Vickers Valiant
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David Sykes, e-mail, 12.09.2020 10:42

OPERATION TOO RIGHT – Destination New Zealand
‘Operation Too Right’ was the code name for the first Overseas Proving Flight carried out by RAF V-Bombers and which featured two Valiant B Mk1 aircraft, WP206 and WP207 of 138 Squadron, based at RAF Wittering, Northamptonshire, UK. Valiant aircraft were the first of the V-Bombers to enter service and, at the time of Operation Too Right, it was the only operational V-Bomber; the Victor and Vulcan not being available for delivery to the RAF at that time. The two Valiant aircraft taking part in ‘Too Right’ were under the immediate command of Squadron Leader R.G.Wilson DFC, the Captain of WP206 and Operation Too Right was under the overall command of Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Bomber Command, Air Marshall Sir George Mills who accompanied the tour with his wife, Lady Mills, flying in their distinctive VIP Hastings. The most southerly destination of Too Right was to be Christchurch, New Zealand and all aircraft, consisting of the two Valiants, the VIP Hastings and four other Hastings transport aircraft, which carried the ground support crews, spares and ground-equipment, were due to arrive at Harewood Airport, Christchurch on Monday 19th September 1955. As a member of the ground-crew, I was allotted to Handley Page Hastings TG608, initially flying from RAF Wittering and being one of the four Hastings aircraft, which were flying in relays across the world, in order that a ground-crew, with the necessary spares and equipment, would be in place for the faster Valiants when they landed at the planned destinations on their way to Australia and New Zealand. For the last leg of the outward journey, I departed on TG608 from RAAF Edinburgh Field, South Australia, bound for Harewood Airport, Christchurch, New Zealand, leaving early on the morning of Monday 19th September and arriving at Harewood in the late afternoon. Our flight path on the approach to Christchurch took us over the Southern Alps, which looked absolutely stunning. I appeared to be the only participant of ‘Too Right’ with a camera and I took the opportunity to take a few shots as we flew over those snow-covered mountains. Hastings TG608 belonged to 24 Squadron. RAF and this squadron was referred to as ‘The Commonwealth Squadron’ due to the fact that a significant number of the Squadron’s aircrew were from various Commonwealth countries. Our particular flight was no exception and our aircrew consisted of a British Navigator and Air Quartermaster, whilst the First and Second Pilot were Kiwis. Our Captain (First Pilot) was quite a character and was known as Flt. Lt. ‘Sport’ King. On our approach to Harewood Airport, we made a few steep banked circuits over a remote hill-country farm, which looked just as though it was nestled in a rolling blanket of dark-green velvet. The Second-Pilot was hoping that his family would come running out of the farmhouse waving a tablecloth or something similar but, as this did not happen, our two pilots resumed their original course and pressed on, albeit, I suspect, with some disappointment! They need not have worried, however, because a large group of eager family members were waiting excitedly, for both Kiwi pilots, at the side of the aircraft parking area as we rolled in to our allotted spot and, as we pulled in, I glanced out of the aircraft window on the airfield side and spotted what I now know to be a NZ Frontiersman, standing motionless at attention, in his khaki/green uniform complete with lemon-squeezer hat and it was at that moment I realised that we were well and truly in New Zealand! The pilots evacuated TG608 at speed once they had parked and it was heart-warming to see them being welcomed and fussed over by their families after being away from home for some considerable time. There were crowds of onlookers waiting to see the arrival of the Valiants and the accompanying aircraft and nearby was parked the previously arrived, gleaming, VIP Hastings which had conveyed Air Marshall Sir George Mills and Lady Mills to New Zealand. The Air Marshal was greeted by a Guard of Honour, consisting of RNZAF personnel, assembled there at Harewood.
Our official programme had been well advertised before our arrival and the Valiants gave a flying display over Christchurch before landing. It was the normal practice for schoolchildren and local people to gather outside to see the display and the aircraft followed an itinerary to give as many people as possible the opportunity to see the flights. The aircraft usually did a low- level pass with flaps and landing gear down and with their bomb doors open and then they would gain height and do a high speed run, at low level, with everything closed and retracted, showing a very fast and streamlined profile and making the streaking Valiant blast through at a speed as good as any top-line fighter of the day! It was very impressive! The aircraft were on static display to the general public at Harewood on 20th Se ...

