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G-AMSV Returns to Coventry

An old friend returned to Coventry yesterday when G-AMSV, in her striking Indian Air force livery, landed here for extensive maintenance by our engineers. Sierra Victor was part of the Air Altantique fleet here for many years. She'll...

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Baginton Air Pageant

The initial details for the Baginton Air Pageant are up on the website! As we don't have the space for a full-on air show attracting 20,000 or so people, we're aiming for low-key, themed days like this. A couple of thousand people,...

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Newquay Pleasure flights

We promised we'd be back to fly in Cornwall, and here we are. We'll be heading south with a Rapide and Chipmunk to spend a week at Newquay from 25th July, with a further visit planned in August. The flights are bookable in the normal...

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New Dakota Book

Geoff Jones just told me that his new book on the DC-3, released to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Dak's appearance, is now available. The cover sports a lovely shot of G-ANAF, shot by Simon Westwood before her radome goiter was...

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Nimrod Engine Run

We've just confirmed plans by NPT to run all four of the Nimrod's Rolls-Royce Speys on Saturday 9th May. We expect the thunder to start just after lunchtime. Come along and enjoy some audio power - and please dip into your pockets...

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Vickers Varsity - A New Kind of Wellington
Status: Static Display
Owned by: The Classic Aircraft Trust
Current location: Newquay
Available for pleasure flights: No

The latest addition to the Classic Air Force fleet will be no stranger to aviation enthusiasts as it has been on display at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford for nearly forty years.

Vickers Varsity WJ945 was originally built at Hurn Airport (Bournemouth) in late 1952 under contract number ‘6/Acft/5946’. The aircraft made its maiden flight on February 23, 1953 was delivered to 527 Sqn at RAF Watton in Norfolk on March 11, 1953.

She went on to serve with 115 and 116 Sqns at Watton before passing to Central Flying School and serving at RAF Tangmere and Little Rissington. Later in its career it served with the Electronics & Air Engineers School at RAF Topcliffe and 5 FTS at RAF Oakington before finishing her military service with the Central Flying School at RAF Cranwell.

Upon its retirement the aircraft was acquired by Don Selway and Anthony Battersby and on October 27, 1974 she was flown to become part of the fledgling collection of aircraft being formed at Duxford. Two years later, on July 26, 1976 the aircraft was registered as G-BEDV and returned to the skies as an airshow ‘act.’ It was flown for a number of years before it passed to the Duxford Aviation Society and its registration was ultimately cancelled in June 1989.

The Varsity fleet was developed from the Vickers Viking and Valetta civil airliners and first entered RAF service in 1951. The type differed from its civilian cousin in having a tricycle undercarriage as well as a longer fuselage and a greater wingspan.

Originally designed as a bomb aiming and navigation trainer the Varsity had a ventral pannier to allow trainee bomb aimers to lie in a prone position. The aircraft also had a bomb bay that could carry 24 x 25lb smoke & flash bombs.

The prototype first flew from Wisley on July 17, 1949 and the type would carry out a vital role in training multi-engined pilots and navigators for the V-Bomber nuclear deterrent fleet. When IWM Duxford made it known that WJ945 was available for tender the Classic Air Force quickly took the opportunity to secure this important aeroplane for the collection. It was dismantled and transported to Newquay, where it was being reassembled when these words were written in mid-February.