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Vickers VC-7 and V-1000

alertken

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ML: 1. BoE: actually the Export Credits Guarantee Department (of whatever the Ministry of Trade was called that week). Same as US Ex-Im Bank.

V.1000 State funding ran from 2/10/52-11/11/55: Conway funding continued as candidate for Mk.2 V-Bombers; Vickers requested Launch Aid for VC7. The Minister's Memoirs have: "BOAC did not want it." Weight. Even the Putnam hagiography has (P.566, BOAC to GRE, 26/8/54): "rather disappointing".

Remember what else UK was trying to do, then. IRBM, supersonic bomber, H-Bomb, build a Medium Bomber Force of some hundreds.

V-A could have pressed on with No.1 prototype on own account: they did not for 2 reasons: RR was not on board for risk development, because (to be) 707-400 and DC-8/40 were mooted; and a clean wing by now seemed right. They explored a 707 licence, then invented VC10.
 
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CNH

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The RAF turned against it too.

I remember reading a PRO file years ago. One of the traditions when as aircraft was cancelled was to write a history of the project. The RAF obviously thought it was going to be too heavy with too small a payload.
 

Schneiderman

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The current issue of The Aviation Historian, issue 14, includes an article, The Blame Game, by Prof. Keith Hayward FRAeS, in which he reviews the history of the V-1000 and VC-7 programme. This is heavily referenced, in the style of an academic paper, and focusses on the aftermath of the decision to cancel the programme; the political aspects of the announcement and later technical appraisals of the aircraft. On the whole Hayward's assessment supports that of JFC Fuller and alertken in this thread.
 

Hood

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I've not seen the Hayward article, but it sounds like reasonably fair conclusions from what I have researched for articles of my own on the subject.

I think the VC7 can be put to bed fairly easily. BOAC never had interest or faith in the VC.7 version of the V.1000 at any stage, other than initial selection meet with Controller Aircraft, Air Chief Marshal Sir John Baker in late-1951. The meeting agreed that commonality between civil and military requirements would be the major economical factor and the recommendation was that the Air Ministry should prepare their Operational Requirement in cooperation with BOAC and that the Vickers design should be selected. Even at this stage the inadequate thrust and poor take-off distances were already noted, and indeed many of the competing designs also suffered from the same fault. Within weeks BOAC became unsure of their future long-range aircraft policy and VCAS, Air Chief Marshal Cochrane, fearing an early stall in the procurement process pressed ahead with the Operational Requirement regardless. By July 1952 BOAC had ordered ten Comet 3s and from then on it never really looked at the VC.7 again. The MoS refused permission for Vickers to release brochures on the V.1003 export version until 30 April 1954, despite frequent requests for information from PanAm and TCA since the end of 1953. I conclude from this that the military requirements took precedence over any commercial version. Vickers may have kept the VC.7 simmering with new versions and podded-engine versions until November 1955, but it was flogging a desperate dead horse.

As I have not read Hayward's article, I do not know what he makes of reason of cancellation for financial reasons, as has been stated in this thread. That claim is a fiction, the sole reason for the cancellation was the take-off issue, officially the Operational Requirement (OR.315) was not met. It must be remembered that the Operational Requirement was drawn up from January 1952 and issued that August, that is several months after the original Vickers 716 design had been selected and the MoS Specification C.132D was issued on 8 December 1952. There was much communication between the Air Ministry and the MoS as to how much to blame Vickers was for failing to meet the take-off requirements. Baker at one point stated "we cannot assert categorically that we are right and the firm is wrong.” Baker pointed out that a concession to 3,000yd had been offered by the Air Ministry in May 1951 but had been inexplicably omitted when OR.315 had been written and the Air Ministry had refused to accept thrust augmentation despite an agreement included in Specification C.132D that all parties would agree on the method to be used if it became necessary.

As to the tropical take-off requirement, it was stated as 45C at sea level. Although stated as tropical in the documentation, the temperature was in fact the maximum temperature laid down in A.P.970 Chapter 105. Rather hotter than most actual tropical conditions.