IAN DRYDEN, e-mail, 05.02.2018 08:56

In addition to the above information I had the experience to fly as a passenger in Valiant XD828 from Malta to Honington at 45000 ft doing 500mph. On landing there was a fault in the nosewheel alighnment gear when caused severe shuddering. the plans landed okay, thankfully.

Revd Andrew MacKenzie, e-mail, 21.11.2016 21:13

For Gary O'Keefe. If you let me have your email address I will get in touch. Mine is

Garry O'Keefe, e-mail, 12.09.2016 05:07

Andrew McKenzie: Hello Andrew, Its been some some since l last posted my appeal and I just saw your comment so thanks very much. If you are able to supply any more info on the cracked spar repair kit and any other memories when convenient then I will be most grateful as I am trying to bring as many people's memories together in a publication that I can bring together to show what a significant aircraft this was and what it meant to those involved with it.
All the best.

Simon Welburn, e-mail, 01.08.2016 17:13

Jennie Rogers commented about the landing of the Valiant in 1960, it was at RAF Changi, my Dad took us to the Met Office balcony to watch it fly in. Have photographs. I was 9!!

Paul Scott, e-mail, 01.07.2016 19:20

Although not as evocative as the superb Vulcan and Victor, the Valiant should not be forgotten. Seen in all three colours, Anti-Flash White, camouflage and metallic as well as a large-ish early swept-wing bomber, it is still iconic look back at the Royal Air Force's early, cold-war jet era.

Sue Bennett, e-mail, 02.01.2016 01:03

Interesting reading. Does anyone remember a aircrew member at Marham in the early 60s by the name of F/O Ivan Spring. He was from S. Africa originally .

Jennie Rogers, e-mail, 18.11.2015 18:57

My father Flt Lt Bernard Albert Sedgley was part of 214 Squadron at RAF Marham from 1956 - 1963, and was heavily involved in the flight refuelling trials and demonstrations. He was Navigator for John Garstin, and was Navigator of the crew that flew Valiant 390 on the initial record breaking non stop flight from RAF Marham to Singapore in May 1960. I am trying to establish whether the first landing point in Singapore was at RAF Changi, or the civil airport at Paya Lebar, which had the longer runway. Most sources just say Singapore. Can anybody confirm which is correct please?

rob mather, e-mail, 19.10.2015 22:12

My Dad was Flt Lt Roy Mather DFC, AFC. He flew Valiants for 138 squadron and BCDU. I'd love to hear from anyone who remembers him

Revd Andrew MacKenzie, e-mail, 13.08.2015 18:58

I worked in the Mod. Bay at Marham from Jan-September 1964. Myself and anothe Corporal were given the job of fitting a Vickers repair kit to the cracked spar. Not to bore anyone, but it all ended in tears! If Gary O'Keele wants any more info let me know. I also worked on ECM at Watton from 1957-61, but on Canberras and Comets. The other side of the hangar was for the Valiant stuff.

Anthony guy, e-mail, 31.01.2015 01:37

Hi I'm trying to find my dads old squadron I think it was 90 sqn as he was at honington from around 1959 on the valiant he was a chief tech Mr Owen Guy but everyone called him George as he was a Geordie
Hope you can help me
Mr Anthony Guy

J.L.Jones, e-mail, 17.01.2015 17:46

I was an apprentice with Vickers-Armstrongs Weybridge Surrey 1954-59 and started on the Valliant,Weybridge and Wisley

Bill Neish, e-mail, 14.01.2015 22:26

Hi Barry,

you have me up the loft now looking for pictures that i still should have but i have no idea where just now. The OC was Wing Cdr. Sutton and we had some times with him. I will try to put some meat on the bone when i have some time about some of the things that happened then.

