Vickers Vanguard
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Alan Dorman, e-mail, 10.05.2022 18:01

Yes good memories of the Guardsvan too. I flew it as a copilot from 1971-78, Merchantman as well as pax Vanguard. I think the engine failures you mentioned were deliberately failed for initial pilot training which took place at Luqa in those days.

John nancarro, e-mail, 23.02.2022 19:21

The mamba wasn’t a rolls engine Pankaj, it was originally designed by Napier and built by Bristol-Siddely. It was fuel efficient because you could shut down half of it in flight!!

Michael Davis, e-mail, 04.05.2020 15:56

Like Martin Lovegrove, I too was a co-pilot on Vanguards in the late '60s before escaping at last onto a jet, the Comet 4B. My memories of that era were too many early mornings to Glasgow, Edinburgh and Belfast, and the weirdness of the RR Tyne engine which had to have its HP shaft splines, "excercised" at the top of climb and then again an hour later in the cruise. Apparently the splines stretched under power - hardly imaginable in this day and age. Verdun's last email overlooked the ADLS system which seems as complex as Rolls could devise - Auto Drag Limiting System - which was triggered in the event of an engine failure - Again, only God now understands it, I never did!

andrew Salmon, e-mail, 01.03.2020 19:20

The First Plane I Flew on was a Air Canada Vanguard from
Toronto to Canadas Capitol Ottawa, Canada and back in 1966.
I went with my School Classmates and our Teacher. It was a
thrill of a lifetime for me and I still have the Boarding
pass. I was 11 years old and had a Grand time! Andrew

Tim, e-mail, 22.12.2016 00:42

Fifty years ago I experienced my first ever flight on a commercial airliner - a Vickers Vanguard from Heathrow to
Gibraltar, on December 23, 1966. I was not quite 7 years old, traveling with my Mum and Dad and 1 year old brother.
I got to see the cockpit during that 40 hr and 40min flight, I asked the pilot if he had an ejector seat! Nice food and plenty of attention from the cabin crew. Half a century and a couple of hundred flights later I have to agree that airline service is not quite what it used to be - or perhaps no flight since has ever quite lived up to what is among the best of my childhood memories. I think Brookfields Museum is a very fitting place for the Vanguard to spend her retirement.

Martin Lovegrove, e-mail, 25.02.2016 23:52

Brilliant aircraft. I was a co-pilot on them with BEA from 1969 to 1974, both passenger and freight. A real aircraft that relied on pilots rather than computers. While at school, I went on the wooden mock-ups of both the Vanguard and VC10, little realising that I would be flying one of them later.

allan carson, e-mail, 21.07.2015 19:28

This was the very first aircraft I flew on in July 1967 from Glasgow to Heathrow. As a 9 year old child I was escorted on to the plane before the other passengers. My parents had told me we would be going on a Trident, but despite initial disappointment I thought the Vanguard was large and luxurious and I'm very glad I got this one and only chance to fly on one.

Michael, 02.04.2015 01:58

Like John Buscombe I flew from London to Malta to see my grandparents on BEA Vickers Vanguards. I remmber the 4 seats round a table which was like being on an old train.

J.L.Jones, e-mail, 17.01.2015 18:06

I worked on the Vanguard right through the build during my apprenticeship and after .My claim to fame I wired up all four engine electric connectors to engine bulkheads on all but one Vanguard and this was because I was on Holiday. Fantastic aircraft.

Mark57, e-mail, 25.11.2014 05:57

I have just seen the video of the 1996 return to Brooklands. I can't believe that I missed it. I have lived in Weybridge since 1959

Mark57, e-mail, 25.11.2014 05:54

First plane that I ever flew on October 1964. BEA Heathrow to Gibraltar. We sat face to face over a table. I remember the air pockets and dropping like a stone. Travel time was about 4 hours but great fun (aged 7)

John Buscombe, e-mail, 06.08.2014 22:55

As a child of 8 flew to Malta on a BEA vanguard. Great plane. My memory (which may be wrong) is of 4 seats round a table at the back 2 rearward facing, small table 2 forward facing.
May back was a Comet 4B with much less room.
Also as a child waiting for my Grandparents at Luqa I noted most of the times the BEA Vanguard came in with an engine out

Jerry Senfluk, e-mail, 11.07.2014 21:35

P.S.: Sorry, spotted the mistake too late. Of course, in the middle of the paragraph before last, it should have been "their hands" instead of "there hands".

