The Avro Lancaster is a very famous bomber from the Second World War but its transportation derivative is a lot less well known. Outside the aviation community, it is probably totally unknown. It is the Avro York (War of the Roses comments are welcome) and it takes the flying surfaces and power plants of the Lancaster and mates them to a larger fuselage for transporting people. It was an important type in the latter stages of the war and immediately afterwards. This example is in the main hangar at the IWM Duxford.
Duxford’s VC-10 has been there for many years. When I first went there in the 80s, it was on display in the same BOAC colors that it currently wears. However, I think, judging by the condition it is in now, it has undergone a repaint since I first saw it. The VC-10 is something I didn’t see much of in civilian service. The RAF examples where the ones I saw the most. The Duxford example is a great way to see how they were in their original incarnation.
In my days in the aerodynamics department at Warton, I spent time working on the current aircraft handling section. This included a number of types but the main focus was on jaguar and Tornado work. When we were walking around the hangars at Duxford, there were examples of both jets on display. The Tornado was a big part of what I worked on and I had always loved the jet as it was coming in to service at the time I was getting interested in aircraft. The GR4 version is on display.
The Jaguar had been around a long time when I was getting into planes and the Tornado ended up replacing the Jaguars in the RAF Germany strike role. The jet continued for a lot longer though and got some decent upgrades late in life. I had a great time climbing over a jet in the hangar at Warton as we were looking at clearing a new store on the overwing pylon. A lot of fun!
I have written on the blog about the family connection to Bembridge on the Isle of Wight. Bembridge Airport was, for many years, the center of operations for Britten Norman – manufacturers of the Islander aircraft. The Islander has been a very successful twin engine piston that can get into all sorts of strips around the world. It remains in production in small numbers and can be found at remote strips all over the world.
It has a less well known sibling though. When you want to increase the capacity, you need more power. You could go for more powerful engines – or you could add a third. Where to put it though? How about at the top of the fin? That is what led to the Trislander. I used to see them a lot as a kid but now they are less common. Aurigny operated them from the UK mainland to the Channel Islands until relatively recently but they have now been retired. Duxford has received one of their planes so I was really happy to see it there. I guess this is a plane that only a mother can love but there is something about it. Apparently one used to be in the Pacific Northwest but hasn’t been seen for a few years. I would love to see one fly again.
My wife is a star – well that, or she is a masochist. Our trip to the UK was in three phases. We spend the first phase visiting family. The second phase was my visit to RIAT for a few days while she did things in London and around the south coast. The last phase was our time to tour around East Anglia and relax a little. Our last full day had us up near Cambridge. She suggested I might want to visit the Imperial War Museum aviation collection at Duxford. Since I had taken a chunk of the vacation to do aviation things, I was not going to push anything aviation related for the rest of the trip but she was quite happy to do this. What a star!
I haven’t been to Duxford for ages so I was interested to see how things had changed. What was once called the Superhangar had been rebuilt and had lots of interesting stuff inside. The American Forces section was there last time I went and hadn’t changed a lot. Some of the large airliner stuff outside was familiar but other bits were either new or something I didn’t recall from previous visits. It is a very extensive collection and well worth a visit. I was really pleased to check it out.