BRISTOL TYPE 170
FREIGHTER, WAYFARER AND SUPERFREIGHTER VERSIONS
|Bristol Type 170 Mark 32 Superfreighter G-ANVS "Vigilant" ( airframe number 13252 ) at Ostend Airport in August 1965. The long nosed Superfreighter could carry an extra car compared with earlier Freighter variants and had larger round topped tail and greater wing areas to compensate for this. Formerly an Air Charter machine, "Vigilant" - built in 1955 - would survive into the British Air Ferries era before scrapping in August 1970.|
|When preparing a diorama to
display at the Cheltenham GWR Modellers Exhibition in October 2006 I happened to mention to
Malcolm Morgan, founder of the Leigh Valley Light
Railway, that one
of the Jet Age Reserve Model Collection aircraft I planned to use was a 1/72 scale Bristol Type 170 Mark 32 Superfreighter.
Malcolm then revealed that he had once built a radio controlled model of an earlier variant Bristol Type 170 and loaned me all his research material to form the basis of this article. I am deeply indebted to him for his kindness.
|Bristol Type 130 Bombay prototype K3583 first flew on 23 June 1935 although due to Bristol's Filton works concentrating on Blenheim bomber production all 50 production Bombays were assembed by Short Brothers and Harland Ltd of Belfast|
|ON THE WINGS OF VICTORY|
|Following the success during the
Second World War of the twin engined Bristol Type 130
Bombay utility aircraft in the Middle East theatre of
operations, the Bristol Type 170 was devised along
similar lines but with a much larger fuselage and
simplified single fin tail and two-spar wing
construction. It was also to be more specialised as a
rugged heavy duty freighter with low initial and running
costs and easy maintenance without the use of any
special tools. Indeed, initial projections were for just
one man hour of maintenance per aircraft hour of flight.
The production Type 130 Bombay had been introduced in 1939 as one of the first large twin engined monoplane designs to serve with the Royal Air Force. Built to meet Air Ministry specification C.26/31 for an aircraft capable of carrying 24 fully armed troops, 10 stretcher cases as an air ambulance or equivalent mixed freight, the high seven-spar cantilever winged fixed-undercarriage Bombay used lessons learned from Bristol's unique twin engined Bagshot fighter ( J7765 ) of 1927. The oval sectioned monocoque steel strip and aluminium fuselage frame of the Bombay was covered by a stressed Alclad skin. Alclad - an American invention - consisted of the lightweight but potentially corrosion prone Duralumin coated with a thin film of pure aluminium.
The Bristol Type 170 was born from the suggestion by General Orde Wingate - of "Chindits" fame - in 1944 for an aircraft which could fly vehicles and supplies from rough jungle airstrips in the Far East.
For civil aircraft specification 22/44 Bristol designer Archibald E. Russell had retained the wide tracked fixed undercarriage of the Bombay but gave the wing - with the same section and taper ratio - a swept leading and straight trailing edge. More radically, horizontally hinging clamshell doors were envisaged for the nose of the aircraft with a travelling hoist fitted to the ceiling of the forward part of the 1 700 cubic feet hold to allow the ingress of heavy, bulky cargo. The proposed powerplants were two 1 000 hp Bristol Perseus engines capable of lifting an all up weight of 27 000 lb.
However, a narrower Army specification C9/45 would have meant vertically hinging nose doors opening forwards and outwards and a fuselage revised to accept a three ton truck. Power for this aircraft would have come from two new Perseus engines each with nine Centaurus cylinders yielding 1 400 hp at takeoff.
When it became clear that the Second World War would end before the Type 170 could fly though, a post war need for a robust civilian transport was identified and Government financial assistance was given to Bristol Aircraft - in terms of production jigs as well as buying two prototypes - to develop the Type 170 in both Freighter and Wayfarer configurations. This financial assistance was in no small part to help Bristol meet the intense competition represented by cheap American war surplus transport aircraft backed by almost inexhaustible stocks of spare parts. Despite this, a Bristol Freighter could cost anything from £ 33 000 and a Wayfarer from £ 47 000 and the fact that 214 units were eventually sold is a testament to the value for money that the Type 170 represented.
The Freighter had clamshell nose doors and a strengthened floor to accept vehicles and cargo up to 4 1/2 tons in weight while the fixed nose Wayfarer was a passenger version with separate passenger and crew side entrance doors, interior trim and cabin heating. Wayfarers were much quicker to build than Freighters and were thus the first of the two varieties to emerge from Bristol's Filton factory. However, both Freighters and Wayfarers sold well from 1946 onward as the first production batch of 25 aircraft were assembled.
The 1 670 hp sleeve valved Bristol Hercules 632 radial engine - already powering the Bristol Beaufighter attack aircraft - was also selected to give a better ratio of ton-miles per gallon of fuel for both Freighter and Wayfarer types which were to have an all up weight of 36 500 lb each. Each engine nacelle was also designed to allow a complete powerplant replacement in just 90 minutes and air intake was via Vokes Universal filters, preparing the engines for all climactic conditions.
