View Full Version : Bristol Britannia details

5th Dec 2008, 15:42
I was wondering if anyone could shed light on the Bristol Britannia.

Apart from the usual details on wikipedia, there is not really many other sites with details on the aircraft.

Considering that 88 were made (and a few were converted to cargo duties) , I am surprised that there is not more details floating around the internet on this aircraft. was it that unimpressive (boring) and aircraft ?

Is it a true fact that due to the free running of the turbo-prop blades, some ground crew's used to hold the prop blades while the turbines were spooling up and then let go and run away resulting in the props suddenly spinning up ?

That must have been quite funny to see (the technical minded side of me says could it actually happen ) ?


5th Dec 2008, 15:55
The Proteus has a free turbine and as such the prop has a parking brake. The brake was released prior to starting the engine. In order to stop the prop spinning the wrong way during engine start, the ground crew could hold it. You knew when to let go when you felt the prop moving with the engine when it started.


5th Dec 2008, 15:56
An interesting fact about the Britannia.

El Al were about to introduce an Israel - New York service which was to route Tel Aviv - London - New York and vv. On the last proving flight they had on board an ex RAF navigator who was Technical Adviser to the El Al Chairman.

After take off to return to London from New York he managed to get them into the core of the jetstream and stay there right the way across the Atlantic & Europe before landing at Tel Aviv non stop from New York, at all times all fuel requirements for diversions etc were maintained.

This flight was just before Christmas 1956, the navigator John ED Williams later went on to found Euravia which later became Britannia Airways.

5th Dec 2008, 16:05
An interesting fact about the flight controls is that it used servo tabs on all surfaces. The yoke mechanically controlled the servo tab (no boost) and aerodynamics did the rest. I've read that at slow speed it did sometimes seem to slow down the aircraft's response.

5th Dec 2008, 16:17
The Britannia was a good aircraft, unfortunately it was dogged by engine icing problems which delayed entry into service. I flew the Britannia for ten years and never found it boring, tricky at times maybe, but very satisfying. Ground crews sometimes held on to a prop blade after the prop parking brake was released prior to starting to stop it windmilling in the wrong direction if there was a tailwind.
Regarding the servo tabbed controls, both ailerons and the elevators were drooped down until about 80 knots. This system had limitations when rounding out after a steepish approach!
If you are interested in learning more Charles Woodley has written an excellent book titled: Bristol Britannia ISBN 1 86126 515 8

Albert Driver
5th Dec 2008, 19:14
Can't praise highly enough Frank McKim's The Whispering Giant, The Story of the Bristol Britannia by Scoval Publishing.
The colour photos are the best.
Great offer on Am*z*n at the moment, by the way.

5th Dec 2008, 20:16
I worked on the Brit 102's with Britannia Airways in the 60's and I can confirm that I was one of those people who had to hold those props on starting .
It was quite hairy when starting up in the dark .
Engine changes in those days were frequent but to make the job worse , corrosion was found in the hollow bladed paddle props and we had to undergo the conversion to steel ones . These were at first in short supply, so you had to change them frequently to ensure that no two of the old ones were on the one side and new ones on the other but had to be balanced out .
Work on the Brits was very heavy( even the engine cowls weighed a bomb ). Also, drive shafts to the gear box was very time consuming with fitting of shims. Because everything was high of the ground , you had to have legs of a mountain goat .
An engine feathered for various reasons, was a frequent sight on return from abroad ,more work for us,
Fuel bag tank changes were horrible ,the center one , the worst, with all the buttons to fit in such a confined space.
I did however , get to fly a few times, and to sit in the ex navigator's position was great,and providing that the prop syncronisation was done , very quiet.
On a sad note, I flew out with the late Geoff Parkins to attend to the Britannia crash in Llubjana (Sept 1st 1966 with heavy loss of life ) and returned back to Luton with the survivors.
Merv Tew

5th Dec 2008, 20:32
G-ANBB, I remember it well.


6th Dec 2008, 00:05
The day I emigrated to the US my first flight ever was in a Britannia from Newcastle down to Heathrow, I can't for the life of me think who the operator was.
Help please!
The next leg to Toronto was via Air Canada DC-8, then onward to Cleveland in a Viscount.
I returned many times, usually for Xmas, AC then had Vanguards which were horrible compared to the Viscounts, the vibration would start at one side come through the middle and go back again, a good job the flights were short !!
The later legs up to/down from NCL were in Tridents and BAC 11's, fun !!

6th Dec 2008, 02:41
my first flight ever was in a Britannia from Newcastle down to Heathrow, I can't for the life of me think who the operator was.

Almost certainly would be Northeast Airways, one of the short lived amalgamations in the late 60's/early 70's and Newcastle based, if memory serves. I remember returning from Bilbao to Gatwick on a Northeast Brit in 1971, I think.

6th Dec 2008, 05:13
I too was a prop holder for the "Protesting" engines. With a wind up the kilt you would hold it during startup until the engine pulled it out of your hands. We used to horrify the SLF by giving the prop a mighty push as the engine started. Made it look like we were "hand propping" it to start.
The engine icing problems caused "bump stalls" where the ice buildup in the duct came loose and slid forward into the compressor, got ground finely, turned to steam and put out the fires. The glow plugs that were fitted re-ignited the engine giving a characteristic "bump".
Reports of "bump stalls" meant opening the massive cowling and inspecting the compressor face. It meant looking around a curve in the inlet as the Proteus had a reverse flow configuration so we used an intrascope. Sometimes the ice was too much for the very robust compressor and I have looked in and seen several rows of compressor blades cleaned right off. We called it "corncobbing". Bent blades were acceptable provided there were no rips or tears or missing parts and the blade was not bent into a reverse pitch. Not at all unusual to see bent blades.
Aeronaves de Mexico operated two model 302 Brits that I worked and saw a lot of "bump stall" activity over the Gulf of Mexico. Aircraft had only four tanks and for Mexico City - New York had to fly high and pretty straight-line to get the needed non-stop performance. This made it difficult to avoid the wrong kind of clouds that caused the icing. I seem to remember those were alto-cirrus and were composed of ice crystals.
Proteus could be hard starting too and after two start tries required draining the fuel can before attemping another go.

6th Dec 2008, 10:42
Almost certainly would be Northeast Airways, one of the short lived amalgamations in the late 60's/early 70's and Newcastle based, if memory serves. I remember returning from Bilbao to Gatwick on a Northeast Brit in 1971, I think.

That depends on the date.

BKS Air Transport, formed in October 1951, initiated Britannia services from Newcastle to Heathrow and vv in April 1964. The Britannias were progressively withdrawn from the route from December 1968 and from April 1969 Tridents took over.

At the end of January 1970, BKS had just one Britannia left, G-ANBK, which was in store as a standby aircraft.

BKS had become part of the British Air Services Group with Cambrian in March 1967. This was not an amalgamation, it was a legal entity formed by BEA to look after its stakes in BKS (50%) and Cambrian (33%) and to investigate the operation of short sector services within the UK using Short Skyliners. Saunders ST-27s and DHC Twin Otters were also demonstrated to the management, and the Skyliner was used to conduct a tour of airfields selected for the proposed routes.

This was the only flying activity undertaken by BAS as an entity - the idea was not proceeded with for a variety of financial, operational and regulatory reasons.

Cambrian and BKS continued as independent trading and operating companies both carrying British Air Services titles as "sub titles" - the BKS Tridents carrying the titles on the cabin roof with BKS tail logos, as did some Britannias and Viscounts. The rest of the fleet carried BKS on the cabin roof and small British Air Services titles near the passenger doors.

On November 1 1970 BKS changed its name to Northeast Airlines, to emphasise its links to North East England. It adopted the same yellow colours as Northeast Airlines in the USA but in a different layout. The renaming was simply that, no merger or amalgamation was involved and the opportunity was taken to relegate the British Air Services titles to the nose. Cambrian adopted a similar colour scheme layout (their BAS titles had always been much smaller) using a poppy red colour.

In December 1970, G-ANBK was overhauled, painted in Northeast colours and operated a number of fill in services, including Newcastle - to London, for a variety of reasons during 1971.

On December 31 1971 it flew NS442 from Newcastle to London and was then withdrawn and scrapped. NS442 was the last Britannia 102 flight ever.

In July 1973 British Air Services, as part of the former BEA, but itself until then not absorbed by British Airways, became part of British Airways and financial and legal arrangements were made so that Northeast as a whole came under the control of the British Airways board. The aircraft started to appear in BA colours but carried Northeast titles and used the Northeast callsign until March 32 1976 when the airline became part of British Airways Regional Division - following Cambrian which had been taken out of BAS and absorbed by the Regional Division in September 1972, immediately losing its titles on the aircraft and, by 1974 having no separate identity.

6th Dec 2008, 11:47
Thanks for the info, as you might expect I was a little excited about my move and that flight is a bit of a "fog", memory-wise.
I thought that it might have been BKS, and it was early 1968 so that ties in.
Any thoughts on Reg No. ????, pictures???
Thanks again.

6th Dec 2008, 12:45
Get some of the old BOAC, BUA, RAF, African Safari, IAS , Redcoat & ohers in the UK to dive in. Also the Canuks & CUBANA folks. Then also the CL44 folks, hey I forget about Jack Mallocks beef haulers out of Rhod via Gabon!

6th Dec 2008, 13:35
For pics go to the Air Britain Photographic Images Collectionon line and type the following registrations into their search engine:


All four were in service when you took your flight.

The main undercarriage assembly from, if i remember the starboard side of PLL stood at one side of Newcastle Airport for many years.

6th Dec 2008, 14:39
Ref the crash in Lubliana in 1966.
I remember one of the shots of what was left of the
aircraft showed the tail section with the registration
It was a bit of a shock! I'd painted that registration on
that aircraft! Must have been early in '66, I left Brits to
go to ACE Freighters after arguing with Jeff Parkins and
Ron Smith over paid/unpaid overtime.
Still got a MM Vol 1 and Proteus O'haul Manual, but for
the -300 series. Courtesy of IAS who chucked them out
when they got the DC 8, and my services because I'd
worked the DC 8 at KLM.
A long time ago!

6th Dec 2008, 14:54
Still got a MM Vol 1 and Proteus O'haul Manual, but for
the -300 series. Courtesy of IAS who chucked them out
when they got the DC 8, and my services because I'd
worked the DC 8 at KLM.
A long time ago!

That was kind of IAS, were they autographed by Joe Phillips?. ;)


6th Dec 2008, 15:54
That was not a happy time, but I seem to think you went elsewhere? Joe Phillips, well he and the chap from Tradewinds were well suited me thinks?

6th Dec 2008, 15:58
Was not Ron Smith Jnr's Dad the skipper on that. Last time I heard
of Ron Smith Jnr., he was in OAK trying to get a DC8 op
off he ground, after being with GF on 1-11s. Long time ago.:sad:

7th Dec 2008, 23:50
How strange that you don't mention British Eagle-they operated as many Brits as any others you've mentioned.

8th Dec 2008, 15:40
were they autographed by Joe Phillips?.

I did a few contract jobs for Joe in the early '70s. He told me a story (one of many) about how he once 'liberated' a Brit, that had been impounded, from a Swiss airport.

8th Dec 2008, 15:46
I think you will find it was owned by IAS and on lease to African Safari.

8th Dec 2008, 15:50
So it was true! Any more details Brakedwell?

8th Dec 2008, 16:10
I think it was G-AOVF. After Donaldson went bust it was stored at Coventry in July 1972 before being sold to IAS on 31.10.1972. IAS leased it to African Safari Airlines on 1.11.1972, but something went wrong and it was "returned" to IAS on 19.12.1972 and operated by IAS Cargo Airlnes until 2.11.1978 when it was sold to Invicta International. The story had become a bit of a legend by the time I joined IAS in 1974.

8th Dec 2008, 17:06
The story had become a bit of a legend

Thanks BD
I got the impression that was Joe's intention in the telling of the story.

10th Dec 2008, 21:45
Here's a pic of a Brit in Cunard Eagle colours at Changi in 1963

and here's another Changi shot- RAF Brit at night

I lived in the RAF Quarter just above the 'pan'. I can still recall the smell of those Brits starting!

11th Dec 2008, 11:05
The picture of the Brit at Changi reminds me of when one of our squadron pilots was returning to the UK ex-tour. The aircraft had started its take off roll when this stalwart stands up and shouts that the aircraft has to stop or it will crash. A loadmaster buzzes the cockpit and passes it on so the crew slam on the anchors and stop it.
When asked what the panic was he states that the controls were not connected as both ailerons were hanging down.
They kept him out of the way of the other pax during the twenty-four hours or so whilst they were fiddling about with brake units and tyres.

11th Dec 2008, 11:16
Had your friend waited until 80 knots before opening his big mouth he would have sat down again looking rather foolish!

By George
11th Dec 2008, 11:54
In 1959 I flew to Singapore in a Britannia of Hunting Clan Airways when my father was posted to Changi. Sitting over the wing during engine start at IST (stopover for fuel) a large sheet of flame came out of the exhaust on number 2 engine. Looked like a hot start to me. Who were Hunting Clan? You never see any reference to them. We returned to the UK via ship,(as interesting as watching grass grow). I am now based out of SIN myself as a pilot, funny world. Incidently the other fuel stop was Colombo where we stayed overnight in a Hotel called Mount something, very long layover. Now I regularly fly the route in 13 hours. I think I was born to late!

By George
11th Dec 2008, 12:02
Before the spelling police beat me with a blunt object, that should read, 'too late'.

11th Dec 2008, 17:56
Hunting Clan were quite a large airline in the UK, 1942 - 1960, they were part of the merger that formed British United Airways on 1 July 1960.
They operated trooping flights to Singapore, Hong Kong, Aden, Nicosia and Niarobi with Britannia aircraft.
Two new Britannia aircraft were ordered in 1957, G-APNA and G-APNB were delivered 10.58 and 12.58 also G-AOVA on lease from Bristol Aircraft.
These were still in use when the merger took place, I can still remember seeing them trooping from Stansted, occasionaly after the merger, in Hunting Clan colours.


11th Dec 2008, 18:34
Then took over the Africargo op for BUA after the last charters :ok:

11th Dec 2008, 18:55
I was wondering if anyone could shed light on the Bristol Britannia.
Apart from the usual details on wikipedia, there is not really many other sites with details on the aircraft.
Considering that 88 were made (and a few were converted to cargo duties) , I am surprised that there is not more details floating around the internet on this aircraft. was it that unimpressive (boring) and aircraft ?

With regard to Britannia's in RAF service probably the best source of details is David Berry's books on the aircraft:

"The Whispering Giant in Uniform: The Story of the Bristol Britannia in Royal Air Force Service, 1959 to 1975"
By David Berry
Published by Keyham Books, 1996
ISBN 0952771500, 9780952771500
254 pages

No longer in print, "The Whispering Giant in Uniform" was updated by the author about two years ago under the title "The RAF Britannia and its people - 1959 to 1975."

In 1996 David Berry wrote a history of the RAF Britannia which successfully sold out! In an intervening nine years he has gathered a wealth of extra material. Its inclusion in this history expands the original 256 pages to 626! The original title was 'The Whispering Giant in Uniform', which forms the skeleton of this new book. The fresh title represents a changed emphasis - this book has a greater 'people' content. It is the story of the relatively short RAF life for an elegant aeroplane, which contributed greatly to the tasks of the Armed Services in the 1960s and 70s. It also contains personal contributions from those 'people' who were part of the operation of this fine aircraft. There is a wealth of photographs - and it isn't all completely serious - there are lighter moments

It's available from Keyham Books here: The RAF Britannia and its people (http://www.keyhambooks.freeserve.co.uk/kb012.htm) which also contains a link to download a sample chapter.

As to incidents, Sqn Ldr Norman Rose a former RAF Britannia captain died earlier this year and someone asked about the incident that led to him being awarded a Bar to his Air Force Cross.

Here is how I replied at the time:

Sqn Ldr Norman Rose

Perhaps someone with more direct knowledge can recount the Gan Britannia triple engine failure story.

The event was not a "triple engine failure", but a major failure of No 4 engine, with a prop that couldn't be feathered. This event took place on 16th December 1962 (Britannia XM519) whilst en-route from Aden to Gan with 3 pax and a load of Sea Slug missiles.

Having passed the PNR and having descended from 17,500ft to 1,500 ft and flying at 120 knots to save the engine from disintegrating, Norman declared a full emergency and he and his crew nursed the aircraft towards Gan. 315 miles out the resident Gan SAR Shackleton met the incoming Britannia and escorted it into Gan for a safe landing. For this in the June 1963 Birthday Honours List Sqn Ldr Norman Rose was awarded a Bar to his Air Force Cross, whilst his Flight Engineer Master Engineer Bob Anstee received the Air Force Cross to add to his Air Force Medal.

