In the second of a 4 part series branch chairman Brian Richards takes a look back at the Aviation events of 1967 from April to June.
THOSE WERE THE DAYS!!!! APRIL 1967
A-B Digest’s STN reporters J R Balaam and E Fisher (any Newsletter reader know what happened to them?) had little of real interest to note this month with 2 Twin Comanche G-AVFV (4/4, which also saw Dove G-AJGT) and G-AVCY (17/4), Cessna F150G G-AVGL (13/4) Channel Viscount G-AVJL on ILS runs (20/4), a military movement was Pembroke XK884 (18/4) and probably the star arrival on the 5th being souped up Cessna 310, the Riley 65 Turbo Rocket CF-RIB which I saw at Gatwick around this time too. LTN was far better with DC-3 4X-AEO of Arkia, Cessna 310 7Q-YDE, Aztec 5B-CAO and two Bell47Js 9J-RCZ and 9J-RDE air freighted on DC-3 G-APPO. Cambridge witnessed no less than six C-130 deliveries for the RAF, a rather ancient USAF VC-54 0-49046 all the way from Northolt, plus Comet 4C ST-AAW for overhaul. LHR was very much open to biz and received Lear Jets, a Hansa Jet, JetStar, 125s, and an Apache and 2 Queen Airs along with goodies such as Bretagne No.19 and civvies DC-9 HZ –AEB, Boeing 720 HZ-ACB and those very smoky CV-990s EC-BJC with Iberian and N5605 on lease to Air France.
The UK Register saw more ex Continental Viscounts for Channel in G-AVJL (see STN visitors above) & G-AVJZ, plus restored G-APND for BUA and new B707 G-AVKA for Caledonian. At the lighter end new Rollason Condors continued to be registered and also a batch of 4 Tipsy Nippers (G-AVKH-K) to be built at Castle Donington by newly formed Nipper Aircraft. Oddities included Gadfly G-AVKE, Brochet MB.50 G-AVKB, Nord 1002 G-AVJS and Gloster non-rigid airship G-AVKO.
BAC 111 production was active and deliveries were G-AVBX to Laker, G-ATPH to British Eagle, AN-BBI to Lanica, and Laker’s G-AVBY was rolled out in Air Congo colours. “Up north” HS 748 VP-BCM was delivered to Bahamas AW but oddly Ringway saw the 7th Indian built example, VT-DUO turn up for ILS runs. I can vouch for the poor (often non-existent) aids at Indian airports from my time living there 35 years ago but there must have been somewhere closer to Kanpur than Manchester with ILS! The first flight of the Caravelle 11R was 24/4 but against orders of just 2 each by Air Afrique and Air Congo. An order clearly doomed for failure was LGW based Postgate Aviation Svs order for 6 Kamov Ka-26 helicopters at £30k each.
Overseas snippets include: Japan Air Lines leased four Tu 114 for 2 years – reducing the Aeroflot seating from 200 to a mere 110 – for their Tokyo to Moscow service. Douglas Aircraft Co and McDonnell Aircraft Corp merged on 28/4 to form McDonnell-Douglas Corp..TWA retired its last Constellation on 6/4 and became the world’s first all-jet airline. In this month Gates Rubber became majority owner of Lear Jet Industries.
On the military side Lockheed flew the prototype AH-56A Cheyenne attack ‘copter and the Breguet 941S first graced the skies on 19/4. The US Army ordered another 40 Beech U-21As and the Aeronavale stated it now had 2 flotilles of Breguet Atlantics in service and a 3rd flotille was being formed to replace its remaining Lockheed P2V-7 Neptunes. Local news was the temporary deployment this month to Bentwaters of six Northrop F-5 of the Norwegian Air Force where they flew up to 3 missions a day alongside the based USAF F-4C Phantoms of the 81st TFW. The late, and great, enthusiast Brian Stainer reported they departed on 21/4 into a Norwegian-like snowstorm!