In his memoirs Reginald Maudling, Minister for Supply, recorded the cancellation had been for economic reasons, but in correspondence at the time both Maudling agreed when the public announcement was made the justification would be that the delivery had slipped back unacceptably as it would be undeniable by Vickers and would, “carry conviction to the general public.” The MoS also felt this would shield Vickers' reputation as it hid any technical reasons for failure. MoS also attempted to imply the strategic needs of Transport Command had changed, although the Air Ministry accepted this privately, it refused to accept this being used as a public reason for cancellation and felt it was a distraction tactic. The initial news item in the Times clearly makes no mention to financial matters or costs.
In subsequent deliberations with the Legal section and the Treasury Solicitor, no blame could be pinned onto Vickers sufficiently to claim damages from the firm. The Treasury Solicitor in March 1956 argued Vickers could not be held liable for failure to meet the specification requirements because it had been stated that, given time, there was no reason why the specification could not have been met. The delayed delivery also proved hard to pin down as the prototype contract stipulated delivery was to be made as soon as possible and no production aircraft delivery programme had been agreed so Vickers hadn't breached the contract on delivery. The MoS accepted liability and paid out its payments to Vickers.
 

Hood

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Internal cabin diagrams of the contenders drawn up for the MoS Working Party in late 1951, for what would become OR.315.
From AVIA 65/306

Avro 718
DH Comet (no designation known)
Handley Page H.P.76
Shorts Transport (based on Sperrin, no designation known)
Vickers Type 716
 

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Schneiderman

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Yes, Hayward makes much the same points as your do. Hardly surprising as he bases his analysis largely on the National Archive sources too.
Failure to meet specification was indeed the primary reason for cancellation although a woolly-worded OR most certainly contributed to this problem.
 

MaxLegroom

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It wouldn't be the first time that a badly written OR had played havoc with the design of a British aircraft, nor, considering the story of the Trident, to cite an example, would it be the last.

I still think that this plane had the possibility of resetting the order of things in commercial aviation. If they could have kept to any sort of schedule, it would have been the first turbofan airliner to enter service, from a company that was having success with export sales. By how long would have been a matter of whether Rolls-Royce could meet Vickers' demands and had capacity to sell to Boeing and Douglas. Keep in mind that the first Pratt and Whitney turbofan powered airliners weren't entering service until 1961 or 1962. However, it would have required a far different set of circumstances, and perhaps far different people, than what existed. Perhaps it would literally have taken the sort of people and political circumstances that existed in America being transplanted in Britain for this to have worked. At the very least, it would have taken at least one person willing to take a gamble.

Not all aircraft that deserve to be built were. That's part of the fun of this forum. Not all aircraft that were built deserved it. Enamored as I am of Convair's jetliners, Convair itself might have been better off had it not built the 880 and 990. Their losses on the program were horrifying. Perhaps recognition of similar realities stopped Lockheed from proceeding with the L193. But where was it preordained that the future of commercial aviation was to be led by a company that tended to build airliners off the wings of its bombers?
 

Schneiderman

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Largely wishful thinking I'm afraid, commercial reality suggests otherwise. The VC7 had no clear advantage over the incoming Boeing designs other than the engines, and engines alone don't make a convincing case. At the time the project was cancelled Vickers had orders for just 6 V1000 with a maximum possible of 12. On the other had Boeing had built coming up on 1000 B47, the B52 had entered service, the Dash 80 had flown (and barrel rolled) and its derivatives were now rolling through the production lines. That track record with large, swept wing jets, would have counted for a lot in the eyes of potential customers. Without a definite technical advantage, significantly lower purchase and running costs, and competitive delivery schedules its hard to see how they would have attracted orders.
 

Hood

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The whole origins of the V.1000 was about face, the MoS working party had chosen the final design before the OR or MoS Spec had even been thought about in detail. In hindsight, it would have been better in 1954 when civil interest was clearly lacking to have either removed all civil elements from the design (Vickers only began to advise this as a weight-saving solution a few months before cancellation) or to have scrapped the whole idea and stick with Comets. The truth is there simply wasn't resources to build a civil jet and a strategic jet transport at that time and combining both was not technically practical to meet both needs.

The Boeing 707 was superior in performance. In early 1955 the Chief Executive Officer of BOAC, Witney Straight, had obtained data from the MoS showing the Boeing 707 would cruise 40kts faster and carry 5,000lb more payload than the VC.7. DCAS Air Marshall Pike was asked to do an analysis, he found clearly the 707’s superior speed was due to its thinner wing with increased sweep. The V.1000s lower payload was due to the limiting strength of the wing. The CA, Baker, felt the VC.7 either needed a stronger wing or a smaller fuselage; it was knock-on effects from trying to adapt the V.1000 to carry a commercially viable payload on the transatlantic route (12,000lb non-stop). previous analysis had shownt the VC.7 was only profitable on transatlantic routes. At that time the MoS felt it had a winner still because the 707 couldn't not operate non-stop, and wouldn't unless Boeing could use the Conway, a prospect the MoS at that time thought unlikely. Vickers had argued the buried engine was aerodynamically superior to podded engines, but the 707's performance using the same engines discredited this argument and the Air Ministry began to worry it had been a poor design choice.

