View Full Version : The Blackburn Beverley

29th Dec 2002, 22:10
In the introduction to a book on the Beverley I have been reading there was one mans theory on how the Beverley came into being.

It was written by Gerry Hatt, a Beverley Flt Eng.

I repeat it below.

First, for those of you unfamiliar with the Bev here are a couple of photos.



"A famous aircraft designer saw a dutch barn blow past in a gale. The basic concept of the Beverley was born at that moment.

The original design of the machine was intended to fulfill single-seater specifications, but as full power was required to taxi the aircraft forward at a slow walking pace, another engine was added. The resulting increase in all up weight necessitated the addition of two further engines to enable it to move at all.

By this time, the general dimensions had increased somewhat, and the work was often delayed for several days at a time while the a/c was utilised by the airport manager as a spare hanger for visiting aircraft. This state of affairs continued for such a long time, that by the time the prototype was ready for flight, other types of aircraft were jet powered.

The rather embarrassed designer, fearing to appear behind the times, had the propellers placed much higher than he had originally intended, in the hopes that they would not be noticed. This entailed the raising of the mainplane and the fuselage sides (the production manager raised the roof) and accounts for the immense height of the machine.

As no adequate runway was available, the undercarriage was adapted to take locomotive wheels, and the first take-off was from the Brough – Hull railway. It was in fact airborne by the time it had reached the passenger station at Beverley: hence its name.

A conversion kit for this purpose is still in existence. While the aircraft is in use in this role, the Flight Deck should be at all times be referred to as the drivers cab, and the VHF should be re-crystallized to include the frequencies of Crewe signal box, and the head office of the National Union of Railwaymen.

Spinning the aircraft is not recommended, as the torque reaction involved causes the Earth to rotate in the opposite direction to the spin, to the accompaniment of terse notes from Greenwich Observatory.

The aircraft is extremely versatile, and may be employed in many roles, particularly those, which do not include flying or movement of any kind. It is also highly amenable to modification. For example, wind tunnel tests have shown that the wings could be placed at the bottom, and the wheels at the top, without any appreciable drop in performance.

Taken all in all, the Beverley is an ideal aircraft for a civilian enthusiast with a million pounds, a private oil well, and a total abhorrence of flying."

The Beverly's first flight was in June 1950 and Blackburns Chief Test Pilot is reported to have said to his co-pilot at the moment of lift off " Well my sides airborne, how about yours"

30th Dec 2002, 02:28
etsd0001, that is one of the funniest things about aviation I have ever read. Do you have an address on the net where one can buy the book? My interest has been piqued.:D

30th Dec 2002, 11:20
I regret to say I believe the book is out of print. It's called "Blackburn Beverley" by Bill Overton (ISBN 0 904597 62 8) and was published in 1990 by Midland Counties Publications. Their website being


Shaggy Sheep Driver
30th Dec 2002, 12:31
I think it was 'Timber' Woods who made the "my side is airborn" comment.

The other thing the Bev was noted for was that it was quite impossible to get lost in one. You just followed the oil slick back home again ;~)


vintage ATCO
30th Dec 2002, 20:25
Very good! :D

Court Line bought one with the intention of flying spare RB-211s about. It just sat at Luton for ages until one brave soul finally flew it out. I think it went to Brough. Anyone know what happened to it?

vintage ATCO

John (Gary) Cooper
30th Dec 2002, 21:53

The Bumbling Bev........ www.beverley-association.org.uk/

30th Dec 2002, 23:51
There is a new book about to hit the streets written by Geoff Gladstone. Not available yet but is to be part of the series of books all pertinent to individual types of which the Brittannia one was recently published. Better still, they quite often end up in the bargain book shops and stands at air shows making them especially good value if you wait a while.

Working in the defence of the nation whilst all around get p155ed.
Happy New Year everyone.http://www.stopstart.fsnet.co.uk/smilie/wokka.gif

31st Dec 2002, 00:27
Vintage ATCO,

That was XB259 the first and last production Beverly to fly. It first went RAE Farnborough and remained there until the early 1970's when,as you say Court Line aquired it in 1973. When they had gone bust North Country Breweries bought it and had it flown to Paull Airfield near Thorngumbald, Hull on 30th March 1974.

After the airfield closed seven years later it was moved to the Museum of Army Transport at Beverley in bits and re-assembled there.


The book series the one published by Crowood?

31st Dec 2002, 00:54
Thanks etsd0001. I'll be looking for the book on e-bay.

PPRuNe Pop
31st Dec 2002, 08:47
Just as a point of interest there is a pub in Morden, Surrey which is called The Beverly. The sign, the swinging type, shows a nice painting of the Beverley. The pub is situate in the Lower Morden Road by the five ways roundabout.

31st Dec 2002, 10:44
ETSD: Yes I am under the impression that it will be part of that series, and will advise the forum if I hear any more. Here is a painting that I found via Google:



31st Dec 2002, 18:33
The best one I heard amongst the many unkind things they said about the Bev was that following tests, they took out all the Air Speed Indicators and fitted calendars!