Garry O'Keefe, e-mail, 04.12.2014 20:54

Hello Bill, I'm writing about Valiant RCM/ECM as part of a small book on the aircraft which in itself has long been under-rated, much of this I'm sure due to its unfortunate early demise.

Alistair, Jack, David, Keith and Taff, I like all your comments/recollections and would be pleased to use them in conjunction with the book as it has an emphasis from the ground side of things, though any pilots memories will be welcome.

If any other lovers of the first V feel able to add anything to expand on your web comments then I will be delighted to use anything that gives an idea both of the times and capabilities of this much-liked Vickers aircraft.

All the best.

Bill Neish, e-mail, 18.10.2014 00:36

i was at Finningly for three years on 18 Sqdn on the Valiant where they were disbanded. lots of fond and odd memories. the squadron members were all one family. we were on ECM all the time and caused some embarrassing incidents as well as cocking up others day. it would be interesting to hear from any member still arround

KEITH MELLOWES, e-mail, 24.06.2014 21:48

I was fortunate to be posted to 543 Sqn in 1963 straight from training as Clerk Progress - the first the squadron had ever had and stayed with them until 1966 when I was posted to Singapore but not before the Valiants were scrapped because of fatigue and re-equipped with Victor BSR2.

David Chapman, e-mail, 03.11.2012 13:52

In response to the item from Dave McCormack,, 21.09.2011. I was around 7 when this crash occurred. It was a Friday around lunch time & I was at home during school lunch. The Vulcan crashed into Southwick Recreation ground (West Sussex) with debris spreading over a wide area - plane parts damaged several houses in Croft Avenue, the Brighton - Portsmouth railway line and in the adjacent Manor Hall Road Primary school play ground. The pilot attempted to crash land in the sea close by but lost too much altitude and died in the attempt. Several crew parachuted out with one landing in The Gardens. I can remember returning to school and seeing holes in the playground with parts strewn around. Friends & I spent several weeks afterwards combing the area looking for aircraft fragments to hand in to the crash investigators.

Alistair Allcroft, e-mail, 20.10.2012 23:44

Worked on B Flight Valiants of 232 OCU at Gaydon from spring of 1963 until the fateful event which brought WP217 home with a cracked stbd rear spar. That was the end for these beautiful machines as they never really flew again after that incident.

Where are you; all the old mates from those days? Doug Watson, Pete Nicholls, Mick Leary, all the lads from Billet 53 and any of the whole 'tribe' of us who worked on the best aircraft ever made.

Jack Carr, e-mail, 03.10.2012 23:20

I remember whilst serving at RAF Habbaniya staging post, it Iraq , The Valiant cut through the base at zero feet [almost], frightening the life out of all the guys, on it's record breaking run to Australia in1955 I think. My God, what an aeroplane , so beautiful . Gave me a pride in the Airforce just as I was leaving for home after two and half years . Great times

Richard Ayres, e-mail, 04.07.2012 22:54

My father Flt Lt Hugh Ayres was navigator / bomb aimer on Valiants with 90 Squadron at Honnington between June 1957 and June 1961. He flew mainly with pilot Flt Lt John Cochrane who went on to become Concord test pilot. In September 1958 they took part in the SAC bombing competition in the USA. Later he flew mainly with pilot Flt Lt Davis. My father flew 1222 hours as navigator on Valiants (787 day and 435 night). Hope this is of interest and I'd be interested to hear from anyone who knew him.

