The VC10

Jet airliners are of my age or a bit younger. I remember the early Comets and the disasters they had due to sudden decompression when window frames fractured.  The Comet went on to be quite successful but it was American companies which came to dominate the jet airliner market for many a year.

Then the British fought back with planes with rear mounted jet engines and in terms of size the daddy of them all was the Vickers VC10. Perhaps we could say the VC10 was typically British – essentially high class engineering but something of a flop commercially. The first one flew in 1962 and in the end many had long lives, but mostly as refuelling planes in the RAF.

From my time living in Ifield, little more than a mile from the country end of the runway at Gatwick, I knew them well and always thought they were handsome aircraft. In about 1969 I visited the British United Airways hangar at the airport and was able to get close up to a VC10.


The public actually liked these planes, perhaps spurred on by the adverts we used to see on huge posters. One had the slogan, ‘slip across the Atlantic on the quiet’. For those of us on the ground that seemed like a total untruth. The VC10 was not quiet but apparently those rear mounted engines made it quieter in the cabin. The other ad simply said ‘try a little VC Tenderness’.  It seems the ads gave the planes appeal.


A view along the fuselage.

And the warning to one and all is to get your old slides copied. These have mould growth on them and so may have been saved just in time.

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