Cornish Jack
2nd Jan 2003, 20:42
All very well taking the proverbial, chaps, but the Bev was a superb aircraft for the task for which it was designed - short range forward battle area re-supply into unprepared strips carrying bulky cargo. We did six weeks on just that sort of operation in Libya and had hardly a problem. However, 'the powers that be' insisted on using it for anything but its intended role and thus were the legends born. It was a splendid machine for those of us privileged to crew it and, visually, in the hands of those with the 'touch', quite remarkable. I was at Brough on 'Timber' Woods's retirement day and he was allowed a farewell flight....... breath-taking!! Many memories - happy and sad - of the old girl and, unlike the Marathon in another thread, I would be very happy to do it all again.
Just finally worth pointing out that Flight Engineers were very much 'Johnny-come-lately' s in the Bev world having been added to the crew complement after one of 47's Bevs became terminal after losing one engine and shutting down a further 'live' one.
I have recently re-discovered all my original Dishforth notes on the Bev and fascinating reading they make too. The APU starting procedure was extraordinary. In-flight oil pumping for the overload oil tank was an amusing little diversion for those of us who smoked!! Good old days indeed :)

3rd Jan 2003, 04:49
In 1970/71 when Court line had ordered L1011 aircraft the problem came up how we would move these humungous engines if we had a problem.
The answer ??
A Beverley :D :D

The machine duly arrived at Luton and as a Lae (Centaurus) I carried out some of the ground runs that we did periodically.
What a machine !! Those electrical switches that needed two hands to operate !! And the access to the engines in flight through the wing catwalk:D :D
They were classed as fuel cooled oil burning engines!!

We spent some considerable time and effort trying to get a civilian register on it ( even Private Cat) but eventually gave up.
It always amused me that the aircraft were thundering over peoples heads with a military registration but were totally unsafe for a civilian one. Were would have had to do fatiuge tests on all the structure and even propellor, with some distructive testing.
All to fly 50 hours a year !
In the end we gave up and the aircraft was flown north to that glorious fate that waits old aircraft -- a restaurant !!
I think it went to Beverley ( very fitting !)and there was some problem with field length so it had to be a Good day
:D Or was it that there could be no headwind because of range :D ):confused:

Cornish Jack
3rd Jan 2003, 13:05
Got the Tshirt
Just to set the record straight, the engine access walkways COULD have been used in-flight, but only by the terminally deranged! :) They were provided for ground access to the rear of the power plants for adjustments to be made without having to get out the 'cherry-pickers' etc. The thought of positioning oneself in a confined space close to the rear of two Centaurii at '2300, ECB' would call for total loss of hearing - or cause it!!:D
Ah, the electrical switches; the prop interruptors were an add-on which, on their first installation at Dishforth caused an embarrassment. They had to be selected to GROUND in order to allow transition from reverse to forward thrust but NOT for initial selection of reverse. Sooo,... newly arrived, modded aircraft was being parked on one of the pans on the N.E. edge of the airfield. It had a slight downhill slope and having started the reversing-in process, the attempt to cancel reverse failed and the accelerating machine had to be stopped by application of brakes..... result? one Bev with rearranged fin undersides!
The other electrical joy was the 'Hammond organ' - electrical distribution panel. The main contactors were BTH units which were prone to 'stickiness'. The fix was a strategically applied flying boot and very effective too but the result was that all the Bevs I ever flew on had permanent deformation of the metal grille on the bottom of said 'Hammond organ'. Aaaahhh happy days :D

3rd Jan 2003, 14:09
A lovely beast.....one my enduring memories of childhood is of the day I was walking round to my mate's house in Singapore, on the day that 34 Squadron disbanded, and performed a twelve-ship flypast around the island; they flew right over me - it's no exaggeration to say that I was rooted to the spot in awe....I'd never seen a Bev fly before or since...

3rd Jan 2003, 16:24
Beverleys were essential for re-supply missions to up-country air strips in South Arabia (now the southern part of Yemen) during the terrorist war 65-67 when the Army could no longer supply overland. As the local Shell District Manager I used to travel around the area and often saw them at dirt strips like Beihan. I have a colour slide I took there showing one off-loading 44gal drums of mogas for the Army. In the foreground there is a Saudi pick up loading Shell (civilian) 44 gal drums for the Yemeni Royalists (which we supplied overland). So many wars in such a small space....

I remember seeing a model Beverley at a Farnborough Air Show designed as a double decker car carrier to replace Silver City's Bristol Freighters and Channel Airways (?) Carvairs on the cross Channel routes, so somebody thought they could get civil registration.

Hew Jampton
3rd Jan 2003, 16:31
I remember seeing one being towed at Thorney Island with a bloke sitting cross-legged on the flight deck roof looking for all the world like a mahout(?) riding a huge elephant.

A colleague who flew them during the Aden emergency told me that they carried a soldier with a rifle whose job it was to guard the aircraft while on the ground in the Radfan etc. On one occasion this soldier asked my colleague, the captain, where he should position himself to do this guard duty and was told to guard the tail. When the time came to depart they coudn't see this soldier anywhere. When they called out he said: "I'm up here, Sir." He had got out onto the top of the aircraft and was doing sentry duty in dirty great boots, marching up and down the tailplane; "You said to guard the tail, Sir!"

A friend remembers the passenger seats in the tail boom.

John (Gary) Cooper
3rd Jan 2003, 16:46
............................and if you have never flown in the tail boom of a Bev in a thunderstorm you haven't lived, the elevator and rudder control wires were bare for all to see.

The passenger toilet door was situated in the far end boom, come out of the toilet door, pause look down to see if the hatch was open, some poor unsuspecting erk didn't and down he went! Afterwards a modification was carried out on the hatch to prevent the toilet door being opened when the hatch was open.

Someone talking about the catwalk earlier, as an engine basher we had to hand pump the oil up to a pressure tank in the starboard wing behind # 3 engine bulkhead called 'the dog kennel' from there we had cocks to transfer the oil to the engines, in temperatures at over 100 degrees F in the El Adem sun equated to about 150 degrees F in the kennel in the crouching position, no joke for us!

4th Jan 2003, 01:01
Two stories about flying in a Bev.

