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Vickers Varsity

Old 29th Jun 2008, 06:50
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Vickers Varsity

Managed a look inside one of these machines last weekend. Memories came back of flights in them at RAF Cranwell in 1969/70 as a young Air Cadet. Enjoyed the bomb bay for map reading but we were not allowed in there for take off or landing. Remember the brake check moving out of dispersal getting covered in water ! that had somehow collected in the roof whilst parked.

Would like any pictures inside or out of this forgotten nav trainer and any stories of this excellent navigation trainer.
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Old 29th Jun 2008, 07:37
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Varsity at the Newark museum maintained in excellent nick' Did two tours on them as a QFI at Oakington. The front end was notorious for its' leaks (wooden windows!) and one QFI flew in Oilskins'. It really was a two engined un-pressurised Viscount prototype if you compare it to the early series Viscounts. It dried out as the day progressed.
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Old 29th Jun 2008, 08:58
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If I recall correctly a very senior occifer at Cranners discoverd how good the ventral radio aerial was at alerting one to 'no gear'...................
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Old 29th Jun 2008, 11:06
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Also, as the calibration flight found out, the underside of the fuselage can absorb the impact of trees which are on the GCA final approach path, so I am told.
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Old 29th Jun 2008, 12:00
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Obviously a cleverly designed aircraft!
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Old 29th Jun 2008, 12:39
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Varsity Photos

Here are a few to be going on with:




















A gentleman's flying machine!

YS

Last edited by Yellow Sun; 29th Jun 2008 at 17:11. Reason: Spellin!!
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Old 29th Jun 2008, 13:30
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Ah nostalgia!

Ah, Nice photos of a nice aircraft, good to work on, reliable donks. Fairly easy to fly, easier than the Valetta anyway.
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Old 29th Jun 2008, 16:42
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Varsity

There is a complete one at Brooklands look at www.brooklands100.org

tristar 500
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Old 29th Jun 2008, 17:49
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5FTS

I worked on Varsitys for 5 years at Oakington!Clocked up a few hours going back and forward to RAF Waterbeach where our students would practice all day without cluttering up the runway back at Oaks!! Exhausts where leaky old things and caused a few aborted trips but they were reliable old birds.I can remember two students getting a severe rep for looping one which put a few wrinkles in the wings!Perhaps the ex QFI can remember this,about 1966 I think?
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Old 29th Jun 2008, 18:45
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Thumbs up

I can remember two students getting a severe rep for looping one which put a few wrinkles in the wings!Perhaps the ex QFI can remember this,about 1966 I think?
Your memory is good, although it might have been '67. I could put names to the perpetrators but shall desist for the time being They started out with the aim of barrel rolling the old dear and had they persisted all would probably have been well. Unfortunately they changed their mind about half way around and attempted to pull through, that was what caused the problems! It was a tough old aeroplane though.

YS
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Old 29th Jun 2008, 19:44
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Superb photos of a great flying machine and thanks everyone for contributing. A much neglected aircraft as well as the Valetta. Did anyone try a landing in the bomb bay position !! pretty scary with the ground rush. I also remember the Manby/Strubby machines. 5 FTS at Oakington did engine running crew changes all day. That would have pleased the green people today !!
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Old 29th Jun 2008, 20:12
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The Finningley Varsities were regular performers over Manchester and Liverpool in the 1960s and early 1970s. As piston "heavies" became rarer, the drone of a Finningley Varsity would attract the attention of spotters hoping for something "interesting" only to eventually locate the rather tubby silver dot and turn their disappointed attention to something else, normally "pulling" a trail.

How many of those would give their eye teeth for a Varsity over the top today?

BTW, anyone have any details of the cause of the hangar fire at Finningley in September 1970 which destroyed 3 Varsities?
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Old 29th Jun 2008, 20:52
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If I remember correctly the fire was started deliberatly in a replica wright flyer.
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Old 29th Jun 2008, 22:10
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I had one ride in a Varsity, returning to Shawbury from Binbrook, after positioning a Chipmunk for UBAS Summer Camp in 1967.

The nav was using Gee for position fixing during an airway crossing and I remember Midland Radar disagreeing with the reported position. When was Gee taken out of service?

I also remember Varsities being very smokey while taxying, to the point that some people thought they were on fire.

Nice pictures, Yellow Sun
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Old 29th Jun 2008, 22:13
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Not so much an unpressurised Viscount prototype as a metal-skinned Wellington with a nosewheel. Only seventy or so hours on them, but fondly remembered.
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Old 29th Jun 2008, 23:33
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Brooklands Aviation at Sywell used Little Staughton airfield from about 1958 to 1971 for all Varsity major overhauls . This included spar renewals,engine bearer mods and repaints in the new Polyurathane finish.
No 1439 Flight was formed at Hemswell 01st May 1954 for liaison work in Australia with nuclear tests. Can anybody confirm the Varsities were yellow overall ?
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Old 29th Jun 2008, 23:43
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philbky, The Varsities in the Finningley fire 4/9/70 were WF370(flew in this at Cranwell)WF385 and WF423.

yellow sun, The Varsity "A" in the photo is WL625 ended up on the Leeming dump 1971. "J" is I believe WF410 which ended up at Bristol Airport. Lovely shots please keep them coming !!
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Old 30th Jun 2008, 00:13
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....aaaah the flying pig .... easy to tip on its *rse on the ground if everyone wanted to use the bog at the same time. Good idea to wind in the trailing HF aerial before landing as well - could rearange a few roof tiles otherwise...
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Old 30th Jun 2008, 02:09
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The nav was using Gee for position fixing during an airway crossing and I remember Midland Radar disagreeing with the reported position. When was Gee taken out of service?
IIRC Gee was finally shut down around 62/63 so the Nav was probably using Decca which was a broadly similar system.
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Old 30th Jun 2008, 02:13
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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.

I found the Varsity to be somewhat of a mess inside but we embryo TPs at ETPS managed to find the ragged edges of their performance and handling envelopes. Must say I preferred the ladylike handling of the Gooneybird.

Unlike the Bristol Freighter, I didn't have to ask someone the way to the Varsity flight deck before flying one for the first time.

Then there was the Valetta but I think it came before the Varsity.
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