The Caz Caswell Aviation Photographs Title Image
       
 
  "Beverley Album 1 Index         Albums Main Index         Military & Warbirds Index         Beverley Album 2 Index  
  Background to the Albums         Robin A. Walker         Blackburn B-101 Beverley         Squadron & other Service         Mass scrapping         Then 4, 3, 2, 1 & 2 Bits  

Notes for: The Beverley Albums

Background to the Beverley Albums
Those of you that visit this web site on a regular basis know that my favourite aircraft of all time is the LTV A-7 Corsair (followed by F/A-18 Hornet) and that due to circumstances I did not have any good photographs of it in my huge collection (but the day was saved by my good friend Michel van Klaveren ).

Well it is probably a surprise to learn that another of my all time favourites is the Blackburn Beverley. My fellow Aviation Photographers state that I only like ugly aircraft. This is not true, but I do like Aircraft that, even when parked on the ramp, look as though they mean business and both the pugnacious A-7 Corsair and the pug-ugly but workman like Beverley have that quality.

When planning the Beverley Album, I once again found that I had very few good pictures of one of my favourite Aircraft. Fortunately help was at hand, step forward Robin A. Walker, who has given me permission to republish 22 of his excellent Beverley Pictures.

Robin. A. Walker – Whose Photographs form the majority of the Albums
Robin has been in Aviation all his adult life, starting with the Royal Air Force in late 1950’s before a civilian career in the Aviation Insurance business, where he has been handling claims, mainly for the World's Airlines and Aircraft Manufacturers, for the last 40 odd years.

Like so many of us working in the Aviation World, Robin is not just a Professional, but a lifelong Enthusiast and has been photographing aircraft from the early 1960’s. Until the 1990"’s Robin mainly concentrated on Military Subjects, with the occasional picture of a Civilian Registered Aircraft that caught his particular attention. The 1960"’s to the mid-1980’s were a ‘golden age’ for Aviation Photography in Britain, as not only were you able to take pictures ‘over the fence’, but the opportunity to see and capture on film a wide variety of Aircraft Types that were in Service (many of them designed and built in Britain).

As the 1980’s drew to a close and Security became tighter, the military scene became ‘bland’ for Robin. So to quote him, 'I now photograph anything, even gliders and hot air balloons!' Whilst Robin does not spend as much time trekking around the United Kingdom in search of subjects as he used to, the body of work he has accumulated is awesome, and over 5,000 of his mainly Military Aircraft Photographs are on the Air Britain Photographic Images Collection Site for all of us to enjoy.
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The Blackburn B-101 Beverley
The Aircraft that was to become the Beverley was originally designed by General Aircraft Limited, [a relatively small company that built the Hamilcar heavy glider in WW2] as the GAL.60 Universal Freighter.

They built two prototypes, the first with Bristol Hercules engines, flew in 1950 and the second with Bristol Centaurus and designated GAL.65. By this time the type became part of the Blackburn stable and was re-designated B-100, when GAL merged into Blackburn to form Blackburn General Aircraft.

At this stage Blackburn were actively looking at Civil Applications for the now designated B-100 Universal Freighter and proposed a Car Ferry version for Silver City Airways, which they showed in model form at the 1952 SBAC Show. This came to naught, but the Military were very interested and in that same year the Ministry of Supply placed an order for 20 Aircraft to production standard as the Blackburn B-101 Beverley C1 (A follow on order in May 1954 would bring production up to a total of 47).

The roles the RAF expected the Beverley to perform, resulted in an Aircraft that had amazing short/rough field performance for the era, able to deliver men and stores and vehicles into airstrips in the forward combat zone. The unique tail boom passenger cabin with a paratrooper dropping hatch meant that even when in full freighter configuration, the Aircraft could provide a useful personnel transport.

The removable Clamshell rear doors gave the options of either more paratroopers, with those on the main deck, just stepping out the back of the Aircraft, or and most commonly used, the absence of the rear doors made air supply drops of a full payload to forward combat positions relatively easy.