Despite the rise of nosewheel aircraft designs during World War Two, Archibald Russell retained the rugged fixed Dowty undercarriage to save weight and complexity and because the existing layout was most acceptable to operators using small, rough airfields. Any drag penalty was less important in the Bristol Type 170 than in faster aircraft. In a similar practical fashion, control systems were located in the roof rather than the floor of the cabin and all vital components were easy to inspect without the use of mirrors. Furthermore, inspection hatches were mainly located on the underside of the aircraft to avoid the ingress of rain.
|An early model Bristol Type 170 Freighter flies in formation with Bristol Brabazon G-AGPW. First flown in September 1949, the Brabazon was underpowered for its size.|
|THE FIRST OF THE FREIGHTERS|
|The prototype Bristol Type 170
aircraft - G-AGPV - first flew on 2 December 1945 piloted
by C.F. Uwins, who had also been first to fly the Bombay
a decade earlier. G-AGPV had been built with nose doors (
initially fixed shut ) but retained the round windows of
the Bristol Type 130. After the first flight however, the
horizontal tailplane was lowered on the fuselage and the
wingspan increased to enable hands-off trim in all
desired centre of gravity configurations.
G-AGPV - also the first Government sponsored prototype - was taken into Air Ministry ownership on 28 September 1946 for official trials at the Aeroplane & Armament Experimental Establishment at Boscombe Down as VR380. It was returned to Filton the following month and converted to Wayfarer specification with square side windows and new rounded outer wingtips giving a span of 108 feet. VR380 was to continue flying until 1957 with various experimental radar installations at the Telecommunications Research Establishment, Defford. It was joined in the skies over Worcestershire ( and probably Gloucestershire as well ) by fourth Bristol Type 170 prototype VR832.
A second Ministry of Supply prototype - identified as G-18-1 and later G-AGVB - first flew on 30 April 1946 while Bristol's own prototypes - G-AGVC and G-AGUT - first flew on 23 June and 15 September 1946 respectively.
G-AGVC undertook an extensive tour of North and South America and in February 1947 was chartered by Canadian Pacific Air Lines for urgent mail delivery to Baie Comeau and to lift 250 tons of mining equipment to a new coalfield in Labrador, where the only airstrip was rolled snow on the surface of Knob Lake. The mission was only just completed before the ice thawed!
G-AGVC then inaugurated Silver City Air Way's Lympne to le Touquet car ferry service on 14 July 1948 before taking part in the Berlin Airlift and returning to Filton in 1949. It was then modified as a military freighter with 1 800 hp Hercules 238 engines, longer propellers and a reinforced freight floor meeting RAF Transport Command's requirements with an all up weight of 42 000 lb.
|The model that started this research! Malcolm Morgan's G-AGVC sports a Mark 31 type tail and was built as an experiment to prove the feasibility of a larger model with more efficient and powerful electric motors driving four bladed propellers.|
|On 7 June 1946 meanwhile G-AGVB
was granted the first unrestricted Certificate of
Airworthiness for a new post war aircraft and later in
the same month was leased by Channel Airways.
Sixteen new Type 170s were delivered from Filton during the second half of 1946 and a further 28 in 1947.
The largest order for Mark 1A Freighters was from the Argentine Air Force. 15 examples were delivered between October 1946 and August 1947. Five of these were converted into 35 seat troop carriers and a sixth machine became a flying workshop. All served with the 1st Transport Group at El Palomar, Buenos Aires.
Civilian customers included Airwork, Aviacion y Commercio of Madrid, Aer Outremer, Australian National Airways, British American Air Services, Cie Air Transport, Bharat Airways, Dalmia Jain, India National Airlines, Redes Estadaus Aereans Limitado, Shell, Suidair and West African Airways Corporation.
During 1950-51 three Bristol Type 170s of Societe Indochinoise de Transports Aeriens were commandeered as supply aircraft by the French Government in the fight against Viet Minh rebels.
Type 170s G-AGVC 'JD, 'JO, G-AHJC and G-AICS joined G-AGVC in the Berlin Airlift while G-AICM was fitted with optically flat windows in the nose for photographic survey work of the Persian ( now Iranian ) oilfields with Hunting Air Surveys in 1947 and these windows later became standard equipment on military Type 170s.
The only Type 170 never to leave Filton was G-AILY which, after a limited flying career, was grounded and used as a trial installations ground airframe.
|Based at Essendon, this Bristol Type 170 Mark 21 of Air Express served Launceston in Tasmania and King and Flinders Islands in Australia's Bass Strait. Note the original tail configuration compared to later Bristol Type 170 Mark 31 variants.|
|A "NEW TYPE 170" - MARKS 11 AND 21|
|An upgraded "New Type
170" was introduced in 1947 with later production
machine G-AIFF combining the 108' round tipped wingspan
fitted to VR380 with local strengthening and 14'
propellers to become the prototype Mark 11 Freighter. As
such it was displayed at that year's Society of British
Aircraft Constructors show at Radlett, Hertfordshire.
G-AIFF was followed by only two identical machines:
G-AIMB which went to Swedish company AB
Turist-Trafik-Transportflyg as SE-BNG and G-AIME which
became South African Suidair's ZS-BVI in 1947.
The latter in fact started life as Mark 1 airframe 12795 and was first registered on 3 December 1946 as G-AIME, Certificate of Airworthiness 9113 being issued on 15 August 1947. However, it only spent the period from 18 August to 15 October 1957 with Suidair before being modified to Mark 11A standard with round tipped 108' span wings. It was modified to yet further to Mark 21 standard and became G-AIME of Air Kruise (Kent), Silver City Airways and British United Air Ferries before being scrapped at Southend in May 1964.
