Aviation History and Nostalgia Whether working in aviation, retired, wannabee or just plain fascinated this forum welcomes all with a love of flight.

Vickers Varsity

Old 30th Jun 2008, 08:00
  #21 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2002
Location: UK
Posts: 1,024

IIRC Gee was finally shut down around 62/63 so the Nav was probably using Decca which was a broadly similar system.
GEE remained the "Rapid Fixing Aid" for basic navigator training until 1970. Decca was not fitted to the 2 Air navigation School (ANS) aircraft at Gaydon until 1969 although it had been in use on the 1 ANS Dominies and the pilot training Varsitys at Stradishall and Oakington for some time. The Varsitys at
1 ANS were fitted with Green Satin doppler (IIRC) but I cannot recall whether they had Decca or not.

The 2 ANS aircraft had GEE Mk3 but GEE Mk2 was still installed in the pilot trainers.

The VOR/DME fit appeared on the 2 ANS aircraft in 1969 and by the time both ANS were relocated at Finningley as 6 Flying Training School (FTS) all the aircraft had this fit. I do not know whether the pilot training aircraft were similarly modified. TACAN was introduced prior to 1972.

It is worth reflecting that in 1968 all the equipment on the Varsitys used for basic navigator training would have been recognisable to a WW2 bomber crew.

Yellow Sun is offline  
Old 30th Jun 2008, 12:00
  #22 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: newark
Posts: 88
Ahhhh ! The Varsity.My one and only flight in one was as an air cadet on summer camp at Linton upon Ouse 1971.As we flew over York,I got a great view of the minster from the "bomb bay."
Coincidently it was whilst flying as co-pilot in a Varsity,that our CO,W.cmdr Ralph Reid-Buckle lost his life along with several others when their a/c crashed whilst trying to limp back to East Midlands Airport with an engine problem.
alvin-sfc is offline  
Old 30th Jun 2008, 12:41
  #23 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2002
Location: UK
Posts: 1,024
Stolen Varsity


Stealing a Varsity

Didn't a non flying airman steal a Varsity in the late 50s. Ended up crashing into a French village after several hours of controlled flight.
There was an earlier thread on this incident that may be found here.

Yellow Sun is offline  
Old 30th Jun 2008, 12:55
  #24 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: South of the M4
Posts: 1,520
My one and only trip in a Varsity took place in June 1956 whilst I was with Fighter Command Communications Squadron (FCCS) at RAF Bovingdon.

A 90-Group Varsity calibration aircraft (from Watton?) came down to Bovingdon to calibrate the nearby ROTOR Radar station at Chenies. This meant flying outbound and inbound tracks to the Radar station on various headings. Rather boring but it provided a useful opportunity to sightsee London from around 10,000ft. This photo shows the navigator of the Varsity at his plotting station. I recognise the R1155 HF receiver with the big tuning dial.

During the flight I took a photo of a sparsely occupied London Heathrow as it appeared in June 1956 from 10,000ft looking east. The newly completed Europa Building, later Terminal 2 is in the centre island, whilst alongside it the Oceanic Terminal; later Terminal 3 is under construction. In 1956 transatlantic traffic departed from the North Terminal alongside the A4.

No M4 as yet (in 1956 the M4 was but a gleam in the plannerís eye - the London bit of the M4 westwards opened nine years later in 1965), however the Bath Road (A4) shows up on the left as the dark strip running top to bottom parallel with the north main taxiway & runway.

On the right the A30 (the lighter of the two darkish strips) wends its way through the (then) rural delights of Middlesex towards Hounslow and London. Straight ahead and beyond the airfield boundary, just beneath the cloud line the A312 can be seen running left to right.

Last edited by Warmtoast; 24th Jan 2011 at 21:23. Reason: To restore moved photos.
Warmtoast is online now  
Old 6th Jul 2008, 14:56
  #25 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: 10 miles finals
Posts: 44
Varsity 1ANS

I was at 1ANS in 1961 and I must say I don't remember that we had Green Satin to play with (though I knew what it was and how it worked) on the Varsity, and as you say Yellow Sun Decca came in much later. My somewhat elderly memory tells me I had a drift sight, bubble sextant, ADF (either a GEC model or the much better Marconi) and an API plus GEE mk 2 or 3. Plus a Siggie who could count the dots/dashes on Consul a damn sight easier than us u/t navs. Great days.
bluesilk is offline  
Old 6th Jul 2008, 22:51
  #26 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2000
Posts: 1,293
They had Green Satin in '73, plus a TACAN - still had Rebecca though. The Green Satin had trouble coping with the extreme ground speeds though , and would unlock with regular monotony... got to FL205 once, it took a long time....
reynoldsno1 is offline  
Old 7th Jul 2008, 22:01
  #27 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: norwich, norfolk, UK
Age: 70
Posts: 620
A couple of period pics for you, courtesy of Colin Lourie. with permission !

Leuchers 1960.

Leuchers 1961.

Leuchers 1962.

Last edited by norwich; 7th Jul 2008 at 22:16.
norwich is online now  
Old 8th Jul 2008, 08:02
  #28 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Bedford
Posts: 412
Nice photo's. WL691/N of No115 Squadron Tangmere was dumped at Andover after 1969. WL626/E from No 1 Air Navigation School ,Stradishall is now preserved at East Midlands Airport. WJ901/H is also from No 1 ANS but from Topcliffe ,SOC 1975 @ Kemble. They moved to Strad in Dec 1961.