Two vertical fin shaped plates were installed after initial testing, one either side of the main cabin to remedy a serious problem of paratroopers exiting the Tail Boom Hatch being sucked into the Main Compartment if the Clamshell Doors had been removed. These vertical plates soon became universally known as 'Elephant Ears',
Finally the Aircraft could be configured either fully, or tail boom only for Casevac (Casualty Evacuation).

These characteristics meant that Field Aviation of Canadas were sufficiently interested to spend both time and money on a proposal for fitting large tanks into the Cargo Hold to carry fuel to Arctic outposts and soon afterwards worked on another project to enhance the Aircraft, again for supporting remote outposts, neither project came to fruition.

But for the RAF the basic design and special features made the Beverley the ideal workhorse to support Ground Forces fighting the numerous small wars of the 1950’s and 1960’s (withdrawal from Empire, and support for allies). But whilst the Beverley fitted the current needs of the RAF, it did have shortcomings:

The first was range: Empty, the Beverley had a ferry range of 1200nm, but with a payload of 13,154kg/29,00lb, range was not just reduced, but shrivelled to a measly 170nm.

Secondly it was slow: Maximum speed 208kn/283mph/383kmh doesn’t look good, but with a cruise speed of only 150kn/170mph/278kmh you are really slow.

Plus, even as the Beverley was coming into service, a realisation that the age of the piston engine was nearly over and that Transport Aircraft would in future be Turboprop, or Jet powered.

Finally as mentioned Geopolitics was changing and an Aircraft designed for providing the Military logistics for an Empire, even one that was rapidly shrinking would not fit the needs of a post-imperial RAF.

All these factors contributed to the Beverley having a short operational service life, of just over a decade. Exacerbated by the simple fact that the RAF had a Workhorse that met its current needs and as is the fate of most workhorses, worked its Beverley Aircraft ‘to the point of wearing them out’.

But when the Beverley was introduced into service, these limitations were not significant and the Royal Air Force had bases and Commands in Africa, the Middle East and Far East and distances between a suitable Base and the Ground Forces the Beverley was supporting were short.

But by the mid-1960’s Withdrawal from Empire was nearly complete and most of the overseas bases were closed, closing, or handed over to new nations. So the requirement was now for an Aircraft that could carry similar payload to a Beverley, but much faster and over much longer ranges.

What is sad is that Blackburn had realised very early that the Beverley C.Mk1 did not have a long term future and in 1956, just as the Aircraft was going into Squadron Service, drew up a project for the B-107 with Turboprop engines, much faster, much longer range and greater payload. This was revisited in 1959 to become the even more capable B-107A. But as was so often the case in Britain, the RAF had no interest in it, as the current Aircraft was adequate for the current situation.
So instead of a follow-on Beverley, in 1967 the RAF bought its first tranche of Lockheed Hercules.
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Squadron and other Service

Beverley Operators:   47 Sqdn        53 Sqdn        Abindgon Wing        30 Sqdn        84 Sqdn        48/34 Sqdn  

  242 OCU        Blackburn       A&AEE and RAE      32 MU and applying Warpaint  

47 Squadron
The Aircraft entered squadron service on 12th March 1956 with 47 Squadron Royal Air Force at RAF Abingdon. The Squadron’s aircraft served in the UK, Middle East and Germany.

The Squadron was disbanded in October 1967, but this was short lived as it became a Hercules squadron in March the following year and remains so at time of writing in January 2010.

47 Squadron & Beverley Trivia
The following was gleaned from the Beverley Association’s site:
There were 47 Beverley’s built, the first squadron to receive them was numbered 47, and 47 Squadron was raised in Beverley, the city which gave its name to the aircraft.
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53 Squadron
Deliveries to 53 Squadron also at Abingdon followed in February 1957 after relinquishing its Hastings aircraft. In June 1963, the Squadron's Aircraft Fleet and most Squadron's personnel were merged with that of 47 Squadron and the Squadron was formally disbanded.