In 1948 the addition of more powerful Bristol Hercules 672 engines and an all up weight of 40 000 lb saw G-AIFF become the prototype Mark 21 Freighter. The Type 170 Mark 21E configuration meanwhile had a freight hold ahead of a 16 seat passenger cabin separated by a moveable bulkhead. Cabin heating and other refinements gave the Mark 21E a practical range of 900 miles while 35 examples of a military "New Type 170" - the Mark 21P - was built for the Royal Pakistan Air Force with parachute doors for supply dropping and windows in the lower portion of the nose doors.
One of these aircraft - airframe 12819 and registered to the Bristol Aeroplane Company on 27 January 1947as G-AIND - made history on 1 October 1950 by relaying the first clear television pictures from a flying aircraft. BBC viewers were treated to aerial views of the City of London and air-to-air sequences of civil and military aircraft. G-AIND became G794 of the Royal Pakistan Air Force on 31 May 1951.
Aviacion y Commercio of Madrid also took delivery of 6 Mark 21s in 1948.
In September 1949 Mark 21 former trials and demonstrator machine G-AHJC became VH-INK of Australian National Airlines on their "Air Beef" service between the abattoirs at Glenroy and meatworks at Wyndham 195 miles away. Three Type 170s were eventually used on this service, delivering 12 000 lb of chilled quartered beef on each of three daily trips.
Also in 1949, three Mark 21E Freighters were purchased by the British Ministry of Supply for work with the Long Range Weapons Establishment at Woomera, South Australia, home of many rocket tests. These aircraft - with British civilian registrations allocated but not taken up - were WB482 (G-AIMI ), WB483 (G-AIMO ) and WB 484 ( G-AIMR ) and were joined by WW378 (G-AHJN ) in 1951. All four were transferred to the Royal Australian Air Force on arrival as A81 -1, 2,3 and 4. A81-3's subsequent career is examined in more detail below in this article.
Several earlier Type 170s were converted to Mark 21 standard but a Mark 22A Wayfarer version of the New Type was designed but never built. Mark 21 production continued until 1953.
|Delivered to Trans Canada Air Lines on 30 September 1953,Bristol Type 170 Mark 31 CF-TFX ( Works number 13137 ) was plinthed at Yellowknife in Canada on 22 June 1968 after the main spar expired. Note the way that the red element of the Wardair livery has been applied to the leading edge of the strengthened tail fin.|
|THE TAIL OF THE MARK 31|
|In May 1949 G-AIFF crashed into
the English Channel and ten months later in March 1950
G-AHJJ also crashed near Cowbridge in Glamorgan. Both
Type 170 Mark 21s were lost during an extreme-yaw single
engined climb due to structural failure of the tail fin.
Consequently a longer, stronger dorsal fin was specified, resulting in the Type 170 Mark 31. The prototype Mark 31 - an upgraded G-AGVC - also featured Hercules 734 engines and an all up weight of 44 000 lb. This was followed by two production aircraft: G-AINK and G-AINL. The former was destined for cold weather trials in Canada under the military designation WH575 but crashed on take off from Filton in October 1950 and was replaced by G-AINL which became WJ320. WJ320 later underwent full trials at Boscombe Down, Winnipeg and Singapore before becoming EI-AFP of Aer Lingus in 1952.
|Mark 31E EI-AFQ was one of five Bristol Type 170s operated by Aer Lingus in the 1950s. EI-AFQ - Works Number 12937 - was delivered in June 1952 and sold to Airwork in 1955. it was then exported to New Zealand and became ZK-CVY of SAFE after a rebuild following an accident. it was withdrawn in 1967 and eventually scrapped.|
|Earlier machines were brought up
to this standard at the next major overhaul. As well as
the basic Mark 31 Freighter, the Mark 31E variant could
carry cars and passengers. Military freighters - Mark 31M
- were sold to the air forces of Canada ( 6 examples ),
Pakistan ( 38, joining their 35 Mark 21P variants ),
Burma (2), New Zealand (12) and Iraq (4). The aircraft
for Burma ( one identified as UB721 ) left Filton in
March 1954, betwen the first order from Iraq ( serial
numbers 330 and 331 being delivered in April and May 1953
) and a repeat order for paratrooping aircraft ( 368 and
369 ) realised in October 1954. The RNZAF aircraft were
delivered between November 1951 and March 1955.
A special Mark 31C variant went to the Aeroplane & Armament Experimental Establishment at Boscombe Down in February 1955 as XJ 470. This aircraft continued in service until 1969.
Bristol 170 Mark 31C XJ470 ( Filton works number 13217 )
|Due to Bristol Britannia
production starting at Filton, 1953 saw Type 170 assembly
move to Weston Super Mare with Mark 31P G-18-148 being
delivered to the Royal Pakistan Air Force as S4403 in
December of that year. It was to be the first of 34
airframes produced at the Somerset seaside resort.
The final Mark 31 was delivered in March 1958, by which time the Mark 31 had become the most successful of the Type 170 variants with examples in service in Britain, Australia, Burma, Canada, France and its empire, Lebanon, New Zealand, Pakistan and Spain.
