Gerry Sweet takes a nostalgic look at the Vickers VC10, the last long-haul airliner built solely by the British aircraft industry, as the type celebrates the 60th anniversary of its maiden flight.
The Vickers VC10 was not only the last large airliner to be built by an independent British aircraft manufacturer but, sadly, was also the last in the line of commercial aircraft built solely by Vickers that included the Varsity, Viking, Vanguard and Viscount.
During its relatively short commercial service life its graceful lines and comfortable cabin were appreciated by passengers and crews alike. But its disappointing sales record reflected the attitude of the then national flag carrier, British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC), which had a predilection for American-built aircraft. Fortunately, the Royal Air Force stepped in and prolonged the type’s lifespan by acquiring examples for transport duties. But total sales of just 54 airframes hardly covered the project’s development costs.