RAF Museum Cosford takes delivery of VC10 serial number XR808

By Culture24 Reporter | 22 June 2015

RAF Museum Cosford takes delivery of a VC10 Transport plane after long final journey by flat bed trailer to Shropshire

a photo of the fuselage of a large jet plane on a flatbed trailer with the words Runway Ahead on a red background written on the tarmac in front of it
The VC10 arrives at Cosford© Iain Duncan
Following a tricky but successful journey via the M6 motorway and the lanes of rural Shropshire, the RAF Museum at Cosford has finally taken delivery of one of the great workhorses of British post-war military aviation: the VC10.

Serial number XR808 has been undergoing a meticulous eight-month dismantling process carried out by GJD Services, a specialist maintenance and aircraft salvage company based at Bruntingthorpe, Leicestershire.

The 93-foot long fuselage departed from Bruntingthorpe early on Sunday morning and arrived at Cosford shortly after 1pm. 

Transported on a low loader lorry, the route saw the aircraft pass along the M69, M6 and the M54 to Cosford, via the nearby village of Shifnal.

Too large to pass under the railway bridge at Cosford, the fuselage made its way to Junction 4 on the M54 and through Shifnal, with some tricky manoeuvring en route, before heading onto the airfield at RAF Cosford.

With the wings due to follow on June 28, work will commence in July on the rebuild of a plane which saw service with the RAF for a remarkable period stretching to almost 50 years as a transport aircraft, medical evacuation plane and in-air refueller.

Originally built by Vickers-Armstrong and then later by the British Aircraft Corporation, the VC10 originally entered service in 1966. It soon became a useful plane in the rapid deployment of troops and weaponry to many theatres of operations around the world. 

With the ability to carry up to 124 troops at a time, with nine crew members or a freight load of up to 20,400kg, the VC10’s allowed true global mobility and offered a combination of speed and range never previously attained by an RAF Transport Command aircraft type.

a photo of the large fuselage of a jet plane being moved through a street past houses
© Iain Duncan
“The BAC VC-10 formed the mainstay of the RAF’s long range strategic transport force for almost 50 years,” explained Ian Thirsk, Head of Collections at the RAF Museum. “For one aircraft type to have been in service for such a long period is remarkable in itself.

“However, when this is added to the variety of roles and worldwide scope of operations, it is clear this is a unique aircraft and it would not be possible to accurately portray the history of the RAF without an example of the type – therefore it is essential that such a pivotal and long serving aircraft is preserved by the RAF Museum.”

After almost 30 years flying out of RAF Brize Norton to Akratiri in Cyprus, as well as Hong Kong and the Middle East, VC10 C1K XR808, latterly known as Bob, was converted in 1996 to a mix passenger tanker role.

In October 2010 it was still being used to bring troops home from Afghanistan before eventually ending its career with a 40-minute flight from Brize Norton to Bruntingthorpe airfield in Leicestershire. It had served for a total of 47 years and three weeks, notching a total flying time of 43,866 hours.

Throughout July 2015 a team of engineers from GJD Services will be at Cosford to unload the aircraft, position and trestle the inner wings before attaching them to the fuselage. During early August the aircraft will transfer from the RAF Cosford airfield to the Museum site for the final reassembly, which will take place directly outside the Museum’s Hangar 1.

Once on site, the wings will be rebuilt and the rear fuselage section attached. By late September the team anticipates to be fitting the fin and tail plane ready to install the engines, nacelles and outer wings.

The final finishing touches of refitting the access panels and a little paint work touch up will be carried out late October before the fully reassembled VC10 is moved into its final position next to the Lockheed Hercules C130K Mk3, where the aircraft will go on public display.

a photo of a large grey fuselage of a jet plane taking the bend of a deserted country road
© Iain Duncan
a photo of a large section of fuselage being transported on a flat bed truck on a lane through a poppy field
© Iain Duncan
a photo of a fuselage of a large plane held with two cranes on flatbeds
© Iain Duncan
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