I ,too remember flying as an ATC cadet from Dishforth in the tail -boom, for about 5 hrs, supposedly around the UK,but probably just Yorkshire. All went fine for a while, until we got some turbulence, and the guys right at the far end , nearest the Elsan, started to throw-up.
The invisible wall of smell now worked , row by row up the tail-boom, until everyone was affected!! You must know the smell- Elsan, fried bread, sausages, eggs and carrots!! Can still taste it today! Hope your`e not having an early breakfast!:p

Several years later I volunteered to act as co-pilot on a Bev . airdrop at Boscombe Down;it was Aug 13 1970,in XB 261, possibly even a Friday, and the Heavy Sqdn was short of co-pilots for an ULLA DROP on Salisbury Plain. I was told that it was one of the heaviest loads to be dropped at over 40k.lbs. Anyway , I had to work the " engine -room", and the Captain, Jake Wormworth, Canadian exchange TP did all the pushing and shoving whilst maintaing about 10 ft wheel-height as the load was dropped-- Great fun in a great aircraft:) :)

Cornish Jack
4th Jan 2003, 10:50
J (G) Cooper
Re. the descent (unintentional) from the tailboom hatch - it happened more than once and the 'fix' was to put metal pins interconnected with the hatch doors which prevented the toilet doors being opened when the boom hatch was open.
Unfortunately, we had the only unmodified aircraft for an intended trip from Aden to Bahrein - we were out from Dishforth, filling in for 84 Sqn. It was a pre-dawn departure and our 'co-' was up in the tail behind the toilets checking the boosters as part of his pre-flight. While he was there, 'Movements' opened the hatch and left the boom loading ladder beneath it. 'Co-' came out of the toilet, backwards, and fell through the hatch onto the ladder, with obvious and, ultimately, fatal results. The somewhat distasteful reactions of the local hierarchy to this incident will stay with me for ever, as will the response of our Skipper - good on you. Andy!!

You want it when?
4th Jan 2003, 16:19
YWIW senior flew these strange things in the far East. He always wondered where the cargo doors went - there didn't seem to be any, anywhere.

YWIW uncle - was in Aden and having spent a weekend being mortared and generally pi**ed upon their recall was a Beverley which had an engine which failed to start, it was duly started with a large hammer - the patrol decided to wait until a more reliable transport could be provided...

5th Jan 2003, 06:41
Speechless, Beverley XL 150 belonged to 34 Sqn at Seletar, and crashed in Johore, 90 miles north of Seletar 15th December 1967.

Funnily enough, I used to bludge rides in anything that flew, and quite enjoyed circuits and bumps in the boom on 30 Sqn aircraft at Eastleigh, and later with 34 who provided the support capabilty for Tengah sqn detachments, in 1966. I think I might have flown with you Speechless if you were one of 103's pilots!

Cornish Jack
5th Jan 2003, 11:55
Re. cargo doors, that was another of the Bev's peculiarities. For air freight drops the normal cargo doors were removed and 'elephant's ears' attached. These weren't necessary for the freight drop but WERE necessary if you were dropping troops from the boom as well. This was discovered on the initial trials when the trial dummies were dropped through the boom hatch and DISAPPEARED!!:eek: Following the direction of the static lines showed that the dummies were now resident in the freight bay! This was considered to be 'not a good thing', so the 'elephant's ears' were designed to (successfully) change the aerodynamics.

5th Jan 2003, 18:05
Let's not forget the use made of the Beverley for the heavy drop of cargo and vehicles by parachute, and also by paratroops. As a member of 16th Parachute Brigade in the early 1960s I made a number of jumps from them, either from the main cargo bay or, if heavy drop was also carried (and dropped first), from the tail boom. And yes, stories about exiting unexpectedly from the loo via the tail boom floor hatch existed then, too!

7th Jan 2003, 14:34
Speechless and Samuel, see:


7th Jan 2003, 17:45
Well done Newswatcher, it's amazing what people know on this site!

8th Jan 2003, 09:34
Well thanks guys, but credit where credit's due. It was John (Gary) Cooper who posted the site reference, I just sort of homed in!

8th Jan 2003, 12:49
I must say, the start to this thread is one of the funniest things I have ever seen about flying. Many thanks for that, brightened my day a lot.

May I add a favourite old Bev story ? It concerns the first time it visited Aden, for trials. It departed with the rear doors off for the first trip and the ATCO, who had not seen this beast of burden before, called the pilot urgently “You’ve taken off and you forgot to close the rear doors”.

The cool reply : “Yes, thanks, I know, I can’t get the b****y gear up either.

The nav could go to sleep on his nav table, bit different to the V Force.


Cornish Jack
8th Jan 2003, 20:14
Re. the Bev's 'hot and high' trials in Aden; One of the 'up-country' strips used was Dhala which had the peculiarity of a 'bent' runway. The original sand strip was a bit on the short side but could not be extended straight ahead. It was, therefore, extended on a slightly different heading, requiring a turn during the take-off run. The Bev accomplished this OK but in doing so generated a twist in the rear section which couldn't subsequently be removed. That particular aircraft came into squadron use later, still with the twist, and used to fly rather oddly to compensate. Given its normal 'barn door' aerodynamics, perhaps its not surprising that it seemed to have a couple of knots better performance than its 'unmodified' sisters. :confused:

Rather large PS
When I recovered my original Bev tech notes, I was teaching 744 tech and used the Bev APU start procedure to illustrate the difference between old and new technology - follows herewith ...
1. The unit can be started electrically by pressing a starter button or by hand using a starter handle.
2. Procedure when engine is cold..
(a) Turn by hand. until free movement is obtained and oil pressure shows on the gauge.
(b) Open the fuel cock lever which is interconnected. with the exhaust and intake shutters.
(c) At power panel ‘D’ on the flight deck, place the Flight and A.P.U. switch to the ‘ON’ position.
(d) Press START button on MASTER switch on the A.P.U. panel and allow time for fuel to fill the Carburettor float chambers.
(e) Press STOP button on MASTER switch.
(f) Pull out Carburettor choke knob and turn engine by hand 10 — 12 times..
(g) Return Carburettor choke knob - press START button on MASTER switch set magnetos to retard position -~ pull out throttle knob (starting position).
(h) Start by:
(i) Pressing the push button marked start (releasing when engine runs) or
(ii) Turning starter handle quickly.
(j) When running, return magnetos to advanced position (to prevent engine overheating). Ensure that oil pressure is built up and maintained..
(k) Push in throttle after engine has warmed up.
3. Procedure when engine is warm
Carry out instructions indicated in (b) (c) (g) (h) (j) and (k) above.
4. To Stop A.P.U.
(a) Press button marked Stop on MASTER switch.
(b) Close fuel cock/shutter lever.
Note:.- The A.P.U. will be stopped under the following conditions:—
(a) If the flight and APU switch is placed to Off.
(b) If the aircraft leaves the ground.(U/C Relays).
(c) If fire occurs in unit..

