Blackburn Beverley

Seletar 1960s 1960-67 Beverley (Blackburn) 34 Sqn (W-XB262) on the apron

34 Squadron flew the Beverleys at RAF Seletar from

October 1960 to December 1967.

Grateful thanks to Ian Old for the the following article.

Blackburn Beverley C.1

Present at Seletar from March 1959 to December 1967

In 1946 the Air Ministry issued Specification C.3/46 for a medium-range tactical transport. The General Aircraft Limited (GAL) responded with the GAL.60 Universal Freighter Mk.1, based upon the wartime GAL.49 Hamilcar glider, which was capable of carrying a light tank. In 1949 GAL merged with Blackburns, forming the Blackburn & General Aircraft Limited. One Universal Freighter Mk.1 prototype was built, making its first flight on 20 June 1950.

Meanwhile the RAF had changed its requirements and major changes were needed to meet the revised demands. The cargo hold of the four engined, high-winged, twin-finned aircraft with fixed undercarriage was increased in size to 40 feet by 10 feet by 10 feet and the tail boom modified to have seats. The height of the tail was increased by 12 inches to 38 feet 9 inches and the powerplants changed to Bristol Centaurus 18 cylinder radials, each producing 2,850hp at full power and with reverse pitch to allow short landings to be made. The maximum weight was increased by 8,000lb., to 143,000lbs. (63.83 tons).

The maximum payload which could be transported was 45,000lb. (20.08 tons). Wheeled vehicles up to 12,500lb. (5.5 tons) could be accommodated. One Bristol Sycamore helicopter could be carried, once all rotors had been removed. A total of 94 passengers could be carried. Seventy paratroopers could be carried or 48 stretcher cases. To allow for airdrops to be made, two removable clam shell doors were fitted. When these had been removed, it was found necessary for air deflectors to smooth out the airflow around the tail. The limit for loads to be air-dropped was 25,000lb. (11 tons).

In 1952 twenty examples of the Blackburn Beverley C.1 were ordered, it being named after the small market town in the East Riding of Yorkshire, not far from the production line at Brough. The prototype to the revised standard flew for the first time until 14 June 1953, whilst the first production example made its first flight on 29 January 1955 and the last Beverley to be built, the RAF order having been increased to 47, made its maiden flight on 14 May 1958. The Beverley had a crew of six, two pilots, and one navigator, flight engineer, signaller and an air quartermaster.

The Beverley was a good performer in and out of rough airstrips and was capable of operating in mountainous areas, making it very useful in both the Middle and Far East. With a full load, the take off distance was 790 yards and the landing run 310 yards. Its range with a 1,000lb. payload was 3,690 miles, cruising at 188mph, whilst with a 29,000 payload (12.95 tons), maximum range was 1,300 miles. Loaded with 44,000lb., (19.64 tons) close to its limit, flying at 145mph, its maximum range was a mere 200 miles. Maximum speed was 238 mph, its best cruising speed being 173 mph at 8,000 feet. Its dimensions were 99 feet and 5 inches in length and its wingspan was 162 feet.

A total of eleven Beverley C.1 transport aircraft served with the Far East Air Force (FEAF), all being based at Seletar. Only one returned to the UK and none were in existence after 1969.

Operators:

1) 48 Sqn., Beverley Flt.

(The rest of 48 Sqn. was at Changi, operating Hastings.) The first aircraft to arrive was XM104 on 12 March 1959. The Flight which comprised four aircraft, ‘P’ XM104, ‘U’ XB260, ‘V’ XM112 and ‘W’ XB262, was redesignated as 34 Sqn. on 1 October 1960.

2) 34 Sqn.

Reformed on 1 October 1960, having been disbanded at Tangmere on 10 January 1958 when equipped with Hunter F.5s. Beginning with the four inherited aircraft, it expanded slowly, gaining a further five machines by 1965, no doubt because of the Borneo Confrontation (December 1962 – August 1966). 34 Sqn. carried out a large number of transport missions during the Confrontation, operating out of Kuala Lumpur and Butterworth, both in what is now Malaysia as well as Labuan, Borneo.

Its insignia was a green diamond on the fin with the squadron number in white. In common with other overseas RAF operators, 34 Sqn. aircraft bore the relevant command title on the tail boom, mostly in the form “Royal Air Force” on one side of the roundel and “Far East” on the other, although at least XM112 had the title painted between the roundel and tail only.

In February 1967 the final OCU course for the type graduated from 242 OCU, Thorney Island. This meant the end of the Beverley’s service was imminent, this being due largely to the entry into service of the Lockheed Hercules. However the retirement was hastened due to the discovery of cracks in the wing centre section fuselage join in several aircraft, leading to these particular being withdrawn from use immediately. The four squadrons operating the type in January 1967 were all disbanded in that year. 30, 84 and 47 Sqns. went in that order before the last Beverley operating unit, 34 Sqn., disbanded on 31 December 1967.

Individual aircraft:

XB260

Allocated to HQ FEAF on 14 May 1959, although it had been issued to 48 Sqn., Beverley Flight, on 20 April 1959, becoming ‘U’. It joined 34 Sqn. on 1 October 1960 as ‘U’, becoming plain ‘260’ later. To 389 MU on 1 January 1968, being Struck Off Charge (SOC) on 14 February 1968 as Cat.5 (Components) and was scrapped on site.