To be fair to BOAC, when they selected the Vickers in 1952 they hadn't really a clue what they wanted and had only just begun operational trials of the Comet. Operational experience was sparse, they even thought civil jets might need parachute-assisted landings due to short runways. They stuck with Comet in 1952 because it was available and they knew it worked. No-one in 1951/52 had any real idea of the potential jet market when most were sticking firmly to pistons and turboprops. BOAC backed the Britannia instead then went for the better 707.
 

JFC Fuller

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Hood said:
The truth is there simply wasn't resources to build a civil jet and a strategic jet transport at that time and combining both was not technically practical to meet both needs.

The second half of this is definitely true, the two requirements were divergent.
 

Schneiderman

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There's an interesting article in the 23rd Feb 1950 edition of Flight by Stanley Evans FRAeS AFiAeS (ex-Gloster and others). in which he states:
"We stated our own personal credo that designers of civil jets need to get clear away from the military-missile school of design. It seems obvious to us that the designers of the Comet have escaped the military handcuffs and used astute judgment in keeping well clear of the higher machinations of Dr. Mach, as characterized by the fully sweptback, high aspect ratio, razor-blade wing, exemplified in the Boeing B-47 and other recent military jets. We have also gone on
record as suggesting that the peduncular power-plant is retrogressive aerodynamic design and, in our view, only a passing fashion cycle bred under Hitlerian duress."
Easy to be wise after the event but I wonder how many British designers shared this view of podded engines at the time
 

CJGibson

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I have studiously avoided any of the published accounts of V.1000, no disrespect to the various authors, although I did supply drawings for the Hayward article, which I haven't seen. I have however, worked through many of the V.1000/C.132 files from Kew. What struck me was the apparent non-feasibility of the take-off performance, which some wag described as fighter performance from a transport operating from fighter bases.

Attached is an interesting graph that I knocked up from weight figures gleaned from the various correspondence. Note how much heavier the civil version would have been. All that silverware and crockery no doubt.

Chris
 

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Schneiderman

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Imperial Airways outline specifications used to include numbers and weights for all cutlery, crockery and so on, right down to sugar tongs. A half bottle of champagne weighed 2lb 7oz, apparently.
 

Schneiderman

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A good review of the Boeing progress towards the 707 in post #7 here

http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,3486.0.html
 

Schneiderman

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JFC Fuller said:
Stuck on the Drawing Board makes reference to late Vickers consideration of podded engines for the V.1000, I have never seen any evidence about either how far they got or how serious about it they were though.
That is also mention in the Vickers Putnam volume. In this it states that there were six schemes considered during Sept and Oct 1955. Five of these had twin-engine pods under the wings and the sixth had single pods, similar to the Boeing 707. Presumably the source of this information is held in the Vickers archives in Brooklands
 

hesham

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From Klassiker der Luftfahrt 2011-08.
 

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Triton

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Minister of Defense Lord Alexander examines the model V.1000, 1953

Source:
http://alternathistory.com/upushchennaya-vozmognost-proekt-passazhirskogo-samoleta-vickers-v1000-velikobritaniya
 

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Triton

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Model of VC7 in civilian colors. The 150-seat aircraft was designed to fly at a speed of about 500 mph (804.5 km / h)
 

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Triton

Donald McKelvy
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On the left is a model of a slender V.1000 at the show of the British aircraft designers in Farnborough; right, George Edwards (right), who said at the time: "The decision to cancel V.1000 means that we have thrown this very important market to the Americans without a fight, and we will regret this national decision for many years"

Source:
http://alternathistory.com/upushchennaya-vozmognost-proekt-passazhirskogo-samoleta-vickers-v1000-velikobritaniya
 

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alertken

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Regret.

V.1000 was cancelled 29/11/55, prototype 80% complete, cancellation charges to us: £4Mn. 6 were on order as RAF transports for elite tasks (some Hastings about to be replaced by 20 Britannia); an RCM variant (=ELINT) was anticipated. They were all replaced by 10 Comet C.2/T.2 and 3 R.2, which were capital-free, BOAC-rejected. No grounds for complaint there, GRE. So....VC7 pitched to BOAC, who declined.

So were DH schemes (Comet 5, D.H.118), which were funded to 2/57 by an MoS Study Contract, £10Mn., like GRE had enjoyed a V.1000 R&D contract. It was open to V-A to buy access to MoS' Intellectual (and physical) Property in the cancelled V.1000 - say a Reversal of the normal Launch Aid Sales Levy. If this was a blunder, a missed market, then GRE should go to Vickers Ltd for PV funds...
and exactly then he did, for Vanguard. That, he perceived, had real sales potential. Just like DC-8 and 707 did.
 