11th Dec 2008, 21:22
I'm new to this picture posting, so please bear with me if it doesn't work.

I think this may have been the RAF's only hull loss, and if the political situation had been different it may have been recoverable.

Khormaksar, Aden 1967


11th Dec 2008, 22:28
Brit in the mud at Aden.

It was XL638 and happened on the night of 8th October 1967 during the build-up to the final withdrawal of troops and families from Aden. On landing XL638’s propellers wouldn’t go into reverse pitch to slow it down and it ran off the end of the runway into the mud. The undercarriage collapsed and it wound up as shown in the photos in the links on Herod’s post.

Stuck in the mud and near the runway, XL638’s high tail it constituted an obstruction and it was decided to blow off the tail with explosives so that air operations could continue without delay.

13th Dec 2008, 06:36
One of our Brits suffered an U/C problem, in as much that it was retracted on takeoff and damage noises were heard also flying control probs . After one or two down selections, much to the relief of the crew ,three greens indicated and the a/c was flown home in that position, and landed safely. On examination it was found to have damage to a main u/c door plus bent flying control rods nearby .
In simple terms, the doors had retracted before the u/c.
Traced to a faulty sequence valve and repairs etc, many retractions were carried out and all seemed OK but just for luck one more was carried out and the same snag was reproduced(no damage thank God).
It transpired that some of the sequence valves had been incorrectlly assembled during overhaul (not our companies fault), so panic did set . All was resolved in the end, but Murfies's law was alive and well.

On a lighter note, the story goes that on a night take off from Spain a Brit would not pressurise and climbing through the hatch access to the forward freight hold, passed the suitcases, the F/E saw a fantastic aeriel night shot of a Spanish city from the bay . Say no more, but red faces all around and checking hold doors on walkrounds and faulty indicators had somthing to do with it .

14th Dec 2008, 04:09
Try "The Mount Lavinia" hotel, the other pubs used in Colombo then were "The Taprobane", "The Gall Face" and "The Ngombo"-all came complete with inhouse rats and lurking Room Boys.

14th Dec 2008, 13:53

This was the same problem that caused the British Eagle Britannia hull loss at Manston in 1967 ish. Gear retracted, then rotated IIRC due to a faulty sequencing valve.

14th Dec 2008, 15:49
Aden accident

The F/E did not move the reverse arming lever into it's full detent position. When the captain called for reverse he actually received forward thrust. I think they tried to get reverse several times, accelerating each time, before running out of runway. The poor old Brit was a forlorn sight sitting in the mud off the end of RWY 27.

14th Dec 2008, 20:56
To ZFt .
Thanks for that info on the sequence valve , I never knew that.In that case we were damned lucky.

15th Dec 2008, 08:16
Douglas C-54 and Lockheed C-69 sired civil families from military priority and production volume. All their vendor bits and bobs - the items causing Brit's SNAFUs - emerged from multiple applications, large production runs. Brabazon Type III, to compete with them, was deferred, in the 1943-47 timeframe, because the obvious designers were the Heavy bomber teams, whose efforts were to Pacific schemes (which apart from Avro Lincoln, lapsed), and then to atomic platforms which settled mid-1947 as (to be) V-Bombers.

Bristol had no large structures expertise, but had been selected, 3/43, for Brabazon Type I, in part because they were "spare", in part because their local MP was Minister of Aircraft Production, and in part because their 11/42 bid for a 75ton Pacific bomber included a wing thought fit to lift pax Transatlantic. In 1946 Brabazon III was redefined as Medium Range Empire, selected 7/47, when Avro/HP/Vickers were preoccupied with Bombers, as Centaurus/Bristol T.175: the precise intent was to constrain $ spend by limiting BOAC/BSAAC to a mere few interim US products. So through 1947-50 Bristol tried to do huge Brabazon Type I (T.167) and large MRE, Type 175. Proteus was substituted for Centaurus in 1950; then Korea distracted every vendor. From pressurisation to power, Bristol became overloaded, out-of-their-depth. Piston/MRE had been intended for service by 1950, but entered, as Britannia 102, on 1/2/1957, by when it was a generation adrift in terms of component maintainability/reliability.

15th Dec 2008, 14:30
My father took a Britannia down to Khartoum and Entebbe in July 1956 to undertake de-icing trials. Pictures of pictures I'm afraid.

Not sure what the event surrounding this picture was;

15th Dec 2008, 17:16
Early RAF Britannia operations were bedevilled by engine problems and engine changes were a regular occurrence.

Below are some screen grabs from my 8mm cine film that I took during a double engine change at Entebbe in April 1960. I was with 99 Sqn and we flew out two replacement engines, a portable (an oxymoron if ever there was one!) loading platform and six fitters to do the engine changes.

First the loading platform had to be off-loaded with the aid of a crane and assembled, replacement engines off-loaded next, the fitters removed the duff engines and installed the replacements.

At the end the reverse procedure was followed. The whole process took four-days during which we stayed in the opulent splendour of the Lake Victoria Hotel.

Apologies for the quality but 8mm cine film screen grabs are not likely to match ‘proper’ camera photos.

The 'portable' Britannia loading platform.

Replacement engines are off-loaded.

The two Brits at Entebbe.

Engine changes in progress.

The fitters take a break.

15th Dec 2008, 19:50
I hated the Britannia. Bl**dy AWFUL aircraft.
Low and Slow and grossly overweight it was
a typical British lashup!
Old Fred Murray that flew them for Monarch
and IAS loved them for that reason, he made
more money out of them because they were SD
bl**dy slow.
I worked for Monarch and IAS. I HAD to work on
the heaps at Monarch, no choice, but I refused to
have anything to do with them at IAS, the DC 8
was a much better aircraft in ALL respects.
A generational thing I suppose.
Mind you, I've still got a Brit 300 Vol 1, and a
Proteus engine Overhaul Manual lurking in the
loft. Collectors' Item? Britannia? :*

15th Dec 2008, 19:55
At least you got to anoint Africa on the lawns at the Lake Vic after a few G & Ts Old Boy:ok: Terrible shame that the Shacks blew donks there and in NBO as well:E

Bought many a Tusker & White Cap for the lads in the late 60s in East Af:E:ok:

15th Dec 2008, 19:57
When did Fred Murray leave IAS ? G'day Member :ok:

15th Dec 2008, 20:47
Here's some more from Changi in the early 60's.
First a Brit having one of those engine changes.
The C-47 with US Air Force looking markings is actually Vietnamese- pre 'the war'. Probably on delivery.


Here's some showing they did fly.



This ones about to load a Ghurka detachment going to Borneo in 1963


15th Dec 2008, 21:24
And one with all bits burning, and ready to go ...........


16th Dec 2008, 16:15
I was a very young airman on 'Aircraft Prep' at Lyneham in the early sixties and was one of those who used to hold the prop until the engine had spooled up to the point where the prop was engaged(?) (there was always a solid clunk when that happened) There was no real need to run away because it was a fairly slow exercise at first when spinning up. No what was worse and I have nightmares when I think about what we were doing then , was we would have a dare as to how fast the props would be spinning and 'calmly' walk out from between the blades of the two engines!:=:=:sad:

16th Dec 2008, 18:59
One of the routes on which Civilian Britannias had a long career was the Courier Service to Woomera:
BUA - Who lost the contract to:
Cunard Eagle which became
British Eagle and after their demise
Monarch took it over.

I only remember ever seeing one picture of an Aircraft at the Woomera end of the service (Eagle, but which entity cannot remember) does anyone have any Pictures of a Brit on the ramp at Woomera?

Brian Abraham
16th Dec 2008, 22:19
What was the reason for hanging onto the prop during the start?

1st Jan 2009, 07:57

I flew BOAC's Britania 102,s in the 1960,s when they were on lease to Malayan Airways based in Singapore. Can anyone tell me where I can find a good picture of the 102 flight deck that includes the consol with the brake dwell lever, the centre panel showing the BMEP indicators and both pilots instrument panels. Just a whim to once again look at something I knew so well but has now slipped away with the galloping years. With thanks,


1st Jan 2009, 08:27
Try this link and have a look at G-ALRX.

1st Jan 2009, 13:54
Here's the BOAC Britannia 102 G-ANBF during it's charter period with Malayan Airways. This is Paya Lebar 1963.


