Monday, 9 November 2015

Autopilot Parts Replacement

Due to the complexities and age of the systems in the Victor, things naturally cause problems and minor 'irritations'. One such item is the Mk10B Autopilot's power supply Torque Switch. This has been a problem on and off for many years and it was only very recently that I managed to source an 'as new item'. I'm pleased to say that it all works fine once again!  We all know that its unlikely that the autopilot will ever be used in 'anger' again but, we like everything to work to as near operational status as possible.  

Mk10 B Autopilot power supplies control 

New and old torque switches

Thursday, 5 November 2015

55 Squadron Reunion gathering

A number of ex-Victor personnel attended the reunion on the 13th September, organised by ex-55 Sqn member Tom Winter and many new contacts were made.  All seemed happy with what they saw and heard and the day generally was a success.

It is hoped that a larger gathering will be arranged for next year and all who attended left Elvington with a lot of nostalgia. From our point of view it was comforting to know that we had not disappointed them and they all seemed impressed.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

More parts for Lindy!

This weeks visit to see Mr J Birkett of Birketts Radio & Surplus in Lincoln yielded a good 'haul' of Victor K2 compatible parts. Essential to help keep XL231 in fully working order and it comprised of the following; 
3x TACAN Transmitter/ Receivers (the large square boxes)
3x MV electrical Frequency meters for the AEO panel
2x Main engine jet pipe temperature indicators 
1x Main engine oil pressure indicator
1x Fuel gauge amplifier
1x Altimeter Pressure Error Corrector Unit

Some of the above items are not essential as XL231 is not flying but as an 'Historical Object' We prefer as much as possible to be kept in fully working order and XL231 is the ONLY totally complete example of her breed left.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Victor K2 reunion Saturday 12th September

A small gathering of ex-Victor K2 personnel are gathering at Elvington for a day of nostalgia and an engine run of XL231 'Lusty Lindy'. This will be followed by a chance to tour and inspect the aircraft.

The personnel served on either of the Victor K2 Squadrons, No's 55 or No57 Sqn's respectively or The Victor Operational Conversion Unit, No232 OCU.

Subject to the event being a success a major reunion will be organised for 2016.

The event and the Museum is open to general visitors as well on the 12th Sept.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Monday 31st August

Due to re-surfacing on the runway, there will be NO taxy runs of the Victor or ANY of the Museum aircraft. ALL engines runs will be carried out on the museum site only until further notice. We realise that this may be a dissapointment to some but, it is a matter out of our control. Updates will be published.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Sqn Ldr Noel 'Red' Dunningham

On Sunday an old friend made a return visit to see XL231. An aircraft he flew many times as part of Britain's Nuclear Deterrent.
'Red' Dunningham was Victor B2 QFI, 'Blue Steel' qualified and had  a very long and illustrious career in the RAF.
He started flying Harvards in South Africa before flying Spitfires and Hurricane's operationally. He then went onto the Meteor and Vampire Jet Fighters before commanding a Canberra Squadron.
He was personally selected for the V Force and Victor B2's by Air Chief Marshall Sir Augustus (Gus) Walker to be a Victor B2 pilot and he never regretted a minute of it!
I was lucky to able to take 'Red' on taxy run in XL231 a number of years ago and he was able to ride in the Co-pilot's seat.
'Red' is aged 93 now but, very much with it and apart from being a bit 'shaky' in the legs is bright as a button. The legs he puts down to running too many London Marathons!
He assures he will be back for further visits and we hope that he definitely is!

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

XL231 in the 1960's by Dennis Robinson

Dennis Robinson posted the below fantastic pictures on facebook and has kindly allowed them to be shared here that he took of XL231 at RAF Luqa, Malta in the late 1960's. When XL231 was a B2R (retrofit) 'Blue Steel' missile capable aircraft. The top picture is the later one from 1967 with the Wittering Wing Lion on the tail and various aerial modifications not seen in the 3 earlier shots, taken between 1964-67 (Victors were camouflaged by 1964 after the V Force tactics changed from high level to low level operations)

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

April 2nd Engine Runs

Sunday August the 2nd was Engine running day for XL231 and all the 'live' aircraft at the Museum. There was no intended taxying on the runway planned for the event.

