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Boac VC-10s And 707-420s

Thu Jul 06, 2000 6:56 am

Both the Vickers VC-10 and Boeing 707-420 were powered by the Rolls-Royce Conway turbofan, both were long-range jetliners serving with British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC). I've been curious, which of these two beauties was the flagship of BOAC, and which planes were used on what routes? I have not run across much information on BOAC at all, so hopefully someone on here will be able to provide the information.

As a side note, it is my opinion that BOAC had one of the classiest liveries ever!

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RE: Boac VC-10s And 707-420s

Thu Jul 06, 2000 9:47 am

There is an excellent book on the VC-10 by Ian Allan Publishing in the UK, I'll dig it out and have a look tomorrow.

What I can remember is that the VC-10 was definately the flagship, and the more popular with passengers according to the book.

I'd like to also add a question which I'm fairly sure the book can't answer - Why did BOAC have both the VC-10 and 707? Also, was the RR Conway engine made available on the 707 just for BOAC? I know other airlines ordered the 707 with RR engines but don't know if that was before or after BOAC's order.
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RE: Boac VC-10s And 707-420s

Thu Jul 06, 2000 9:58 am

The best book (so far) on the VC-10 is "Silent, Swift, Superb" by Scott Henderson/Scoval publishing - it includes a definitive history, great photographs and 3-view drawings of the proposed developments of the original "-10".

Why did BOAC have the VC-10 and 707? The VC-10 was a government-sponsored project and so the national airline was coerced into buying it. But BOAC also had the most input into it's design - at the time they needed a long-haul airliner that had excellent short-field/hot-high capability - to match the routes that BOAC had to Africa. The VC-10 excelled in this role, but had problems competing with the 707 on transatlantic routes because of weight penalties imposed by it's design - most major airports by that time had lengthened their runways to accommodate the big jets of the time.

Although I love the seven-oh, my first flight was on a VC-10. I am on a mission to visit all the survivors - it is easily the most elegant airliner ever designed.
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RE: Boac VC-10s And 707-420s

Thu Jul 06, 2000 11:17 am

The VC-10 was NOT designed to compete with the 707. The two a/c were designed to meet quite different goals.
Neither was the '10 a government sponsored a/c. BOAC issued a design specification for it's empire routes and Vicker's designed the '10 to fill that specification. The a/c BOAC got was the a/c they specified.
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RE: Boac VC-10s And 707-420s

Thu Jul 06, 2000 5:12 pm

VC10 you are correct.

The VC-10 was designed to serve primarily the 'Empire' (African) routes. Before BOAC started slagging it off (quite wrongly as it turned out) US airlines had expressed real interest in this aircraft for use on South American networks. Shame...

I can re-call talk of swinging a pair or RB211's off the VC10 as an option to keep them going. Anyone remember this or have any info?
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RE: Boac VC-10s And 707-420s

Thu Jul 06, 2000 5:39 pm

I think the VC-10 was in the same level as the 707, perhaps the VC-10 consumed more fuel than the 707 but at that time fuel was "cheaper than water!" Personally I always loved better the VC-10, perhaps because was a unique design at that time, but like all the british airliners, it came latter than the competition. For me the VC-10 was no doubt the flagship of BOAC, I still remember seeing some of them in Lisbon passing by! Also much latter both ( the VC-10 and the 707-436)
flew to Lisbon, I saw all the Super VC-10's in Lisbon in 1980 and the 707's I remember seeing one all season G-ARRA flying EVERY DAY from London to Lisbon´!!!
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RE: Boac VC-10s And 707-420s

Thu Jul 06, 2000 6:45 pm

The VC10 traded off a fair degree of economy to achieve its short field capabilities, ruggedness, and generally hot performance -- just as BOAC specified at the time. Yet with the proliferation of 707s and DC-8s, most runways around the world were soon lengthened, making the short-field capabilities of the VC-10 a luxury rather than necessity. There were studies to further stretch the Super VC-10 to take advantage of the high-lift wings and the lengthened runways around the world. Had it flown, it could've given the DC-8-61/63 a run for its money.

As a kid, I remember seeing the VC10 in British Airways (red-tail) colors flying into HKG in the 70's. If memory serves me right, BA flights to HKG in those days tended to be a mixture of 747's, 707's and the occasional VC10. Then, there were also the RAF '10s making their periodic visits. Back in those days when Kai Tak wasn't that busy, the RAF '10s did a fair amount of approach training as well. For an hour or so, a '10 will make numerous checkerboard approaches, then did a touch-and-go or a go-around. I recall seeing some of these RAF VC10s taking off on these training flights (with obviously no payload on board), and I must say that their short field capability was indeed PHENOMENAL.  