The only cockpit photo of inside a Brit I got was this RAF one. My teenage friend Brian Mitchell tries out the pilots

http://www.davidtaylorsound.co.uk/share/Aircraft%20pics/Friend%20Brian%20Mitchell%20tries%20out%20the%20pilots%20sea t-RAF%20Brit-Changi%201962-S641A.jpg

We occasionally blagged our way onto planes at Changi. I also remember getting into the visiting Boeing 727 demonstrator at Paya Lebar in '63. Not likely to happen these days alas.

The Malayan Airways Brits were then replaced with BOAC Comets on charter. Air Ceylon also had BOAC Comets I recall.

David Taylor.

1st Jan 2009, 18:30
Thanks for the repy but the link to G-ALRX did not come up. Would you mind trying it again. ( I like your nom de plume, it says a lot ) Best,

Thanks, nice picture of G-ANBF I remember it well. The tarmac scene is familiar as is the Paya Lebar background and the Malayan Airways tiger head logo on the tail. Unfortunately the only thing missing are the scrumptious Singapore hostesses ( nice word hostesses ) that decorated the cabin. I dont recall the second identical ground pointer Artificial Horizon on the Captains panel but this may have been a RAF mod or perhaps it's longer ago than I care to admit. Best,

1st Jan 2009, 20:13
828a- glad to be able to bring back some memories, so (hoping that I'm not diverting this thread too much) - here are a few more:

A general view of the Paya Lebar maintenance hangars with the Admin Block and Control Tower in the background. Taken from around the flying club 1962.


Here's G-ANBJ taken looking down from the Admin Block. a hive of activity as she's turned around.

What routes were Malayan Airways running with the Brits then, I can't remember now?


Other Britannia 102's that I've got pics of are;


and G-ANBM


I also can't remember how many were on charter from BOAC at any onetime.

Finally the following photo from the first one that I posted. This is G-ANBF starting with port inner running.


Paya Lebar looks quiet in this shot. Aircraft movements were far less than we are used to nowadays and during an afternoon in 1961/2, I could probable expect to see a couple of Britannia turn arounds, a couple of Dak/Friendship or Viscount departures and maybe an Air India Super Connie or 707. Maybe a 'short nosed' Qantas 707-138 or a Convair 880M (anyone remember them?) from Cathay or JAL might come through if I stayed long enough.
Still I'd wander back through the nearby Malay kampong to pickup the bus on the Tamplines Road happy with that. I was only 14 or 15 at the time.

David Taylor.

2nd Jan 2009, 07:40
Sorry 828a I had a senior moment!
Try Britannia Aircraft Preservation Trust - home of the Bristol Britannia (http://www.britannia.flyer.co.uk/) then look at G-ALRX.
Should have stayed in Superfine. :O

2nd Jan 2009, 08:33
Always love to read about airliners of the old days...
With the Britannia, I never forget that Canadair CL-28, CC-109 and CL-44D/J were related.
I do not remember what was common and what was different...
Yes, the engines, the CL-28 with R-3350 power.
And the RR Tyne for the CC-109 and CL-44s...
Only got to fly as passenger on a Loftleidir CL-44J, LUX-KEF-JFK in 1968.
LUX-JFK was $189.oo then.
If I recall, the CL-44J had a capacity of 216 passengers, sardine class.
Was also a "Whispering Giant"...
I enjoy your texts and pictures, thanks.
Happy contrails

2nd Jan 2009, 09:06
Flew in Britannia Airways 100series to Sicily with my future wife [it was her first flight]. Were there for the Targa Florio motor race. Leaving Punta Raise we had three rejected take-offs in a row with no explanation. Made it on the fourth.Then to Monaco GP on the Monarch Brit which is now in Duxford, where my wife works on Airshow Days. Lovely aeroplane to travel in. Aaaaah nostalgia.

2nd Jan 2009, 11:26
Postfade; Selamat Pagi kawan ( Greetings Friend )

Thanks for the great memories. Those three DC-3 s on the apron in front of the Malayan Airways main hangar turn back the clock for me. Flew all of them for many years and enjoyed every minute of it. There was a total of twelve so the other nine must have been out on the routes in Malaya or British North Borneo or in the hangar. The Britannia 102 on lease from BOAC only flew between Singapore-Hongkong-Kuala Lumpur and Djakarta ( note my spelling of Djakarta, it's an age giveaway ! ) All daylight flying, no time changes, happy flight deck, lovely cabin crew and no brain draining security. Toss in a nice aeroplane that was easy to fly and carried plenty of fuel and one can't but help make special memories. Malayan Airways operated the Britannia only to compete with Cathay Pacific's newly acquired Convair 880-22m which I also remember very well indeed.
Your mention of the Singapore Flying club reminded me of an incident I was involved in that confirmed what a superb aircraft the Britannia was. One of their Chipmunks botched a landing on the grass strip that was positioned between Rw02 and the main taxiway just as we were on the taxiway alongside where it happened. ( we were at max take off weight bound for Hongkong ). The resultant Chipmunk recovery and overshoot could very well have caused a collision and it all happened just as the before take off checklist was being read. The cursing and swearing we directed at the Chipmunk pilot caused the setting of the flaps for take off to be missed and as a result we took off with the flaps up when they should have been extended. There was much silence and personal guilt on the flight deck when we realised what had happened but the 102 didn't seem to mind. Once again thanks for the memories or as you would know-----terima kasih. Best

I've had a look at the Britannia info. Thanks very much. I's a shame someone did not have the sense to keep at least one fully intact. I wonder how many of todays aviation types read your pen name and interpret it as " he braked well " The true meaning of course is known only to those who moved the lever. Best.

2nd Jan 2009, 11:32
......... " he braked well " The true meaning of course is known only to those who moved the lever.

OK. I know I'll regret this - but I'll bite. :hmm:

2nd Jan 2009, 11:41
I've had a look at the Britannia info. Thanks very much. I's a shame someone did not have the sense to keep at least one fully intact. I wonder how many of todays aviation types read your pen name and interpret it as " he braked well " The true meaning of course is known only to those who moved the lever. Best.

XM496 is complete and well looked after by a dedicated team of ex RAF Brit engineers at Kemble. When the need arises it can be taxied with all four engines running.
PS. I never moved that lever, but I asked for it to be moved many times over a period of ten years!

2nd Jan 2009, 15:04
Come on, Brakedwell, put us all out of our misery. I believe there were settings of "Brake Dwell" and "Superfine" on the props, but I don't understand the significance. I was also led to believe that some confusion over their selection may have been a factor in the overrun at Khormaksar, photos of which I posted earlier on in this thread. No prejudgements, I was only a helicopter pilot at the time (the shadow of the Wessex can be seen on the wing in one of the photos).

2nd Jan 2009, 15:56
The reverse procedure involved the Flight Engineer pulling back a reverse arming lever until it dropped into a detent position. This allowed the propellor pitch to pass through three pitch locks and produce reverse thrust. The standard landing briefing by the pilots used to be something like: After touchdown I will call for Superfine, Brakedwell and then Reverse as ordered.

The Khormaksar overrun was caused by the RAL not being in it's full detent position, thus producing forward thrust instead of reverse when the power was increased to slow them down, until it was too late to stop at the end of the runway. I seem to remember the captain had just been promoted to the LHS and the F/E was new on type :sad::sad:

Were you on 78 Sqn? I left 105 Sqn in August 1966 for the Brit fleet. During my time in Aden I was lumbered with a Board of Enquiry for the 78 Sqn Wessex which, due to a loss of power, dropped the underslung Beaver it had just rescued from a Radfan wadi where the army pilot had force landed with engine problems. I was very very relieved when they opened up the suspect Wessex engine (sealed by the plod) and found severe sand induced damage along the full length of the compressor.

