Four British V-Bomber Cockpits Up For Sale

Three of the V-Bonbler cockpits in their storage hangar. (image via Hansons Auctioneers)
Aircorps Art Dec 2019


Every once in a while something unusual comes up in the world of aeronautica auctions… and we’ve just received word that Hanson Auctioneers & Valuers Ltd. in Britain has a significant collection of aircraft cockpit sections coming up for sale which is bound to generate a lot of interest. This is likely the only chance anyone might have to acquire an example for each of the three aircraft types which formed Britain’s famed V Force: the Handley-Page Victor, Vickers Valiant and Avro Vulcan. These magnificent aircraft comprised the nation’s strategic nuclear bomber fleet during the 1950s and 60s. While most readers will be well aware of the Vulcan and the Victor, which served into the 1980s and 90s, the Valiant will be less familiar, as the type retired prematurely in the mid-60s, and had all-but-disappeared by the 1970s, with just one complete example surviving today. Hanson’s description of this fascinating auction offering continues as follows…


British based Hansons Auctioneers is offering a unique collection of iconic Royal Air Force bombers. On their website they are currently inviting offers on the entire collection, with a view to going to auction as catalogued if the complete collection has not been sold. A Victor B.2 XH670, Vulcan B.2/K.2 XH560, Victor K.2 XH669 and a Valiant B.1 XD826 cockpits along with many additional individual items from the collection.

Three of the V-Bonbler cockpits in their storage hangar. (image via Hansons Auctioneers)


These cockpits have been stored and maintained whilst the present owner gathered the necessary parts to accurately return them to the way they would have appeared during their operational life. Most of these parts have either been refitted within the cockpits, but some additional parts are included in this lot. There are also many stored items common to each aircraft type, possibly the best opportunity for any museum or collector interested in V Bombers to acquire such rare items in one sale. The cockpits are in excellent, restorable condition and really only require a little elbow grease to refit and repaint so they look their finest.

Nigel Towler, a retired businessman from London, collected these items over the past three decades, and he recently stated: “After over thirty years of collecting these V Bomber Cockpits and parts, it has been reluctantly decided now is the time for them to find them a new home. It was always felt that these iconic cockpits should be displayed together as a Cold War Tribute to these great aircraft and that is why we sought to find examples worthy of restoration and display and source the additional parts and equipment in order to make it possible to make their restoration as complete and accurate as possible, it is thought that ambition has been achieved.”

Avro Vulcan B.2 XH560

Vulcan XH560 was one of the first Vulcan B.2’s to enter service and first flew on 30/8/60. It was allotted to the Skybolt Missile development and then went on to serve with 12 Squadron, 230 OCU, 9, 12, 35, 44, 50, 101 and 27 Squadrons in Maritime Reconnaissance, the paint finish it still retains. It is not presently possible to enter the cockpit as it is sitting on a stand which prevents access to the lower crew door, however it is known to retain the two pilots ejection seats and two of the rear crew seats. The pilot instrument panels may be seen in front of the cockpit together with other panels and equipment required for re-fitting and included in this Lot.

Avro Vulcan B.2 XH560. (image via Hansons Auctioneers)

Vickers Valiant XD826

Valiant XD826 is an extremely rare survivor. It first flew on the 15/12/56 before joining 7 Squadron at Honington on 12/2/57. It later served with 90 and 138 Squadrons, then 232 OCU, before going to 543 Squadron. Only 107 Valiants were built, with only one complete example remaining (at RAF Museum Cosford). Outside of the RAF Museum’s Valiant, XD826’s forward fuselage is the largest exhibit extant of the type. Interestingly, this journalists from Flight and Aeroplane magazines flew in XD826, writing articles for these magazines in 1956 (click HERE to see the articles). The cockpit is substantially complete, with pilots instruments and panels fitted, the two pilot ejection seats are included, but not fitted. The three, rare early-type rear crew seats are fitted in the airframe, and the rear desk appears to be fully-fitted out. The Valiant was the first of the V Bombers, is now the rarest of all.

Vickers Valiant B.1 XD826. (image via Hansons Auctioneers)

 

 

Handley-Page Victor K.2 XH669

Victor K.2 XH669 was the second B.2 off the production line. It first flew on 6/8/59, and participated in the SBAC Flying Display at Farnborough 3/9/60. Following this, she served with 100, and 139 Squadrons. The aircraft later underwent conversion with Hawker Siddeley at Woodford to become a K.2 tanker variant before entering service with 57 Squadron and later with 55 Squadron. Interestingly, this particular Victor participated in the air-to-air refueling effort on the Black Buck 1 bombing raid of the airfield at Port Stanley 1/5/82 during the Falklands War. It was due to provide the Vulcan bomber its final re-fuelling before the bombing run over Stanley Airfield, but its refuelling probe broke whilst flying through a storm before it could participate, so  it had to provide its fuel to top up another Victor’s tanks so that aircraft could take its place. This was described in the book Vulcan 607. This Victor is a well known and documented aircraft and would provide any museum or collection with a worthy tribute to what was, at the time, the longest bombing mission in history. This cockpit is substantially complete with most instruments and panels in place, together with the refuelling probe, throttles, two ejection seats and rear crew seats included in the Lot. There is a considerable stock of Victor spares and the present owners aim was to make this the most complete Victor cockpit on display.

Handley-Page Victor K.2 XH669. (image via Hansons Auctioneers)

Handley-Page Victor B.2 XH670

This Victor first flew on 2/11/59 and remained as a test aircraft for its entire service life. Interestingly, it retains the crew access door from another Victor, XL161, which participated in the May, 1969 transatlantic air race (commemorated on the inside of the door). As this aircraft never underwent conversion into a tanker configuration the interior still retains some of the internal equipment from its testing career. This would be a great exhibit for any collection that specialises in aircraft trials and testing. The pilot instrument panels are in place along with at least one rear crew seat. While the pilots ejection seats are not presently fitted, they are included with the lot and ready for restoration and reinstallation.

Handley-Page Victor B.2 XH670. (image via Hansons Auctioneers)

For all inquiries, contact Rik Alexander at ralexander@hansonsauctioneers.co.uk



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