Corgi AA37005 RAF Vickers VC-10 Strategic Transport - No.101 Squadron, RAF Brize Norton, England, 2007 (1:144 Scale)
"Per Ardua ad Astra ("Through Adversity to the Stars)"
- Motto of the RAF
In 1960, the RAF issued Specification 239 for a strategic transport, which resulted in an order being placed by the Air Ministry with Vickers in September 1961 for five VC10s. The order was increased by an additional six in August 1962, with a further three aircraft cancelled by BOAC added in July 1964. The military version (Type 1106) was a combination of the Standard combi airframe with the more powerful engines and fin fuel tank of the Super VC10. It also had a detachable in-flight refuelling nose probe and an auxiliary power unit in the tailcone. Another difference from the civil specification was that all the passenger seats faced backwards for safety reasons.
The first RAF machine (designated VC10 C Mk. 1, often abbreviated to VC10 C1), was delivered for testing on November 26th, 1965, with deliveries to No. 10 Squadron beginning in December 1966 and ending in August 1968. The VC10s were named after Victoria Cross (VC) medal holders, displaying the VC holder's name above the forward passenger door. VC10 C1 aircraft were supplied to the RAF in specific configuration of a forward freight door (as per the K3), the "super" VC10 wing (as per the K3 and K4) and the fin fuel tank.
One aircraft (XR809) was leased to Rolls-Royce for flight testing of the RB211 turbofan between 1969 and 1975. On return to the RAF it was found that the airframe had become distorted, due to the increase in power from the RB211 fitted to one side of the fuselage over the Conways fitted to the other side. It was considered uneconomical to repair and was instead used for SAS training, before being scrapped.
In late 1977, studies were started into converting redundant commercial VC10s into air-to-air refuelling tankers, with the RAF placing a contract with British Aerospace to convert five former BOAC (that had been operated by Gulf Air) Standard VC10s and four former East African Airways Super VC10s as air-to-air refuelling tankers. These were designated VC10 K2 and VC10 K3 respectively. During conversion, extra fuel tanks were installed in what was previously the passenger cabin. These increased the theoretical maximum fuel load to 85 tons/77 tonnes (K2) and 90 tons/82 tonnes (K3); the fin fuel tank of the Super VC10 making the difference. In practice, the fuel load would be capped by the maximum take-off weight before the tanks are completely full. Both variants had refuelling pods mounted under the wings and a centreline refuelling point, known as a Hose Drum Unit (HDU), was installed in the rear freight bay. An in-flight refuelling probe was fitted on the nose, allowing fuel to be taken from the VC10, Victor or TriStar tankers.
Conversion to K2, K3 and K4 tanker role of the previous civil aircraft took place at BAE Systems Filton site. Because the K3s had a forward freight door this facilitated the insertion of five upper fuselage tanks in the main fuselage of the aircraft. In the case of the K2s, there was no forward freight door and it was required to dismantle a large section of the fuselage roof structure for the insertion of the five upper fuselage tanks. This proved to a mammoth task. In the K2 and K3 conversions extensive floor reinforcement was required to accommodate the additional weight of the five tanks and fuel load. K2 and K3 aircraft were classed as three point tankers, consisting of two wing mounted HDU and one centre fuselage HDU.
Pictured here is a 1:144 scale diecast replica of a RAF Vickers VC-10 Strategic Transport that was attached to No.101 Squadron, then deployed to RAF Brize Norton, England, during 2007.
Now in stock!
Release Date: March 2011
Historical Account: "Gas Line" - In 1978, the RAF had five ex-BOAC VC10s and four ex-East African Airways Super VC10s converted to air-to-air refuelling tankers. These were known in service as the VC-10 K2 and VC-10 K3 respectively. Both variants had underwing refuelling pods, and a centreline refuelling point installed in the rear freight bay. An in-flight refuelling probe was fitted on the nose, allowing fuel to be taken from other tankers.
In 1981, with the retirement of the British Airways Super VC10 fleet, the RAF obtained 14 ex-British Airways machines, for use as spares hulks and for possible future conversions. The VC10 tankers were in fact so useful that the RAF decided to obtain more of them, awarding contracts in 1990 to Flight Refuelling to update all 13 surviving VC10 C.1 transports to VC10 C.1K/Type 1180 transport-tanker configuration, and to BAE to update five of the spare Super VC10s to VC10 K.4/Type 1170 standard.
The VC10 C.1K conversions were relatively minimal, being fitted with Flight Refuelling Mark 32 HDUs (Hose Drogue Units) and appropriate control systems, but no centreline HDU and no fuselage fuel tanks, enabling the aircraft to retain their full transport capability. The initial flight of the first VC10 C.1K was on June 11th, 1992, and the survivors of the fleet still serve today with No.101 Squadron at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire.