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Adam Poultney

Very bad news about the Victor

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There's a rumour coming out of RAF Marham that the gate guardian XH672, one of only five surviving complete Victors, may soon be put up for scrap. Apparently this would be due to the deteriorating condition of the airframe and the cost of any potential renovation. I have only heard this indirectly via someone who has recently had a tour of the airfield, but it's looking really bleak for this Victor. 

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Perhaps it’s time that there was a regulation that historical airframes are “listed” like grade A, grade B historical buildings are done and that owners are required to monitor and preserve their condition for future generations? I appreciate this would need more thought as no doubt the law of unintended consequences would surely cut in. Costs discouraging ownership would no doubt be one downside. 
Still it’s an important part of British and indeed international heritage and surely as a nation we can find the funds?  
 

From museums I have visited it seems pretty clear that leaving airframes outside is the fast (well not so fast but inexorable) track to the scrapyard. East Fortunes Vulcan looks pretty sad as do their other outside exhibits so I reckon unless they crack on with any plans to cover up those airframes will get to the point where it’s not economical to preserve them. If so then they should have released them to an organisation who would have looked after them years ago. 

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Very very true indeed, looking at particularly other V Force aircraft from the past that almost made it into preservation, or even did later to fall into bad condition, we have lost every Vulcan B.1 (XA900 and 903 particularly should have been preserved), we've lost a Victor B.1, XA923, at Cosford with their Vulcan B.1 and then Blackpool's Vulcan, XL391, was lost in 2006. 

The Vulcan in Sunderland, XL319, is looking very sorry for herself indeed but a new paintjob is helping to get the aircraft presentable again but I still worry about the structure of the airframe. Many others aren't looking good either.

Thankfully XH648, the last Mk.1 Victor, was taken inside for a full restoration to a static condition despite the corrosion to the airframe, which looking at it was almost as bad as XH673.

I think the safest V Bombers for preservation are certainly Cosford's complete set, XD818, XM598 and XH672. The IMW has XH648 and XJ824 which are safely preserved. XL318 is safe at Hendon, one (I can't remember which) in undercover awaiting eventual restoration (hopefully this happens, but I believe it is a low priority being a British aircraft) in the US. But beyond those few, I don't think any have any guarantee of long term preservation from now.

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Actually that brings up a question, is it worth saving a large quantity of an aircraft, or is saving a small number but preserving them very well better? 

Edited by Adam Poultney

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23 minutes ago, Adam Poultney said:

Actually that brings up a question, is it worth saving a large quantity of an aircraft, or is saving a small number but preserving them very well better? 

Great question!
Personally I would lean towards the latter option; there are few sights more depressing than large numbers of airframes - or cars or tanks or whatever - rusting away in a paddock. 
I also like the proposed idea regarding heritage status. Perhaps it should be law that a certain minimum number of examples of key nominated  types of aircraft etc must be preserved. 

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8 minutes ago, Bandsaw Steve said:

Great question!
Personally I would lean towards the latter option; there are few sights more depressing than large numbers of airframes - or cars or tanks or whatever - rusting away in a paddock. 
I also like the proposed idea regarding heritage status. Perhaps it should be law that a certain minimum number of examples of key nominated  types of aircraft etc must be preserved.

Yes, a graveyard of 'preserved' aircraft is a depressing sight, but sometimes it is the only way to save those aircraft.

The NELSAM comes to mind in this category with its exterior aircraft, all rotting and run down but they are doing their best to keep them on display. I love that museum. They have the last Trident 1C, a Vulcan, a Canberra, an F100 (minus the tail) and a Lightning that looks the best of the lot outside. 

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2e0ef21ae1f34eb2a81573b616cab9bf.jpg

Pictures are mine

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6 hours ago, Adam Poultney said:

........The Vulcan in Sunderland, XL319, is looking very sorry for herself indeed but a new paintjob is helping to get the aircraft presentable again but I still worry about the structure of the airframe. .......

I'm sure XL319 had a survey recently and was found to be in good condition. The "Bluebird" team have mostly repainted the aircraft and even got one engine running this year.

All of these large aircraft that went into preservation with good intentions are large assets to look after. For small museums and the MOD facing budget cuts, spending money to keep them cared for is always going to be tough.

XL319 part way through repaint. Looks ok to me!
vulcan70.jpg

Edited by Army_Air_Force

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Perhaps it's too simplistic a view, but I don't know why maintenance, repair and restoration of gate guardians and other preserved military aircraft hasn't been incorporated into technical training syllabuses, and/or specialised courses, such as BDR? Give the sprogs the same retired aircraft as always to cut their teeth on, working up to eventually complete the courses on historic airframes - a rolling programme with the biggest projects spread over successive courses, and going around the various exhibits as needed...

....at the end of the day, what's going to give a trainee a greater sense of pride and satisfaction - ending their course having made, replaced and repaired parts of a training airframe that dozens have worked on before, or finishing up knowing that they've helped preserve a part of their Service's history, maybe even on display at the establishment to which they're posted?

Edited by andyf117

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It’s fortunate that the IWM at Duxford is restoring their Victor K1, and have been for some time.  I’ve had a couple of ‘tours’ around the airframe and it’s obvious that a great deal of care and attention is being given to preserving / restoring the airframe.
 

I’m not sure when work is expected to be complete but 2 more years rings a bell.  What happens then is up to IWM but one must hope that the aeroplane will be kept under cover.

 

Good point made by Andyf117 above, by tge way.

 

A happy new year to everyone,

 

Jonny

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13 hours ago, andyf117 said:

Perhaps it's too simplistic a view, but I don't know why maintenance, repair and restoration of gate guardians and other preserved military aircraft hasn't been incorporated into technical training syllabuses, and/or specialised courses, such as BDR? Give the sprogs the same retired aircraft as always to cut their teeth on, working up to eventually complete the courses on historic airframes - a rolling programme with the biggest projects spread over successive courses, and going around the various exhibits as needed...

....at the end of the day, what's going to give a trainee a greater sense of pride and satisfaction - ending their course having made, replaced and repaired parts of a training airframe that dozens have worked on before, or finishing up knowing that they've helped preserve a part of their Service's history, maybe even on display at the establishment to which they're posted?

That's a great idea for training/instruction on maintenance. To learn on the older stuff, you can see how the technology progressed. This would even work with cars, truck etc. It's no wonder you go to a mechanic now and they don't know what to do except plug the phone into it.

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2 hours ago, Jonny said:

It’s fortunate that the IWM at Duxford is restoring their Victor K1, and have been for some time.  I’ve had a couple of ‘tours’ around the airframe and it’s obvious that a great deal of care and attention is being given to preserving / restoring the airframe.
 

I’m not sure when work is expected to be complete but 2 more years rings a bell.  What happens then is up to IWM but one must hope that the aeroplane will be kept under cover.

 

Good point made by Andyf117 above, by tge way.

 

A happy new year to everyone,

 

Jonny

Mm XH648 is my first choice for preservation, so I'm very happy that is being saved and then XM715 would be my second choice as it is my local Victor. 

I wonder where the IMW will put their Victor... Hopefully with their Vulcan, XJ824, in hanger 1. I think the back wall can be moved in that hanger so more space can be made if that is the case. 

I'd heard four years for restoration. Really I'd like them to rip out all of the refueling equipment and paint it silver or white but I doubt that would happen. No Victors left in a bomber configuration. 

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On 12/27/2019 at 8:33 AM, busnproplinerfan said:

That's a great idea for training/instruction on maintenance. To learn on the older stuff, you can see how the technology progressed. This would even work with cars, truck etc. It's no wonder you go to a mechanic now and they don't know what to do except plug the phone into it.

Hmm fab idea 20 years ago but atm the training regime (all arms is set and authorised and QAed)....the days of rocking up and 'preseving things 'is few and far between ....it all takes time and money.....MoD is still skint and I really cant see any government helping out much.....is it VFM ...er no .....move along nothing to see ...sad but big handfuls of truth... I remember days of hammering rust of HMS Hornet 1873 or whatever to be honest it was a waste of time and really boring to a young trainee

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1 hour ago, junglierating said:

Hmm fab idea 20 years ago but atm the training regime (all arms is set and authorised and QAed)....the days of rocking up and 'preseving things 'is few and far between ....it all takes time and money.....MoD is still skint and I really cant see any government helping out much.....is it VFM ...er no .....move along nothing to see ...sad but big handfuls of truth... I remember days of hammering rust of HMS Hornet 1873 or whatever to be honest it was a waste of time and really boring to a young trainee

I think society goes in cycles. Out here in the late '60s(before my time) there was a big push of out with the old, in with the new, why you keeping that old junk, out with electric trolley buses, etc. Now we cry for it. I see it happening again. This time the gov'ts running the ideas.

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Awful news if true.

 

I've emailed the Avro Heritage Museum at Woodford to see if they'd consider enquiring with Marham and taking her on if she can be moved. 

 

All of the K2 tanker conversions were done at Woodford in the early 70s so it would be a relevant exhibit if they can find space. 

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I literally just suggested that to one guy who volunteers at the museum! The Victor is such a rare and beautiful aircraft, I'm sure some museum somewhere could take it, a fundraiser would help if it became a serious effort to do that. 

XH648 was taken apart and moved, although only between hangers, before her ongoing restoration. The last Valiant, XD818, was moved from Hendon to Cosford by road. A Vulcan, XL318, has been moved my road in the past. The Victor's airframe is apparently very strong, so despite the corrosion I think the aircraft could take it. If it goes wrong and it's damaged, it only has to be restored to look good from the outside. Aren't half of the internals of XH648's wings going to be replaced with wooden substitutes or other non-flyable materials?

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Posted (edited)
Quote

I am sure by now you will have heard of the possibility that RAF Marham's gate guardian, XH673, may soon be scrapped. The aircraft is one of only five surviving complete Handley Page Victors and one of four Mk2 Victors- all of which are tankers.
The K.2 Tanker conversions were done at Woodford, which would make the aircraft a perfect fit at the museum, being an important part of Avro's history- ironic for a competitor originally from Handley Page.

