter 2013, p. 81.
  8. ^ Flight 24 May 1945
  9. ^ Martin 1975, p. 26.
  10. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident Vickers 628 Viking 1B OY-DLU Barsebäck (Öresund)"
  11. ^ "Lessons from an Accident." Flight , 19 October 1951, pp. 218–219. Retrieved: 6 August 2011.
  12. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident Vickers 614 Viking 1 G-AHPI Monte la Cinta"
  13. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident Vickers 610 Viking 1B G-AJDL Belfast-Nutts Corner Airport"
  14. ^ "Finding of the Nutt's Corner Inquiry". Flight, 31 July 1953, p. 153.
  15. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident Vickers 610 Viking 1B G-AIVG Paris Le Bourget Airport"
  16. ^ Flight 21 August 1959, p. 58.
  17. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident Vickers 610 Viking 3B G-AHPM Stavanger"
  18. ^ Flight International 4 October 1962 "Stavanger Accident Report"
  19. ^ British Pathe News
  20. ^
  21. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident Vickers 610 Viking 1B F-BJER Pic de la Roquette"
  22. ^ "Airframe Dossier - Vickers Viking 1B, s/n T-9 ARA, c/n 163, c/r LV-XET". Aerial Visuals. Retrieved 6 June 2017. 
  23. ^ "Airframe Dossier - Vickers Viking 1B, s/n XF640 RAF, c/r G-AGRW". Aerial Visuals. Retrieved 6 June 2017. 
  24. ^ "THE QUAID'S AIRCRAFT". Pakistan Air Force Museum. Pakistan Air Force Museum. Retrieved 6 June 2017. 
  25. ^ "Das Projekt "Save-a-Viking"". Save-a-Viking (in German). Retrieved 6 June 2017. 
  26. ^ "Der Unfall der "G-AIVG"". Save-a-Viking (in German). Retrieved 6 June 2017. 
  27. ^ "Was im Jahr 2010 bei "Save-a-Viking" geschah:". Save-a-Viking (in German). Retrieved 6 June 2017. 
  28. ^ "Vickers Viking VC.1A". SAA Museum Society. Retrieved 6 June 2017. 
  29. ^ "Vickers 498 Viking 1A". Brooklands Museum. Brooklands Museum Trust Ltd. Retrieved 6 June 2017. 
  30. ^ Andrews and Morgan 1988, p. 416.
  31. ^ Jackson 1988, p. 221.
  32. ^ a b Bridgman 1951, p. 92c.
  • "Air Commerce: The Southall Accident: Report of the Public Inquiry". Flight, 21 August 1959, p. 58.
  • Andrews, C.F. and E.B. Morgan. Vickers Aircraft since 1908. London:Putnam, 1988. ISBN 0-85177-815-1.
  • Bailey-Watson, C. B. "Vickers Viking". Flight, Vol. XLVII, No. 1900, 24 May 1945. pp. 556a–d, 557.
  • Bridgman, Leonard. Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1951–52. London: Sampson Low, Marston & Company, Ltd, 1951.
  • Chorlton, Martyn. "Database: Vickers VC.1 Viking". Aeroplane, Vol. 41, No. 12, Winter 2013. pp. 74–87. ISSN 0143-7240.
  • Green, William and Gerald Pollinger. The Aircraft of the World. London: Macdonald, 1955.
  • Jackson, A.J. British Civil Aircraft 1919–1972: Volume III. London: Putnam, 1988. ISBN 0-85177-818-6.
  • Martin, Bernard. The Viking, Valetta and Varsity. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1975. ISBN 0-85130-038-3.
  • Taylor, H.A. "The Viking... Vickers Commercial One". Air Enthusiast, No. 21, April–July 1983, pp. 38–48. ISSN 0143-5450.

External links[edit]