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

  1. #1
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    50 years ago...Abingdon waves farewell to the Blackburn Beverley

    On 6th December 1967, the last two Beverleys from a UK-based squadron made their final flight.

    47 Squadron disbanded on 31st October 1967 and the last two aircraft, XB269 and XB290, were transferred to the ATDU. On that December day the pair departed RAF Abingdon for 27 MU where they were declared NEA 24 hours later. From Abingdon, the two aircraft headed south at low-level to skirt the Isle of Wight and en-route carried out a formation flypast at RAF Upavon, followed by several very low passes over RAF Odiham.

    Here's a selection of images taken during that final flight.
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  2. #2
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    An interesting sequence of pics, ThreeM. Did you take them yourself - were you on the flight?

    The sound of eight Centaurus must have been something both in the air and from the ground.

    Anon.

  3. #3
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    Oooh Loverley!
    "Where are you from?"
    "America" Somebody laughed politely.

  4. #4
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    Hendon's one flew there in 1968, and the Southend example touched down in Oct 71, and so ended the flying career of the Beverley.

    Interesting Bev survivor memories and photos here.

    http://www.fightercontrol.co.uk/foru...hp?f=18&t=4057

  5. #5
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    Your forgetting the Fort Paul machine which returned to Yorkshire 30th March 74

  6. #6
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    Here is a picture of the ill fated Hendon Beverley taken in 1987

    Graham

    Beverley RAFM 87

  7. #7
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    The pictures were taken by me using a Canon FP 35mm SLR on Kodachrome; I was an air cadet 'jollyrider.'

    This marked the last of my 14 flights on a Beverley, my first ever flight was on XB288 one Saturday morning, to Odiham with a Belvedere helicopter in the hold. Flying in a Beverley certainly was a noisy experience. Up front in the nose during the 'beat-up' of Odiham's married quarters on this particular flight was certainly very memorable (not to mention irresponsible). On the return leg to 27 MU at RAF Shawbury the two aircraft passed over Abingdon for the very last time, more 'beat-ups' followed such that the pilot of XB290 was reprimanded for flying low over Larkmead School which is close to the airfield.

    Curiously the Beverley link continues as my daughter now lives in this attractive market town and I was there last month. Last year we both visited Fort Paull, home to XB259 which is the last surviving complete airframe. First time I'd set foot on a Beverley since the day these images were taken! Happy memories.
    Last edited by ThreeM; 8th December 2017 at 14:44.

  8. #8
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    someone sat down and came up with the Beverley ! great shape
    SMOKE SMOKE GO!
    TA out

  9. #9
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    I think the Beverley is a good example of form follows function!

    Here's more retired Beverleys awaiting the scrapman's axe, this time at 71 MU, RAF Bicester.

    Image taken through the open doorway of de Havilland Dragon Rapide G-AGSH, at the time operated by the RAF Sport Parachute Association and now immaculately restored and based at Old Warden.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  10. #10
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    Would the engines of been any good for earlier aircraft, Bombers and fighters?
    SMOKE SMOKE GO!
    TA out

  11. #11
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    A few weeks earlier at the Abingdon Battle of Britain display, four Beverleys made a ponderous flypast to marks the type's impending departure from service, If Anon thinks that eight Centauruses (or Centauri?) must have sounded something special, I can assure him that 16 Centaurus engines in loose formation was a sound never to be forgotten.

  12. #12
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    And if you have even more...

    Picture taken at RAF Abingdon BoB display although not sure which year. Was rather a dull day with low cloud base as can be seen.Click image for larger version. 

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  13. #13
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    Turnhouse 1964 XB??? and Finningley 1970 XL149 / 7988M
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    Robert Whitton,
    Edinburgh, Scotland

  14. #14
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    I've gone back to the slides I took as a teenage plane spotter. Yes, there were five Beverleys at the 1968 BofB display at Abingdon, which makes 20 Centauruses at full volume

    Edit: I've found the notes I made at the time. The five-Beverley formation was XB285, XB286, XB288, XB290 and XL131, with XB287 in the static display
    Last edited by Scouse; 11th December 2017 at 20:43.

  15. #15
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    Regarding Beverley formations. In 1961 I was in Oxford UAS and luckily had some good friends in 47 Squadron at Abingdon. I got several interesting trips in their Beverleys, including some nice formation stuff. On 8 September 1961 we set off with six Beverleys from Abingdon on our way to the SBAC display at Farnborough, landing at Odiham on the way. I was in XB285 with Flt Lt Lamb. We then did the short hop to Farnborough (this time I was in XB263 with Flt Lt Smith) where we landed in the middle of a mock battle with bomb bursts and smoke all around. We took off sharpish and landed back at Abingdon after a fly past and break.

    I wonder if any forumites were in the audience that day!

    My 3 pictures are cockpit view, in flight, and the break.

    Did someone say Beverleys were noisy? Maybe, but I never noticed it as I was enjoying myself so much.
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    Laurence

  16. #16
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    Good photos, Laurence. Brings back memories of sitting on top of the battery box on the flight deck as there were no spare seats for 'jollyriders' (other than in the boom).

    I'm sure health and safety would have something to say about that today!

    And if you happened to be climbing up or down the ladder rungs on the fuselage sides at the rear when the aeroplane banked - as per image 3 - then you had to hang on tight!

  17. #17
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    Great photos and memories, everyone. Truly a triumph of thrust over drag!

  18. #18
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    thanks to all for sharing.
    pb::

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    Here are two shots of the 1963 formation at Abingdon's Battle of Britain day.
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  20. #20
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    Eager enthusiasts queue for a unique flying experience...only to be disappointed when the helicopter providing pleasure flights actually turns up!

    Click image for larger version. 

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  21. #21
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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 .

  22. #22
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    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
    http://hamg.co.uk

    Hunsdon, Sawbridgeworth and Matching Green airfields..
    http://www.wartime-airfields.com

  23. #23
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    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!

  24. #24
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    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.
    Laurence

  25. #25
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    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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  26. #26
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    I seem to my father referring to the Beverly a 'Block of Flats'
    Now officially a 'Senior Citizen'

  27. #27
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    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: http://www.rushenhistory.com/brat/Brat.htm
    " I'm not young enough to know everything." - J M Barrie 1903

  28. #28
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    Quote "On this cold snowy day if you want to read more go to: http://www.rushenhistory.com/brat/Brat.htm "
    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

  29. #29
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    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.

  30. #30
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    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.

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