While the costs of potentially moving the aircraft would be extensive, it can be done. XH648 at Duxford was carefully disassembled and moved prior to the ongoing restoration work. In fact, the first Victor prototype, WB771, was successfully moved by road before the first flight of the type. Other V Force aircraft have been also moved long distances by road, XD818 in the 2000s was moved from Hendon to Cosford, XL318 was moved some time before that to Hendon. I believe the Victor's airframe to be the strongest of the three and likely the easiest to move. And above that I believe it to be something worth preserving for the future.

I am only asking obtaining the aircraft to be considered, the costs may prove to be too much. Failing that, the cockpit at least could be saved. But is it not worth it to preserve such a unique piece of history?
 

This is the email I sent to the museum minus the formal to so and so bits

Edited by Adam Poultney

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I’m afraid it all comes down to money. The cost of dismantling, transport, re erection and preservation at Woodford would be horrendous. It’s only a few years ago that the Woodford Vulcan was under threat. At one point, there were plans to use it in destructive tests to validate modifications to keep XH558 airborne. Having two V-bombers being looked after by volunteers would I’m afraid be such an expensive business, that both airframes could ultimately be threatened.

 

It was predicted at the time of the Vulcan’s retirement, that the grim reaper would eventually claim some of the airframes and so it’s proved. Ultimately, unless the airframes are under cover, in this country at least, that’s a death sentence.

 

If we’re lucky, the cockpit could be saved and maybe other components given to other surviving examples.

 

The other limiting factor is volunteers. I’m guessing that the Woodford Vulcan is quite a task in itself, so halving that to look after the Victor, or somehow doubling the volunteer force (and donations), seems highly unlikely.

 

Better to keep a core of nationally important airframes and concentrate resources and money on those. I believe the British Aviation Preservation Council keeps a list of nationally important airframes which is used by official sources as a reference for funding.

 

Trevor 

 

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Posted (edited)

Fairs but yknow, worth a try ain't it? 

 

As much as I love the Vulcan there are 19 of them left and I'd much rather see one of them go than a Victor of which there are only five... 

 

Just thinking about it, isn't the closest aviation museum to Marham the one at Norwich which also has a Vulcan? Perhaps that is more feasible. Duxford isn't that far away either really. They already have a Victor but they do have space and the resources to preserve it.

Edited by Adam Poultney

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If you don’t ask, you don’t get! Keep us posted.

 

Trevor

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Posted (edited)
4 minutes ago, Max Headroom said:

If you don’t ask, you don’t get! Keep us posted.

 

Trevor

Exactly. At the very least we can hope for the cockpit and other parts to be saved.

If the worst happens and it is scrapped I would love to own an airbrake (or the whole mechanism!) from one. Bit expensive though probably, not to mention one airbrake door is over two meters long! 

Edited by Adam Poultney

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3 hours ago, Adam Poultney said:

I literally just suggested that to one guy who volunteers at the museum! The Victor is such a rare and beautiful aircraft, I'm sure some museum somewhere could take it, a fundraiser would help if it became a serious effort to do that. 

XH648 was taken apart and moved, although only between hangers, before her ongoing restoration. The last Valiant, XD818, was moved from Hendon to Cosford by road. A Vulcan, XL318, has been moved my road in the past. The Victor's airframe is apparently very strong, so despite the corrosion I think the aircraft could take it. If it goes wrong and it's damaged, it only has to be restored to look good from the outside. Aren't half of the internals of XH648's wings going to be replaced with wooden substitutes or other non-flyable materials?

XH672 was flown from Mariam to Shawbury and dismantled there for road transport to Cosford so there’s a precedent for dismantling a K. Mk. 2, but whether or not the expertise remains available is open to question (a friend of mine was a member of the crew who put XH673 on the gate at Mariam but he is now retired and not well enough to do that again).  Both of the other surviving K. Mk. 2s flew to their present homes.

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I think similar suggestions were made on the Flypast forum some time ago, about moving Vulcans and particularly the final fate of XH558. The general consensus was that the skills within the RAF to dismantle a large airframe like that, have it moved and re-assembled aren't there any more. That's not to say it can't be done by someone, but that kind of work and movement would be expensive. As also mentioned, it would take more money and more people to look after it where ever it went to. Is there really the will other than hopeful forum comments?

 

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Posted (edited)

Ok so it seems that it's, as expected, unlikely that the Avro Heritage Museum could get the whole thing but would likely be able to get the cockpit. 

There's the outside possibility that somewhere like the South Wales Aviation Museum might go after it though. Apparently the guy who owns that has had a VC10 moved before so it could happen. 

Best case scenario though is probably Norwich- I've got no information out of there- or the IMW but they'll not be interested as they have XH648.

Edited by Adam Poultney

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Really would be a real shame if this is true, use to love waking up and seeing her out of my window every morning. I do remember a few year ago the SWO at the time was asking all sections on station for volunteers to help clean and look after all 3 jets at Marham, and there was some work that did happen, think it was just cleaning before i left 

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