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RE: Boac VC-10s And 707-420s

Thu Jul 06, 2000 10:15 pm

It is interesting to note the original VC10 was Super VC10 size but BOAC said it was too big and they wouldn't buy it (inspite of the fact it was designed to their requirements). So Vickers cut the a/c down to Standard VC10 size.

Many airlines were interested in the '10 including Pan Am and asked Vickers(BAC) for some operating cost figures. BAC then went to BOAC for their figures but BOAC wouldn't release them. The reason for this was that BOAC had taken delivery of an a/c designed to their exact requirements after very publically protesting the a/c was not suitable for them. In an effort to get them to accept the a/c the goverment gave BOAC a subsidy to operate it. Now if BOAC released the a/c's operating cost figures it would have revealed the a/c was a lot cheaper to to operate than BOAC claimed and they would have lost the subsidy. In hindsight the VC-10 actually worked out cheaper overall to operate than the 707.

Another hinderance to the VC10 sales was the public slagging that BOAC gave the a/c. Understandably other prospective customers would ask themselves if Britain's own national airline doesn't want the a/c it can't be any good.

The reason the '10 was 'late' onto the market was that it's predessor, the Vickers V1000 was cancelled in 1956(six months before it's first flight). This a/c would have come out at the same time as the 707 and would have out performed it. The V1000 was primarily designed for the RAF but the design was flexible enough to cater for BOAC'c needs. Due to unemployment problems in Nothern Ireland the V1000 was cancelled for the RAF (Shorts built the Brittannia instead), but the a/c was still available for BOAC. BOAC were offered the V1000 but said that they had decided that Turbo-props were the future & they would buy the Brittannia instead. So with no customers for the V1000 the head of Vickers, George Edwards (later Sir), ordered the a/c ands its jigs be broken up, famously saying that its no use leaving a corpse laying around for his workers to mourn over.
Six months later he was called to see the government aviation minister who asked him if he could re-start the V1000 project. George replied he couldn't because it had been broken up. The Minister replied that he had thought so but he had to ask because BOAC (a nationalised airline) had put in a request to buy 707's. So, because there was no British alternative BOAC got the 707's. To reduce the dollar expenditure at a time of great austerity in Britain the a/c were fitted with British RR Conways. Due to the poor hot/high field performance of the early 707 BOAC put out the specification that became the VC-10. Draw your own conclusions as to whether BOAC had the 707's in mind when it declined the V1000. Personally just look at the way BOAC/BEA/BA have always bought Boeing products in huge numbers.

The VC-10 was an a/c with tremedous potential, proposed varients included a swing nose freighter in which Pan Am took a serious interest, a double deck freighter with a 747 style hump, a side loading freighter and a double deck passenger a/c with a capacity for 265 seats

All in all BOAC wrecked the commercial potential of the VC-10 while BEA did the same for the Trident and in the process the pair of them destroyed Britains airframe manufacturing industry.

Incidentally a much better book than "Silent, Swift, Superb" on the VC-10 is Vickers VC10 by Lance Cole published by Crowood Press
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RE: Boac VC-10s And 707-420s

Thu Jul 06, 2000 10:51 pm

As to Shankly's question regarding re-engining the VC-10 with RB211s: Vickers put forth several proposals to increase the VC-10's capacity, as described in earlier posts. The proposal with the RB211s (three engines, the centerline engine being fed by a squat duct resembling that of a scaled-up Trident) was for a double-deck design; the only drawing I saw was for a passenger airliner - I guess the freight version described in VC-10's post was to receive the same powerplant. (As a side note, a VC-10 was used as a test bed for the RR RB211, hung from the aircraft's port-side pylon.)

The double-deck proposal superseded a bizarre design in which three standard VC-10 fuselages would be mated to a single V-shaped wing. The two outboard fuselages were to form booms, each supporting a tail (much like a Fairchild C119 Packet or AW Argossy), except that the space between the tails was to have been occupied by four or six (I cannot remember which) RR Conways. The cockpit was to be at the end of the center fuselage, which was aligned ahead of the outer fuselages and faired at the aft end to accommodate the engines.