Alan Wrigglesworth, e-mail, 07.06.2012 21:17

I was at Gaydon 1957/1958 .on 232OCU.
My trade was airframe and I worked in ASF in 1 and 2 Hangars.
I looked after port wing , wheels and undercarriage. In for a minor service the aircraft would be jacked up, flaps and wheels removed before beginning inspection. Main spars being part of my remit.I well remember the leaky tanks and on one occasion being the only one slim enough having to
go inside the wing through one of the small panels to fit a new liner.Not pleasant complete with mask.
I worked on most of the WZ numbered aircraft

David Anthony Sykes, e-mail, 28.05.2012 13:28

Two articles about the Valiant can be seen in Issue 4 of The Wheel, which is the newsletter for ex-RAF Apprentices domiciled in New Zealand. The web address seems to be rejected from this site, but it reads

David Anthony Sykes, e-mail, 28.05.2012 13:28

Two articles about the Valiant can be seen in Issue 4 of The Wheel, which is the newsletter for ex-RAF Apprentices domiciled in New Zealand. The web address seems to be rejected from this site, but it reads

David Anthony Sykes, e-mail, 28.05.2012 12:56

I was an Instrument Technician at RAF Gaydon from 1955 until 1960. For most of this time I worked on B Squadron, which was the Valiant squadron. (A Squadron flew Victors which entered service about 1 year later than the Valiants.)
Soon after my arrival at Gaydon, I was fortunate in being selected as a member of the Instrument Servicing Team which accompanied Valiants WP206 and WP207 on the first Valiant proving flights to Australia and New Zealand (Operation Too Right). This event took place during September and October 1955. During the trip we almost lost WP 206 when the first stage of number 3 engine disintegrated when flying over the Indian Ocean. The crew were ordered to abandon the aircraft and the Crew-chief already had his emegency oxygen bottle 'pulled' and was about to jettison the door, when the Captain reversed the order to jump. He had found that the aircraft was handling OK and would remain airborne. The aircraft was then diverted to RAF Sharjah in Trucial Oman, where it successfully landed on a runway which was shorter than that recommended for the Valiant. I spent about a week there helping to repair the aircraft and we watched it depart for Negombo, Sri Lanka, after robbing every battery we could find, from nearly every vehicle on the base, in order to total the 112 volts, with sufficient current, to ground start the Valiant. We collectively held our breath as the engine struggled to turn over, until finally it ignited and we all breathed a sigh of relief! From then on, the running engine's generator made easy work of starting the other 3 and the aircraft was able to make an excellent take-off from that undersized runway.
A description of Operation Too Right can be found in Valiants-r-us and also in Issue 4 of The Wheel, which is also on the net. There is also a description, in Issue 4, of the Valiant flying from Gaydon which suffered structural failure and which lead to the scrapping of the Valiant fleet.

Jerry Cleary, e-mail, 15.05.2012 13:03

I was in the VOG (Valiant Operationally grounded) Cell at RAF Honnington. The boss was a fine man - Warrant Officer Finch-Savage. Replacement spares were orders by high prioority signal - and their deliverey tracked by us. Best station I ever served on
Posted from there to GEP RAF BRuggen 1956 - 1959

Bernie Proctor, e-mail, 10.05.2012 11:13

I spent much of my apprenticeship working on this aircraft. Amusing stories abound - when the 'organ lofts' were packed with workers and a handful of stink bombs were dropped in causing near panic and a line standing on the wing. Also the worst kept secret when one was painted white with blue markings for an atomic test. Happy days

D.Penberthy, e-mail, 31.01.2012 15:30

It is a pleasure to see that members of 90 Squadron, RAF Honington, are still alive and kicking. As you know, we lost Freddie Hazelwood several years ago but the Engineering Officer. Mike Grigson,is alive and well. Happy days !

Dave McCormack, e-mail, 21.09.2011 01:15

I've just read with great interest all about the Valiant &
all the subsequent comments. I was a Radar Op. at RAF Truleigh Hill in,as I recall,1955/6 when we were called to a Crash site off Kingston Lane,Southwick nr Shoreham. We were told it was a Valiant-can anyone confirm that? Was the main spar problem, already mentioned, the cause?

