Vickers Viscount 701 in British European Airways livery

Vickers Viscount 701

Vickers-Armstrongs (Aircraft) Ltd

Vickers Viscount G-ALWF

The second production aircraft built by Vickers-Armstrong, G-ALWF made her first flight on 3 December 1952 before delivery to British European Airways (BEA) in February 1953. BEA assigned names to its fleet of Viscount aircraft; G-ALWF was named after the British Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin. In December 1954, during landing, she suffered a collapse of her starboard main landing gear, but was repaired and returned to service the following May.

In late 1963 G-ALWF was sold to Channel Airways, based at Southend. She was subsequently leased to Tradair and then British Eagle, before being sold to Cambrian Airways in December 1965. She was officially retired on 24 December 1971. G-ALWF was flown to Liverpool in 1972 for static display before transfer to Duxford on 22 February 1976.

Vickers Viscount 701

Designed by Vickers-Armstrongs (Aircraft) Ltd 445 Viscount aircraft were built between 1948 and 1964. The Viscount was designed in consultation with British European Airways (BEA) for a medium range airliner, capable of carrying thirty-two passengers. The first prototype aircraft flew on 16 July 1948, however its performance was below expectations. A second prototype aircraft fitted with Rolls-Royce Tay turbojets engines in place of Rolls-Royce Dart engines flew on 15 March 1950.

A revised 700-series specification was produced by Vickers with uprated engines and capable of carrying up to forty-eight passengers. The first 700-prototype flew on 28 August 1950. In total, 287 700-series Viscount aircraft were built. The final derivation - the 800-series of which 151 were built - featured an extended fuselage and could carry up to eight-four passengers.

The Viscount was used extensively by airlines across the world. It served in the United Kingdom - with airlines including BEA, British Airways, Dan Air Virgin - until 1997, making it one of the most successful post-war civilian aircraft. A number of examples survive at aviation museums in Europe, North and South America and Asia.

British European Airways

In post-war Britain air passenger services were provided by British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC). On 1 November 1945 the then Labour Government announced plans to break up BOAC into three state-owned companies: BOAC, flying long haul routes including to North America; British South American Airways (BSAA), flying to South America and the Caribbean; and British European Airways (BEA), flying all domestic and all European routes. BEA was founded as a division of BOAC on 1 January 1946 and on 1 August 1946 the Civil Aviation Act received Royal Assent, officially breaking up BOAC into the three companies. A number of smaller independent airlines were absorbed into BEA.

Throughout the 1950s BEA expanded its European routes and introduced new aircraft. In 1960 BEA introduced its first jet aircraft, the Comet 4B and by September 1960 had carried its 25,000,000th passenger. BEA introduced the Trident in 1962 and by April 1969 BEA Airtours Ltd, a new subsidiary charter airline company was formed. In 1967 a government committee chaired by Sir Ronald Edwards published a report in 1969 called 'British Air Transport in the Seventies' arguing for the merger of BEA and BOAC. The findings were accepted by the then Conservative Government and the British Airways Group was formed in September 1972. The two airlines officially merged on 1 April 1974 forming British Airways.


ManufacturerVickers-Armstrongs (Aircraft) Ltd
CountryUnited Kingdom
TypeCivilian airliner
Length81 ft 10 in
Wingspan93 ft 8 in
Height27 ft 9 in
Weight (empty)38,060lb
Weight (loaded)63,000lb
Engines4 x Rolls Royce Dart 506 turboprop
Range1,500 miles

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Vickers Viscount photographs

  • Vickers Viscount G-ALWF
  • Vickers Viscount G-ALWF
  • Vickers Viscount G-ALWF
  • Vickers Viscount G-ALWF
  • Vickers Viscount G-ALWF
  • Vickers Viscount G-ALWF
  • Vickers Viscount G-ALWF
  • Vickers Viscount G-ALWF
  • Vickers Viscount G-ALWF