2nd Jan 2009, 21:40
Yes, 78, right up until the final minute; midnight 30.11.67. Check your PMs

25th Feb 2009, 12:35
I joined the site because i an classified as a wannabe, but have loved Aviation since the early 50s, Age give away here. But father was in the Army and our first flight was to Malaya in 1956 and returned in 1958. Flight due to the Malayan Emergancy. Familys still went and we were in Jahore Baru. Dont know the aircraft on the return but my farther still alive at 69 said it was a Avro York from Stanstead on the out going flight. Freddie Lakers business on charter to the Forces i think?. The Bristol Brits i went on and remember so well was outgoing from Stanstead to Singapore via Brindisi and down to Kuwait and over to Columbo as it was then known. We had a problem on the out going flight from kuwait which was about July August 1966 and taking off in the early morning we did the hold brakes on and run up engines for a chase down the runway but the out starboard engine was awash with fuel i think and it was all flames from the exhaust so even after V1 um rotate! and at least 30ft off the deck we put down and and reversed props like mad, but we ended up off the runway. We stayed overnight in a Hotel while another engine was flown out. I dong know the Call sign for this sorry but we do have a photo in black and white from a Box Browni Camara wigh i think G-AOVA parked after we had a go aroung because of a rain storm. Also a picture of my sister and brothers going up the steps.
The return was on a LLoyds registered Brit G-AOVT in 1968.
I have a copy of the internal flight infomation given out by the Captain( two pages) with the flight path shown all the way from the Middle East.
What nice memories. The British Eagle Terminal was in Knightbridge London

Best wishes to all

Wish i had my time over again as would be a Pilot.

25th Feb 2009, 13:12

Can I refer you to my Propellor thread in Tech forum I've posted a few querries on the Britannia. ( and the CD6/7 B377)

I was once told that the chracteristic sound of the Britannia was due to the engines coming in and out of sync thus producing that fading sound of Britannias flying above in the distance.

Some really nice photos in this thread ..

First time I've read anyone calling a Britannia a slow & bl..dy AWEFUL airplane.

25th Feb 2009, 13:26
I was once told that the chracteristic sound of the Britannia was due to the engines coming in and out of sync thus producing that fading sound of Britannias flying above in the distance.

That's a new one to me. I found the prop sync worked well.

25th Feb 2009, 19:14
The Brit hydraulics ran at 4000 psi which was strange to an American. In spite of this, any time we worked on the hydraulics we had to be careful to do a thorough bleed job to get the air out. Had several flight returns because the gear wouldn't come up after hydraulic work. It was airbound and needed bleeding.

Any truth to the tall tale of a Brit making a "tippy-toe" landing with the truck unrotated?

26th Feb 2009, 03:59
Crews only requested the prop to be held, during it's engine start-if there was a wind present that caused the prop to rotate in the opposite direction, after the prop-brake was released. The prop (if unrestrained and the wind was strong enough), could pick up a considerable rotation speed in the wrong direction and then cause considerable bearing load and adverse effects of gas temps over the turbine-before rotating in the intended direction. The procedure was to hold a blade between finger and thumb until the turbine began to drive the prop shaft-there was no "Clunk" as suggested by some further on, in this article, the clunk was the prop brake disengaging. The blade then moved ever so gently out of the holder's finger/thumb.

27th Feb 2009, 10:04
At the risk of being a pain-I'd like to modify the brief/call given for landing-It would be ofttimes, "Superfine", "Brake Dwell Inners", "Brake Dwell Outers", Reverse -as required. Depending on the runway length, this could vary from moderate to full reverse.

3rd Mar 2009, 09:58
Hi Just a line to say i do think that the pic of G-ARKA in the Moonsoon rain could well be the one we flew in about August 1966 on our way out from Stanstead. I have a black and white picture of it at Colombo but its a bit far off to see the Reg No. ( Pixels are made from a Box Brownie Camara.) We came back in a Lloyds registered Brit because British Eagle was Closed down in late 1988 if i am about right?

I was so pleased that G_ANCF Charlie Foxtrot is back in British Eagle Livery and sat at Liverpool Speeke Airdrome not far from the Old Holtel which is now owned by the Marriot Hotel Group.

Regards from Andrew

4th Mar 2009, 09:03

I am a little confused by your comments about the use of brake dwell and your statement referring to "Brake Dwell" inners and "Brake Dwell" outers. As far as I recall when the single "Brake Dwell" lever was moved from its inflight forward position to the fully rearward position it caused all four engines to go into "Brake Dwell". Perhaps you would be kind enough to explain to me the origin of how one could select inners or outers as required. It did not happen on the Britannia 102!!


4th Mar 2009, 09:20
I spent ten years flying RAF and Civil Britannias and can confirm that Brake dwell could only be selected simultaneously on all four propellors. Reverse could be used on individual engines.
The landing briefing was: I will call for Superfine, Brake dwell and REVERSE AS ORDERED. ie. Inners or outers.

6th Mar 2009, 12:37
Re Hunting Clan.

I have now seen at least three or four Brits that were more than likely used from Stanstead in the ealy 60s for Trouping and think that they were G-AOVT G-AOVA G-AOVS and possibly G-ARKA.
I wish there was a data base of passengers that could be accessed just like the ships one from Lloyds registers.
I will be going to Liverpool to see Charlie Foxtrot in British Eagle Livery as soon as i am able.
I will research Hunting Clan and see what i come up with.

Regards Andrew.

Ps i have 763 logged hours on Flight Sim FX2004. Nearest to real flying with actual Control from Vatsim controllers on line from flight planning to correct procedures for take off and IFR control and landing approach procedures etc.

6th Mar 2009, 15:54
Indeed you are right. Jack had a GREAT operation with the Forty Four TR-LVO
I should know-I was on it.
Anyone wanting to know more-try the CL44 Association-or any one of the 200 strong Association.

6th Mar 2009, 22:58
Thought I'd throw up another couple...both these at doing the 'Changi slip' I guess, although the second shot is Paya Lebar, Singapore.


XM490 taxies in with a thunderstorm behind. 1963.


The batsman in 'best whites' implies a VIP flight perhaps. This was late 63 or early 64 when Changi's western dispersal was being re-surfaced. The Brits and the Comet XR399 behind were working into Paya Lebar.

David Taylor.

7th Mar 2009, 04:51

" One of their Chipmunks botched a landing on the grass strip that was positioned between Rw02 and the main taxiway just as we were on the taxiway alongside where it happened. ( we were at max take off weight bound for Hongkong ). The resultant Chipmunk recovery and overshoot could very well have caused a collision and it all happened just as the before take off checklist was being read. "

Is it possible you have a date for that flight that this incident happened?

Hopefully not in Dec 59 or Jan 60, was operating the chipmunk VR-SDW from the Singapore Aero Club in those months with a brand new PPL, and gave myself a few frights taking on X wind landings, not really appreciating how fast the wind could spring up in front of approaching thunder heads.

India Four Two
7th Mar 2009, 05:30
In 1968, I had a flight-deck ride on a Brittania from Lyneham to Akrotiri and return. I remember there was a part of the pre-takeoff checklist called "Locks and Stops(?)". The FE explained all to me after the flight, but I've forgotten the details. Can one of you experts refresh my memory?

My seat was in what used to be the Signaller's station and I remember during the flight, I moved to the FE's seat while he used the Signaller's table to eat his meals. I was cautioned very strongly by the Co-pilot not to pass any drinks to the pilots over the central console, in case of a spillage causing a major electrical problem and also:

"Don't touch those four buttons."
"Because they feather the props!"

8th Mar 2009, 10:13

It wasn't you so you can rest easy. The incident occurred about February 1962. I did not note anything about it in my log book because we had to submit it to the Chief Pilot for checking and authenticating twice a year and what occurred was best forgotton. I did some interesting Chipmunk flying with the Royal Singapore Flying Club about the time you were there, it was payroll dropping into isolated rubber plantations necessary because of the threat of insurgents ambushing payroll armoured cars carrying cash by road for paying the wages of the rubber tappers. It was all good fun, the Britannia one day and the Chipmunk the next. Regards


8th Mar 2009, 19:33
IFT, the Brit had flying control locks. Possibly the 'locks and stops' statement was to ensure that once removed, the flying controls were 'full and free' and that the flying control stops were sensed during the range of movement check. I can remember using a handpump located behind the Captain's seat to pump the locks in. It was a long time ago and eight or nine aircraft type licences ago. If I am wrong I stand to be corrected.

8th Mar 2009, 21:04
The Stops and Props check was carried out by the Flight Engineer before take off to ensure the prop pitch was working normally and the reverse stops were in position to stop uncommanded reverse. It was not possible to check the controls properly as they were not powered and were moved by small control tabs that did not become effective until about 80 knots. Hence both ailerons and both elevators were drooped during the initial part of the take off run.

The aileron tabs can be seen in this photo.


8th Mar 2009, 21:47
Thanks Brakedwell, makes sense to me.