As I was intended to run the DC-3 Dakota after major engine work, I felt I had to concentrate on that, so I handed the Victor over to Ollie Suckling, Rob Langham and Rick Gill to run. Ian Finch carried out the Crew Chief duties. All went extremely well and no snags were encountered. At one point the nose Oleo leg visibly compressed under the thrust from the engines!  She was shut down in a VERY serviceable condition and we retired to the NAAFI for Coffee and Cake. Grateful the snag list was pretty empty!

Brake and Tyre Servicing

We noticed that we had a hydraulic fluid leak on the port front inner brake unit and by chance the one and only boxed brake unit I had acquired some time ago turned out to be the correct one. So, we fitted the unit and bled the air out of the system without problem. Several brake pistons on the Port front outer brake unit were also weeping oil so I decided to renew the seals on these and all has turned out very well.  In addition we also fitted 2 replacement tyres to the outer front wheel. Engineering Students currently with the Museum from France ably assisted in this task and learnt a few extra practical skills. Pictured with team member Sam Ward.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Flt Lt John Ledger

It was with sadness that I received the news over the weekend that John Ledger, XL231's first volunteer Captain for her initial taxy runs at Elvington had passed away.

John, a remarkable witty character first appeared at Elvington in early 1994 when he was in his last flying role as Chief Pilot for Knight Air at Leeds & Bradford Airport. The 'Dunkeswick Air Disaster' later in the year involving a company aircraft dissolved the company and John took retirement.

After flying training in the RAF. John was posted to Canberra's and then selected for the V Force. He was posted to the Vickers Valiant Fleet and was selected to be the co-pilot on Britain's first Atomic weapon drop trials in Valiant WZ366 at Maralinga ranges in Australia, he was remarkably non-plussed and stated that "We killed a few Kangaroos!"

After Valiants John flew the Victor B1 before applying to RAF Transport Command for Britannia's. His posting came through; Victor B2's!  John was unhappy at the thought of Victors again but, came to love the aeroplane.  He finally got the posting he wanted and flew Britannia's before leaving to pursue a Civil career in the airlines. Initially with Monarch he flew the Britannia and flew the IWM's Monarch Britannia 'Victor Tango'on an around the World trip before re-training on his favourite, the Boeing 707. Monarch still had Navigators in those days and being typical ex-RAF he use to taunt them and some of his taunts are hilarious but, not for this blog!  Following Monarch he joined the Jordanian carrier ALIA on the Boeing 707 and 720B, he described the latter as the 'hotship 707'. John then flew for a number of airlines until his retirement and then spent 4 years with us at Elvington taking XL231 on its first taxy run as a Civil Victor in 1994. He put enormous faith in myself in the team and before long brought his old AEO Al Stephenson along and Al continues with us to this day.
A severe back injury in 1998 forced John to step down and it hurt him tremendously because he had to give it all up. He did occasionally visit and his sense of humour never really waned, drunken barbecue's and parties with his lovely ex-air hostess wife Maggie were a thing of legend. sadly John's last few years were wheelchair bound and I last saw him a few years back at the Newark V Force reunion.

"John, I hope that wherever you are, you are at peace with your beloved Valiant's, Victors, and Boeing's. You were a great friend and good company and you put a lot of faith in us to do it right".

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Just when things seemed to be going well...

On Sunday's advertised 'Thunder Day' the Rolls Royce Artouste APU jet engine decided to have a really bad day and burned out its starter motor.

As the spare unit was 25 miles away then the day could not be redeemed and we removed the offending item at the end of the day. Bits of molten copper dropping out of it convinced me it was time to send it to the repair shop!

I've since fitted the replacement 'as new' motor and the 125 AMP control fuse that also blew. The motor has to endure very high speeds and from time to time they do fail.

Starter motor removed
                                                              Starter motor replaced
                                                               OX38 Turbine Oil
                                                            Engine re-oil connection
 Panel GBZ, The starter fuse is the left hand fuse. The other 3 are for the AC power generation from APU's 200Volt Generator

Friday, 29 May 2015

2 'V' Bombers together!

A sight not often seen nowadays and after October the only chance to see a Victor and Vulcan together will be in the RAF Museum Cosford.