Jerry Senfluk, e-mail, 11.07.2014 21:15

As a student in the '60, I used to spend half of my Summer holidays at the old Prague Airport. It was built at about the same time as the Croydon Airport; the terminal looked quite similar, too (some years ago, it has been rebuilt in the usual atrocious "modern" way but that's another story). In those days, BEA used to serve the London-Prague link with Viscounts. I didn't work in anything really exciting, just filling cargo holds with luggage and, occasionally, cargo of all sorts. Exciting enough for me, though, since I came into direct contact with all the aeroplanes I could only admire from a bit of a distance previously.
Although I am, to this day, a staunch fan of the piston-engined machines (Dakotas, Connies, Seven Seas & the rest, for there's nothing like the wonderful sound of their radials and the smell of burnt avgas), I did like the Viscounts with their original appearance and distinct whistling sound.
One day, BEA came in with a Vanguard, having to carry significantly larger amount of passengers. Hordes of football fans or something, gods know.
What an impressive sight!
During the start up of her Tynes prior to her return to London, I stood right underneath the tip of her port side wing. By Jove, they were the loudest engines I've ever heard. Well, with the exception of Tu-114's Kuznietsovs but I only ever saw this one circling around the airport, never having landed and taken off.
Everyone around me covered their ears with there hands. Not me, in my youthful stupidity. I just had to show what a hero I am. Paid a price for this, though: for the following 3 or 4 years, my ears were overproducing wax, getting clogged up frequently. Often so badly that I had to seek services of members of the medical profession.
Grand aeroplane, nevertheless. Alas, never had the opportunity to travel on her

Bernie Proctor, e-mail, 10.05.2012 11:30

I spet the latter half of my apprenticeship on the Vanguard. I remember the the tests being made following the Lockheed Electra fatigue problems. I understood vibration on take off was due to the prop tips exceeding the speed of sound sometimes causing some inner panels to come adrift being 'velcroed' on

danny, e-mail, 27.09.2011 16:35

the first time i ever flew. was on a chartered flght to Lourdes (school holiday) and it was in a vickers vanguard. i absoutley loved it.i have flown many times since, but nothing beats that first experience. i would love to fly in it again.

Alan Saunders, e-mail, 26.07.2011 22:12

I remember at the end of my apprenticeship being involved with the MNA aircraft coming back for their majors. Also seeing the last either being disposed off to Air Bridge or being reduced to spares. The MNA returnees always brought back it's own zoo, which gave options for large homemade spiders being dangled over unsuspecting tradesmen.
Brooklands Museum at Weybridge run (or at least last year 2010) run theirs as often as they can. search youtube for videos of its arrival (by air) and subsequent engine runs and open aircraft displays.
I never got to fly or be onboard for runs but the Vanguards did their engine runs next to the runway canteen, during those runs it was hard to find something that didn't rattle or vibrate off the tables! On those days lunch was always short.
1971 apprentice intake
BAED West Base 761A gang. last of the Vanguards and Trident Mods/Rib 5 repair 1975-1980.

Roger Carvell, e-mail, 27.06.2011 17:21

I can remember the early BEA Vanguards, particularly on a Sunday. Why Sunday?. That was the day one would arrive over a sleepy RAF Manston in Kent, where I lived at the time in 1961. Each Sunday a BEA Vanguard (or a Comet 4B or Argosy) would perform countless circuits and bumps while undergoing crew-training. The aircraft came from Heathrow or Stansted (BEA's Vanguard training base). My father was a warrant officer in the RAF and he worked in the control tower at Manston. One Sunday he took me and my younger brother out onto the airfield to watch a Vanguard standing on the runway while the trainee crew went about their check lists. It WAS impressive, the big 'red square' BEA logos I recall well, and the din of the four Rolls-Royce Tynes was memorable and very exciting.
Another very good British airliner, often derided at the time as being too late for the airline market, but nevertheless an airliner that spearheaded standby, cheap fares for all.
So the Vanguard vibrated a lot but it was very economical. The perfect airliner has never been built.
The Vanguard would not look out of place today at any airport with new powerplants.
Best wishes,
Roger Carvell, Hitchin, UK

