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50 years ago...Abingdon waves farewell to the Blackburn Beverley

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    Many thanks for the gorgeous pictures guys,I remember the Bevs at Bicester,always a sad sight to see a/c awaiting the axe .


      From my copy of 'There I was at 20000 feet'......a description of the Beverley...

      Once upon a time a famous aircraft designer saw a dutch barn blow past in a gale. At that point the basic idea of a Beverley was born.
      The original design of the machine was intended to fulfil single seat fighter specifications but as it was found that full power was required to taxy the aircraft forward at a slow walking pace, another engine was added. The resulting increase in all up weight necessitated two more engines to enable it to move at all.
      By this time the general dimensions had increased more than somewhat and work was delayed for several days at a time while the aircraft was utilized by the airport manager as a spare hangar for visiting aircraft.
      This state of affairs continued for so long that by the time the prototype was ready for flight all other types of aircraft were jet powered. This rather embarrassed the designer who, not wishing to appear behind the times therefore had the propellors placed much higher than originally intended in the hope they would not be noticed. The production manager raised the roof of the Hangar to accommodate, this enabled raising the mainplane and fuselage sides which accounts for the immense height of the machine.
      As no adequate runway was available the undercarriage was adapted to take locomotive wheels and its first take off was from both tracks of the Brough-Hull railway. It became airborne at the time it reached Beverley- hence the name. A conversion kit was avialable for this purpose. When the aircraft is in this role the flight deck is referred to as the drivers cab, and VHF radio should be re-chrystallized to include frequencies of the Crewe signal box and head office of the NUM,
      Spinning the aircraft is not recommended as the torque reaction involved causes the earth to rotate in the opposite direction to the spin to the accompaniment of terse notes from the Royal Observatory.
      The aircraft is very versatile and employed in many roles particulary those that do not include flying or movement of any kind. It is very amendable to modification: for example wind tunnel test show that the wings could be placed at the bottom and the wheels at the top and would cause no appreciable drop in performance.
      All in all the Beverley is an ideal aircraft for the civilian enthusiast, with a million pounds, private oil well and a complete and utter abhorrence of flying.
      Hertfordshire Airfields Memorial Group

      Hunsdon, Sawbridgeworth and Matching Green airfields..


        Made me smile, Denis.

        I guess the 'private oil well' is a reference to the sleeve-valved Centaurus engines which were known to suffer more than average oil loss. Some would joke they were oil fired and petrol cooled!

        On another occasion of being a 'jollyrider' in August 1967 this became apparent. The flight was a training sortie from Abingdon to Stornoway, 112 Signals Unit was located there and fresh fruit and vegetables was the load on the way up, this was replaced with fish for the return trip. The fish were packed into a wooden crate which was filled with ice cubes and looked lost in the huge hold.

        On the outward bound journey the flight engineer became concerned regarding number 3 engine and wanted a closer look when the aeroplane landed. The only way this could be achieved was to borrow the wooden ladder from the airfield Land Rover fire and rescue vehicle, prop it up against the leading edge and climb up. Satisfied it was safe the aircraft departed for Abingdon.

        En-route the problem worsened such that there was a significant risk of fire and the crew made an emergency landing at Lossiemouth, at the time a RNAS base for Buccaneers.

        Having drawn out bedding from stores in anticipation of an overnight stay we then found out that Andover XS609 doing 'bumps and circuits' at Abingdon had been diverted to Scotland to bring everyone back!


          Heresy Denis! But a nice legend.

          I confirm the oil story. On a planned trip to Orland in Norway, in 1961, just before the Farnborough one I referred to in my post above, we set off with Flt Lt Lambert in XB284.We didn't even get as far as our first scheduled stop, at Leuchars, due to another episode of Beverleyitis. So back to Abingdon. We finally got to Leuchars late in the same day and next day we did Leuchars-Orland-Abingdon for a total of 12 hours 10 minutes for the two days!

          My ears are indeed still ringing.


            In your earlier post, Laurence, you mentioned about the mock battle at Farnborough in 1961.

            A few years later, a similar mock assault was staged as part of the RAF 50th anniversary airshow and Royal Review held at RAF Abingdon in 1968.

            By this time there were only 3 airworthy Beverleys - XB259, XB261 and XH124 - the latter being part of the static park. The Hercules had now taken over responsibility for heavy transport duties.

            A Hercules delivered the troops and equipment into this 'battle zone;' air cover was provided by Hunter FGA.9s. As part of this set-piece another Hercules carried out a ULLA (ultra low level air) delivery.

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              I seem to my father referring to the Beverly a 'Block of Flats'
              Now officially a 'Senior Citizen'


                Great Machine, great times.
                My longest trip was in 1964, 96 hours in 30 days.
                RAF Seletar - RAAF Butterworth - return to Butterworth with oil leak - Cocos Islands - RAAF Pearce - RAAF Edinburgh Field - RAAF Richmond - RNZAF Ohakea - Christchurch - RNZAF Ohakea - Roturua - Auckland - RAAF Richmond - Kalgoorlie - RAAF Pearce - Cocos Islands - Seletar.

                Other notables, clamber to 17,000 feet to have a closer look at Mt. Everest en-route Kathmandhu - Calcutta.
                Hong Kong, Thailand, Borneo, Viet Nam.

                On this cold snowy day if you want to read more go to:
                " I'm not young enough to know everything." - J M Barrie 1903


                  Quote "On this cold snowy day if you want to read more go to: "
                  Wow what a great RAF career you had Peter, a very good read, have you posted it up as a separate thread before? if not I think you should
                  Wide open & turning left


                    ULLA was developed using the Beverley as a development of the GPE (ground proximity extraction) system which was similar to ULLA but didn't use any parachutes. Instead of parachutes an arrestor hook caught a cable on the ground which pulled the load out. The Beverley must have been the largest aircraft fitted with an arrestor hook. I'll have a look for the photos I have.


                      Look forward to seeing your photos, aeronut 2008.

                      Presumably ULLA was a system developed by JATE (Joint Air Transport Establishment) who were based at RAF Abingdon at the time.


                        No, airdrop systems were developed / tested / made safe enough for the military by the Civil Servants at RAE and the A&AEE before JATE and the military were let loose on them.


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                          One had to be careful when flying with the clamshell doors off in case small items fell out.
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                          The photographer was safe its a lot further away than it looks
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                          The Beverley arrestor hook
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                          Stop the store and remove aircraft.


                            Thanks for posting. Interesting concept. The Beverley in the last 3 images is a contender for the 'How Low Can You Go' thread!

                            The first image reminds me of a flight in XB283 in July 1963, the aeroplane dropped a one ton container over RAF Watchfield.


                              Here's a picture taken at RAF Abingdon of two Bevereleys, one with and the other without clamshell doors.

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                                OK...enough.Youve forced me to dig out my old log book ,whenI took my one and only flight in a brand new Beverley doing training at Abingdon in 1956, with us excited cadets in the tail boom passenger cabin.After 30 minutes the pilot landed and pulled onto the apron...stopped a while and then took off again and proceeded to climb to height and then stall it before recovering.After doing this a couple or three times he returned to the airfield and was somewhat surprised when a bunch of very green cadets exited down the ladder from the tail boom. He thought we'd all got out at the previous landing! I survived unscathed but those who didn't had the job of cleaning and disenfecting what had been a pristine passenger cabin....ahh..happy wonder I switched to helicopters!