In Vietnam, between 7-22/4 the US Army UH-1 equipped 1st Cavalry Divn launched a major helicopter led assault as part of Operation Pershing, against the Viet Cong who had over 5,400 KIA in the overall operation. Later in the month USN A-4 of VA-112 and VA-144 attacked Kep Air Base, the first ever attack on a VPAF base in the war. A MiG 17 was shot down, and amazingly it was the only MiG ever downed by an A-4 in the whole duration of the war. In the Middle East on 7/4 the Syrians launched a mortar attack on an Israeli settlement resulting in IAF Mirage III bombing Syrian Army positions in retaliation. In turn the SAF responded with a large force of MiG 21s but within a few minutes 6 are shot down by the Mirages and the survivors chased to overhead Damascus before the IAF decided to break off its pursuit.
Although strictly the end of March it is worth recording that the Royal Navy were using Sea Vixens and Buccaneers from Lossiemouth, along with RAF Hunters from Culdrose, to bomb the stricken super tanker “Torrey Canyon” off the Cornish coast in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to ignite the 120,000 tons of crude oil and limit the rapidly spreading pollution in what is still the worst ever ecological disaster in the UK; there was considerable bad press that 25% of the 62,000 lbs of bombs dropped missed the stationary target!
THOSE WERE THE DAYS!!!! MAY 1967
May 1967 visitors to STN were rather sparse it seems with A-Bs scribes noting just two Mystere 20 (Falcon 20 to younger readers), Sardi AG’s HB-VAW (5th) and F-BOED (6th), both being common sights at London area airfields, Europe based Cessna 175 N8198T (10th), Beecham’s HS125 G-AVGW (11th) and probably the star turn also on the 10th, Sea Vixen XJ 481 – that would have woken the neighbours when it departed! LTN saw more Reims built Cessna deliveries to UK dealers, Condor’s Viscount D-ANOL, unusual French biz prop Potez 842 F-BNAN plus 5 US Army choppers on the 14th, 2xCH34, 2xCH37 and an HU-1. First-timers at LHR included 727s D-ABII, D-ABIO, CS-TBK, Caravelles CN-CCV/CCX, 707s LV-ISA/ISB/ISD, PP-VJS plus uncommon pistons DC-6B NASA428, Bristol 31 F-BBGF of Air Fret, DC-3 YU-ACD. LGW was wonderful as always with masses of GA plus airliners including DC-6B ET-AAX, IL-18 OK-BYZ and Hercules 9J-REZ on delivery. Cambridge saw yet more RAF C130 deliveries, XV176, XV190.
The UK register was as varied as ever this month and included the bloc registering of BEA’s BAC 111-510ED fleet (G-AVMH-VMZ) and another used Viscount for Channel AW at SEN G-AVNJ, plus C-47 G-AVNF traded-in to Handley Page by Sadia of Brazil against part payment of a new Dart Herald. CSE registered a bloc of 10 PA-28-180 plus 2 PA-27, Sportair at LTN 3 more Fournier RF-4D (G-AVNX, Y, and Z). Arguably the star addition was Partenvia P-64 Oscar G-AVND which was registered solely for its one day ferry flight on 2 June from Naples to Rochester where it was immediately dismantled, crated, and shipped illegally to South Africa (UN Sanctions were in place at the time) where it became ZS-FCH. I have some personal interest here as I happened to be at Toussus-le-Noble that day and took what is believed to be the sole photograph of it as ‘VND when it stopped briefly for Customs and fuel.
An interesting snippet in A-B Digest comments on Field’s light aircraft unit at STN, where damaged Brantley’s G-ASEW and G-ASJX were undergoing repair, and others worked on included Cessna 180J SX-ADN, Bell 47 G-AVDO, Beech 95 G-ASMF and PA30 G-ASSB. AB-D also reports that Elstree’s Messenger population had risen to 9 aircraft!
Further afield – excuse the pun – the Manx Air Race mid-May was marred with bad weather but had an astonishing mixture of entrants from Tiger Moth G-ASKP to Charles Masefield’s P-51 N6365T, Falcos, Condors, and even Me108 D-EDIH. The winner was Bolkow Junior G-ASFO. The then annual Jersey Air Rally attracted 13 D-E registered participants, 6xF-, 3xHB-, 9xOO- and 13xOY- including Airedale OY-AOM and its older relative Auster J/1 OY-DNU. The blustery wind saw both Linnet G-APRH (DBR) and D140B F-BKSK get damaged on landing.