Dave Eustace, e-mail, 16.05.2011 16:50

My Sister and I flew from then Malton International Airport now Pearson International near Toronto to London in a Vanguard Turboprop in 1961.I was 7 years old my Sister 8 and our Father gave an older Gentleman some money at the Airport to keep a "Weather Eye' on us and he booked a seat beside us and I remember he drank from a hip flask all the way.The Flight took 11 hours and I believe it was direct i can`t remember a stop.I do remember it was very noisy especially on takeoff.We flew back from London to Toronto in 1963 on a BOAC Vanguard or it may have been a jet aircraft.i remember the BOAC Stewardesses made a great fuss of my Sister and I,we visited the cockpit,were given BOAC juniour flight books with mileage and altitude and BOAC Juniour wings .In the juniour flight book there are pictures of the Viscount and Vanguard and write ups and I have kept these momentos to this day.

webber, e-mail, 27.11.2010 18:35

Passenger in early 70's flt from Montreal-Quecec City and ret.Loved all the room but the occasional vibration that ran the length of the cabin periodically caused one to wonder a bit. Thus I felt more secure in the Viscount.

valter, e-mail, 02.09.2010 13:12

I flew a Vanguard from Alghero (Sardinia) to London Heathrow on September 1962. It was my first travel abroad. Beautiful airplane.

Verdun, e-mail, 10.03.2010 01:14

Robert – Sorry it took so long to get back. The Vanguards flying controls were all manual with the only assistance being through spring tabs. The controls were unlocked and a control check carried out when lined up on the runway and locked after landing while the speed was above 85 knots (any slower ran the risk of the controls thrashing about with the engines at ground idle.
Your question about propeller pitch (not infinitely variable, more correctly continuously variable between finite limits) is interesting. The engine control was described as “Single Lever Control”, this in spite of the fact that there were 12 levers controlling the engines. However each throttle lever did have a complex operation. In the flight range moving the throttle forward gave more power from the engine and a higher prop RPM from the propeller control unit (PCU), in effect combining the functions of throttle and propeller lever. The fuel control unit (FCU) controlled power and the PCU controlled LP RPM.
When the throttle was moved into the ground range (amid a lot of locks and guards being moved) it controlled blade angle and the FCU kept the engine at idle. When the throttle was moved below ground idle into the reverse range (rarely used) the blade angle was still controlled by the lever and the LP RPM started to increase and was controlled by the FCU.
As far as propeller stops were concerned I seem to remember there were 7, all automatic. They were:
Course Pitch (feather) Stop
Reverse Pitch Stop
Overspeed Stop
Flight Fine Pitch Stop
Beta Follow Up Stop
And two I can’t remember!
On the course we were told that only De Havilland and God knew how it works. I guess now that De Havilland no longer exist only He knows.

Jack Shaw, e-mail, 25.12.2009 22:16

I'm sat here with my grandad who worked on these planes in 1958, keen to hear from anyone else who also worked in these times. He also worked on the VC10

pankaj, e-mail, 05.11.2009 14:56

First, is the Lion Vanguard on Vickers an Airbus ?
Second, in terms of fuel efficiency how do you compare the RR Tyne 512 with RR Double Mamba and lastly with OKB 1 design KU-NK-12MA.

Geoff, e-mail, 26.08.2009 05:58

What a fantastic aircraft. As a kid I flew on it many times on the London-Belfast route. This included both Nutts Corner and Aldergrove airports in NI. Most of the flights were late at night (off peak and cheap I guess). I was mesmorised by the start up and mesmorised by the sound of those RR Tyne turboprops. The large oval windows were brilliant. The best airliner ever!

Mike Nicholls, e-mail, 04.08.2009 16:20

My very first flight ever was at the age of 13, I flew from Heathrow to Gibraltar in July 1965. My main memories of the flight were flying over spain watching its shadow pass over the countryside, of the landing into Gibraltar over the beach ( r/w 27 )and of the ensuing temporary deafness in my ears - and, least I forget, my first glass of coke!

mike green, 22.07.2009 09:33

Without doubt the "Vanguard" was one of the handsomest airplanes ever to fly. I would plan my flights around the schedules of the Vanguard just to avoid the noisier Viscount. I think, even now in my latter years, a better looking aircraft has never flown (with a nod of course to the Lockheed Constellaton.)

mike green, 21.07.2009 21:42

Without doubt the "Vanguard" was one of the handsomest airplanes ever to fly. I would plan my flights around the schedules of the Vanguard just to avoid the noisier Viscount. I think, even now in my latter years, a better looking aircraft has never flown (with a nod of course to the Lockheed Constellaton.)