17th Mar 2009, 01:25
Royal Singapore Flying Club Chipmunk overshoot:
I was interested in the 'thread offshoot' above posted by 'prospector' and '828a' and finding out that the Flying Club Chipmunk VR-SDW had another use apart from PPL training.
As a teenager in Singapore in the early 60's, I often saw VR-SDW whilst prowling around Paya Lebar to photograph the visiting aircraft.
Alas she ended up like this:

I think the picture tells the story to any pilot. VR-SDW Paya Lebar early or mid 1963.

David Taylor.

17th Mar 2009, 07:33
I first encountered the Brit while flying models at Juhu airfield, just an errant model's flip from Santa Cruz, Bombay's airport. Saw the thing on approach (to Santa Cruz, not Juhu, though several airlines had attempted this!) and marvelled at it.
Transpired it was operated by an airline called Air Faisal flown by some moonlighting or ex-RAF crews, whom I later met. They took me to DXB and KWI on a few freighting flights (15 or 16 wearing a uniform and looked a right berk!) and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I also accompanied their maintenance engineers to the airport several times (thanks, Bob and Bob).
I was later employed at Luton as a trainee engineer - or gopher! - by Jet Age Aero Services in '77 (Air Faisal's AMO). My personal experiences were less than happy there and I moved on to Airline Engineering as an apprentice the same week Air Faisal went bust.
'496 and '660 stick in the head for some reason.

17th Mar 2009, 07:41
This might jog your memory Bus429

XM496 was one of a batch ordered by the Royal Air Force Transport Command. Delivered in 1960, she was given the name Regulus, and saw service with 99 and 511 Squadrons. In 1975 she was withdrawn from use, and sold on the civil market. Registered as G-BDUP in March 1976 she served with Afrek Cargo, based at Athens airport. In 1984 she went to Cuban airline Aerocaribbean as CU-T120. After that she saw service in Southern Africa with Transair Cargo firstly as 9Q-CJH then as EL-WXA, becoming the last airworthy Britannia in the world.

17th Mar 2009, 07:51
Brakedwell, that's the one. I think XL 496 was the other one?
Couldn't get away from the Brit at Airline Engineering, either; they maintained Redcoat, Afrek and the occasional Cubana Brits.

17th Mar 2009, 08:07
There wasn't an XL496. XL 660 was with Air Faisal as GBEMZ in 1977-79

17th Mar 2009, 08:46
G-BDLZ which was XM490 (should have Googled (http://www.airliners.net/photo/Air-Faisal/Bristol-175-Britannia/1277197&tbl=&photo_nr=0&sok=&sort=&prev_id=&next_id=1277196) earlier!)

17th Mar 2009, 09:44
828a ...... payroll dropping into isolated rubber plantations necessary because of the threat of insurgents ambushing payroll armoured cars carrying cash by road for paying the wages of the rubber tappers.

Name Brian Woodford ring a bell?

18th Mar 2009, 12:23
Those men in the white overalls at Paya Lebar were Qantas ground engineers.
I was one of them until 1966 when I joined Cathay Pacific as a flight engineer in Hong Kong. I had three consequtive postings to Singapore which were the happiest six years of my life, not to be forgotten. Qantas engineering had a virtual monopoly on the handling and maintenace of most movements of Brittanias, Super Constellations, Lockheed Electras, Convair 880s, B707s, Comets, VC10s and all ods and sods of charter flights, delivery flights, etc.

19th Mar 2009, 10:46
Hi all,
I've just registered, and have been fascinated reading the posts on this forum, particularly about the Britannia.
In the late 70s, I lived in London, and was a frequent visitor to Biggin Hill, firstly to attend the airshows, and secondly to imbibe the vibe.
On one occasion I took a French girl on a date, a trip to the country. Somehow we ended up near Biggin Hill, and being a true romantic, I decided to show her over a Britannia I had previously discovered sitting forlornly at the side of the airfield. There was a set of old stairs of some description up to the wing, possibly a repair platform, and missing windows, so we climbed in, went up to the cockpit and sat in the pilots' seats.
On a later visit I noticed that the Britannia had been removed, and I often wondered what had become of it.
Re the venue for the date, in the early 80s I had a picnic with my girlfriend on the wing of Norman Gunston's DC3 at Bankstown, (also slightly down at heel as some nutcase had damaged it and another DC3 parked nearby in a kamakaze attack after a fight with his girlfriend).
We have just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary, so sometimes these unusual settings can work wonders..........

1st Apr 2009, 18:24
There was an unfortunate accident at LGW on one of IAS's Brits when the prop holder, sensing that the engine had started and the prop was not showing signs of moving, put his shoulder to it and shoved. The blade at the 3 o'clock position rapidly descended to the six o'clock position and promptly floored the poor unfortunate underneath the now burning and turning engine. Fotunately he was not killed but took a while to recover.

Cause was the rear turbine blades being stuck on the rear casing and by moving the prop freed the pent up energy thus accelerating the prop.

Sure, the Brit was slow, had a 'delicate' engine and the electrics could be a nightmare, but it was said that if you could master the electrics on it, no other a/c would be a challenge. Probably why the modern jet offers no challenges and leckies give up being aircraft engineers.

1st Apr 2009, 19:09
i think you will find your Biggin Brit here
Bristol 175 Britannia 312, EC-BFJ, Air Spain (http://www.abpic.co.uk/photo/1135648/)

3rd Apr 2009, 07:44
Can I ask a different Britannia question to those who may have been there at the time.

Why was a second assembly line for the aircraft set up, subcontracted to Shorts in Belfast ? The overall numbers built (85) were small and perfectly capable of all being produced at Filton. So why go to all the expense of setting up a second production line elsewhere, which in the end built just 15 of the total production ?

3rd Apr 2009, 10:09
If I remember rightly Bristol took a small percentage shareholding in Shorts in the 1950s and there was some political horsetrading regarding the RAF order and employment in NI.

35 Brits should have been built at Belfast but only 15 emerged after a reduction of work back at Filton, 5 part built aircraft were shipped to Filton for completion.

3rd Apr 2009, 12:13
A number of Air Sapin's Brits came to rest at Biggin Hill in order to supply engine, props and spares for IAS's own fleet of 312's.

Many hours, both day and nights were spent getting engines off, removing the tasty bit, including the galley equipment ( I still have a stainless steel coffee pot) and the landing gear without the aid of a full set of jacks, and so on. We did a mental risk assessment,honest.

Was on site for the first delivery when the operating crew on leaving the a/c, fully dressed all the props north to south and then kissed them!! Shows that someone loved them inspite of the a/c's technical reputation

6th Apr 2009, 16:07
Shows that someone loved them inspite of the a/c's technical reputation

I remember working in the forward cargo bay on a Brit when an inverter - that I'd just replaced - blew up (well, a capacitor in its control box went bang). Did loads of heavy duty electrical work: reg packs on the TRUs (they were in different locations on the military and civilian versions), generator connections on the fire-wall (thick, thin and spring was the washer combination), replacing the batteries (millions of 'em), Phoenix lights; the list goes on. One memorable ghoster spent replacing a torque indicator for one of the engines - one long length of capillary from engine to instrument panel (God help you if you mis-routed it!).:uhoh:

6th Apr 2009, 17:44
I remember that long torque indicator capillary - we were threatened with death during an engine change if anything happened to it - had to be carefully stowed during removal and installation of engine - fortunately, never had to change one. Always wondered why they didn't have a torque transmitter on engine instead of that setup.

Had a peculiar one too on an Aeronaves de Mexico 302 where ammeter was fluctuating back and forth (high amp readings too) even with power off - even with the 28V and 112V battery sets disconnected. Finally found the lav was leaking fluid down on the ammeter shunt located behind stbd wall of fwd bag pit. Ammeter was reading current generated by corrosion of the shunt and connections.

7th Apr 2009, 11:57
WHBM: from 1943-1989 we, fond taxpayers, owned Short's. Comet 2 and Swift were to have been second-sourced there; those prospects lapsed in 1954, when Britannia sales/licences were widely discussed, inc. Convair/TWA and Qantas. Filton capacity would be inadequate. Bristol was required to licence Short's, so took a 15.25% "protective" stake in July,1954. In November,1955 V.1000 was chopped and Britannia C.1 bought for RAF; (I have) 18 built at Sydenham, and structure for 5 more shipped to Filton. 12 civil models were also assembled at Sydenham. So, later, were 13 VC.10 C.1 fuselages.

7th Apr 2009, 17:27

Do you have a list of the airframes completed at Shorts?