Can anybody post any RAF College Cranwell Varsity pictures please ?

Last edited by T-21; 8th Jul 2008 at 08:22.
T-21 is offline  
Old 8th Jul 2008, 08:23
  #29 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: 12 miles off
Posts: 207
The only working Varsity I saw was in Boscombe colours during the late 1980's. It operated for a few days from Gutersloh, quite probably doing some sort of complex beer run: Oooops, sorry, I meant to say NavEx.
Akrotiri bad boy is offline  
Old 8th Jul 2008, 10:38
  #30 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: UK
Posts: 1,793
The only working Varsity I saw was in Boscombe colours during the late 1980's.
Probably WL679, which last flew in July 1992 when it was delivered to the RAF Museum Cosford, and is now part of the Transport and Training collection. I was looking at it only yesterday!
spekesoftly is offline  
Old 8th Jul 2008, 12:40
  #31 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: South Central UK
Posts: 254

This was actually a Farnborough aircraft, one of 3 Varsities operated by RAE between mid-70s and early 90s.

WL679 was a FLIR research aircraft so its presence at Gutersloh was unlikely to have been just for refreshments. I recall 2 weeks at the same place with the same aircraft in the early 80s chasing tanks etc. Much fun.

lightningmate is offline  
Old 8th Jul 2008, 13:12
  #32 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Canberra Australia
Posts: 1,300
Had the challenge of flying each of the Varsitys, or should that be Varsities, at ETPS Farnborough in 1955.

I had one flight with an instructor named Jack? Hindle before being let loose with flight test exercises on my own but I had plenty of prior time in Gooney Birds so it wasn't a big deal.

I never did record the letters before the numbers which oddly were 381 and 681. Could I have been mistaken with the first digit although I think there were two in the fleet which also included a Valetta..
Milt is offline  
Old 8th Jul 2008, 13:27
  #33 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: River Thames & Surrey
Age: 71
Posts: 8,299
At Topcliffe for ATC camp in '71, Varsities were being used by Airman/Aircrew Training School. One departed for Gibraltar on the wednesday and we were told it would go u/s when it got there. The aircraft taking 'spares' out on thursday would also be going u/s, so they would both have to weekend there!
As for '679; as it landed one day on runway 29 at Farnborough, the controller noticed smoke from the main gear and advised the pilot, who replied noncholantly 'yeah I'm going off the end'!!
chevvron is offline  
Old 8th Jul 2008, 14:40
  #34 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Bedford
Posts: 412
Milt, The aircraft were WF381 "41" and WL681 "11". ETPS used several machines over the years including the prototype VX828 when it was dismantled circa 1962 at Farnborough.
WF381 crashed 4 miles North of Tangmere on a training flight with ETPS 19.10.59. WL681 ended up with Shorts at West Malling.
T-21 is offline  
Old 8th Jul 2008, 15:16
  #35 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: River Thames & Surrey
Age: 71
Posts: 8,299
In my first few months at Farnborough, a Varsity from West Malling would transit around the Gatwick Zone using callsign 'Bluebell 1'; would that have been '681 I wonder? As far as I can recollect, '679 flew out to Duxford when it retired from Farnborough (or maybe that was one of the other RAE Varsities?)
chevvron is offline  
Old 8th Jul 2008, 21:31
  #36 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Bedford
Posts: 412
WL679 was used by RAE Farnborough from Mar 1977 until flown to Cosford Museum on 27/7/92,unique in the raspberry ripple colour scheme RAF Museum Aircraft Collection :: Vickers Varsity T WL679

Shorts at West Malling used WF387 and WL681. The Met Research Flight retired WF425 to Duxford although WJ945 is still preserved there.
T-21 is offline  
Old 11th Aug 2008, 14:05
  #37 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Hither and Thither
Posts: 518
BBC - Archive - Aerial Journeys - Television Goes Flying

Interesting but fairly poor quality film from BBC 1950's Watton with Varsity plus Lincoln/Hunters/Meteor/Venom.
Red Four is offline  
Old 11th Aug 2008, 14:34
  #38 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: 58-33N. 00-18W. Peterborough UK
Posts: 3,043
I have a memory of being driven to the 56/57 Motor Show in London. We were southbound on the A1, around South Yorks I suppose. The dual carriageway was being built and, there on the new un-opened north-side, lay a Varsity - wheels up. Anyone know what date that would be?
forget is offline  
Old 13th Aug 2008, 15:46
  #39 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Lancing, Sussex
Age: 88
Posts: 255

I did a nav course at Bishops Court in 53-53. Valetta flying classrooms were used initially with 10 students, first allowed out on our own in Anson XIX, followed by the majority of the course in Varsity. One point, they would fly close to maximum allowed TAS in level flight, about 40 kts faster than specified on the flight plan. This was used if the pilot had a date that night. If it happened too often we needed an extra trip to make up the required hours. Longest trip around 8 hours on a single excercize.
Aids used were Astro, GEE and Rebecca
Exnomad is offline  
Old 13th Aug 2008, 23:41
  #40 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: wallop
Posts: 338
The first Regimental bar for the N I Regiment AAC was in a Varsity fuselage recovered from the fire dump at Aldergrove. The Regimental bar was re-opened 2 years ago and renamed The Varsity.

We still had a Varsity prop outside 1 Flight AAC at the time, although not sure if it is still there!.

ralphmalph is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us Archive Advertising Cookie Policy Privacy Statement Terms of Service

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.