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Only remaining Victor aircraft of its kind to go on display at IWM Duxford



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The only remaining Handley Page Victor aircraft of its kind in the world is to go on display at IWM Duxford following a five-year restoration.

Conservation Work being carried out by Rob Claydon on the Handley Page Victor XH648 in Hangar 5 at IWM Duxford. Photographed January 18, 2017.
Conservation Work being carried out by Rob Claydon on the Handley Page Victor XH648 in Hangar 5 at IWM Duxford. Photographed January 18, 2017.

The Handley Page Victor XH648 is an historic jet-powered strategic bomber, and today (April 20) it will move into IWM Duxford’s Conservation Hall in Airspace for its final six weeks of conservation works.

During this period, the public will be able to see this conservation in action. Following this, the Victor will remain on permanent display from May 27, in time for May half term.

Acquired by IWM Duxford in June 1976 on its retirement from service, XH648’s first flight was on November 27, 1959. It was flown as part of the Far East Air Force during the confrontation with Indonesia in 1962-63, with 15 Squadron based at RAF Cottesmore.

View of the Handley Page Victor XH648 undergoing conservation in Hangar 5 at IWM Duxford. Photographed December 7, 2016. Bomb Bay Door being opened and closed.
View of the Handley Page Victor XH648 undergoing conservation in Hangar 5 at IWM Duxford. Photographed December 7, 2016. Bomb Bay Door being opened and closed.
Interior view inside the cockpit of the Handley Page Victor XH648 in Hangar 5 at IWM Duxford. Photographed March 28, 2017.
Interior view inside the cockpit of the Handley Page Victor XH648 in Hangar 5 at IWM Duxford. Photographed March 28, 2017.
Large object conservation of Victor XH648. General view of the aircraft after paint removal, in Hangar 5 at IWM Duxford. Photographed May 9, 2018.
Large object conservation of Victor XH648. General view of the aircraft after paint removal, in Hangar 5 at IWM Duxford. Photographed May 9, 2018.
The Handley Page Victor XH648 being re-housed in Conservation Hangar 5 at IWM Duxford. Photographed November 2, 2016.
The Handley Page Victor XH648 being re-housed in Conservation Hangar 5 at IWM Duxford. Photographed November 2, 2016.
General view of a Handley Page Victor B1 in the conservation hangar in Airspace at IWM Duxford. Photographed June 16, 2016. The aircraft is being fully conserved.
General view of a Handley Page Victor B1 in the conservation hangar in Airspace at IWM Duxford. Photographed June 16, 2016. The aircraft is being fully conserved.

On return from Indonesia, it was converted by Handley Page in 1965 into a two-point tanker and spent 10 years with No 55 Squadron at RAF Marham before being retired to Duxford just over 10 years later. The Victor is being repainted in its markings from its service with 55 Squadron during these years.

Carl Warner, head of narrative and curatorial at IWM Duxford, said: “Close to 50 years after this one-of-a-kind Handley Page Victor arrived at Duxford, we’re thrilled that the hard work of our conservation team and generous donations from the public means we can display this historical and technological object and give people a greater understanding of its place in aviation history.

“As the only surviving Victor B1A in the world, this is an iconic aircraft with a design that was seen as incredibly futuristic when it was first developed in the 1950s. It was even intended to have a fully detachable cockpit for use as an escape pod! Today it stands as a symbol of innovation and tells an important part of the story of the Cold War conflict.”

Former squadron leader, Garden West, flew over 1,800 hours on the Victor, including many on XH648, and was part of the Victor force involved in the Indonesian confrontation. He said: “Most servicemen believe that the vehicles they operated are extraordinarily special and deserve to be in a museum, but few of us are lucky enough to return to see them on display.

“It’s an honour to see one of the Victor Mk 1s I served in restored to its finest fettle. Its unique and unmistakable presence immediately brings back vivid memories of operations in bygone days, and I hope lots of people will visit and learn about its place in aviation history.”

The Victor XH648
The Victor XH648
The Victor XH648
The Victor XH648

Following the Victor’s move, IWM Duxford’s Conservation in Action hangar (Hangar 5) will close to the public to enable restoration and structural works to take place. It will reopen later this year and feature new items and displays showcasing further work of IWM’s team of conservators and volunteers.

For more information, visit iwm.org.uk/visits/iwm-duxford.

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