Things are a little easier nowadays!! ;)

10th Jan 2003, 09:44
This is an interesting thread. My father lost his brother in a Beverley at Abingdon in the 1950s. Does anybody remember this accident? It was years before I was born.

Cornish Jack
10th Jan 2003, 11:49
I mentioned this accident in my first posting. It led to the introduction of Flight Engineers into the crew. The basics were that 'Murphy's Law' was in operation on a non-return valve in one of the fuel lines and caused an engine failure. The crew mis-identified the failed engine and shut down the second one on the same side. The reason for the mis-ident was considered to be down to lack of torque meters and these were subsequently introduced as a 'mod' together with FEs to monitor them. The aircraft crashed into the dog pound at Abingdon, killing all on board - crew plus paratroops (I believe).

10th Jan 2003, 12:47
This has to be the best site currently on the network!

I was involved with the beast at RAF Nicosia, anyone remember the day one landed with the parking brake ON and a squadron of Hunters airborne and running out of Avtur?

Laterly I had one to myself at the French base at Orange in Provence. It had suffered a nose gear problem on landing. It took Blackburn's so long to get the repair scheme orgainised that I was able to learn French, seduce the waitress in the local cafe, get married ( not to the waitress )and be awarded French citizenship.

Thus fond memories, it was a great machine.
Rgds, FPG

Cornish Jack
10th Jan 2003, 19:56
Yes, anybody who was operating Bevs would have been there and the Hastings as well. It was a big exercise doing paradrops in the North of Cyprus and I recall calling downwind on our return and being given "Number thirteen to finals" :( The Hunter jocks may have been miffed but so was the Cyprus Airways crew operating the inbound from LHR. The 'arrested landing' came to a stop exactly on the intersection of the two runways so no-one could get in or out.
There was also a certain amount of consternation when one of our aircraft was being towed down the taxy track and jumped the tow bar. Guess what? ..... nobody on the flight deck!:eek: Said Bev then proceeded to find one of its companions and bury its nose in the other machine's tail - bit like dogs meeting for the first time. :D One of the ground crew tried to stop it by throwing a chock under the wheels but it just rolled straight over it.
Slightly off topic, that exercise gave me my first view of the effects of wake turbulence and very spectacular it was too.. We were lead ship of the Bevs, following a dozen Hastings. The last Hastings got into the slipstream of the one ahead and rolled to at least 60 degrees of bank before recovering! :eek: This was at drop height of 1000' agl and at drop speed with the paras all standing in the door ready to go. Great need of the brown corduroys. :)
Re. the waitress at Orange, was she the young lady who used to collect the short ends of squadron ties by snipping them off? The short end of my 53 Sqn/Guiness tie went that way.
Fond memories indeed.

10th Jan 2003, 20:09
My first experience of the Beverley was at RAF Eastleigh, near Nairobi, where 30 Sqn were based at the time.

An interesting feature of the Bev was that it couldn't fit into the standard RAF Hangar due to the height of the tail. So along comes an RAF Engineer who designs a sideways tracking dolly for the undercarriage, the nose was jacked up, lowering the tail, aircraft pushed sideways into the hangar, and strategically placed between roof struts so that the nose could be lowered again!

Ingenious to say the least!:eek:

John (Gary) Cooper
10th Jan 2003, 20:19

Similar with the mark 3 Shackletons at St Mawgan, the hangars had railway lines extending several dozen feet either end of hangar doors, aircraft placed sideways on to a carrying device and then sideways tracked into hangar, no problem with the tail or nose wheel here though it was just that the wingspan was too wide for the hangar doors.

11th Jan 2003, 01:47
JC, Samual,

Yes the Napier Lincoln de ice rig ( with a lump of wing sticking vertical on the top of the fuse !!) also used the British Rail method of entry in the hanger at Luton.
The rails in the tarmac survived long after Napier !!:D :D

Cornish Jack
11th Jan 2003, 12:32
Re. Bevs and hangars - the main hangar at Abingdon was built to accommodate the Bev without the need for the sideways entrance. The construction method was rather odd, in that the roof was built first and then it was gradually jacked up and the supporting walls built underneath. 'Vertical' thinking perhaps, rather than the over-hyped de Bono 'lateral thinking'. :p

11th Jan 2003, 20:29
Cornish jack
We must have been there on the same day. I do remember the interection closure and the Bev's running amuck on the dispersal.
Fred Karno must have been green with envy!
Rgds. FPG

11th Jan 2003, 21:08
A few pictures taken from the book Blackburn Beverley by Bill Overton, published in 1990 by Midland Counties Pubs.

First Samuel's skates


Photo's by R Honeybone.


The Final Erection shop - Not tall enough for the Bev.
Photo: BAe.


The Dog Kennel
Photo's by Bill Overton


RATOG TO at Dusk

Photo: BAe

Now this is what I call a cockpit


Photo: Bill Overton

John (Gary) Cooper
11th Jan 2003, 22:01
The Dog Kennel, what an awful reminder!

Brilliant the ingenuity in getting those Bevs in the shed.

Bev cockpit section available to view at IWM Duxford.

One thing I failed to mention earlier is that when we were on the mainplane it was imperative to wear the safety harness as three years previous I fell off the wing of a Comet C2 through condensation on the wings and broke my wrist, to fall off a Bev wing would almost certainly have resulted in something considerably more serious! :eek:

Cornish Jack
12th Jan 2003, 12:48
I seem to remember that the S Eng O at the time was a real 'hands on' guy and being surprised to see him rushing round the flight line on a motor cycle stripped to the waist and covered in grease and oil!:eek:
aaarrrgh indeed. As a (then) smoker the requirement to pump congealed oil to all four engines at regular intervals at 8-10,000' was not terribly welcome. Also the overload oil tank capacity of 84 gallons caused the Shell man at Elizabethville in the Congo to mutter rude words,when we went in there during the Congo civil war. The ramp was absolutely full with aircraft having to queue to get onto the refuelling points. We were in line behind a little Cessna and when our turn came and we asked for the overload tank to be filled the Shell man pointed out that we were taking more oil than the Cessna had taken in fuel!! Poor sod hadn't had any sleep for 36 hours and the only way to get the oil in was via wing access ladders in gallon cans!!!

17th Jan 2003, 18:32
Bicester Circa 1967


Shame about the geek in the forground!!

17th Jan 2003, 19:16
When I was small the beverley was doing some trials at Holme-on-Spalding-Moor.It had rockets mounted to it for short take off trials.
Many years later when I learnt to fly at paul airfield we had it there as previous post pointed out.It was never used as a club room but we showed people around the aeroplane.
As a student pilot it was a very good land mark to help find the airfield plus the Humber of course.

1st Feb 2003, 16:17
Found another brilliant picture of the Beverley in my collection, sorry about the poor quality.


Mr G

John (Gary) Cooper
1st Feb 2003, 17:17
Excellent Mr Grubby!

That one is worth the proverbial thousand words

Anyone recall how the Bev could be reversed when being marshalled on the apron?

Pom Pax
2nd Feb 2003, 03:27
Would the cafe in Orange be the "Les Routiers" endorsed one on the Avignon road South of town. Great grub (and plonk) and just signed a chit and H.M. paid.

Dr Illitout
3rd Feb 2003, 12:49
I have heard that the Beverley was the only aircraft that used to get bird strikes on the TRAILING edge of the wings!!!:D

Cornish Jack
4th Feb 2003, 11:22
Dr Illitout
That was said about a number of aircraft! What was true, however, was that a Bev, thundering down the French airways with its Centaurii at the standard 2300 ESB, was overtaken by a Hastings on three engines. Given that the Bev, in the cruise, was a variable noise , constant speed machine, perhaps not surprising. :(
Pom Pax
That's the one - I was intoduced to the joys of Pastis there. ..... woke up the next morning and, quite literally, could not see. My eyelids had swollen so as to prevent the lids opening - lots of cold water compresses to recover vision!! :yuk:
Used to be part of the display programme - Taxy in , reverse into display position, open 'clamshells' and lower ramps and out comes the band in full marching order. ..... but beware the prop interrupter switches!!! :eek:
One other little tale....
The raised platform at the front of the freight bay was known as the Bandstand. One of our (in those days) AQMs was married at Abingdon and was able to organise his wedding reception in the freight bay of one of the squadron aircraft. The affair was made complete by a small musical group playing ..... on the Bandstand. :D

4th Feb 2003, 13:12
Met a chap on a skilift on Sunday. Game old fella. Turned out he had been in the Paras (in National Service). He had done 40 drops, including from a Bev into Egypt to support that little war. He then went on to tell me how he was sent to Boscombe Down (much better than being in barracks he said) for a while because the Bev needed trials soon after it was introduced into service because of probs with parachutists getting friction burns from the strops or something. Small world.

Cornish Jack
5th Feb 2003, 10:02
Mr G
thank you for the latest Bev piccy. I have done a PSP 'clean-up' to remove the creases - if you would like a .jpg copy, e-mail me.
Skua - don't know about the strop burn problems, but the paras who dropped from the boom reckoned it was the best exit ever; you just rode the slipstream directly without having to force yourself out sideways into it.
We were doing exercise para drops in Norway using half wing overlap formation - a short-lived introduction, courtesy 38 Grp. We were number two and one of the lead's paras went over the top of our wing while his 'chute went underneath. The shroud lines went through the leading edge as far as the front spar. One very lucky para released, somehow, and completed his journey via his reserve. :eek:

5th Feb 2003, 13:23
How dare you, I was the Geek in the foreground!

Pom Pax
Yes it was and I still remember the walk back to the Base Arienne. Was there not also a watering hole known as Le Petit Bar?
Rgds. FPG

6th Feb 2003, 12:46

Whilst you may well have been a geek in 1967, you are certainly not the one in this picture.

I know the history of this photograph and I also know the identity of said geek. A very good friend of mine. We are still in touch after all these years. Sorry !!!!!!!!!

Mr G.


7th Feb 2003, 20:12

I guess it passed all the Ministry tests:rolleyes: :rolleyes:

15th Feb 2003, 18:07
This Photo taken by Jack at Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand.



Mr G.

15th Feb 2003, 19:38
Mr G, that's a 30 Sqn Bev. Any idea what year that was taken? A copy of it might be of interest to the Sqn Historian, if it is not already in the archive.

15th Feb 2003, 20:30
I posted this pic because Cornish Jack could not.

Suggest you contact him for more details.
(he does seem a nice guy !!!!)

Mr G.

Cornish Jack
16th Feb 2003, 16:35
Dr Syn
At a guess, 1963 - I'll check my log books to see if I can narrow it down. We used to visit Chiang Mai fairly often, so it may not be too easy.
I have a feeling that the visit was some sort of official celebration (Betty's birthday, maybe) and the Bev had carried a military band for the occasion. I can't think of any other time during my 35+years in blue when I could snap both my current and previous types!
The Teeny Weeny Airways machine was VP 977 and we covered Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and, latterly, Burma as well as Thailand. With some notable exceptions, some of the best of my service flying.
As an ex 30 man (Bevs at Dishforth), they would be welcome to a copy.

17th Feb 2003, 17:40
XH122 taken at Bicester in December 1970. I think in 84 Sqd. markings with the scorpion on the nose. The aircraft was cut up in early 1971 although parts were still at the local scrap yard next to the base in 1974. Just visible on the side of the nose is a painting of the route flown to Bicester. bral was told at the time that the aircraft had a cracked main spar. As an incentive the crew that flew her home were allowed to bring back their cars. Anyone cast light on that story? Also where would her last flight have been from? RAF Muharraq?


Mr G.


Cornish Jack
17th Feb 2003, 22:28
Re. the date for the BevandDev photo, Sod's Law strikes. The one log book which covers that period has gone walkabout so will have to search again. We did night-stop at Chiang Mai on the 25/26 July 1963. I think, however, that the actual date of the photo was a week later - the reason for that thought being a matter of considerable embarrassment for us (the Devon operators). :O :O :O

18th Feb 2003, 10:30
Somewhere around the 23/24 January, 1967 a Beverly flew us, (a Pongo Air Troop with Bell47G helicopters), from Gutersloh to El Adem.
I was in the nose all the way down the Rhone Valley but had to go back to my seat for the landing in Nice, where we had lunch, (naturally!!!), after which we proceded to Malta for the night stop.
The memory of the Malta-El Adem leg is a bit dim as we must have eaten some bad food whilst down 'The Gut' the night before!
In El Adem we off loaded and disappeared into the desert for about a month.
We flew back around the 20th/23rd February via Idris, in Libya, Malta having closed to us due the UK's announced intention to pull out of the Naval base. We night stopped at Nice on the way back - perfect!!!

Remember seeing the Beverly in action in Aden 1963/64, arriving fully laden but departing fairly empty from an up-country airstrip, did a very impressive 'beat-up' of the strip on it's way back to Khormaksar.

21st Feb 2003, 02:42
I flew in one ex Thorney Island whilst I was youthfull Observer, on AE Duty, and I remember if the old grey cells are still there, being in the Flight deck during taxi. There was something that looked like a large Billiard ball on the console, which, when pulled up had a long square section attached and the whole thing folded Backwards to form a tiller. That was attached to the nosewheel, and steered the beast. Just like sailing a dinghy. the whole aeroplane could be called an old man's aeroplane, inasmuch as the switches were huge, and the dials were twice as big as normal.!! No wonder a few ended up as restaurants. There used to be a theory that this was how and why they were designed, but half way through building, they found that there were a shortage of transport caffs, so it was remustered as an aircraft.

Cornish Jack
22nd Feb 2003, 10:34
Yes, the Bev was somewhat 'agricultural' in the controls department. That retractable tiller meant that, initially only the captain could taxy the beast. The right hand seat guy was essentially a flaps and power setter - not even the gear to take care of! After a few years of service the 'fully integrated co-pilot' was introduced and in order to give them complete control access, an even more 'agricultural' add-on was made to the tiller to allow steering control from the rhs. 'Heath-Robinson' would have been proud!:)

24th Feb 2003, 12:59
I have only just found this thread and it has brought back so many memories. I would like to start off by correcting a lot of the inaccuracies in previous posts with reference to the fatal crash of Beverley XH117/Z of 53 Squadron near Abingdon on 5 March 1957.

The aircraft took-off at 1102Z headed for Cyprus as "Rafair 3052".
Apart from the 53 Squadron crew of 6, there were also 4 crew members from 47 Squadron on board deadheading to Cyprus and 8 RAF policemen and their dogs. The aircraft was also carrying freight.

Just after take-off a serious fuel leak developed in the vicinity of No. 1 engine and because of the serious risk of fire the engine had to be shut down. An immediate BABS letdown back to Abingdon was initiated but at 1,000 ft on finals No. 2 engine also failed. The aircraft immediately lost height and eventually struck a set of power cables and some elm trees before cart-wheeling into a row of houses at Sutton Wick, Drayton just 2 miles south of the airfield.

Four of the 53 Squadron crew (captain, navigator, signaller and aqm) died in the accident. The 2nd pilot and the other navigator were badly injured. Three of the 47 Squadron crew died (2nd pilot, signaller and aqm). The 47 Squadron captain was badly injured. All 8 RAF policemen and their dogs perished as did two civilians on the ground. Another civilian was injured.

The accident was caused by a non-return valve in the No. 1 port fuel tank which had been fitted back-to-front and this had caused the massive fuel leak around No.1 engine and the starvation of fuel to No. 2 engine. The crew most certainly did not shut down the wrong engine - they didn't even touch it!

The 53 Squadron 2nd pilot was badly burned in the accident but did recover from his injuries and got back to the squadron. Sadly he died not long afterwards when his MG hit a bridge one night. The last known survivor of the accident (the 47 Squadron captain) died a few years ago.

If any of you out their need to know the names of the people involved I will happily forward the details if you contact me by email through the pprune system.


If you are the nephew of one of those on board XH117, I will be happy to send you 2 photographs of the crash. Not long ago I did just that for the relatives of one of the policemen. Contact me as above.

Cornish Jack:

I think it was quite unfair and unkind of you to twice state that the crew shut down the wrong engine. They did nothing of the sort. The second engine failed due to fuel starvation.

Have you any idea what sort of effect your statement could have on a surviving relative if he were read your statement and think that all those people died because his father/brother/uncle was careless or negligent? How on earth could the crew in the time available to them have known that an airman had fitted a vital non-return valve back to front? Could you have done any better? I think an apology would be nice.

In fact, I think your memory is altogether a little bit defective. It was a 53 Squadron aircraft and not a 47 Squadron one. The aircraft did not crash into the dog pound at Abingdon and the crew did not shut down the wrong engine.

Moving on to flight engineers; I am their No.1 fan and I wish every aeroplane had one. You say that they appeared on the Beverley as a result of this crash. My records show that the first flight engineer did not appear on 53 Squadron until June 1959 which is more than 2 years later. At first they didn't even have a proper seat but had to sit in a fold-up film director's chair!

My information is that they were originally left off the Beverley for only very short flights were anticipated and it was felt that the two pilots could cope. Ten hour flights then became common and the co-pilot often had to dash off to hand-pump oil into the engines. Basically two pilots could not cope safely with flights of this duration so they posted flight engineers in. In any event, the presence of a flight engineer on the flight deck of XH117 would not have made the slightest difference.

Ending on a lighter note I sadly only got to fly the Beverley twice (El Adem - Bomba - El Adem on Exercise Triplex West in October 1963). I talked my way into the right seat of a 47 Squadron machine and it would be fair to say that I had to buy some beer to oil the process!

I had a good briefing beforehand especially on how to get the thing into reverse for I was going to have to do that at Bomba. Anyway, out came the famous tiller from the centre console and Fred the captain steered us out onto the runway. At 50 knots the rudders were working so he handed over control. I simply could not believe how light the controls were. The great lumbering beast had power controls so you could fly it with your fingertips. My usual machine was the Whistling Wheelbarrow and that was very heavy by comparison. Fred took over on finals at Bomba and put it down on the sand strip calling for reverse and "Plus 4". I was quite impressed by the sandstorm that we created.

It was to be the same deal on the way back but this time I was to be allowed to do the landing. Just as we were starting the first engine, the aqm called upstairs and said that he had an RAF Sqn Ldr downstairs who needed to get back El Adem urgently. No problem says Fred, send him up. We carried on starting engines and the Sqn Ldr sat down at the back of the flight deck, plugged into intercom and strapped in. To my horror I suddenly realised that he was one of the Trappers from the Transport Comand Examining Unit. Now Fred didn't know the guy from a bar of soap but I did for TCEU was at Benson where I was based and said Trapper knew who I was too.

This was not a good situation. I couldn't tell Fred for the Sqn Ldr was on intercom. To make it worse, I stood out like dog's b*lls with my blue Airmed headset ( the Beverley chaps wore big black Amplivox headsets). Anyway, we duly did the 50 knots bit on take-off and so I flew back to El Adem. The landing was not exactly smooth but then the Beverley was very strong.

The Sqn Ldr disappeared downstairs and I promptly told Fred that we were in the sh*t and why. There were sad faces all round. I went down and found the Trapper underneath the wing. "What the hell are you doing in a Beverley?" said he. "I always fancied flying one, Sir" said I. "Well" he said "I am having a bad day too for I have just walked out of a blazing Belvedere which had an engine fire after take-off and it is no longer". He strode off and I never heard another thing about it but it did make me realise that it could be useful to be in the right kind of aircraft when next the Trappers appeared unexpectedley!

24th Feb 2003, 15:03

I have just read your query about the story surrounding the ferry flight of XH122 of 84 Squadron from Khormaksar (Aden) back to UK. Now I cannot be totally certain that XH122 was the aircraft involved but I certainly know the story.

Like everyone else in Aden, 84 Squadron had a "hangar queen". (This was usually an unserviceable aeroplane which sat up on jacks in the hangar and had bits robbed from it until spares could be got from UK). Eventually just enough bits would be hung on the hangar queen to get it back to UK for a major overhaul.

In the case of 84 Squadron, they had a Beverley which had been grounded and had been categorised as Cat 5 (scrap). This had come about because crews had started to complain of strange noises and it was discovered that the mainspar attachment points were badly worn.

When our wonderful government decided that we were going to pull out of Aden, the Station Commander made it known that he wanted little left behind and that included 84's hangar queen. The engineers had another look at it and decided that the wings were not actually going to fall off (at least not yet) and it was cleared for another 5 landings or so - just enough to get it back to Bicester for scrapping.

Needless to say, crews were not exactly queueing up to do this trip so the carrot was dangled that if they agreed to take it back, they could put their cars and personal effects in the back for the journey to UK.

Although it had many defects and was leaking oil everywhere, all went well until they went to leave Luqa on the last leg home. The Chiefie from VASF informed the captain that his young Sqn Ldr had grounded the old girl and that was that. The captain sent for the Sqn Ldr and asked him to show him where exactly it said that he could ground an aircraft which had already been categorised as Cat 5 (scrap)!!!!

Needless to say, there was no answer to this bizarre stand off so 30 minutes later they were on there way back to UK. I would guess the timing to be around August/September 1967.

The final withdrawal of 84 Squadron Beverleys from Aden came in the first week of November 1967. One of my mates came out of a thunderstorm going up the Red Sea on 2 engines and had to throw it on the ground in Jeddah. I took 2 replacement Centaurus engines down to him in XP412 on 8 November. His aircraft was "U" of 84 Squadron and the groundcrew had added to it so that it showed "UK or Bust" in bloody great letters and there was graffiti everywhere else over the fuselage for it was not expected to land anywhere but an RAF airfield and here it was in the middle of an international civil airport! My mate was pleased to see me for I think he found his modified aircraft to be something of an embarrassment at the time.

I believe that one of the other aircraft (flown by the boss?) also lost an engine in a thunderstorm, had part of the windscreen come in and was also closely visited by Egyptian Air Force Migs passing Cairo. They landed safe but very wet in El Adem.