On the manufacturing scene, BAC announced 12 more sales of its 111 bringing total sales to 129 – Austral 4, Mohawk 4, Channel 2, Philippine AL 1, plus 1 biz version. On the 18th Alia Royal Jordanian became the 100th operator of the Fokker F27; total orders worldwide now up to 416. Douglas delivered the 100th DC-9 produced on 13/4 to Eastern. The FAA announced an order for 2 Boeing 2707 SSTs. However, perhaps the key announcement of the year – indeed, arguably in the last 50 years in airline manufacturing – was the agreement of the UK, French and German parties to establish an entity to produce the A-300.
The RAF still had many Open Days, and on 27th it was the turn of Gutersloh where the amongst the usual (for those days) static display were GAF G91RR MC+105 and BAF F104G FX-100, and other non RAF visitors were BAF Alouette II OL-A38, US Army CH-34A 34551 and Biggin’s Rapide G-AKIF doing joy-rides. Air-Britain West Riding Branch had a marquee at RAF Church Fenton’s Open Day (29th) and reported “a considerable volume of business” at its sales desk; it also had two aircraft on show in its own static park with Nipper G-AVDK and, I quote, “a man-powered aircraft built by Philip Hill of Horsforth”.
THOSE WERE THE DAYS – JUNE 1967
Unfortunately my AB Digests for mid 1967 are long lost and the only visitors to STN listed in AirPic for the month are two BAC 111’s crew training on 16th, Channel’s G-AVGP and British Eagle G-ATPL, plus Riley 65 CF-RIB on the 13th, being Keegan Aviation’s UK demonstrator. The Riley 65 was the first “cleaned” up version of the Cessna 310 marketed by Jack Riley and this straight-tailed 310B/C version with aerodynamic mods, including a wrap round windshield, could outperform, on less powerful engines, the latest Cessna 310D model at a purchase price substantially lower. One sales pitch was “The Riley 65 can fly faster on one engine than a Piper Apache on two”.
Elsewhere in June, LTN saw Piaggio PD808 demonstrator I-PIAI and Dart powered DC-3 4X-ASR of Arkia, and Gatwick was graced by Luxair’s “new” L-1649A Starliner LX-LGX, another Riley conversion in the shape of Riley Dove N477PM, Swiss AF Twin Bonanza
A-711, Continental’s new B707 N17328 and one visitor I recall quite vividly, Queen Air 80 XB-MIL. At SEN two deliveries came through en route to Clifford’s at Kidlington, Zlin Z.37 OK-WKQ and Zlin Z.526 OK-VRE and others included Sea Prince WJ349 on the 2nd. Teversham had Falconair Viscounts SE-CNK and SE-CNM arrive for checks plus, what was then a fairly regular visitor to Europe on surveying duties, Spartan Air Services DC-3 CF-ICU.
The UK register also saw a “new” DC-3 in G-AVPO of Hunting Surveys, plus a batch of 6 Currie Wot/SE5 replica’s (G-AVOT-VOY incl.) that were quickly re-registered in Eire to take part in the epic film “The Blue Max” which was filmed at Casement airfield. The unusual experimental Lockspeiser Land Development Aircraft G-AVOR was also registered this month but did not make its maiden flight until August 1971 – this canard single seater was a 7/10 scale version of a planned utility transport and had many unique features. To try and boost interest in the aircraft after ownership had been assumed by Brooklands Aviation it was renamed the “Boxer 500” and re-registered G-UTIL, but the concept was ultimately unsuccessful and in 1987 it was cancelled as destroyed by fire.
