Handley Page Victor

by Ian Homer. Posted to category: Education

first flight on 24th December 1952


Handley Page Victor
December 24th  - 66th anniversary of the first flight of a jet-age icon

Watch the prototype here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3emln37AYD4

On Christmas Eve 1952, the futuristic Handley Page Victor, the third of Britain’s V-Force nuclear deterrent aircraft, soared into the air for the first time. Its innovative crescent-shaped wing allowed the Victor to cruise close to the speed of sound and to break through the sound barrier in a shallow dive, making it the fastest large aircraft until Concorde. The first Victors were delivered to RAF Gaydon in 1957, now home to the British Motor Museum, Jaguar Land Rover and Aston Martin, and the type remained in service until October 1993 - an incredible 41 years supporting the defence of the United Kingdom and its NATO allies.

The first Victor prototype was built at Handley Page’s factory in Radlett but was too large to take off from the company’s runway, so was taken apart and transported by road to RAF Boscombe Down.  The top-secret load was disguised as a boat hull, hidden under tarpaulins marked GELEYPANDHY / SOUTHAMPTON - Geleypandhy being an anagram of Handley Page corrupted by a sign-writer’s error. The passage of the massive aircraft can’t have been particularly inconspicuous as it was proceeded by government-authorised bulldozers that widened the road and scraped new paths around obstacles.

Although designed to carry Britain’s nuclear deterrent, the Victor is best known for its role as an air-to-air refuelling tanker during the 1982 Falklands conflict. Eleven aircraft in a carefully choreographed routine refuelled the solo attacking Vulcan for the world-record 8,000 mile sortie, allowing Vulcan XM607 to release its bombs over the Port Stanley airfield runway and initiate the campaign that led to the recapture of the Islands.

XH558 saluted two of the type in 2015 during her final season of flight.


XH558 overflew the Victors, Lusty Lindy at Elvington, Yorkshire and ‘Teasin’ Tina’ at Bruntingthorpe in Leicestershire during her Farewell to Flight season. Images courtesy of James Mason and Phil Catleugh.

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