7th Apr 2009, 18:54
35 Britannias were built at Belfast.

XL 635 to 640
XL 657 to 660
XM 489 to 491
XM 496 to 498
XM 517 to 520
XN 392
XN 398
XN 404

8th Apr 2009, 08:26
Brakedwell, thanks for that, however the Britannia preservation site lists 32:
bristol-britannia.com (http://www.bristol-britannia.com/)

The 15 plus 5 partially completed that I originally quoted (and is widely quoted on a range of websites and in a number of publications) has been kicking around for at least a couple of decades and is patently wrong.

Just why there is so much confusion is difficult to see as the type was built well within living memory and was well documented.

8th Apr 2009, 11:07
That link is inaccurate. The RAF only had 20 C Mk 1 Brits (253) and there were 23 in total including the three Mk 2 (252) Brits. That would account for the discrepancy. I got my info from a book by Charles Woodley titled - Bristol Britannia.

13th Apr 2009, 12:27
I was never happy with the finding that it was the Engineer's fault that the Britannia ended up in the mud at Khormaksar. He wasn't a new boy at all, but a very experienced man. To get into reverse pitch the Engineer had to pull the reversing lever aft then move it slightly to the left and finally slightly forward, that last movement was always stressed during training to be vital because it ensured that the single micro-switch which controlled all 12 solenoids that had to be energised to go into brake dwell was activated. I don't think that a thorough technical inspection could be carried due to operational pressures at the time. Crew error was the easy diagnosis.

sled dog
14th Apr 2009, 08:51
The story i heard when joing the Brit fleet was that the reverse detent was worn, possibly causing the lever to come out of the selected position .

14th Apr 2009, 09:14
I was on 99 when it happened, but can't remember a conclusive answer to what really happened, apart from the newly promoted captain was posted to a ground job.

14th Apr 2009, 16:25

Very true about pulling back and then into the detent. Cant remember about pushing it forward though.

The PCU on the engine that performed the oil trick to move the prop certainly had 3 solenoids - Fine, (which put on an amber light, Coarse, (no light) and Reverse ( green light) all from memory of course until I can find my Brit electrical manual in the loft - I think.

14th Apr 2009, 17:21
This brings back memories of doing paydrops with Terry Chioli when I was about 11 years old - My father was an engineer with Malayan Airways from 1951 to 1956 and Terry took me along in a Cessna 170 and I was allowed to drop the payroll bags - great fun for a kid.

14th Apr 2009, 18:44
' evening Falcon, it's fun to split hairs innit! The last bit of movement of the reverse lever to which I referred wasn't so much a movement as it was a confirmation that the lever was firmly at the front end of the quadrant detent, and I'm certain that the Engineer involved was very well aware of that. To save you a trip to the attic, the three solenoids were the fine pitch stop withdrawal solenoid (self explanatory), the override solenoid which delivered full PCU oil pressure to the propellor piston, and the reverse solenoid which reversed the oil flow so that the blades went to the reverse pitch stops and stayed there thus becoming a fixed pitch prop. During a full power reverse landing or aborted take off the Engineer eased the power levers forward as the aircraft slowed to avoid a prop overspeed.
I suppose it could be argued that if that single microswitch was faulty (which fits the symptoms) the crew was at fault in not diagnosing the problem and taking corrective action soon enough. But there was certainly no SOP to cover this eventuality and it would've needed some very quick thinking by both Engineer and Captain to recover the situation. And the usual first reaction when you don't get the expected response to an oft-repeated action is to do it again, but harder. And the aircraft would've accelerated. There but for the grace of God..........

Siguarda al fine
14th Apr 2009, 19:08
A former flight engineer with whom I worked and studied, passed away a year ago, and his daughter had a full set of Britt manuals, if any one is interested she may still have them.

19th Apr 2009, 20:11
Just another story to add to the pile.

'Twas either late 1953 or early 54, that I was flying a Meteor 4, ex 209 AFS from Weston Zoyland. Bill Pegg had become obliged to force land on the mud flats at Bristol following what I believe was a four engine failure.

I flew over the site and looked down to see a fairly short curving skid line in the mud to where the aircraft sat forlornly.

Must have been some kind of recovery getting her out of the mud.


PS. It was the same day that a Meteor flew under the Clifton suspension bridge I seem to recall. I do know that a while later a Vampire pilot presumably ex Valley, attempted the same stunt but mis-judged the climb out and fatally struck the side of the gorge.

20th Apr 2009, 16:48
PS. It was the same day that a Meteor flew under the Clifton suspension bridge I seem to recall. I do know that a while later a Vampire pilot presumably ex Valley, attempted the same stunt but mis-judged the climb out and fatally struck the side of the gorge.

The Vampire belonged 501 (County of Gloucester) Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force, based at Filton.

A contemporary press report reported the event as follows:


An hour before the Duke of Gloucester was due to take the salute at the disbandment parade of 501 (County of Gloucester) Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force, at Filton, Bristol, yesterday [Sunday, Feb 03, 1957], a Vampire jet fighter attached to the squadron crashed into a bank of the River Avon after having flown under Clifton suspension bridge.

The pilot, Flying Officer J. G. Crossley, aged 28, was killed. The suspension bridge spans the Avon Gorge and carries a road 245ft. above the river. The aircraft narrowly missed the bridge, according to eye witnesses, and dived into a steep slope on the Somerset side of the river, near Pill, about two miles from the bridge. The impact caused a slight landslide which almost reached a railway line below. No trains were run on the line, which connects Bristol and Portishead, for several hours. The wreckage of the aircraft caught fire and Bristol and Somerset firemen had to lay a hose for more than a quarter of a mile across the hillside. The body of the pilot was found among the wreckage.

Flying Officer Crossley, a single man, was employed by the flight test department of a subsidiary of the Bristol Aeroplane Company. He lived in Bristol, but his home was at Blackburn.

Mr. William Rodgers, prospective Labour candidate in the forthcoming by-election at Bristol West, said last night that he was admiring the view from the suspension bridge when he heard the scream of jet engines. “The aircraft came in very low” he said. He watched it disappear up the gorge and round a bend. There was a loud explosion and immediately smoke billowed up."

Mr. A. H. Fenn, proprietor of a kiosk on the bridge, said: “There was a strong wind, and as the aircraft continued up the gorge it appeared to roll or bank to the left I imagine the strong cross-wind must have caught him as he was banking."

Squadron Leader M. C. Collings, officer commanding the squadron, said the aircraft was being tested as a reserve for the parade fly-past No route had been laid down for it, but the pilot had not permission to attempt to fly under the bridge.

The Duke of Gloucester, who is honorary Air Commodore of the squadron, knew nothing of the crash until after the parade He was told of it by Air Marshal Sir Thomas Pike, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief. Fighter Command.

At the parade, the first to be held by a Royal Auxiliary Air Force squadron since the recent disbandment announcement, the Duke said: The reasons for the Government’s decision have been given and we must however difficult it is, loyally accept them. I can only say that I fully understand and sympathize most sincerely with your feelings at this moment. The fame of your squadron and of the rest of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force will, I know, live on long after disbandment.”

He recalled that 501 Squadron went quickly to France when the last war began and one morning “bagged” 18 enemy aircraft before breakfast. Later the squadron played a distinguished part in the Battle of Britain, and it was Sergeant James Lacy, a member of the squadron, who shot down the Heinkel which bombed Buckingham Palace.

The parade included both personnel of 501 Squadron and of 2501 Field Squadron. Royal Auxiliary Air Force Regiment. A solitary Vampire jet fighter flew past as the Duke took the salute.

Flying Officer John Greenwood Crossley, aged 28, the pilot who crashed and died in the Avon Gorge after flying a Vampire aircraft under the Clifton suspension bridge last Sunday, was on an unauthorized flight, it was stated at the inquest yesterday at Flax Bourton, near Bristol.

Corporal Robert Charles Troll, of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, stationed with 501 Squadron at Filton, said that at 10.30 a.m. on Sunday he saw Crossley sitting in a Vampire starting the engines [sic]. “He then climbed out, dashed round to the starboard side, disconnected the starting appliance, and then climbed back into the aircraft as if he was in a hurry. ... I made signs to prevent him from taking off because the nose wheel chock was behind the wheel and danger might ensue. He ignored me completely”
The inquest was adjourned until February 26.

3rd Dec 2009, 17:12
Resurrecting an old thread :

AN IRISH flight engineer whose death was prematurely announced 51 years ago has died in Britain, aged 86.