Bristol Type 170s prepare to fly back to Britain from a calm Le Touquet airfield. The nose doors of the earlier Freighter (left) offered lower headroom than those found on the Mark 32 Superfreighter (right)
|MARK 32 SUPERFREIGHTER|
|A special Mark 32 Superfreighter
with 2000 hp Hercules 734 engines was built for Silver
City Airways - and immortalised by Airfix in the Jet
Age Reserve Model Collection - which had the nose extended by five feet.
This allowed Silver City Airways to offer a cross Channel
ferry service carrying 3 cars and 12 passengers or 2 cars
and 23 passengers ( in a cabin aft of the hold ) per
flight in a 73'4" long fuselage. With a loaded
weight of 44 000 lb, the 230 mph Mark 32 could now fly 1
270 miles at 164 mph with an 8 000 lb payload. Its
service ceiling was 24 500'.
The prototype Mark 32 - originally intended to be finished as Mark 31 G-AMLK - was converted during production and registered as G-AMWA. it first flew on 16 January 1953 and was delivered to Silver City on 31 March that year. By June 1953 five more Mark 32s had been delivered ( registered G-AMWB, WC, WD,WE,WF ) with G-AMWH, WI and WJ following in 1954. G-ANWJ, G-ANWK ( the subject of the Airfix kit ), WL, WM and WN were delivered in 1956.
The prototype G-AMWA was converted into a "Super Wayfarer" in 1958 by the installation of 60 passenger seats for Silver City's London-Paris air coach service.
In addition to the 14 Mark 32 Superfreighters sold to Silver City Airways between 1953 and 1956, six were sold to Air Charter. Two - registered G-ANVR and G-ANVS - were delivered in 1955 followed by G-AOUU, UV, G-APAU and G-APAV between December 1956 and April 1957. After new Mark 32 production ceased in 1957, Air Charter also had two of its Mark 31Es converted to Mark 32 Superfreighter standard. G-AMLP was converted in March 1958 and G-AMSA in July that year. In January 1959 Air Charter became a subsidiary of Airwork and the following month the vehicle ferry division at Southend with its Type 170s became known Channel Air Bridge.
Because of their very high utilisation rate however, most of the 214 Bristol Freighters built soon finished their airframe lives and none are still flying in 2006. In total 214 Bristol Type 170s were produced. Of these 94 went to civilian operators, 116 to military service, one was a test aircraft and three were written off prior to delivery.
BRISTOL TYPE 170S AT WORK
Bristol Type170 Mark 31E KC 9697 of the Royal Canadian Air Force
|ROYAL CANADIAN AIR FORCE|
|As the first customer for the Mark
31M, the Royal Canadian Air Force ( RCAF ) received
serial numbers 9696 ( airframe 12829 ) and 9697 (
airframe 12830) in November 1951 followed by a third
aircraft ( 9698 airframe 13079 ) in 1953, two more in
1955 ( 9699 airframe 13219 and 9700 airframe 13249 ) and
a sixth and final example ( 9850 airframe13253) in 1957.
These Bristol Type 170s were used by 137 Transport Flight RCAF to deliver supplies and equipment - up to 11 000 lb at a time - from 30 Air Material Base at Langar, Nottinghamshire, to the four Wings of Canada's NATO Air Division based in France and Germany. Indeed, 9697 had already transported Bristol Type 171 Sycamore helicopter G-ALTC ( airframe number 12897 ) to the SBAC show at Farnborough in September 1951! During the winter of 1951-2 the first two aircraft were flown to Edmonton, Canada, and fitted with new radios, revised instrumentation and superior heating before flying east to Nottinghamshire in October 1952.
With the opening of the air gunnery school at Rabat, Morocco, in 1953 the Bristol Type 170s were involved along with North Stars ( Canadian built Douglas SC-54 Skymasters with Merlin 620 engines ) in flying ground crews and maintenance equipment and supplies to Africa. A Mark 31M could even haul an entire Canadair Sabre jet fighter ( minus its engine ) or just the engine itself to Rabat: just as it could transport the Sabre's wings to Scottish Aviation at Prestwick for repairs. When the Air Weapons Unit moved to Decimomannu in Sardinia in 1957 the Bristol Type 170s carried on in the same role, although by that time 9696 had crashed during a ground controlled approach in fog to Marville, France, and had been replaced by 9850.
In the early 1960s supplies began to be flown direct from Canada to 1 Wing at Marville for redistribution elsewhere and as a result 137 Flight was moved to 2 Wing at Grostenquin where, in August 1963, it merged with the 10 Douglas Dakotas of 109 Communications Flight to form 109 Composite Unit.
On 31 December 1963 9697 crashed at Marville, which was to become the new home of 109 Composite Unit's four remaining Bristol Type 170s from March 1964. These aircraft continued flying over Pisa to Sardinia and north to Scotland without incident - and also proved capable of carrying the bulky engines of the CF-104 Starfighters which had replaced the Canadair Sabre.
The last flight by an RCAF Bristol Freighter was by 9699 from Decimomannu on 28 October 1966, after which the Type 170s were replaced by Lockheed Hercules. During 14 years of service the RCAF Type 170 fleet had accumulated a total of 32 092 hours in the air.
9698 flew to Weston Super Mare in 1967 and after refurbishment by Western Airways Ltd was registered to Wardair of Edmonton, Canada, as CF-WAC on 22 December 1967. It was later transferred to Lambair in November 1970.
