Shackleton VW126

 “40 Thousand rivets flying in formation!”


Shackleton VW126 started life as a GR1 version, but in its role as prototype test bed, it was upgraded to include MR2 features.  Including the retractable tail wheels and belly radome, visible in the photo below, in contrast to the MR1.  I guess the MR2 nose was also fitted.

Trials Team at Defford 1956.  Members Alan Burton (on Steps) Ron Coultart (in doorway)

Keith Watkins, George Smith (standing)

Green Flax – Trials Malvern, April 1957 – Courtesy – Defford Airfield Heritage Group

Interior Shackelton VW126, April 16th 1957. Showing Green Flax (English Electric) Flight team-  Probably – Alan Burton, Ron Coultart, Keith Watkins (reading right to left)




VW126 just after maiden fligh


VW126 / P The prototype Shackleton at Woodford shortly after its maiden flight, flown by chief test pilot J.H. ‘Jimmy’ Orrell, on March 9, 1949. It wears the ‘P’ for ‘Prototype’ marking. The aircraft was retired in February 1960, receiving RAF maintenance serial 7626M. Still owned by A.V. Roe & Co Ltd. when this photo was taken, transferred to the RAF in the early 1950s.


Great discussion on Shackletons


First flown 9.3.49. Retained at Woodford for manufacturer’s trials 4.49-6.49, during which aircraft made several visits to A&AEE Boscombe Down for short periods. To Hatfield 6.49 on allotment to de Havilland Propellers Co for straingauge tests on contra-rotating propeller assembly under Contract 6/ Props/712/CB25(b). Not accepted for tests and returned to Woodford 8.7.49 for continuation of manufacturer’s trials. Again despatched to Hatfield 30.12.49 under amended contract. Returned to Woodford and sent to Boscombe Down 26.3.50 for full load trials (86.000 Ib) until 31.3.50. To Hatfield during 4.50 for trials on cropped propellers, the aircraft being damaged by a tow bar while being prepared for flight 3.5.50. More AuW tests at Boscombe Down 19-23.6.50 and 4-6.7.50 followed by high-speed handling trials 10.7.50. To Rolls Royce, Hucknall, 13.7.50 for fitment of long tail pipes to engine exhaust manifolds. Returned to Woodford but transferred to Boscombe Down for performance tests. New rudder spring tabs were tested at Boscombe 5.-6.10.50 and 18-19.10.50, when noise and CO contamination assessments were also made. Acceptance tests of cabin heating and noise suppression by Avro at Woodford 1.1.50 were followed by an assessment of noise level and flame damping by a Coastal Command crew 1.2.50. During 1951 VW126 was fitted with dummy nose and tail fairings and a retractable ASV radar scanner installation for use as an aerodynamic test vehicle for the Mk 2 variant of the aircraft. Revised braking system and internal control locks also installed, the aircraft flying in this configuration 19.7.51. To Boscombe Down 25.7.51 for assessment of toe brakes and lockable rudders, returning to Woodford 1.8.51 for further Mk 2 development work. Delivered to the A&AEE 14.5.52 for handling and performance trials in Mk 2 configuration. Completed by 3.10.52, when aircraft despatched to Woodford and from 26.1.53 VW126 was officially on loan to Avro for more noise-reduction experiments against Contract 6/Acft/8862/CB9(a). During 2.55 tests made on sequence of anticipated bomb door collapse during ditching, the aircraft returning to C(A) charge 30.5.55. On 9.12.55 VW126 was allotted to the RRE for two years as a flying test bed for guided weapons development, the aircraft arriving at Defford from Woodford 12.1.56. Moved over to RRE Pershore 18.9.57. Despatched to 23MU Aldergrove 29.5.58 for temporary storage, and transferred to Air Ministry charge 25.11.59 for instructional purposes. To No. 2 Radio School, Yatesbury, 2.60 with maintenance serial 7626M. Broken up on site and sections transferred to 71 MU Bicester 10.65.


Vw126 at Yatesbury, Photo courtesy Robin A Walker


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