Vickers V701 Viscount - G-ALWF
The Viscount was designed as a successor to the piston-engined Vickers Viking. It was the world’s first turbo-prop
powered airliner, and the prototype made its maiden flight in July 1948. This aircraft was used for a few passenger
flights to Paris to test the market’s reaction to this new, quieter, more comfortable way of flying, long before scheduled
G-ALWF was the second production aircraft and was slightly larger than the prototype. It made its first flight in
December 1952 and was handed over to British European Airways in February 1953, fitted with 40 seats in an all-first
class interior. This was later changed to a 63-seat high density layout.
In August 1963 ‘WF was sold to Channel Airways at Southend Airport. From March 1963 until April 1965 Channel
leased it, firstly to Tradair Ltd and then to British Eagle, who named it ‘City of Exeter’. On 15th December 1965 ‘WF
was sold to Cambrian Airways who based it at Rhoose Airport, Cardiff. Cambrian finally retired ‘WF on 24th
December 1971, its last commercial service being a return flight from Belfast.
As the oldest Viscount still in existence ‘WF was considered worthy of preservation and it was acquired by the
Viscount Preservation Trust. On 12th April 1972 it made its final flight From Rhoose to Liverpool,Airport, calling at
Heathrow en route to pick up some VIPs. It had then flown a total of 28,299 hours and made 25,398 landings.
‘WF was put on display in December 1972 in one of the main hangars, which the public were allowed access to in
order to walk through it. This arrangement was eventually terminated because of concerns over site security, and ‘WF
was moved outside, with its future in doubt, and the possibility of having to be scrapped, until the Duxford Aviation
Society offered to take ‘WF and move it to Duxford. A team of Society members travelled up to Liverpool every
weekend for three months to dismantle ‘WF, and its fuselage was transported to Duxford by low loader on 22nd
February 1976, with the other components following later. Its complete re-assembly took several years, as
replacements for some missing components had to be found and acquired. In 1986 ‘WF was repainted in its original
BEA livery, and it was put on display outside. This necessitated another refurbishment and repainting in 1992. It was
originally selected as one of the aircraft to be displayed in AirSpace, and it was given another lengthy refurbishment,
but in the event it was not included in the new building and remains on display outside.
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