Aeroclassics has recently released a bevy of new Viscounts - mainly the longer 800 series. Interestingly many Viscounts saw roughly similar career paths, with a large number of the type starting their service with British European Airways. In this way they are similar to Northwest's DC-9 fleet many of which largely operated along a familiar pathway: through the fleets of Bonanza/West Coast to Air West to Hughes Airwest or North Central / Southern and then onto Republic to Northwest and then even some to Delta.
Anyway back to the Viscounts, and in this and the next few posts I want to look at the history of Aeroclassics recent releases and trace this shared path so many took.
The Viscount 800 was an improved series 700 stretched by 1.2 metres whilst the Viscount 810 was similar but with uprated engines. 67 of the former were built and 84 of the latter. I now have 14 Viscount 800s in my collection eight of which are real series 800s (not 810s) and all eight of which started their lives at BEA.
BEA received the first of 42 Viscount series 800s in January 1957 when G-AOJD was delivered. The registrations of BEA’s Viscount 800s ran from AOJA-JF, HG-HP, HR-HW, RC-RD, YG-YP, YR- YT, APEX-Y, APIM, APOX. One further aircraft was purchased in 1974 for GB Airways.Originally assigned G-AOHF when she first flew on 18th January 1957, ‘Sir George Somers’ became G-AOJF when she was delivered. As with over thirty other Viscount 800s in the fleet this aircraft joined British Airways in April 1974 and served until being withdrawn at Cardiff in 1980. Many of the withdrawn aircraft went on to have long careers with British Air Ferries however this aircraft was not one of them and she was broken up in August 1981.
Scottish Airways can trace its history back to 1937 and for the next decade provided Scottish air services until the creation of BEA. BEA took over the Highland and Island routes in succession with Dragon Rapides, DC-3s, Herons, Heralds and Viscounts. In 1967 BEA’s Scottish division was formed and in 1971 it became the semi-autonomous BEA Scottish Airways. This was short-lived and only 5 months later the division came under the control of British Air Services. This aircraft named ‘Charles Montagu Doughty’ was written off in 1973 when whilst on a training flight in poor weather it collided with the mountain Ben More at 4.000 feet and was completely destroyed killing the four occupants.
BEA acquired Channel Island Airways in 1947. Viscounts started on the Heathrow-Jersey route in 1956 and tookover from the DC-3s completely in 1961. The Channel Islands division was loss making and in 1971 was spun off with aircraft gaining separate titling of Channel Island Airways. This was however short-lived with the BEA / BOAC merger ending any signs of independence. It wasn’t until 1977 however that all the separate divisions were finally merged into a unified BA structure. AOHM ‘Robert Machin’ was sold onto British Air Ferries and served leases to Air Algérie and Manx Airlines. In 1999 she became 3D-OHM with Interflight and then in May 2001 5V-TTJ with Transtel. She was written off in Chad after an aborted take-off on 24th July 2001.
In the next part we'll investigate the transition to British Airways and what this meant for the trusty Viscounts. Stay tuned!
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: