- Incidental Aircraft -

Click for enlargementsTHE VICKERS VALETTA 
This medium transport plane was based on a metal skinned Wellington bomber and carried a crew of four. Its two radial Bristol Hercules 230 engines, each of 1975 hp., gave it a cruising speed of 172 mph and a maximum of 294 mph. It's ceiling height was 22000 ft. with a range of 1410 miles. The aircraft weighed 24484 lbs. empty and maximum loaded weight was 36500 lbs., thus being able to carry a load of around five tons. Standing 19'6" above the ground, it had a wingspan of 89'3" with a fuselage length of 62'11". The civilian version was the Viking. One should forgive the layman for confusing either with the Dakota. Colloquially this plane was sometimes referred to as 'The Pig'

These superb pictures were obtained from that most excellent site 'Oldprops'.

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Click for enlargementTHE PERCIVAL PEMBROKE

The Percival Pembroke entered service in 1953 taking over the role of light transport and communications from the pre-war designed Anson, it being a development of the Prince civil aircraft. Forty five were delivered to the RAF, the last being in 1958. Variants included those with dual controls for pilot training, and six were of a photo-reconnaissance type.

The last Pembroke was phased out in 1988 after the type had provided 35 years of service.

This photograph is displayed here by kind permission of Mark Rogers owner of the Sweptwings site, one not to be missed by the aviation enthusiast.

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Click for larger alternative pictureTHE GLOSTER JAVELIN

When it was found that modern bombers such as the Canberra could operate at 55000 feet there was an immediate requirement for a Meteor replacement. The prototype Javelin first flew in November 1951 but did not enter service until 1956. It was a delta wing two seater designed for all-purpose day and night all-weather operation and was capable of supersonic speeds. Initially the plane was considered "a bit of a brute to handle" : possibly this view relating to moving it on the ground as the nose wheel was not steerable, the two engine nozzles too close to steer that way and the toe brakes ineffective. However the design also had a more serious inherent fault in that if it entered a spin it was virtually impossible to recover from it, as the controls became ineffective. In addition a spin always followed a stall. Brave test pilots carried out hundreds of spins after modifications and a two stage stall warning device was fitted. One such test resulted in a crash at Brading in the Isle of Wight in December 1955, the pilot ejecting to safety.

This large aircraft had a wingspan of 52ft. and a fuselage of 56ft. A black nose cone contained the Air Interception Mk.17 3cm. radar which could give a range of up to fifty miles. The Navigator operating it in the back seat needed to have short femurs else on ejection the radar console might have kneecapped him. Initially armed with four 30mm Aden cannons, the later versions acquired air-to-air missiles. A long range fuel tank of 250 gallons capacity could be carried beneath either wing. After a difficult gestation period, eventually no fewer whan seven versions were needed to fulfill all requirements but the later versions served successfully in many theatres. There is an excellent website entirely devoted to this aircraft and it states that the "Gate Guardian" at RAF Leeming is a Javelin.

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Click for larger alternative pictureTHE VICKERS VISCOUNT

This is an artist's impression of the World's first gas-turbine 'turbo-prop' airliner which was renowned for it's comfort and low interior noise level, to which I am able to testify. The first one entered service in 1953 and the last in 1964, in all 444 having been built with various developments along the way. Initially it carried 58 passengers but later this was increased to 76. The engines used were the Rolls Royce Darts giving a cruising speed of 320mph with a range of 1400 miles. Wingspan was 93', length 85'. The Transair Viscount which conveyed me to El Adem was of the 800 series with Dart R.Da6 engines each of 1600 shp and designed to cruise between 15000 and 25000 feet. It was equipped wih an electrical galley, a Nursery and a Mothers' Rest Room.

A recent (2010) book on post war aviation suggests that two Viscounts may still be in use in Africa. The enlarged photo is of the "Stephen Piercey", so named in memory of the famous aviation photographer and belongs to the Gatwick Preservation Society and is shown at the Brooklands Museum. I do hope that they will forgive me purloining the image.

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Click for larger alternative pictureTHE de HAVILLAND VAMPIRE

The Vampire was our very first single seater jet fighter of the postwar period, when it saw Squadron service in both the UK and Germany, followed with use by the Royal Auxiliary Air Force.

Design of the DH100 had begun as early as 1942 and the prototype made its first flight on 20th.September 1943. However the first Vampires did not reach the Squadrons until early Summer 1946. The Vampire F3 was a longer range version with a re-designed tail unit and on the 14th.July 1949 six of these belonging to No.54 Squadron were the first ever jet aircraft to fly across the Atlantic under their own power. The Goblin engine which emitted a most distinctive note powered these aircraft to around 550 mph.

It is said that this small aeroplane of rather basic but unusual design is remembered with great affection by the pilots of those days.

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Click for larger pictureTHE AVRO VULCAN

The Vulcan design began in 1947 when a nuclear bomber was required to meet the percieved threat of the Soviet Union. Roy Chadwick first produced a true flying wing design, but this evolved into the familiar Vulcan layout. The first B1 was delivered in 1956 and those aircraft provided the mainstay of our deterrent force, until improvements in the enemy defences made it less able to penetrate deeply into Soviet territory.

However the B2 version was capable of carrying two nuclear devices, having improved engines, a larger wing and in-flight refuelling capability, together with a full and effective ECM suite, and this restored the advantage.

In due course the Soviets upgraded their defences and the Blue Steel nuclear missile was developed for the Vulcan to launch a hundred miles from the target. Use of the American Skybolt missile was the next planned improvement but the Americans cancelled its development, the result being that our airborne deterrent force became outmoded, and Polaris ICBMs carried by the Royal Navy took over that role.

The final Vulcan variant was the K2 - a tanker version created in fifty one days for the Falklands war in 1982, the bomb bay being filled with three huge fuel tanks.

The Vulcan would have flown for its entire service life without ever having dropped a bomb in anger had it not been for the famous seven Black Buck missions to the Falklands which required complex relays of tanker aircraft (mostly Victors) to accomplish.

The above is a very brief precis taken from the fascinating "Handmade by Machine Ltd. site.

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