XH558 carrying out 2 practice displays on Thursday 28th May at Elvington. Elvington Airfield is an ideal pre-season 'work up' location for the aircraft and its crews.

Several (including myself) hardy souls, braved severe wind conditions from the walkway on the Victor to view the Vulcan being put through its paces.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Fuel Vent System

One system that is very important is the venting system of the wings and fuselage fuel tanks. As fuel is used during engine running or during refuelling a tank, naturally the empty space has to be filled or purged with air. Hence the fuel venting system. Without this system a fuel tank could in a worse case scenario implode.

I noticed that the fuselage vent gauge was stuck and removed the transmitter which supplies the gauge with its reading, I also removed the gauge to assess and  'match' the two units after bench testing. I found the internal moving coil to be stuck in the transmitter and as there are no spares available I had no choice but to free it off with lubrication.  I then ran the gauge up and down full scale in order to to test the system out.

Normal operating pressure is 2.5psi - 4.5 psi. The system is 'red lined' at 5 psi for safety purposes and 8 psi is the absolute maximum pressure. The most we achieve at ground level is around 2.5psi.

Pictured, the gauge, transmitter and a spare cockpit vent panel

It was all re-fitted back in today and showing the correct reading with electrical power on and fuel pressure without engines running.

An Old friend drops in..

Sqn Ldr Martin Withers DFC

Having known Martin Withers for more years than I care to remember, it was nice to catch up with him once again aboard the Victor. Currently the Chief Pilot of Avro Vulcan XH558, Martin leads the Aircrew of  XH558, now sadly into its final display season and the end of all flying V bombers.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Steve Hague, aka 'Captain Crapweather'

Steve Hague 1961-2015

The Victor team and myself lost a great friend and personality this week when Steve sadly passed away after more or less a lifetime of illness.

Steve was taken ill at the age of 16 as he was about to join the RAF with Crones Disease. Consequently he wasn't able to join the RAF and worked for a time at The British Library, Thorp Arch, Yorkshire. He also held a number of part time jobs.

Due to the severity of his illness he was unable to hold down permanent work and spent many, many months in hospital over the years. Basically being unfit for work he joined the Yorkshire Air Museum in its infant days as a volunteer and when he was well (which wasn't often) spent many trips 'trudging' hillsides in the Yorkshire Dales helping to locate and recover parts for the then intended Handley Page Halifax Bomber recreation. Trips to remote Scottish islands also bore Halifax parts including the center fuselage that was ultimately used in the Halifax at Elvington.

Steve also joined the Mosquito restoration project owned by Tony and Val Agar, along with Lee Norgate, Phil and Judy Pulleyn and others they were able to have a more or less complete Mosquito airframe rolled out in 1991. The Night Fighter Preservation Team, as they were then known had recreated an authentic De Havilland Mosquito!

Steve was able to learn to fly and earned the nickname 'Captain Crapweather' due to seemingly bad weather on a number of his flying lessons. He was also heavily involved with the Air Training Corps as a Civilian Instructor for many years and up to his untimely death.

I first met Steve just after my Father and I had bought the Victor, at first I found him difficult to get on with and to be honest if you didn't 'click' on his wavelength then you never would have got on with him. To stay Steve was unusual is not an insult, he was just different in so many ways. He knew his subject very well and was a fountain of knowledge. He was also the best 'scrounger' in the business. The saying "Cheap is good, free is better" was one of his unique sayings. He was also a damn good friend to myself and many others.  We (The team) also spent many happy weekends and trips away at various Wartime events dressed as Second World War airmen, we took it seriously, very seriously if a pub was located nearby!!

Steve did a lot for the Yorkshire Air Museum, He was involved with the acquisition of the Canberra (YAM's first Jet) He also built the replica Hurricane from a kit and was a big part in obtaining the Harrier GR3 for the museum. He joined in with the Victor Team from more or less day 1 and was extremely good at 'finding' things that were needed for the Victor. He also masterminded the first Victor tail braking parachute packing 'party' and many more after.

