Bristol Type 175 Britannia 312 G-AOVT
Known as the ‘Whispering Giant’ because of its extremely quiet engines, the Britannia was the world’s first turbo- prop-powered large passenger transport aircraft. BOAC was the only customer for the Series 102 version and it received the first two of its order for 15 aircraft in December 1955. Engine intake icing problems delayed the Britannia 102’s entry into service, but flights to Johannesburg eventually began on 1st December 1957. A stretched version of the Britannia was developed with three possible cabin configurations, (all passenger, mixed passenger and freight, or all-freight) and also long-range models with increased fuel capacity which enabled them to operate non-stop flights in both directions across the Atlantic. BOAC ordered 18 of the long range aircraft, designated Series 312s, and began services between London and New York on 19th December 1957. ‘VT was the last of BOAC’s Britannia 312 fleet to be delivered, arriving at Heathrow on 1st January 1959 after having its cabin furnishings and seats installed by Marshalls at Cambridge. It operated on BOAC’s long-range routes for more than four and a half years. In 1959 BOAC introduced the world’s first round-the-world service with part being operated by Britannias and part by Comet 4s. ‘VT operated the first of those westwards flights, flying via New York, San Francisco, Honolulu and Wake Island to Tokyo, from where a Comet 4 took over to complete the service by flying back to London with stops at Rangoon, Delhi and Rome. When BOAC retired its Britannia 312s ‘VT was purchased by British Eagle International Airlines in September 1963, and it was used on Eagle’s inaugural internal UK services, and then on scheduled services and holiday charter and trooping flights until November 1968, when the airline ceased operations. ‘VT was bought by the newly-formed Monarch Airlines in May 1969 and based at Luton Airport. It was used mainly on holiday package tour flights throughout Europe, but it also flew worldwide in various passenger and freight configurations, before operating the last civil passenger service by a Britannia in Europe on 14th October 1974, from Lisbon to Luton. .VT’s cabin was then stripped of all fittings and it was leased to Invicta Airlines at Manston who used it on cargo charter flights to Europe, Africa and the Middle East for three months. It returned to Luton on 10th March 1975 and was stored awaiting disposal. It was donated to the DAS for preservation, and made its final flight to Duxford on 29th June 1975, the day when that year’s airshow was being held, and landed during the flying display. It had then flown a total of 35,497 hours and made 10,760 landings
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