Robert Allen, e-mail, 02.04.2009 15:27

Verdun - I have only just come back to this MB and am fascinated at your experience in handling the Vanguard. I am also surprised that such a large aircraft offered no power assistance to the pilot! I know a few take offs in which I was a passenger were made 'on the roll' and perhaps this was due to the practice being less muscularly demanding on the pilot. I also understand that propeller pitch was an infinitely variable option i.e. no click stops, so how did you determine actual blade angle for any given mode of flight? Were the pitch controls located on the throttle pedestal?

Ian Cartledge, e-mail, 16.03.2009 23:04

I remember flying from Heathrow to Gibralter on the Vangaurd when I was young and about 1/3 way through the flight the Captain announced that he had to switch an engine off, which I was sitting next to, and so I then watched it free-spinning in the wind throughout the whole flight. We still carried on our flight to Gibralter with no panic or worry, the Captain just announced that we would be delayed slightly. What a great plane!

Chris, e-mail, 18.02.2009 03:24

I flew to Bermuda with Air Canada in 1968 from Montreal in a Vangard aircraft, and as we descended for landing, the cabin filled with exhaust, and the stewardesses ran to the back in a panic, one saying to the other "they can't ee out of the cockpit window" - something that was not guaranteed to instill confidence over the deep ocean below us! We dropped sharply, landed safely, but we reeked of fuel and never really knew what had happened. A friend in this plane, who was to fly on to Barbados in the same aircraft told me that they subsituted another Vanguard for the second leg, and they had exactly the same situation upon landing. Can anyone explain what was happening there, and if it was a particular problem with this aircraft? Many thanks.

s.debattista, e-mail, 28.12.2008 14:01

I remember flying on this aircraft to malta in the early 60's as a child. Although it seemed to take much longer to fly this route than the present airbus, the vanguard with its roomy cabin, large oval windows and lower flying ceiling was a was a much more pleasent flying experience...or is my view coloured by nostalgia ???

SpartanCanuck, e-mail, 23.10.2008 08:36

When dismissing the capabilities of the turboprop, A319 vs Vanguard isn't exactly a fair comparison. Modern materials science and engineering vs 1960 is NATURALLY going to make the A319 the winner.

W F Wendt has a point. Perhaps it wasn't the case a year ago, but thanks to the high price of fuel, turboprops ARE making something of a comeback as I type this. I point to increased sales of the ATR-72 and the DHC-8/Q400 as of late in the regional feedliner market. Horizon Air has had such good results using the Q400 on traditionally jet runs that they will actually converted all of their standing CRJ orders to Q400's, and will be going to an all Q400 fleet.

Now, I'm sure the A319 handily blows the Q400 away on the long haul, but with the Q400's speed, rate of climb, and lower ideal cruising altitude, a jet isn't going to have any appreciable performance advantage at ranges less than 400 miles. Horizon will actually be using it for runs somewhat longer than that. Meanwhile, depending upon airfare and seating configuration (and the price of JP4 this week), the Q400 is also able to turn a profit with load factors of somewhere around 50%, which is pretty nice compared to the competing 70-80 passenger RJ's.

Admittedly, it remains to be seen wether such an advantage would scale well to the 120 passenger narrow-body range of the market. I don't personally figure we'll be seeing the likes of the Vanguard and the Britannia rising from the ashes anytime soon.

johann gudjonsson, e-mail, 02.10.2008 15:01

This was a VERY FINE A/C,but,late and overtaken by general aviation events;possibly by being built TOO closely to just one airlines(BEA's)specificaton.
However ,this talk of Airbus Ind.products being better/superior is,candidly,arrant drivel ! All airbus products,but dint of the FBW flight priciple are DEATH TRAPS.Besides which,Airbus is,simply,Sud Aviation "in drag"

Verdun Luck, e-mail, 17.07.2008 22:34

Robert Allen is perfectly right, the Vanguard did make a splendid noise, but then all 4 engined propeller aircraft do (I flew the DHC-7 as well.

However, he is wrong to think that the Vanguard was undemanding to fly. It was a big aeroplane that flew at 350 knots TAS, but all of the flying controls were manually operated with no power assistance.

Added to this was a massive yaw induced every time the thrust was altered (courtesy of 4 huge props all turning the same way (it flew completely straight if you shut down and feathered the No. 2 Engine).

No, it required a lot of physical strength to fly a Vanguard plus a lot of action on the trim wheels in all axis. Syncing up 4 props every time you moved the throttles took a fair amount of effort as well.

The Vanguard was certainly fun, but give me an A319 to work in any (every) day.

