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BAF acquisition of British Airways Viscount 800s.

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BAF acquisition of British Airways Viscount 800s.

Old 8th Dec 2018, 11:11
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BAF acquisition of British Airways Viscount 800s.

Afternoon all. The Viscount remains my favourite aeroplane after hundreds of years and I have seen the BAF and BA examples (among others) pass through various airports. Does anyone have any information or stories as to how and why BAF came to acquire the aircraft ? Did they take all of them, reject a few, buy all the spares ? Did any BA pilots move over to BAF ? And so on. As I recall, until BAF became a Viscount operator, it was a comparatively small player with a handful of Heralds. So it must have been quite an undertaking.

Thank you.
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Old 8th Dec 2018, 12:42
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Strangely, I remember them arriving. Nothing to do with aviation but we had an office in Southend I needed to visit, who always used the Airport Hotel, alongside the north side of the runway at the 05 end. Would have been spring 1981, when the BA fleet was purchased, that a new one would arrive from Cardiff in the late afternoons while I was staying there. It's a bit difficult to miss a taxying Viscount when you are within half a mile of it. They got about a dozen then, and a further half-dozen came in 1984, I believe having stood at the BA base at Cardiff for a few years.

BAF at the time had quite a few overnight freight runs from Southend to Europe, and the Viscounts very quickly mixed in with the Heralds for the several about 0100 departures, which of course woke us all up as each in turn spooled up for departure. They always seem to have been on easterlies.

BAF wasn't just a "handful" of Heralds, they had quite a substantial fleet (I see they had 15 in 1981 when the Viscounts came) but despite being a bit newer than the replacing Viscounts their manufacturer had gone out of business and they would be difficult to support. The Heralds had been acquired the same way, buying up blocks of a fleet being retired; they bought up the whole Malaysian Air Force fleet of about 9 in 1977. They probably found their leasing market, which is what much of their fleet did, was looking for something more of the Viscount size. They got some good longer term contracts, for overnight package runs and also from oil company support, particularly in North Africa. As usual in the era they had contracts outstationed in Aberdeen. They had not long got out of the cross-channel car operation, which was their origin; in 1981 there was still the last Carvair lying derelict at Southend in the weeds just outside my hotel room window.

BAF had a small group of scheduled services from Southend to nearby European points which they had let go of, to BIA, in 1979, but that was really just the commercial side as BAF continued to provide the aircraft, BIA did not bring in their own fleet.

Subsequently a onetime girlfriend (still long ago) had a father who had once been a Herald pilot with them for a few years; sounded a pretty straightforward day job as she said in the family BAF meant "Back At Five", likely a comparison to a previous position.

There's a detailed article about BAF here

https://www.southendtimeline.com/britishairferries.htm

Last edited by WHBM; 8th Dec 2018 at 13:57.
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Old 8th Dec 2018, 13:46
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I remember seeing them doing the channel island flights from manston around 84 also beleive from Southampton there was a big promotion get the plane then catch the train from Southampton Eastleigh to Waterloo they said you could do this in a time of under 3hrs

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Old 8th Dec 2018, 18:49
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I remember the first time one of the BAF Viscounts turned up at Leeds Bradford in 1982. It came on the radar frequency using the 'Victor Fox' callsign which I didn't recognise at the time. When it landed and taxied on to stand it never occurred to me that it was a former BA machine. It was painted all white apart from the blue lower fuselage so probably not long out of BA service. Not even any BAF lettering.
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Old 9th Dec 2018, 08:51
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Originally Posted by Mooncrest View Post
I remember the first time one of the BAF Viscounts turned up at Leeds Bradford in 1982. It came on the radar frequency using the 'Victor Fox' callsign which I didn't recognise at the time. When it landed and taxied on to stand it never occurred to me that it was a former BA machine. It was painted all white apart from the blue lower fuselage so probably not long out of BA service. Not even any BAF lettering.
So... the callsign 'VF' obviously did represent the aircraft reg. then, if the aircraft was ex. BA?
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Old 9th Dec 2018, 09:05
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If I recall, VF was BAF's two letter callsign prefix?
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Old 9th Dec 2018, 12:25
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Victor Foxtrot came from their VF flight number prefix, which in turn, of course, came from Vehicle Ferry.

The livery dewcribed was how they were delivered from BA storage at Cardiff, where they had been "de-decaled". If I recall correctly BAF was one of those companies who worked through significantly different and sometimes garish company standard liveries quite quickly. Always seems a bit strange for companies who specialise in wet leasing for others to have strikingly different colour schemes of their own rather than something plain and neutral.
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Old 9th Dec 2018, 13:47
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I'm not sure I ever saw any of the Viscounts with plain BAF lettering, swirling bands around the fuselage or the short-lived Jersey Air Ferries, Aqua Avia or Polar paint jobs. By the mid 1980s the aircraft more or less all wore the lower case British air ferries look. Makes me wonder if the previous liveries from BEA, BKS, Northeast et al were still lurking underneath.