Keith Blunden, e-mail, 05.09.2011 19:51

I was an airframe fitter at Marham working on 49,148 & 207 Sqdn aircraft from 1962 until they were withdrawn from service to be replaced by what was in my opinion a much inferior aircraft in the Victor. I believe it was the first and fastest produced of the 3 V-Bombers and was easy to maintain. Really enjoyed the QRA take-offs that occurred on occasions.

L J (Taff) Lark, e-mail, 09.08.2011 13:15

I was one of the first NBS (Mech) course at Yatesbury. The posted Wittering 138. From there to Marham but posted back to Wittering i/c team to refit NBS to a/c returning ti line service after Xmas Isle detatchment. Was selected for team to take part in US SAC Fairchild Trophy competition in 1957/58.Unfortunately we lost our CO at pincastle AFB in a B47 incident. This base is now McCoy INT airport Orlando -- another story.. The Valiant performed wits stable Vulcan beyond the yanks belief Both a/c could well outperform anything at that time in the US bomber fleet and in many cases could out perform fighters at altitude.

choqing, 20.06.2011 06:39

There seems little doubt that the stresses imposed by such a role accelerated the wing-span metal fatigue first reported in late 1964, and which led to the scrapping of all Valiants in January 1965.

Alan Greenwood, e-mail, 09.06.2011 14:15

Wonderful memories of working ( Airframe ) on the Valiants with 90 Sqdn at Honington from 1958-60 and 1962 until they were all "cut-up" and scrapped.
Anyone else ex 90 out there !!

Errol Scott, e-mail, 16.05.2011 04:15

I do beleive my father was the duty controller at Cranfield when the protype crashed.

Kevin Morrow, e-mail, 16.04.2011 20:27

I wish I could she her flying again of her kind like the XH558 Avro Vulcan. I know that the Vulcan was riced up again of the money why not do the same thing to the Valiant because she is a beautiful bird with the early Delta wing and without her there would be NO Avro Vulcan from the design parts of the Valiant.

Tom (Taff) Morris, e-mail, 29.03.2011 18:50

I flew as an AEO on Valiants on 49 Sqn from 1960 to 65. Bill Jordan was one of the instructor pilots at Gaydon when I was on 232 OCU. For Sarah & Graham Jones info, I flew many a sortie with him. I left the RAF as a Wing Commander in 1990.

paul stanney, e-mail, 23.01.2011 19:42

If anyone knew my father i would be pleased for an email . His name was George Stanney Flight Sgnt RAF ,8 sqdn .We were in Aden around 1951 ,for 18 months ,where he flew in Briggands .He was also in the Berlin Airlift .This information is also for my mother ,who would love a chat about dad .Thankyou Paul Stanney .

Paul Stanney, e-mail, 26.12.2010 19:37


Derek Swanson, e-mail, 20.12.2010 18:38


I'm configuring Flight dynamics for the Valiant in a Flight Simulator and you like to have details of trim/ flap /spoiler etc configuration for take-off and landing. Any help welcome to make the flight model realistic

Mike Fletcher, e-mail, 20.12.2010 10:39

I worked on B Squadron Valiants and A Squadron Victors at 232 OCU RAF Gaydon in the 50's and 60's and was in the ground 'reception party' for WP217 when it returned early from the sortie during which the rear main spar had cracked, leading, not long afterwards, to the early scraping of the whole fleet of Valiants.
The face of the captain was ashen when he was called back to B squadron dispersal area later and told of the findings of the Senior Tech Airframe Fitter. He and his crew thought the loud bang they had heard during the flight was a compressor problem and, in his words, 'Had been throwing the aircraft around during the fuel burning exercise to achieve a safe landing weight'.