On 1 November 1965 it was reformed to introduce the Short Belfast into Squadron service and became operational on the type in January 1966. As sole user of the Belfast their fate was tied with that of the Aircraft and on retirement of the type in 1976, the Squadron was again disbanded.
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Abingdon Wing
Once both 47 and 53 Squadrons were fully equipped and operational on the Beverley, they formed the Abingdon Wing, and individual Aircraft were often shared between the Squadrons, rather than being formally allocated. Tasking of regular flights such as the service to RAF Wildenrath, or the weekly service to Aden were also allocated by the Wing and therefore allocated to either Squadron as required.

The practise of shared Aircraft and Tasking continued until 53 Squadron ceased to be a Beverley unit and its Aircraft and most personnel transferred to 47 Squadron (see above).
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30 Squadron
The next squadron to receive the Beverley, 30 Squadron, received its Beverley allocation in April 1957, as a replacement for its Vickers Valetta’s whilst based at RAF Dishforth, but like all the Beverley squadrons spent most of its time based with the overseas commands, moving first to Eastleigh in Kenya in November 1959 (whilst there, one of the Squadrons Aircraft: XL152 flew over Mount Kilimanjaro at 19,340ft, somewhat above the aircraft's normal operating altitude of 16,000ft) and then in September 1964 the Squadron moved to Muharraq in Bahrain, where it remained until it was disbanded in September 1967.

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84 Squadron
Some Squadrons were already based overseas when they received their Beverley Aircraft, one of these being 84 Squadron which was based at RAF Khormaksar, operating the Beverley from May 1958 on short-haul Army support missions.

The Squadron was faced with landing the large Beverley on very dangerous (and dusty) airstrips, where an overshoot would mean coming face to face with a large hill. The Squadron gave up its Beverley’s in September 1967, when they converted to the Andover at Sharjah, with aircraft being ferried back to the UK for disposal.

84 Squadron was also well known for its playing card suit markings on the tails of its Aircraft, and a Scorpion on the nose. These markings are still applied to Squadron Aircraft today, currently on Griffin helicopters used in the SAR [Search & Rescue] role.
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48/34 Squadron
With the RAF Far East Air Force in Singapore was 48 Squadron, which flew a mixed fleet of Aircraft including a Beverley Flight from their base at RAF Changi. But on the 1st October 1960 the Beverley flight was given full Squadron Status, becoming 34 Squadron and reforming at RAF Seletar, finally disbanding there in January 1968 and, has at time of writing never been re-activated.

This has lead to the confused situation, that one of the longest users of the Beverley apparently only had them for 7 Years, until the end of 1967, when in fact they had been operating them for a decade!


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242 Operational Conversion Unit
One other RAF Unit operated the Beverley, this being 242 Operational Conversion Unit which provided Aircrew training for the Operational Squadrons and was based initially at RAF Dishforth, receiving its Beverley Flight in 1957, and later to RAF Thorney Island in 1961, having normally only two, or three Aircraft on strength. When 242 moved to Thorney Island it caused the nearby old Admirals and Generals to complain about flying at night due to the noise.

The 242 OCU Beverley flight was disbanded in March 1967 as the Hercules Flight began working up.

242 Trivia
An amusing item on the Beverley Association’s site was that once there was a mistake made in the embroidery of an order for 242 OCU Badges, which resulted in a batch bearing the title: ‘242 Operational Conversation Unit’.

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Blackburn Trials and Demonstrations
The first two Aircraft off the Production line in early 1955 were initially retained by Blackburn for Manufacturers Trials and to allow for the testing of any Modifications for subsequent Aircraft. Given the serials XB259 and XB260, an later that year they were also allocated Civilian Marks as G-AOAI and G-AOEK, as Blackburn still had hopes of civilian sales.

Whilst XB259/G-AOAI never used its civilian identity, XB260 as G-AOEK was granted a special, short term Certificate of Airworthiness for a joint Hunting Clan/Blackburn charter operation in the Arabian Desert, transporting oil drilling and support equipment for the Iraq Oil Company. The legend , 'Try your strength Blackburn Beverley' was painted in Arabic above the pilots door, and was retained when the Aircraft reverted to being XB260 and undertook Cold Weather Trials in Canada (where it was examined by Field Aviation).