Dubliner Edmund O’Keeffe survived a crash on a test flight of a Bristol Britannia 312 on the morning of Christmas Eve, 1958, but the Evening Press reported that he had died.
Because of the Christmas break, it took his family several days to correct the report and they were inundated with condolences, his sister Maura Greene told The Irish Times : “For nearly a week people thought he was dead.”
His wife, Bernie O’Keeffe, recalled the Evening Press had to be hidden from Mr O’Keeffe’s mother in case it upset her.

Death of flight engineer who 'died' 51 years ago - The Irish Times - Thu, Dec 03, 2009 (http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2009/1203/1224259993618.html)

5th Dec 2009, 05:36
Was there not another accident involving a reverse problem with the Brittania in Gan ?

7th Dec 2009, 04:45
I seem to recall a conversation with one of the crew members many years ago in which he explained that everyone had evacuated O.K. and only later was it realised that the engines were all still running with the free-turbine props. stuck firmly in the mud.

Evidentally neither the master crash switch had been activated nor had a sufficient number of the individual inertia crash switche sensed the event.

Now here's a good ARB question - what was the minimum number of crash switches that had to be activated to shut down the engines?

And a question for your average Pub Quiz ... was the Brit. the last UK registered civil aircraft to be fitted with crash switches?

7th Dec 2009, 06:33
When the nose landing gear was ripped off it took the batteries with it, removing power from all electric cut-off switches/valves, which remained in their open "engine running" mode.

A similar loss of battery power happened with the Air Europe 757 accident in Funchal.

7th Dec 2009, 13:28
'Twas either late 1953 or early 54, that I was flying a Meteor 4, ex 209 AFS from Weston Zoyland. Bill Pegg had become obliged to force land on the mud flats at Bristol following what I believe was a four engine failure.

No, the root of it was an engine fire. It was Feb 1954. I recollect vaguely that it was the flight trials installation of the Bristol Orion. Wikipedia claims that one engine (no.3) was on fire, no.4 was shut down as a precaution, and the other 2 failed on approach to Filton. I think that last bit is wrong, and that Bill Pegg took the view that the wing would not survive long enough to reach Filton, and chose to land on the mud.

Edit: I have found that the Orion did not fly until 1956, fitted to the 1st prototype Britannia, so this one was all Proteus power

7th Dec 2009, 14:08
To put it in a nutshell the second prototype G-ALRX force landed on the mud flats on the 4th February 1954. No 3 engine oil temperature rose seven minutes after take-off and the engine was shut down. It was relit once the oil temp had fallen, but following a stall manoeuvre it rose again A pinion in the reduction gear stripped it's teeth, the low pressure turbine ran away and exploded. Pieces pierced the oil tank causing an intense fire which could not be contained. No 4 engine was shut down as a precaution and Bill Pegg decided on an immediate forced landing on the Severn Estuary mudflats.

12th Jun 2010, 21:41
I was at RAF Changi 1964-1966 and remember the Britannias of BUA and British Eagle.The wife and I flew from Stansted in Jan 1964 with BUA calling at Istanbul (frozen to death)and Bombay(sweating like pigs),landing at Payar Lebar at 0630 one muggy morning with wife looking for snakes in puddles:O
We flew back to Heathrow with British Eagle in August 1966 calling at Colombo,Kuwait and Istanbul.

The first photo was taken at Payar Lebar just before we left.

The second was taken at Kuwait.The locals were refuelling the aircraft and saw me with the camera.An RAF Flight Lt who was in charge of the flight

knocked the camera away explaining that the locals might stop the job if I took a photo,that's why I only got half a Britannia.:*

If I remember correctly we had to wait for the temp to drop before we could take off for Istanbul.
I hope these are of interest,wish I'd taken more photos.

23rd Jul 2012, 02:32

How are you?

I am Peter. I was a steward on the MAL Britannia 102. The EO I remember well is Peter Hicks.


22nd Jun 2013, 16:08

Who was the Cpt.on that day? Do you have any photos of chrashed G-ANBB?

Regards, Ales

22nd Jun 2013, 16:22
We still have control stick of that airplane...
Btw I was always wondering why nothing was put on the place where aircraft chrashed. Not a single cross.
But after so many years vegetation is poor on chrash place. I think because of aircraft fuel.
Regards, Ales

27th Jun 2013, 22:08
Bit off topic this, but I've only just come across it, and it was the Khormaksar Brit that led me to it...

Quote from Herod in post dated 2nd Jan 2009 "Yes, 78, right up until the final minute; midnight 30.11.67."

On the offchance that Herod might see this, we must have been together on Intrepid for a few days then. My very last flight on 78 was from that deck to Sharjah on 4.12.67.

And if Brakedwell sees it, I shared a room with a 105 Nav for a time - learned a little bit about engine out drift down and stabilising altitudes from him. And I well remember the guy who dropped the army underslung from his Wessex when he lost one engine - you could bend the tip of a 10th stage compressor blade on an eroded gnome with a flick of a fingernail.

28th Jun 2013, 10:35
deltahot, I was on the board of Inquiry into the incident and felt a real sense of relief when they opened up the Rolls Royce Gnome and found catastrophic sand erosion in the compressor. I suspected the other board members were out to get the pilot as the Army were looking for a scapegoat :ok:

28th Jun 2013, 22:03
Glad you all reached the right conclusion on that B-o-I then brakedwell - I remember seeing a photo of Ron B's Wessex off the ridge just after he'd released the sling with the rotor disc coned up at a frightening angle from low rpm. He hit the button just in time. Was it a Beaver or a Scout??? Or even a Sioux? Definitely an AAC bird anyway.
Were you at Khormaksar when so many of us were laid low from contaminated jungle juice from the caterers? Even staying with the canned beer and avoiding water and salads back at base couldn't save us from relying on gallons of that juice up-country. I think it got some of your trucky mates staging through too.

29th Jun 2013, 06:17
I was at Muharraq waiting to board the Brit than pranged at Khormaksar. We were due to go to Cyprus and then on to Iran for Exercise Nejat (Mountain Rescue).

As a result of the crash we had to kick our heels in Bahrain for 10 days until seats could be found on an Argosy going back to Sharjah.

29th Jun 2013, 06:46
It was definitely a Beaver which had made a forced landing in a dried up waddi bed after an engine failure. The Beaver was undamaged before it was jettisoned from the Wessex. I never suffered from contaminated jungle juice during my tour on 105 from (Aug 64 - Aug 66). However we did use it to clean the grotty old bath in our Maalla hiring.:ok:

29th Jun 2013, 22:43
brakedwell I was there from May 66 to the end, so we just might be talking of two separate incidents - if so, we owe the AAC a bit more. And the contaminated jungle juice was definitely later, probably in '67.
I've just found this somewhere on the site:

teeteringhead. 18th Jun 2012, 08:50
There was a good series of photographs in the 78 (Wessex) Sqn scrapbook which may still exist on 78 (Merlin).

They date from Aden (before my time!!) and seemed to have been printed from a cine film, as they were effectively a time-lapse sequence - of the lift (briefly) of a Scout.

Apparently the Wessex lost an engine in the transition with the Scout - overpitched and quite scary coning angle clearly visible - then Scout "pickled" and disappears from bottom of frame over 2 or 3 pictures as Wessex flies away. Cat 2 Scout becomes Cat 5 Scout!

Pilot alleged to be R****e B*****n?

... which accords more closely with my memory, even the pilot's name.
(Beaver had it's fan on the front, Scout on top).

So we left a Brit off the end of Khormaksar's runway and a Bev at the end of Habilayn's. (My weak effort to get back on thread!)

30th Jun 2013, 14:27
Obviously there were close similarities in that the loads were jettisoned due to a loss of power after lift off. The engine I saw had a complete fore and aft line of compressor blade failures caused by sand erosion.

Back on topic

I slipped in Khormaksar a couple of days after the Brit accident and enjoyed a few beers in Merrifield House with the unfortunate crew who were on the same squadron as me. Both pilots were suffering from multiple lacerations on their faces and arms from flailing (perimeter) barbed wire which was caught in the slowly rotating props as they could not shut the engines down after the batteries had been ripped out by the departing nose gear!

31st May 2022, 14:24
Does anyone recall an incident with 9Q-CJH or EL-WXA (now known as XM496 in Cotswald) where chlorine gas cargo leaked and killed some of the pax???? This would have been around 1996 in Zaire or the DRC.