ROBERT SYMONS, e-mail, 11.12.2010 12:40

My father built the Valiant at Weybridge. As a small boy I used to watch the air tests from Wisley and the air-to-air refuelling trials. A detachment of four Valiants from 214 Sqn came to Tengah (Singapore) for the non-stop UK-Australia Vulcan flight in 1961. Bomber Command was huge in those days

Mike Cavanagh, e-mail, 16.10.2010 19:48

Served No.148: MAR 1956-Mar 1958 (E & I)A & B Flt. Best years of 12 RAF, loved LUQA Tours and whole Sqdn-Ethos.No way could I get into 'ORGAN-LOFT' now Lads! Would love a contact any old Comrades remembering inc. Serial NOS. OF Kites inc. photos? What price those Giant 'L-Labels' No. 207 & 214 hung on our Tails our first Bomb-Ex on Work-Ups(Sneaky!)? If Any Bandsmen also remembering and, CHIEFY who married into the Marham Bus Family of the Village?

Lesley Hayward, e-mail, 09.01.2010 16:45

My late husband, Dick Hayward (ret'd as Flt Lt) was with the Valiant from Apr 56 to Jan 63 and really enjoyed flying it. He was really upset by the main spar fatigue problem and never forgot the pleasure that he'd had flying the Valiant with 7 Sqn and 49 Sqn. Also, he managed to get a few sorties on XD818 and whenever we saw her at Marham or Hendon, he'd wander over and give her a pat, just for old times' sake. Last time I saw 818 was after she'd just be 'bolted' back together at Cosford after the journey from Hendon, poor old thing looked like me on a bad hair day. I sent a photograph of Dick in 1972 with 818, when she was Marham's gate guardian, to Cosford and it's somewhere in the Cold War Museum. Hopefully, I'll get a shuftie later this year. So far, there's four of us, with husbands/wives/girlfriends, going to the V-bomber reunion at Newark Aviation Museum and if I can get my backside into gear there'll be a few more too.

john stevenson, e-mail, 23.11.2009 18:44

I was aairframe mech in1954 that carried out the first acceptance check on arrival to the raf at gaydon.later worked as a cpl tech at honington 90sqdn 1961.@ ultimatly at gaydon when it went out of service.I went to cosford last year it was wonderful to see such a marvellous a/c in all its glory.

Nobby Unwin, e-mail, 16.09.2009 17:27

I was an Air Wireless Mechanic on 138 Sqdn.A Flt from 03/57-10/59 and 18Sqdn from 5/62 until demob in 01/64. In my opinion, the Valiant was the First, and the best, of the V-Force. I am the founder of a group, known as the 'Friends of 138 Valiant Squadron' and the creator of the we-site:- All my details are on the 'Contact' page, and I would welcome contact from anyone associated with working-on or flying this magnificent aircraft.

Joe Marston Nav., e-mail, 31.08.2009 14:17

R.A.F Marham 207 sq. was lots of fun Thursday evenings was our Valiant flying exercise schedule,formation over the chanel at angels 30 then onto Aden,pilot phil(snotty)Downes.I wonder how How many of our crew & squadron are still with us. anyone who finds this,please Email me to share those days of Suez etc.

Sarah Jones, e-mail, 09.08.2009 14:56

I have my father's flying log books he flew Valiant XD828. His name was Flt. Lt. W H Jordan (Bill) He flew from Honnington with 7 Sqn during the late 50's. Anyone with any information or who may have known him your comments would be greatly appreciated

Ian Dryden, e-mail, 08.07.2009 07:59

I was an aircraft electrician on the ground crew for valiant No.XD828 on No.7 squadron at RAF Honington in Suffolk, England.
I carried out the electrical acceptance check on XD828 when it arrived at RAF Honington in Dec 1956.
Regarding the metal fatigue problem, I did hear of problems in the wing roots on some of the valiants in which the wings were removed and reattached during major servicing, which was much earlier than info given on other internet sites.

joe marston, e-mail, 16.12.2008 05:49

I was a navigator with 207 squadron R.A.F. Marham during 1950s . The valiant was a special aircraft,but not withput its problems, Metal fatigue was the fear of aircrew

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