Cornish Jack
24th Feb 2003, 16:07
Thank you for your input. I note your info re. the Abingdon accident. This is somewhat at odds with the version which was extant when I did the OCU in '58. However the incorporation of FEs was a follow-up to that accident.
If you feel that I have been offensive in my postings, I offer unreserved apologies to anyone who sees it that way.There was no intention on my part to denigrate the crew involved - I have lost far too many colleagues on the Bev as well as other types to try offering 'smart-arse' 20-20 hindsight. I was making the point that, without the subsequently fitted torquemeters, a failed engine could not be easily identified. The FEs were added to monitor these instruments and the delay was about the norm for a 'mod' of that sort.
Defective memory?? You may well be right. One of the accompaniments of advancing years, however, not so defective that it would have failed to note a "co-pilot often dashing off to hand pump oil to the engines" Not that I ever recalled... Pre FEs it was the Signaller's job and post FE's it was theirs , or, more often, shared.
Fascinating parallel with your TCEU experience but this was to do with a Friday night 'get back for the weekend' to Dishforth from Abingdon. This time the 'gods' made a last minute intervention to keep the 'trappers' away from us.


John (Gary) Cooper
24th Feb 2003, 16:26

I apologise for my aircrew type ignorance gentlemen but do I suppose that Trappers, as per the last two comments, are one and the same as Check Pilots, if this was the case did having these CP's on the flight deck make you guys ever so slightly nervous?

24th Feb 2003, 18:16
Cornish Jack:

I thank you for your reply. I'm sorry that I had to say what I did but I have learned the hard way that you have to be very careful what you say or you stand a great risk of badly offending someone.

My information comes from a precis of the official accident report produced after the Board of Inquiry and obtained from Air Historical Branch. It is quite possible that all of this information was not yet published or available when you did the OCU but I would have thought that the guts of the matter would have filtered down the grapevine by word of mouth.

I'm still a little bit at a loss to understand how the fitment of torque gauges or the presence of a flight engineer would have changed the price of bread when it came to the demise of XH117.
The first engine was deliberately shut down by the crew because of an observed massive fuel leak in the immediate vicinity of the engine. Now then, I went solo in 1957 and haven't flown since 2230Z last night and that decision still seems to me to be very sensible.

How were they to know that the neighbouring engine was going to quit a short time later due to fuel starvation. Once again I can't imagine that the presence of a torque gauge or a flight engineer would have solved that particular problem.

Anyway, I don't know much about the Centaurus but I did have some experience of the Hercules. I can well remember the ground school instructor saying that the definition of a genius was a man who could describe and explain the sleeve valve principle without the aid of a working model or a blackboard!

John (Gary) Cooper:

Some of the Trappers were fine but a hell of a lot of them in those days were not. They were aptly named. A lot of trapping went on and precious little teaching and they could be very political animals.

They could turn up without any notice wherever you might be at the time. I can remember one guy in particular. He got on in Cyprus and did not get off until Hong Kong. By that time I felt as if I had done the equivalent of 4 CAA instrument ratings and around 6 sets of ATPL writtens! I swear the guy used to sit in his room at night picking the wings off butterflies!

Cornish Jack
25th Feb 2003, 10:58
Thank you. It does not surprise me in the least that the crewroom version of (even relevant) events emerge as 'Chinese Whispers'. Just to try to clarify my point - there was no intended criticism of the crew or their decisions. The lack of torquemeters was, apparently, considered to make identification of a failed engine difficult. The PRESENCE of t/ms was considered to be a worthwhile 'mod' and, thus, was incorporated. An already full instrument panel meant that siting required an extra pair of eyes able to scan them - hence the FEs (yes, and their 'director's chairs). The later, more permanent installation was in true Bev tradition - that of the 'brick-built outhouse'.
As JW says, the 'Trappers' were many and varied. They all generated a preceding period of concern and their remit was to check both ground (technical) competence as well as flight checks.
Not being the brightest tool in the woodshed, I used to find their visits very worrying. One (Chinese Whisper??) version of a Q and A session by one of their Signaller checkers supposedly included the question - "How can you distinguish the positive terminal of a battery?" After all the more obvious answers, meters, labelling, size etc. the candidate gave in and was rewarded with the information that , if a potato is applied to the positive terminal it turns black. (No, I have never been so anorak-ish as to check the validity!!:) )Included in all of these sessions was one devoted to the varied survival scenarios. The same candidate was asked for sources of food while surviving at sea. "Fish and chips" came the reply. "Chips???, from where", asked the puzzled 'trapper'. ......
You are ahead of me, aren't you?:)

25th Feb 2003, 19:23
Cornish Jack:

I do like the black potato story! I suppose we are drifting off topic as is usual on pprune but the daftest question I was ever asked was posed by a Sqn Ldr Trapper from CFS when I was learning to fly the Vampire.

I was asked what the longest single piece of metal on the aircraft was. Needless to say, I got the answer wrong. What he wanted to hear was - the generator windings! I have never been able to work out the relevance of this wonderful and deeply thought out piece of information! It certainly has never helped me in my subsequent flying career.

25th Feb 2003, 19:53
I read an 'I learnt about Flying from That' in Air Clues once an article from a QFI who had asked a nervous JP student that same question, as they were taxying out. Having guessed the spar and the longerons he was told to forget it.

When they were lined up on the runway the student was puzzled about why, when he opened the throttle, the jet wouldn't roll. After several attempts to take off he admitted he was stumped. The QFI said "The reason we're not moving is that I've got my feet on the brakes, because I'm concerned that we have 100 feet of useable runway in front of us and six thousand feet behind". The moral being don't ask daft questions at inappropriate moments

5th Mar 2003, 20:42
Tangmere 1963


Mr G.