BAF should have done quite nicely out of the Channel Island flights - I think they were for Lewis's Travel. Did their Viscounts have any other regular passenger routes ?
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Old 9th Dec 2018, 14:31
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Originally Posted by lotus1 View Post
I remember seeing them doing the channel island flights from manston around 84 also beleive from Southampton there was a big promotion get the plane then catch the train from Southampton Eastleigh to Waterloo they said you could do this in a time of under 3hrs
The GCI-SOU flights were op subsiduary Guernsey Airlines, however I'm not sure if this was the case with the JER-SOU route which may have actually been a BAF route.

Here's a few pics depicting various BAF/Guernsey Airlines schemes.







Last edited by Jerbourg; 9th Dec 2018 at 18:20.
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Old 9th Dec 2018, 16:22
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Lovely pictures, Jerbourg. Thank you. I never knew that two of the fleet concurrently wore Guernsey Airlines colours. This is one airline that seldom visited Leeds Bradford, save the odd charter or fuel stop. BAF and GAL frequented just about every British airport during the 1980s but LBA only ever saw BAF, albeit up to four times in a weekend during summer, on the Jersey run.

BTW, is that a HF aerial I can see on AOYN ?
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Old 9th Dec 2018, 16:31
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Viscount memories



YM after its last flight for BA

A few photographs from my library. Have to agree with the comments regarding the Viscount. A fine British Aircraft and those Dart engines were always very recognisable.



Arrival of YM at GLA after final BA Viscount service BA5721 LSI-KOI-INV-GLA. I recall a low pass by the Old Man Of Hoy in the Orkneys.


An ex-BMA machine taxiing in at Cardiff


Awaiting the after BA life


Line up of withdrawn Viscounts at Cardiff


Final approach 8th May 1982 into Glasgow
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Old 9th Dec 2018, 17:23
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More nice photos. The picture of the ex-BMA aircraft reminds me that BAF/BWA made it their business to acquire every serviceable Viscount available, rather like Dan-Air with the Comets.

BA dropped the LBA-LHR route in April 1980, probably about the same time as they began the withdrawal of the Viscount fleet. One wonders if they'd have hung on to the route if the Viscount's days weren't numbered.
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Old 9th Dec 2018, 18:55
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Lovely pictures my only flight in a viscount was on a Euroair viscount from gatwick to Holland for the 85 Dutch GP it was chartered by page and moy fantastic views from the Windows
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Old 9th Dec 2018, 19:02
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HF wire antenna visible on several Viscounts from feed through fitting above fwd. door to top of fin.
I remember installing a Sun-Air 10 channel HF in a SOAF Viscount in 1976.
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Old 9th Dec 2018, 19:52
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As well as their own colours, BAF did a range of longer term leases, throughout the 1980s, which led to some Viscounts getting repainted in Virgin Atlantic and British Caledonian schemes, among others, for short feeder operations from Gatwick into Europe.

Come 1993 and the business changed its name to British World, and that was a whole new colour scheme yet again, a bit more stylish, looked like it had been done by a design house rather than knocked up by the paint shop foreman.
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Old 10th Dec 2018, 04:39
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BAF vISCOUNT 806

According to Charles Woodley s History of British European Airways most of the Viscount s were sold to Cambrian and B.K.S. before passing to BAF. Three were sold to Mandala Airways, a Far East company and one GAOYJ, was leased to Cyprus Airways eventually returning to British Airways.
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Old 10th Dec 2018, 07:00
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Originally Posted by Krakatoa View Post
According to Charles Woodley s History of British European Airways most of the Viscount s were sold to Cambrian and B.K.S. before passing to BAF..
That was a while before. Both Cambrian and BKS (actually Northeast in later years) were long time owned by BEA, then BA, and in the BA rebranding these operations were taken back into the main fleet again.
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Old 10th Dec 2018, 07:22
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I remember the British Caledonian-branded Viscount. She looked particularly smart.

On YouTube, there are some videos of a BAF Viscount on a training jolly at Southend in about 1993. Looks and sounds great.
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Old 10th Dec 2018, 10:22
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This is a little off topic, but would it be fair to say that Northeast was essentially BEA in all but name from 1970 to 1976 ? Just a thought. I can't speak for Cambrian as I'm not that familiar with their operations.

Apparently, when BKS was using the Viscounts on the LBA-LHR route in the 1960s, the midday rotation was operated by a BEA Viscount. This is before my time but I don't remember this during the Northeast days.
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Old 10th Dec 2018, 12:46
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BKS and Cambrian got rolled together into an intermediate holding company, British Aviation Services, which BEA and then BA owned. BKS was named after its founders, Barnby, Keegan and Stevens, and after finally relinquishing ownership Keegan made issues and the company was renamed as Northeast, their general territory, although their initial base had been Southend. BAS didn't do a lot but did devise a common livery style, using yellow for Northeast and Orange for Cambrian, over a grey cheatline.

I think the crews were on different terms which accounted for them remaining independent entities. It was common to exchange aircraft among each other, and have BAS aircraft operating for BEA. One of the Cambrian One-Elevens was based in Berlin for about a year doing BEA routes.
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