Robert Allen, e-mail, 14.07.2008 10:44

Verdun-few aircraft exhibited the magical sound of the Vanguard with its Tyne engines. I used to sit at work hearing the aircraft go over at about 3000ft on a nearby approach to Heathrow. It was a beautiful and elegant aircraft in its practical simplicity. I imagine it was an undemanding aircraft to handle (if only because of the straight wing layout). I am told that pilots love some aircraft and hate others. I hope the Vanguard belonged to the former category! Bws.

peter norton, e-mail, 18.06.2008 20:23

Like Verdun Luck I too was involved with the Vanguard/Merchantman in the 70 and 80's - but I 'fixed' them. Like Verdun, I too was involved in the A320, but in its early days at BA. I remember the ferry trips in the late 70's to bring two Vanguards back from Indonesia for overhaul at Heathrow - neither trip was 'uneventful' with various important items leaking or just dropping off en route. It did vibrate a bit...

Ian Young, e-mail, 06.05.2008 14:28

My first flight in 1964 was in a Vanguard from Edinburgh to Heathrow. I remember the large oval windows and the noise of the engines and I was lucky to be travelling First Class which was a small cabin behind the rear door.
We were served a full lunch with champagne or wine poured from wine baskets.

Dave Kidney, e-mail, 23.04.2008 19:39

I recall seeing this aircraft as a young bo in thw 1960s at Piarco International Airport in Trinidad wearing the colours of Trans Canada and wondering at what a splenidid plane it was. I knew of the Viscount's comfort and I can only imagine how comfortable the hugh Vanguard may have been. Where are all the nice planes gone?

Verdun Luck, e-mail, 17.03.2008 02:07

Perhaps I can try to answer W F Wendt's question "Is it time to bring back the turboprop?"

I flew the Vickers Vanguard in the 1980s. It was a 4 engine turboprop that carried just under 150 passengers and had a maximum take off weight of 64 tonnes.

I now fly the Airbus A319 which carries just over 150 passengers and has a maximum take off weight of 64 tonnes.

The Airbus cruises about 25% faster and uses considerably less fuel. The take off and approach speeds on both aircraft were about the same resulting in very similar runway length requirements.

Esentially the problem with big turboprops is that in addition to a turbine engine it also requires a very complex and difficult to manifacture reduction gear and propeller system.

To get an aircraft to perfom from short runways you need a big wing which will work well at low speeds; the same big wing will result in a low criuseing speed. The type of powerplant will not make much difference. The World has found that it is cheaper and better to build a longer runway than to use inefficient aircraft.

The Vanguard was a very fine aircraft and the RR Tyne was an outstanding engine for its time. Thirty years later the A319 is better in almost every way.

Eveline Tscharntke, e-mail, 01.02.2008 23:59

I remember very well my first flight from BER(THF) via MUC to KLU(Klagenfurt/Austria)operated by BEA (British European Airways) in July, 1967. This was the beginning of an "ever lasting love" for civil aviation. The first section of this flight (BER/THF-MUC)was operated by the legandary VISCOUNT 814, and the second section (MUC-KLU) by
an "huge aircraft" named VANGUARD, the biggest aircraft I
ever saw at these times. And I remember the very big oval
windows of the Viscount, the biggests windows I ever saw
during many flights on several types of airplanes.

Herbert C. Schneider, e-mail, 23.11.2007 21:56

The Vickers section does not discuss the VC-10 four-engine jet airliner, which entered commercial service in 1964. The VC-10 was a fine airplane, but, like many other British airliners, entered service too late to be a viable competitor in its class.

kent peyton, e-mail, 27.09.2007 16:41

Interesting I flew on it several times my first flight
with air canada.Nice workhorse airplane .I remember a lot of things in the cabin vibrated from the powerful rolls royce tyne engines.Nice and comfie and large oval windows gave a great view.I thought the integral airstairs were
very cool.The engines had a very distinctive sound.

w f wendt, e-mail, 21.09.2007 19:40

Is it time to bring back the turboprop?

It was understood a half cago that the turboprop was almost as fast as a jet, but consumed much less fuel and landed much more slowly.

The difference between 400 mph and 600 mph is significant on transoceanic flights, but on less than 1000 mi?

Especially when the turboprop can get into much smaller, much closer ariports, such as a restored Chicago Meigs?

See Airpower 2003 article on the Lockheed Electra, which has a caption on the Vanguard cruising at 450 mph.

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