On This Day

Updated: Sep 3, 2020

Our very own Vickers VC10 XV106 was delivered to the RAF on 4th May 1994 as a C Mk1 K following conversion at Hurn to add the Air to Air Refuelling capability.

Photo taken from the cockpit of XV106 as it refuels from VC10 ZA149, 25th September 2008. Copyright Andrew Townshend

Vickers VC10 C1 XV106 made its first flight from Weybridge on 17th November 1967 and joined 10 Squadron at RAF Brize Norton. It performed an air transport role, moving people and freight around the world for the armed forces. Notable passengers include the Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Andrew and Margaret Thatcher. XV106 also performed a medical evacuation role, extracting casualties from warzones such as Afghanistan.

XV106 at RAF Mildenhall, 15th March 2000. Copyright Rob Finch.

Experimentation with aerial refuelling techniques began during the 1930s and became a serious proposition during the Second World War. Trials took place in 1944 with several Avro Lancasters converted into tanker and receiver aircraft. The work was continued by the Avro Lincoln and English Electric Canberra before the Vickers Valiant V bombers were converted into tankers. However, it wasn’t until around 1960 that the RAF had established its first dedicated Air Refuelling squadron. Unfortunately, the Valiant proved to be short lived due to fatigue issues and the Woodford modified Victor was selected as a replacement.

Although originally designed as a civil airliner, the VC10 proved to be a very capable platform for Air to Air Refuelling. However, tanker conversion was complicated by the different sources from where the VC10 airframes were acquired and this resulted in four different variants. The initial K2 and K3 conversions were designed by the Weybridge team but, when the Weybridge factory closed in 1986, the VC10 project responsibility and design authority was taken up by the Manchester factories and the Woodford Design Office.