9699 followed a similar path ( as CF-WAE ) but 1970 saw it sold to Norcanair ( North Canada Air Ltd ) of Prince Rupert where it was used to supply remote settlements, camps and oil rigs in the Canadian Arctic. 9700 - later CF-WAG - however was less fortunate. Having joined Wardair from Weston and Prestwick in 1969 it fell through the ice of the Great Slave Lake near Snowdrift, North West Territories, on 3 May 1970 and could not be recovered. 9850 also joined Wardair in 1968 as CF-WAD.
One fork lift loads another aboard a Royal Canadian Air Force Mark 31M. One advantage of the Bristol Type 170 design was the small vertical distance of the floor from the ground
|Bristol Type 170 Mark 21P became G796 of the Royal Pakistan Air Force on 27 June 1951|
|ROYAL PAKISTAN AIR FORCE|
|In 1961 when huge swarms of migrating locusts were passing through the Sind province of Western Pakistan a state of emergency was declared as widespread famine was feared unless the insects could be exterminated. Four Hawker Fury FB.60s were used for reconnaissance to locate the swarms and five Bristol Type 170 Mark 31M s each fitted with 700 gallon tanks of insecticide with spray booms under each wing took on the task of destroying the pests. each underwing boom contained 50 nozzles and each aircraft was able to spray an area of up to 2 000 acres in one sortie, achieving considerable success.|
|CHANNEL ISLANDS AIRWAYS|
|"Flight" magazine of 16
May 1946 carried the following report of a proving flight
of 8 May by G-AGVB ( airframe 12731):
Channel Islands Airways are the first on the list of waiting customers for the Bristol Wayfarers and, because of this, it is not surprising that their main routes should be selected for a trial run of the new aircraft.
Piloted by A.J. Pegg, Bristol's Assistant Chief Test Pilot with Commander J.M. Keene Miller of CIA in the second pilot's seat, the Wayfarer flew from Filton to Southampton and thence, after the passengers had passed through the customs, to Guernsey. After being inspected by the Lt-Governor and Baliff, it was flown over to Jersey and there displayed to Mr Chuter Ede, the Home Secretary, who was in the islands to celebrate the first anniversary of their liberation from German occupation, and to the good Jersey Islanders at large. In the evening it was flown to Croydon, taking one hour fifteen minutes for the 180 mile journey against a strong headwind. This, it must be understood was a proving - not a delivery - flight. It is expected that the first delivery will be made at the end of May or early in June.
The outstanding impression one gets as the Wayfarer is boarded is of spaciousnes and solidity. No other habin has given such an impression of roominess and strength since the days of the Handley Page 42 and Short Scylla. Even where the main spar crosses the cabin roof there is plenty of headroom for a tall man.
In width there is ample shoulder room for four people abreast, and the gangway is of such width that passengers do not automatically turn sideways to negotiate it.
Only a short stairway of three or four steps is needed to reach the door from the tarmac, and the tail-down floor angle is just right for comfortable progress to one's seat. There is no feeling of climbing, neither is that climb of eight or nine feet up a ladder to reach the door of a tricycle undercarriage aircraft that passengers so dislike, The armchairs, which Mr Rumbold has managed to get down to 50 lb weight each, are very comfortable. For any flight lasting less than three hours the standard can be considered luxurious. Each armchair has a square window of ample dimensions from which easy vision is obtained for 120 degrees on the fore and aft line and 60 degrees downward. One has to lean forward slightly to use the windows to their full advantage, and slight movement of the headrests forward in relation to the windows would be an improvement. Where view is concerned,no one could fail to appreciate the advantage of the high wing arrangement. they are threefold: The glare from a metal wing is avoided; each seat has an equally good view, and the shade of the wing is comforting and saves a good deal of eyestrain.
It would be expected that the impact of the slipstream from the airscrews would hammer badly on the slab sided fuselage. This, however, does not appear to happen. By placing a hand on each fuselage frame in turn it was impossible to detect excessive vibration in any particular member. two persons sitting side by side in one of the armchairs are able to carry on a conversation without raising their voices, and the talk going on around one can be heard without straining the ears.
Nevertheless there is a pronounced drumming which is distinctly unpleasant. having carefully tested the cabin for slipstream hammer and volume of noise one can oly presume that the trouble lies in the stub exhaust pipes which are fitted. if these were fed into a collector ring and taken by two long exhaust pipes over the wing, it is possible that a big improvement would result. the only other slight criticism which might be made is that when the individual ventilators are unscrewed to admit air, the control plates become loose and rattle in an irritating manner.
The luggage rack is quite exceptionally good. it appears to "hold" the baggage in a gentle grip and there is none of the usual vibration dance which moves ones luggage two seats further down the cabin.
A final impression. By the shortness of run taken both for takeoff and landing on this proving flight, it is obvious that the Wayfarer can operate from any airfield in the World worthy of the name.
G-BISU (left ) flies alongside ZK-EPD, later to become G-AMLK on the British register
|At Stansted Airport on 13 March
1981 a Bristol Freighter returned to British skies after
more than a decade's absence. Mark 31 G-BISU arrived from
New Zealand to join the second incarnation of Instone Air
The name S. Instone & Co Ltd was registered on 5 December 1914 as the new, less German sounding, identity of shipping and colliery firm S. Einstein & Co Ltd. Finding that conventional postal services were impeding the flow of paperwork around their many business operations in the aftermath of World War One, Theodore, Alfred and Samuel, the brothers who ran the firm, began their own airmail service with war surplus Airco DH4 H5939 which they registered as G-EAMU "City of Cardiff". This expanded into the pioneering Instone Air Line Ltd which - despite being the first in the World to fly racehorses - was merged into Imperial Airways on 31 March 1924.
One of the two-horse stalls fitted to Bristol Type 170 Mark 31 G-BISU by Instone
|However, the shipping side of the
business continued and by 1979 Jeremy and Giles Instone -
the grandsons of Theodore - had accumulated years of
experience in selling space and chartering aircraft to
move freight and race horses around the globe. It was
then that they decided to set up their own airline,
eventually using G-BISU to take up to six horses and up
to 12 grooms and stablehands as far afield as Europe.
G-BISU was suitably equipped to Civil Aviation Authority
standards with its own adjustable horse stalls and
padded, fenced loading ramp. The configuration of the
Bristol Freighter also meant that the horses had plenty
of headroom and could be tended while in flight.
During its time with Instone, G-BISU was kept on standby during the flat season and could take horses at short notice from Stanstead ( near to Newmarket racecourse ) to Baden Baden, Deauville, Dublin, Paris and other airfields close to racecourses - some landing grounds being too small and unsophisticated for larger aircraft to access.
The customised horse loading ramp fitted to Bristol Type 170 Mark 31 G-BISU by Instone
|G-BISU had begun life as
airframe 13218 and was allocated the registration G18-194
on 17 March 1955 for its delivery flight to Whenuapai,
New Zealand, where it arrived on 31 March 1955. It was
then brought on charge as NZ5912 with No.41 Squadron
NZ5912 was then loaned to Straits Air Freight Express ( SAFE ) from 14 December 1957 registered as ZK-BVI before regaining its military serial in March 1958. Its final RNZAF flight was on 14 December 1977 after which it was registered to Dwen Airmotive NZ Ltd. as ZK-EPH on 17 August 1978.
Bristol Type 170 G-BISU for sale in Flight International 27 February 1988
|G-BISU was retired to the Imperial War Museum at Duxford on 8 November 1987 but then sold to Trans Provincial Airlines, Terrace, British Columbia, Canada in 1988 and ferried to Canada from Duxford on 8 December 1988, arriving at Edmonton on 25 January 1989.|
|C-FDFC attended the Classic Airliner Show at Lydd Airport on 30 June 1996. Flying in from Heathrow, the Bristol Type 170 spent part of the day with a vintage Bristol motor car on its front ramp.|
|Registered as C-FDFC, the
Type 170 flew with Trans Provincial until the company
ceased operations in March 1993. C-FDFC was then
purchased by a group of British Airways employees -
including Captain John Duncan - and flown to England in
Among other activities, C-FDFC attended the Classic Airliner Show at Lydd Airport on 30 June 1996. Flying in from Heathrow, the Bristol Type 170 spent part of the day with a vintage Bristol motor car on its front ramp. In 1996 C-FDFC also took part in the Heathrow fiftieth anniversary flypast, Kemble Air Day and the PFA International Air Rally at Cranfield. It was going to attend the International Air Tattoo at Fairford.
However, on 18 July 1996, C-FDFC took off from Enstone, Oxfordshire, en route to a display at Filton alongside Bristol Blenheim G-BPIV ( "L8841"), in a light crosswind, stalled at 50 feet, crashed and was written off. Luckily, despite a spillage of 800 gallons of aviation fuel, there was no fire and all on board survived.
C-FDFC - airframe13218 - crashed on takeoff on 18 July 1996 at Enstone, Oxfordshire. This picture - originally printed in Flypast magazine in September 1996 - is reproduced with the kind permission of the photographer, Rob Pritchard.
|ZK-EPD, later registered G-AMLK,
joined its sister at Instone on 23 August 1982 - after an
85 hour delivery flight from Auckland through eight
countries. For just under two years the pair were also
employed on all kinds of charter work, including flying
spare engines to otherwise stranded wide bodied jets.
Ford also used Instone to move other spare parts from
Cologne and Saarbrucken to Valencia and the two Bristol
Freighters undertook much charter work for Air
Atlantique, flying from Stansted to East Midlands
Airport, Shannon and Glasgow.
This Bristol Type 170 began life as airframe 13060 and - like the eventual C-FDFC - was originally destined for the Royal New Zealand Air Force. Allocated G18-114 to Bristol Aeroplane Company for the journey from Filton on 1 December 1952, the Type 170 Mark 31 was brought on charge at RNZAF Whenuapai on 22 December 1952 as NZ5907. Its final RNZAF flight was on 20 May 1977 and - again like its future Instone stablemate - was registered to Dwen Airmotive NZ Ltd. as ZK-EPD on 17 August 1978
However, the one time G-AMLK was restored to the New Zealand register as ZK-EPD on 05 April 1984 to Dwen Airmotive NZ Ltd and after a brief ownership by Hercules Airlines it was also transferred to Trans Provincial Airlines, Terrace, BC, Canada as C-GYQS.