XB262

Issued to HQ FEAF 5 June 1959, joining 48 Sqn. on 3 July 1959 becoming ‘W’. Transferred as ‘W’ to 34 Sqn. on 1 October 1960, becoming plain ‘262’ later. To 390 MU, Struck Off Charge (SOC) on 23 October 1967 as Cat.5 (Components) and was scrapped at Seletar.

XB264

Issued to FEAF on 6 February 1963, joining 34 Sqn. 20 February 1963 and it was coded ‘264’. (It may have been delivered still marked as ‘C’, Abingdon Wing). It suffered damage in a ground accident on 20 April 1964, being classified as Cat.3R before being reassessed as Cat.4R (more serious) on 24 June 1964, rejoining 34 Sqn. on 19 November 1964. To 390 MU, was Struck Off Charge (SOC) on 1 October 1967 as Cat.5 (Components) and scrapped at Seletar.

XB283

Issued to 34 Sqn. on 1 December 1964. To 390 MU on 1 January 1968, being Struck Off Charge (SOC) on 14 February 1968 as Cat.5 (Components) and was scrapped at Seletar.

XB289

Issued to 34 Sqn. on 4 April 1964, being coded ‘289’. To 390 MU on 1 January 1968, being Struck Off Charge (SOC) on 14 February 1968 as Cat.5 (Components) and was scrapped at Seletar.

XB291

Joined 34 Sqn. on 18 February 1964 and was coded as ‘291’. To 390 MU on 1 January 1968, being Struck Off Charge (SOC) as Cat.5 (Components) on 14 February 1968 and was scrapped at Seletar.

XH116

Issued to 34 Sqn. on 3 December 1963 as ‘116’. Suffered Cat.3R damage on 29 October 1965 when it was taxied into a power post at Sandakan airfield (Borneo) whilst detached to Labuan, rejoining 34 Sqn. on 15 December 1965. Struck Off Charge (SOC) on 1 October 1967 as Cat.5(Scrap) and was scrapped at 390 MU Seletar.

XH120

Issued to FEAF on 11 November 1963, being taken on charge by 34 Sqn. on 10 December 1960. It was coded ‘X’. It returned to the UK on 20 February 1963. It was the only Beverley that served with FEAF not to end its days in the Far East. It was Scrapped at RAF Shawbury in1969.

XL150

To 32 MU at St. Athan in December 1965 for refurbishment and application of the two-tone brown camouflage scheme with black undersurfaces. Allocated to FEAF on 22 February 1966, it departed the UK 17 March 1966 and was issued to 34 Sqn. on 25 March 1966. It was the eleventh and last Beverley to join 34 Sqn. and the only camouflaged example to serve with it. On 15 December 1967 it crashed into a ridge at Bukit Hantu, Malaysia, in bad weather during a low level cross-country flight. The crew comprised Squadron Leader Nigel Bacon, Flying Officers David Brodie and Brian Hudson and Sergeants John Curtis, Brian George and Ernest Trigwell. All were killed. Aircraft’s total flying time was 4,096 hrs. It was Struck Off Charge (SOC) on 21 December 1967 as Cat.5(Scrap) and scrapped on site.

XM104

Allocated to FEAF 13 February 1959, it joined 48 Sqn. on 12 March 1959, before transferring to 34 Sqn. on 1 October 1960 becoming ‘P’. Was coded ‘104’ by 1965. To 390 MU on 1 January 1968, being Struck Off Charge (SOC) on 14 February 1968 as Cat.5 (Components) and scrapped on site.

XM112

The last Beverley built. Allocated to HQ FEAF on 21 May 1959, arriving at Seletar 19 June 1959, joining 48 Sqn. and was soon coded ‘V’. Transferred as ‘V’ to 34 Sqn. on 1 October 1960, becoming ‘112’ later. To 390 MU on 1 January 1968, being Struck Off Charge (SOC) on 14 February 1968 as Cat.5 (Components) and scrapped on site.

Aircraft on strength of 34 Sqn. on 1st January of respective year

Serial

1961

1962

1963

1964

1965

1966

1967

XB260

YES

YES

YES

YES

YES

YES

YES

XB262

YES

YES

YES

YES

YES

YES

YES

XB264

No

No

No

YES

YES

YES

YES

XB283

No

No

No

No

YES

YES

YES

XB289

No

No

No

No

YES

YES

YES

XB291

No

No

No

No

YES

YES

YES

XH116

No

No

No

YES

YES

YES

YES

XH120

YES

YES

YES

No

No

No

No

XL150

No

No

No

No

No

No

YES

XM104

YES

YES

YES

YES

YES

YES

YES

XM112

YES

YES

YES

YES

YES

YES

YES

Total

5

5

5

6

9

9

10

Only one complete Beverley is in existence in 2012 (XB259, at Fort Paull, East Riding of Yorkshire) and it saw no RAF service.

I remember seeing before they were retired but more strikingly, when they were being cut up for scrap. As a six year old, I was frightened by the sound of metal crashing onto the concrete. As an aviation enthusiast, to find pictures on numerous sites on the internet of the Beverleys at Seletar both thrilling and very interesting.

On YouTube there is a short film about the last flight of the Beverley at Seletar. Type in Blackburn Beverly (wrongly spelt) last flight.

Credits:

“Roundel” (BAR). Air Britain. MoD AHB.

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