Motocar

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Next drawing cutaway to retouch to join their parts ...!
 

Motocar

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Ready

Cutaway Vickers-Armstrongs V.1000, retouched by Motocar
 

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Archibald

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With Conways buried inside a cleaner wing, that aircraft could have beaten DC-8s and 707s into a pulp. No need for Gander stopover, for a start.
geez, what might have been... no proceeding with it was one of the dumbest decision in aviation history. Plus looking at the model, it would have been a stunningly beautiful aircraft.
 

blackkite

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Aviation Historian 14
"LEFT A provisional drawing by CHRIS GIBSON of an initial Valiant-based low-wing study for Vickers’ Type 716, based on documents in The National Archives. By the end of 1952 the firm had dispensed with the Valiant elements and was working on the V.1000, the military version of which, with dorsal spine, is seen RIGHT."

 

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kaiserd

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No it wouldn’t have, even if it had overcome it’s never ending weight growth issue.
Classic example of a “halo effect” for a cancelled aircraft that never had to face reality (apart from when it was cancelled).
 

Hood

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Not to mention BOAC was totally disinterested in the VC.7 version.
Basically the RAF wanted a jet transport to support overseas deployments of V-bombers and quicker movement of cargo and men to the Far East and wanted BOAC to share to spread the R&D costs over more airframes.
Yes the weight was an issue, but was blown out of proportion and in fact stemmed from several blunders in the specification drawn up by the MoS. That was neatly hidden when Maudling stepped up in Parliament can claimed the cancellation was due to lack of money, while the civil servants disingenuously pretended the lack of public mention of the specification errors was to spare the industry from any overseas sales harm, hence Edwards rather public comments about losing the Transatlantic market.
 

Archibald

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Not to mention BOAC was totally disinterested in the VC.7 version.
Basically the RAF wanted a jet transport to support overseas deployments of V-bombers and quicker movement of cargo and men to the Far East and wanted BOAC to share to spread the R&D costs over more airframes.
Yes the weight was an issue, but was blown out of proportion and in fact stemmed from several blunders in the specification drawn up by the MoS. That was neatly hidden when Maudling stepped up in Parliament can claimed the cancellation was due to lack of money, while the civil servants disingenuously pretended the lack of public mention of the specification errors was to spare the industry from any overseas sales harm, hence Edwards rather public comments about losing the Transatlantic market.

The classic bureaucratic idiocy / B.S that led to great britain aircraft industry agonizing and vanishing...
 

kaiserd

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Not to mention BOAC was totally disinterested in the VC.7 version.
Basically the RAF wanted a jet transport to support overseas deployments of V-bombers and quicker movement of cargo and men to the Far East and wanted BOAC to share to spread the R&D costs over more airframes.
Yes the weight was an issue, but was blown out of proportion and in fact stemmed from several blunders in the specification drawn up by the MoS. That was neatly hidden when Maudling stepped up in Parliament can claimed the cancellation was due to lack of money, while the civil servants disingenuously pretended the lack of public mention of the specification errors was to spare the industry from any overseas sales harm, hence Edwards rather public comments about losing the Transatlantic market.

The classic bureaucratic idiocy / B.S that led to great britain aircraft industry agonizing and vanishing...

I’d recommend Chris Gibson’s “On Atlas’ Shoulders” for it’s neat summary of the V.1000 story.
The blunt truth is that (apart from its engines) it wasn’t as advance as the B707 and DC8 (as acknowledged by various minutes from the time specifying need for research etc to try to catch up with US industry).
The V.1000 was an aircraft designed to (probably over-ambitious) military transport requirements, those requirements didn’t change or were relaxed, but the V.1000 got heavier and heavier needing more and more power. This made a marginal civil version into an absurdity, and the military version marginal.
But there was never a 707-beater there to be had; that situation had it’s roots back in the Comet debacle or before.
 

Hood

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I’d recommend Chris Gibson’s “On Atlas’ Shoulders” for it’s neat summary of the V.1000 story.

I would also recommend my article The Genesis of the V.1000 in Air-Britain Aeromilitaria, March 2015. This deals more with the design studies and the specifications but does address the cancellation
Also, Professor Keith Haywards's article The Blame Game, Vickers V.1000: The Ultimate Political Football, in Aviation Historian, No.14, January 2016. This is a brief but nicely balanced account (some good pictures too of the prototype).

And let's be clear, the V.1000 was the best of a rather dubious bunch of designs and the design drivers were military and not civilian requirements.
 

hesham

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From Aeroplane 2008/5.
 

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