A further move to Hawkair Aviation Services followed in 1993, allowing restoration to airworthiness and a first flight in this condition on 9 July 1997. C-GYQS was used on mining contracts by Hawkair until as the last remaining airworthy Bristol Freighter in the World it made its final commercial flight on 23 October 1999. Its final flight ( probably for ever ) was from Terrace to Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada on 6 September 2004 prior to display at the Reynolds-Alberta Museum . In a career of 52 years airframe 13060 had flown for 17 174.4 hours and made 21885 landings.
|SAFE ( STRAITS AIR FREIGHT EXPRESS )|
|In mid 1951 began probably one of
the longest airline / aircraft relationships ever
recorded.began with the acquisition by SAFE Ltd of New
Zealand of two Mark 31s which continued to serve into the
late 1970s. By 1976 Safe Air Ltd ( as it was renamed on
31 October 1967 ) operated eleven Type 170s and in 1967
the New Zealand government awarded the airline a contract
for a regular passenger service to to the Chatham
This duty was performed by two ex Royal Pakistan Air Force Mark 31Ms - registered as ZK-CLT and ZK-CRK - modified to carry a 20 seat passenger capsule in an otherwise bare fuselage. This capsule - fitted with a carpeted interior, air conditioning, individual reading lamps, piped music and a public address service - could be winched into the hold in a mater of minutes.
In 1968 two further Mark 31s emerged from the Safe Air workshops at Woodburne. These were ZK-CVY ( a rebuild from the fuselage of ZK-BMA and wings of ZK-CVL ) and ZK-CWF ( a rebuild from the fuselage of ZK-AYG and wings of ZK-CLU )
|SILVER CITY AIRWAYS|
|Following the lease by Silver City Airways of a sole Mark 21 - G-AGVC - the Type 170's 47 mile cross channel ferry flight from Lympne to Le Touquet on 14 July 1948 inaugurated the well known air ferry services. From its small beginnings, Silver City became the main civilian operator of Bristol's twin engined transport and by the end of 1956, when its final Mark 32 had been delivered, they had operated 26 different Type 170s.|
Silver City Airways advertisement from Ian Allen Civil Aircraft Recognition 1955
|On 28 July 1951, with six Type 170
Mark 21s, 42 Lympne - Le Touquet return trips were made
carrying 67 cars, 75 motor cycles, 65 bicycles and 411
passengers. In November 1951, when a decline in seasonal
traffic had set in, Silver City Airways was awarded a
contract to fly 1 800 head of cattle across the English
Channel. This was achieved over a six week period at the
rate of 300 head per week, each aircraft being fitted
with special stalls for carrying eight cows.
In 1953 the Mark 32 was introduced, supplementing the Mark 21s and on 13 July 1954 Silver City Airways opened their new terminal - Ferryfield - at Lydd.
In October 1962 Silver City and Air Charter ( by then a part of Airwork ) merged to form British United Air Ferries ( later British Air Ferries ) and some of their Mark 32s were transferred to Cie Air Transport in France. At the time of the merger British United Air Ferries boasted five Mark 21s, one Mark 31 and 18 Mark 32 Bristol Type 170 aircraft but the 1963 introduction of four engined Carvairs - purpose built as cross-Channel vehicle ferries - marked the start of a slow decline for the Bristol Type 170s in British civilian service. Indeed, all variants earlier than Mark 31 were withdrawn from British civilian use from 1963 onwards.
|Silver City Airway's Bristol 170 Mk 32 Superfreighter G-ANWN takes on its full compliment of three cars. Note the modified clamshell doors, now the full height of the nose compared to earlier variants. Airframe13262 was named "City of Hull" in 1959 and was transferred to Cie Air Transport as F-BPIN on 2 January 1968. However, her last flight was back to Lydd for scrapping on 4 April 1969.|
SELECTED BRISTOL TYPE 170S IN FOCUS
|Mark 21E G-ACIT - The Britannia test bed|
|Airframe 12763 was originally built as a Mark 11A and chartered to Airwork in March 1948 for trooping flights to Sudan and Kenya. It was converted to Mark 21E standard in 1949 and in 1951 was fitted with a 70% scale Bristol Britannia tailplane, elevators, rudder and dorsal fin. This was to provide handling data on the aerodynamic servo tab controls and artificial feed system adopted for the four engined turboprop airliner. Flown for some months with the experimental mark G-18-40, airframe 12763 was restored to Mark 21E standard and delivered to British Cameroons based West African Airways as VR-NAL "Gambia" in April 1952. However, airframe 12763 later returned to the British register again as G-AICT when purchased by East Anglian Flying Services. This company was renamed Channel Airways Ltd at Southend on 5 November 1962 and G-ACIT made its last flight on 7 October 1965 before scrapping at Southend a year later.|
|By the 1970s, the Airfix kit of the Bristol Type 170 Mark 32 Superfreighter was being offered in British United Air Ferries livery. Compared with the earlier Silver City markings, most of the aircraft is now white rather than silver.|
|Click on picture for or more on the model of G-ANWK at the Cheltenham GWR Modellers Exhibition|
|This advertisement in the November 1963 edition of Aeromodeller showcased the then four year old moulding of G-ANWK along with an incitement to buy that year's 1/72 scale YAK 9D - for just 2/-!|
|Mark 32 G-ANWK - The Airfix kit|