Needless to say, both designs lacked the grace of the original design. I agree with Ilyshin 96M that the VC-10 was a supremely elegant design, especially clad in the blue-and-white and blue-and-gold liveries of BOAC.
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RE: Boac VC-10s And 707-420s

Thu Jul 06, 2000 11:15 pm

I saw some information on a page dedicated to the VC10.

It was quoting 166kt's clean MTOW stall speed and 98kt's full flap MTOW stall speed, plus pretty damm respectable max and best cruise speeds too.

Re one of the earlier posts in this thread about cheap fuel back then, see the thread I am about to start on something I found out here In Australia.
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RE: Boac VC-10s And 707-420s

Thu Jul 06, 2000 11:22 pm

Wow...what an amazing amount of info! Thanks to all who have contributed!

I am surprised and dismayed to learn the potential the VC-10 actually had versus its service life. What a shame the aircraft was not sold to airlines outside the UK and the Middle East, and that it was not further developed! It would seem the British airlines are solely responsible for the failure of their country's aircraft industry.
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RE: Boac VC-10s And 707-420s

Thu Jul 06, 2000 11:22 pm

On the LHR-JFK route a later departing VC-10 would always beat a an earlier departing 707 to the best cruise altitude because is performance was so superior.
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RE: Boac VC-10s And 707-420s

Fri Jul 07, 2000 12:38 am

I kind of scanned this thread rather than read every word, already being a proud owner of 'Silent, Swift, Superb' and a few other books about the VC10. I just thought I'd point out the fact that while the programme didn't reach it's potential as the aircraft was so tailored to BOAC's needs, and therefore sold in small numbers, VICKERS MADE A PROFIT ON THE VC10! If Douglas had built less than 100 DC8s, do you think they'd have made any money? Look what happened to Convair with the 880 and 990, which probably sold better than the VC10. Biggest financial loss in corporate history.

I'm not saying this has anything to do with superior British business skills (as if!! hahaha!!), just that British aircraft manufacturers before all the mergers that resulted in BAe were TINY organisations - you should see the huts the Comet was built in by deH. The VC10 first flew from a tiny field just near where I live, it's amazing to think that a huge intercontinental 4-engine jet airliner was built and test flown here.
fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz
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RE: Boac VC-10s And 707-420s

Fri Jul 07, 2000 9:01 pm

Cedarjet, whilst being an ardent fan of the VC10 I must point out Vickers made a £20 million loss on the VC10 - source:- British Aircraft Corporation, A History.

Some other interesting facts in the book are:-

BOAC reported in 1972-3 that:-
1. The Super '10s were averaging 11.09 Hrs per day against the 707's 8.7 hrs.

2. The operating costs per revenue flying hour were:-
Super '10 £486
707 £510.

The goverment subsidy BOAC got to operate the '10's that I mentioned earlier in this thread was £30 million. This for an a/c that attracted more passengers than the 707 & was cheaper to operate !
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RE: Boac VC-10s And 707-420s

Fri Jul 14, 2000 3:48 am

I flew on an East African Airways SUper VC10 once way back in 1973 as a child. I think I remember boarding the plane from the rear stairs and looking up and being mesmerized by the majesty of the tailplane and the 4 engines.

Question: Was the fuselage (and cabin) diameter of the VC-10 more or less than that of the 707 or DC-8?
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RE: Boac VC-10s And 707-420s

Fri Jul 14, 2000 4:15 am

Yeah, the VC-10 and 707 had the same 3-3 layout in coach:


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I can imagine the VC-10 was quieter, though, with those tail-mounted engines.  
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RE: Boac VC-10s And 707-420s

Fri Jul 14, 2000 4:54 am

Speaking of elegant aircraft we should mention the IL-62. While only 54 VC-10s were built, there were a whoping 281 IL-62s. Do you guys know if the '62 had the same fuselage diamenter as the '10? What about the wingspan?
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RE: Boac VC-10s And 707-420s

Fri Jul 14, 2000 7:34 am

The VC10 & the DC-8 had the same dia fuselage at 11ft 6in.While the 707 started out with an 11ft dia fuse'. However after Boeing lost an order to Douglas over the fuse width, the fuse' was widened to a max dia of 12ft 4in.

There may have been 281 Il-62's built but the Czechoslovakian airline CSA wanted to buy Super VC10's but the Russians applied political pressure to make sure they bought the IL-62. One has to ask how many other sales were blocked by the Russians ?

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