BAC 111s were rolling out at about 2-3 a month, including Aloha’s N11183 and, on the 22nd , G-ASYD after its “cut and shut” centre section insert to be the prototype 500 series with its FF just 8 days later. For some reason the Beagle 206 was successful in Australia with another example VH-UNC delivered this month. HS748 orders included 10 for Varig and 2 for CAFU at Stansted (G-AVXI/J) both of which were to become very regular sights for 27 years from their delivery in 1969 until their de-registration in Oct 96. Both were sold, eventually, to Emerald AW in 1998. Less likely and certainly a more interesting UK aircraft “production” was the rare civilisation of another Prentice, G-APOL for an even rarer export of this type as ZS-EUS, and the incredible modification of 3 Proctors – G-AIAE/IAY/LOK – to Ju87B Stuka replicas for another epic film “Battle of Britain”. These very realistic replicas were dubbed as “Proctuka” but, perhaps not unsurprisingly, had rather poor flying characteristics, so much so that radio controlled models were used instead for the flying shots (and from what I recall of that film those models were totally unrealistic). See photo below.
During the month Boeing delivered its 1,000 jet airliner – a B707-120B to American. Continuing on the overseas airliner scene, deliveries of B707s for other users continued at a rapid pace to the likes of Pan Am and Braniff, with even more B727s pouring off the line, including for Pacific Southwest, Lufthansa, and Sabena. New/repeat orders for the 707 were announced Air France, Malaysia Singapore AL, Olympic, Western and 727s for Air France, Iran Air, LAN-Chile and Pan Am. It is interesting that of the 13 different airlines mentioned here only 5 still exist. Another airline to cease was Aden AW when BOAC (also gone!) stopped its support on the 30th.
However older types were still abundant, especially in South America with Litoral leasing a small fleet from Austral including 2xC46, 5xDC3 and 3xDC6, with Austral itself buying 5 “new” DC6s, LAP still operated 2 CV240, Rutas 3xC46, and elsewhere Trek of South Africa registered another L1649A (surely the most beautiful piston powered airliner ever) ZS-FAB and even the US’s Northeast (long gone) still operated DC6Bs. Allegheny (gone!) had a growing fleet of CV580 conversions, as did Mohawk (yawn – gone!) multiple examples of both I recall seeing at Newark on my first ever trip to the States in March 1968.
On the military scene it was announced 36 Sqdn at Lyneham would be the first RAF Transport Command unit equipped with the newly delivered C130K (66 or order) after 242 OCU at Thorney Island. 79 Sqdn was reconstituted at Chivenor with Hunters as a shadow Squadron for 229 OCU.
The big news military-wise was overseas as on 5th June the 6 Day War started between Israel and its Arab neighbours Syria, Egypt and Jordan (not strictly Arab but Hashemite) with front line combat aircraft numbering 286 for Israel, 127, 430 and 24 respectively for its foes. Israel’s pre-emptive strike on Egypt that morning destroys over 250 aircraft, mainly still on the ground, and it also bombs and craters the runways of 10 air bases. Egypt had just 5 Il-14 (rather ineffective it seems) airborne command posts in the air at the time and just one lands safely with the others crashing due to no serviceable runways! 4 airborne trainer aircraft were also shot down. 28 MiGs do get airborne but 12 are shot down and the remainder crash with the runways now destroyed since take off. Israel has just 2 Mystere and one Vautour shot down.
Jordan is initially better prepared and its Hunters attack Israeli airfields but only succeed in destroying one Noratlas before returning to their home base. Israel’s returning Mysteres are diverted and shoot down 2 Hunters, destroy 16 more on the ground and extensively damaging the remainder. The RJAF’s total combat fleet is finished. As an aside, it is interesting to note that at the time 5 F104 flown by US pilots were in Jordan being prepared for hand over to the RJAF – sensibly these did not get involved and rapidly fled to Turkey!
In the afternoon it is Syria’s turn – 51 fighters and 2 bombers are destroyed on the ground, all 5 air bases are put out of service and 4 MiG17 are shot down. A further 20 aircraft are destroyed on the ground in an attack on a western Iraq air base. Israel loses just one Mystere.
Later, Super Frelon and S58s land 150 paratroopers in Egypt to destroy army installations. Two days later 3 IAF Noratlas land at Sharm el Sheikh air base and seize control. On the 8th the IAF and Navy attacked the USS Liberty in the Med and killed 34 crew and injured 171 – officially the ship was mis-identified as Egyptian but rumours persist that it was deliberate action by Israel. In a separate incident 3 Israeli Dassault Ouragan are shot down over Egypt.
On June 10th the war ends – Israel lost just 46 combat aircraft against 452 lost by its enemies.