In 2002 he left YAM for a new challenge helping to get the newly formed South Yorkshire Air Museum in Doncaster off the ground. He did this with 'gusto' and built up a successful retail shop and a Model Club on the site, as well as holding Aviation lectures with a number of well known aviation personalities. For quite a number of years Steve was involved with the British Aviation Preservation Council (BAPC) and latterly for a number of years the Chairman. He was also a Trustee of the South Yorkshire Air Museum and latterly the Chairman of Trustees.

On his days off for well over 10 years Steve willingly assisted me in my classic car business and he became very knowledgeable and a great help to me.

In 2014 it became alarmingly obvious that Steve wasn't well. We knew he was always ill in some way but he was obviously struggling to walk and was clearly unwell. 8 weeks ago he was admitted to St James' Hospital Leeds and he was diagnosed with varying complaints. He was bed-ridden for the last 7 weeks of his life and we visited him many times in the last few weeks. He just grew weaker and he finally faded away at 8.15am Thursday 21st May.

Its apt to end here with one of Steve's legendary quotes; "No good will come of it!"

Lest We Forget

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Spring 2015 Taxy Run

The 5th anniversary of the arrival of Nimrod XV250 to Elvington was marked by taxy runs from the Nimrod, Devon and Lindy. Although we were greeted with blue skies and sunshine, gusting winds of up to 35knots meant we couldn't run from our usual pan at the bottom of the runway, so the decision was made to start from the apron next to the Nimrod.

With Ollie on Tornado detachment to Cyprus, I was able to take back my accolade of Captain for the run, joined by Rob in the right had seat and Rick as AEO. 

After a highspeed run from the Nimrod it was our turn.   

Thank you to one of the spectators for capturing the run. 

Other than a stuck turbine over speed indication on No.2 there we're no other snags, so time for a celebratory brew and to put her to bed. 


Saturday, 4 April 2015

Victor XL231 engine run and taxi Saturday 11th April

As part of the 5th Anniversary celebration for the arrival of Nimrod XV250 We will be carrying out engine runs and a short taxy of XL231 circa 15.30, this will be our first trip on the runway this year.

Prior to this the Nimrod will be carrying a high-speed runway demo and also the Museum's De Havilland Devon will be also be displaying.

All aircraft subject to serviceability.

Friday, 16 January 2015

#twitterVforce meet up

Well folks, it's finally time to announce the details for the forthcoming #twitterVforce 3rd anniversary get together.
We are very proud to announce that on SATURDAY 28th MARCH 2015 you are invited up to Robin Hood Airport Doncaster  (henceforth referred to as RAF Finningley) for an intimate 4 hours in the company of an iconic Cold War Warrior.
 Avro Vulcan B.Mk2 XH558
Avro Vulcan B Mk.2 XH558 at RNAS Yeovilton 2014
We are honoured that we have the pleasure of Craig BULMAN - author of the very successful book The Vulcan B Mk.2 From a Different Angle with us and he will be giving his very 1st public talk on the B2. Craig's knowledge is 2nd to none and this is a fantastic opportunity to gain further insight into one of Avro's finest aircraft. Craig has been lucky enough to actually fly in Vulcan XL388 from RAF Waddington to RAF Honington on 2nd April 1982 (XL388's Cockpit is currently at Aeroventures here at Doncaster) and was also in the Rear Crew Compartment for Vulcan XM655's 30th/50th anniversary fast taxi run at Wellesbourne Mountford Airfield last year.Those of you who subscribe to the XH558 Newsbytes or are VTTSC members who receive The Vulcan magazine will be aware of his detective work in 'Vulcan Spotting' - the guy is a legend and for the true Vulcan buff this is an opportunity that you cannot afford to miss.
Craig Bulman (left)
Craig Bulman (right) with Derek Parks (Ex Javelin & Vulcan Chief Tech) & Flt Lt John Ince (centre)
Also on hand will be a few of our followers who are also Volunteers/Tour Guides at Hangar 3 who will be able to show you around '558 and no doubt a couple of personnel from the engineering team will be on hand to answer any technical questions you may have.
A point to remember is that X-ray Hotel 558 will be in the middle of her Winter Service so no doubt you will see her in a different light.
We also have representatives from the other V Force Bombers - From Team Victor will be Andre Tempest, owner of Operation Granby veteran  Handley Page Victor K2 XL231 ' Lusty Lindy' ( based just up the road at the Yorkshire Air Museum,  Elvington and from Team Valiant we have Flt Lt Al Stevenson who served with both Vickers Valiant and latterly HP Victor and is currently Lindy's AEO (read about him here: .
The time of the visit will be between 13:00hrs and 17:00hrs.
Andre Tempest proudly displaying his #twitterVforce wristband
Tickets are limited to 100 and are only available from the Vulcan To The Sky Trust website with all money taken from the sales going directly towards keeping XH558 airworthy.
To purchase your ticket please follow this link:
Tickets for the event are priced at £20 and will include 4 hours with XH558, Craig Bulman's presentation and Tea/Coffee & Biscuits and of course plenty of time to admire XH558 at your leisure. There will be other 'edible goodies' available made by one of our #twitterVforce followers (you will have seen the euphoria created when 'prototype' pictures of the Gingerbread V Force were posted on Twitter) to which a small donation towards '558 would be the proper thing to do. The usual range of '558 merchandise will also be available to purchase.
When you have bought your ticket(s) please let us know that you are attending by tweeting us here at @VForceHQ - Make sure you add our #tag ........ #twitterVforce
There will also be a secret auction for you to bid on - At the end of the day you could be walking away with a genuine piece of Avro Vulcan XH558 with full documentation (Cert of authentication and 'Unserviceable' label).
Also on hand will be Jo Ayres (regional VTTSC Fundraising co-ordinator for the South Central Region @VulcanSCentral) who has kindly agreed to be our official #twittervforce photographer for the day so if you fancy a special momento for the day, keep an eye out for her.
We have lots more planned for they day so please buy your tickets ASAP and join us for what is going to be an historical afternoon.
It certainly will be a celebration not only for us, but also of our mighty V Force
See you there
Rod, Dave & Sam
Follow us on Twitter @VForceHQ

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Fuel gauge amplifiers part 2

Following on from overhauling the amplifiers with new spec capacitors I decided to give them a try on the Victor, using the fuselage gauging circuit to test them out, each one was plugged in one by one to test their operation and accuracy. Unfortunately (for me) I was alone and that meant I had to clamber up and down the wing at least seven times in order to trip the AC power supply in the cockpit in order to safely swap the amplifiers over.  After much effort and feeling like a 'One man band' I concluded the repairs had gone well and 6 out of 7 repaired amplifiers tested and indicated fuel contents. However due to slightly different spec capacitors the expected levels were not quite correct so, trimming of the circuits was required. I was however satisfied that I had got somewhere, if this repair had not worked then, there were no further options to go for... Further encouraged I carried out similar repairs to 4 more amplifiers. There are more to do so we should end up with around 6 spare units.

Ollie 'volunteered' to come in on Sunday to operate the fuel gauge test set and we set up internal intercom so that we could liaise without problems. Ably assisted by Rick Gill, Ian Finch, Rich Spaven and John Hawkridge we got into the task.
The 5 fuel tank groupings, Port wing, Fuselage, Stb'd wing, Fwd bombay, Aft bombay
Amplifier, Type LA15 with cover removed and plugged into the test set 
 Smiths fuel gauge test set Type QC32 on the plenum chamber floor
Ollie tested each amplifier on the test set for voltage & power consumption and then using the two capacitance trimmers within the amplifiers he set the low level and high level readings with myself tripping power on and off in the cockpit as required. Once a full set of 8 trimmed amplifiers had been achieved Ollie installed them one by one and I followed by installing the associated fuse and then observing the fuel gauge movement. On power up, the gauge is driven to zero and then is driven to the fuel level within the tank or tank grouping, depending on the circuit. We concluded that the port wing grouping is serviceable as is the port underwing tank, the fuselage tanks circuit is serviceable, the Starboard wing grouping appears to be out of trim or has a signal cable snag so that requires working on and the Stb'd underwing tank circuit is serviceable. The forward Bombay tank gauge has a fault that appears to be within the gauge and this will require replacing and the Aft Bombay gauge is working but requires trimming to the correct level on the Bombay cable box trimmer. The Port and Starboard underwing tank level repeaters situated on the Navigators panel are serviceable, as is the total contents Totaliser gauge.
The dedicated team members closing the jet up in the twilight after a satisfying and succesful Sunday