Blackburn relinquished both Aircraft after the Manufacturer Testing and the Demonstration Flight Tour were complete. XB259 going to the Royal Aeronautical Establishment and XB260 to 48 Squadron Beverley Flight. which in 1960 became 34 Squadron

All Beverley's returned to Blackburn's for Modifications during their operational careers and occasionally an Aircraft temporarily repaired by a Squadron, or Maintenace Unit after a crash would be ferried to Blackburn's permanent repair and overhaul.

Notes on Certification of the B-100/B-101:
The second prototype GAL65/B-100 serial WF320 was Registered by the Ministry of Supply as G-AMVW and actually received full CoA. Which it never used. The CoA issued to G-AOEK was limited to four months.

Fast forward to the early 1970's when a serious attempt is made to restore XB259 (G-AOAI) to the British Register, but this time negotiations for a full CoA are protracted and due to other circumstances the project ends:
More on this in the XB259 Section of Then 4, 3, 2, 1 & 2 Bits

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A&AEE and RAE
Aircraft 3 and 4 off the Beverley production line were immediately allocated to the Aeroplane & Armament, Experimental Establishment [A&AEE]. The first of these being XB261, which remained as part of the A&AEE fleet from its delivery until retired on the 6th October 1971.
More on this in the XB 261 Section of Then 4, 3, 2, 1 & 2 Bits

The second Aircraft XB262 was used for the A&AEE tropical trials in Libya and then off to do Cold Weather trials in Canada (where Field Aviation got their second close up look at a Beverley), further trials followed including another trip to Canada, and various periods with Blackburn for Modifications.

Once all the trials were complete the A&AEE finally relinquished the Aircraft for Operational use and was delivered on the 5th June 1959 to 48 Squadron Beverley Flight at Seletar which became 34 Squadron in October 1960.

XB266, the eighth production Aircraft was delivered to A&AEE in November 1955 and was used for further Tropical Trials in Libya, but its time with them was brief as in July 1956 it joined 84 Squadron and later served with 30 Squadron.

In 1959 47 Squadron's XB284 spent time with Blackburn's for Modifications and once these completed the Aircraft was loaned to A&AEE, but returned to Squadron service in February 1960. But this Aircraft was to return to A&AEE in 1962 to investigate a problem with Parachute Extractor Hang-ups which had been deemed responsible for an Accident with XB289. Once testing complete, the Aircraft when to Hawarden for Modification before returning to 47 Squadron.

Other Beverley's known to have passed through A&AEE are:
XB285 for Modification and XM11, use unknown.

The second research establishment to receive a Beverley was the Royal Aeronautical Establishment (RAE) at Farnborough. Which received Beverley XB259 after it was relinquished by Blackburn and like some of the other Aircraft that joined the RAE Fleet, it became the last airworthy example of its type and was retained for 20 years before being sold to Court Line More on this in the XB259 Section of Then 4, 3, 2, 1 & 2 Bits

The RAE also briefly had on charge XL150 from the second production batch, but this was released for general service and went on to serve with 47 Squadron.

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32 MU and applying Warpaint
Most Beverley Aircraft spent their operational careers with a simple Blue and White Livery applied only to the top of the Fuselage (paint = weight, weight reduces range and payload).

Initially many Aircraft with 47, 53 Squadrons, or as of 1958 in the shared Abingdon Wing Fleet also had Dayglo Bands on the outer wings and rear fuselage just before the tailplane. But these were gradually removed.

But in early 1965 Beverley’s from Squadrons in the Middle East were being flown back to either 32 Maintenance Unit at St Athan in Wales, or in at least once case to Hong Kong for a full refurbishment and in some cases to receive a camouflage scheme of brown and sand with black under surfaces.