|Airframe 13259 was built at Weston Super Mare and registered to Bristol Aircraft Limited as G-ANWK on 31 January 1956, being issued with a Certificate of Airworthiness being issued on the day of its delivery to Silver City Airways, 19 June. The Bristol registration was officially cancelled the next day with registration to Silver City taking place on 5 July. G-ANWK featured in the celebrations of Silver City Airway's 10th Anniversary of cross Channel flying on 14 July 1958 - also Bastille Day in France. G-ANWK was named "Fourteenth of July" on its starboard side by the Mayor of Le Touquet at Lydd and then "Quatorze Juillet" on its port side by the Mayor of Lydd at le Touquet. The next year G-ANWK was renamed on both sides "City of Leicester" and was re-registered to Britavia Ltd on 3 April 1962, to British United Air Ferries in May 1965 and to British Air Ferries in 1967. G-ANWK was last flown on 20 October 1969 prior to its Certificate of Airworthiness expiring on 18 June 1970. It was broken up at Lydd in August 1970 but not officially declared withdrawn until 5 February 1971.|
Bristol Type 170 Mk 21E VH-SJQ of Air Express, Essendon, Australia
|Mark 21E VH-SJQ - An Australian Freighter|
|Airframe 12807 became Ministry of Supply serial WB484 for its delivery flight to the Long Range Weapons Establishment at Woomera, South Australia, where the Mark 21E machine became A81-3 of the Royal Australian Air Force. It was later operated by the RAAF's 86th Transport Wing at Canberra with red nacelles, a blue fuselage band and white tail. At the end of its military service it was sold to Jetair Australia Pty in January 1969 as VH-SJQ but was damaged in a storm at Archerfield, Brisbane, on 7 December 1969, just three days after the company had ceased operations. VH-SJQ was sold to Air Express of Essenden in January 1972 after which the branding "Comet Overnight Transport" was added to the livery. Sadly, both the crew were killed after VH-SJQ suffered engine failure and crashed into the Bass Straits on 10 May 1975.|
|Bristol Mark 21E Wayfarer SA-AAA ( later HZ-AAA ) at Filton before delivery in January 1949. In the background is the second prototype Bristol Buckmaster TJ717.|
|Mark 21E SA-AAA - A Saudi Wayfarer.|
|By the end of World War II the 13
year old nation of Saudi Arabia was largely untouched by
the previous six years events in Europe and North
America. The country's way of life had remained virtually
unchanged since the Middle Ages and although King Ibn
Saud had granted the first oil concession in 1933, the
extent of the vast deposits had yet to be realised.
Annual income was then £ 5 million and the contry was
far from wealthy. Understandably all forms of aviation
development within the Kingdom were extremely limited and
civil air transport was virtually unknown.
This state of arrairs was to change rapidly with the industrial nations of the World - in particular the USA - eager to work the oil bearing land centered around the Persian Gulf. With thousands of foreign technicians arriving at Saudi Arabian oil wells, oil refineries and port installations began to spring up and it was obvious that difficult rail and road journeys across the rugged land would hardly be a factor in encouraging rapid growth.
Therefore in 1946 a State-owned enterprise, Saudi Arabian Airlines, was formed with the help of Trans World Airlines and a USAF technical mission. Intital equipment consisted not surprisingly of three ex USAAF Douglas C-47 Dakotas. These were employed on charter work until the first scheduled services between Jeddah, Riyadh and Dhahran was inaugurated on 14 March 1947.
Enough traffic was generated in the first season to warrant an order for five Bristol Type 170 Wayfarers. They were all new Series 21E models delivered during 1949, incorporating nose doors and a freight floor with thirty two quickly removable passenger seats and a moveable bulkhead. The type proved very useful for bulky cargo traffic and remained in service for nearly ten years.
All the Bristol Type 170 Wayfarers were delivered under British civil registrations and the initial prefix SA changed to HZ in March 1952. The eventual HZ-AAB was written off on 25 March 1958.
|Bristol 170 Mk 31E EC-AHJ|
|Mark 31E EC-AHJ - A Spanish Freighter.|
|Airframe 13129 was flown to Spain as EC-WHJ before becoming Iberia fleet number 63 on 27 June 1953. Later transfering to Aviaco but was written off after a mainwheel failure at Valencia on 19 April 1962.|
|Mark 11A G-AIFV - The Fim Star|
|Airframe 12781 was first
registered to the Bristol Aeroplane Company on 11 October
1946 but was then sold to Indian airline Dalmia Jain on 4
December 1946 as VT-CID and then sold on to India
National Airlines on 27 October 1947. After a return to
Filton for upgrading to Mark 21 standard, airframe 12781
finally became G-AIFV of Silver City Airways on 19 June
In 1956 G-AIFV featured in the Ealing film "The Man In The Sky". Directed by Charles Crichton and featuring Lionel Jeffries and Donald Pleasance, "The Man In The Sky" - distributed as "Decision against Time" in the USA - starred Jack Hawkins as a test pilot who refused to bail out when one of his aircraft's engines caught fire. The film called for a landing sequence on one wheel with a dead engine and this was practiced at Lydd Ferryfield. Unfortunately during actual filming at Wolverhampton on 15 May 1956 G-AIFV overshot the runway and ended in a ditch, damaging the nose, undercarriage and wings.
After repairs G-AIFV returned to Silver City service and during 1957 ( along with G-AIFM and G-AIME ) carried the Lancashire Aircraft Corporation badge on its fin. It was named "City of Manchester" in November 1958 but was withdrawn and scrapped at Lydd in May 1962.