For those scheduled to be camouflaged, it was originally it was intended to fully camouflage the entire upper surface, but the heat build-up in the cockpit area during overseas operations made it intolerable for the crew, so the cockpit roof remained white in order to reflect the sun's heat away. Nine Aircraft are known to have been camouflaged:
XH119, XH122 (Hong Kong), XH124, XM103, XM106, XM107, XM108, XM109 and XM111.

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Mass scrapping...
During 1967 the Beverly was rapidly removed from operational service with many being flown to 27 Maintenance Unit (MU)at Shawbury for scrapping. Which is ironic as most of them had been originally delivered to 27 MU direct from Blackburn as this Unit acted as the distribution centre for allocating Aircraft to Operational squadrons.

Other Aircraft were flown to 71 MU at RAF Bicester to await the scrap man.

In the Far East, the 34 Squadron Aircraft were scrapped at their base at RAF Seletar.

The rapid withdrawal of the Beverley from service was both a reflection of the speed with which the Hercules C1 was entering service and the fact the Beverley's were 'tired' as both the Middle East (especially) and Far East Operations had been harsh operating environments.

Of the 45 Aircraft that served operationally with the RAF, only two escaped being scrapped:
XH124 and XL149 . Their fate is covered in Then 4, 3, 2, 1 & 2 Bits

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Then there were Four, then three, down to two; more like One & 2 bits
By late 1968 there were only 4 Beverley Aircraft that had escaped destruction. This section covers each in the order of their eventual demise, leaving in January 2010 only one complete Aircraft, the very first off the production line and the cockpit sections of two others.

XL149 - Cockpit Section   XH124 - Scrapped by RAF Museum   XB261 - Cockpit Section   XB259 - The one that wouldn't Die

XL149
The first aircraft designated for preservation and became an exhibit at the RAF Finningly Aircraft Museum, on its retirement from 84 Squadron in 1967. In remained on display until it was broken up in March 1977 to make way for the Royal Review!

The Cockpit Section then passed the Newark Air Museum, and was there until it was moved to AeroVenture in Doncaster in June 2005, where it still resides, albeit, in hiding…

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XH124
The ninth Aircraft from the second production batch, XH124 was flown in to RAF Hendon on June 19, 1968 to be an exhibit in the 'soon to be' RAF Museum. But it never moved into the Main Building, instead becoming a highly visible 'Gate Guardian'.

Although the most visible symbol that the Museum had arrived, the Aircraft was exposed to elements and therefore required ongoing 'care and attention' if corrosion and general dilapidation were not to take hold.

This 'care and attention' was not given and to the shame of all those who responsible, XH124 was allowed to deteriorate to a state where scrapping was deemed the only option and the Aircraft was 'hacked to pieces' in 1989!

So a National Museum, responsible for preserving the heritage of the RAF and this Country's unique aviation history for future generations to see, destroyed what had become the iconic symbol of its own existence!

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XB261
When it was retired from service with the A&AEE, XB261 was flown to Southend on October 6th 1971, to become an exhibit with Historic Aircraft Museum in Southend.

Unfortunately as with so many British Aviation Museums, the one in Southend was underfunded and was unable to survive. When the Museum finally failed in 1989, several aircraft were found new homes, but XB261 was broken up on site.

The Cockpit Section was preserved and initially went went to the Imperial War Museum (IWM) at Duxford, but they had no use for it, and it subsequently went to the Newark Air Museum in 2004. It probably displaced the Cockpit Section from XL149 as it was in far better condition of the two.

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XB259 - The one that wouldn't Die
First Production Aircraft, first Flight of a Production Aircraft, Aircraft that served the longest with a single operator: RAE. One of only two that never saw RAF Operational service. Performed the last ever flight by a Beverley, and in 2010 is the only complete example of its type in existence.

Initially retained by Blackburn as XB259/G-AOAI and then passed to Royal Aeronautical Establishment, where it remained for 20 years, XB259 was finally retired from Government Service and sold to Court Line and was ferried in its RAE Colours to their Luton Airport base on the 14th March 1973.

Court Line Planned to restore the Aircraft to the British Register and obtain a full Certificate of Airworthiness from the CAA. This would then allow them to use the Aircraft to transport Rolls Royce RB211 engines around Europe in support of its L1011 Tristar operation.

Whilst in concept an excellent idea (and one successfully used by TWA with a Fairchild Packet), getting the Aircraft certified became an extremely protracted process and with Court Line having financial difficulties, they gradually lost interest. The only fortunate side effect of this situation was that Court Line's plan to repaint the Aircraft the same Pink scheme as used on one of its Tristars was never implemented (no Beverley should wear Pink).

Having decided that the Beverley project has become a 'Pink Elephant' Court Line sold the Aircraft to North County Breweries, and with a special waiver made the last ever Beverley Flight on the 30th March 1974, when the Aircraft was ferried from Luton to Paull Airfield, Hull.

North County Breweries plan was that the Aircraft would be a 'star attraction' and at the same time would provide a clubhouse for Hull Aero Club. Whilst this was perhaps not the ideal use of the Aircraft, North Counties Breweries were adept as turning the unusual into licensed premises.

But in 1983 the decision was made to close Paull Airfield, thus making the Hull Aero Club homeless (they moved to Brough and are now resident, ironically at Beverley Airfield), but the Beverley didn't move with them and when Paull closed in the Summer of 1983 the Beverley was an unwanted tenant requiring eviction. Therefore XB258 was advertised for sale, suitable for Scrapping!

Enter Mr. Daly of the Waterfront Hotel, Hull, who saved the aircraft from its imminent fate. Following his purchase, the Aircraft was moved by road to the Museum of Army Transport at Beverley, East Yorkshire. But despite its name this was not a Nationally funded Museum and finances were always tight.

In 1997 the Museum was in desperate straits and closure was almost certain, but at the last minute a new sponsor was found. So once again the Beverley was saved, but by now it had spent nearly a quarter of a century without seeing the inside of a Hangar and was beginning to look her age and urgent protection against the elements. But the museum was not in a position to take immediate action.

But in 2001 funds were made available and it was decided to repaint the Aircraft in a wraparound Camouflage scheme with black under surfaces, but no Squadron Markings as it had never seen Squadron Service. For a privately run Museum this was a major project and the work was carried out over 15 Days.

However by the summer of 2003, the Museum was in extreme financial trouble and this time there was no last minute rescue. Whilst many of the Vehicles exhibits were easily sold on, a very large Transport Aircraft is not! So once again the future of XB259 hung in the balance with the Aircraft being put up for sale by Tender.

The Beverley was eventually purchased by the owners of Fort Paull, a preserved coastal artillery Fort located at Paull near Hull. But they now had a major Logistical problem of how to move their new purchase back to Fort Paull from Beverley, quickly. Whilst using the services of an RAF Chinook with the Beverley as an underslung load was seriously considered, the costs prohibited this. So partially dismantled XB259 took effectively the reverse of the journey it had made 20 Years previously except not back to Paull Airfield but to the Coastal Fort.

On arrival Fort Paull a large crane was used to lift large parts of the airframe over the Fort’s walls and once successfully inside the Aircraft was reassembled.

So in 2010 the one remaining Beverley sits proudly inside a Fort. Whilst both the RAF and the National RAF Museum both failed to look after the Aircraft designed to be preserved in their care, XB259 through a series of 'failed dreams', 'lucky escapes and 'white knights' is still with us and long may she remain so.

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Notes by: Caz Caswell and Douglas Holland
Sources:
Books: Blackburn Aircraft Since 1909 by A.J.Jackson Revised 2nd Edition - Putnam 1988 and 'Aviation News Mini-Monograph' on the Blackburn Beverley by Chris Hobson, & published by Alan W. Hall [Publications] Ltd - An Aviation News Production - 1988
Also the 'Aircraft of the World' by International Masters Publishers [group 4 #46] this wonderful weekly supplement was through mail order, but was cancelled 2/3rd the way through.
Internet: Various, but mainly Wikipedia and the Blackburn Beverley Association site,

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