HAWKER SIDDELEY ANDOVER C.1

Seletar 1960s 1966-69 Andover (Hawker Siddley) 52 Sqn Seletar

At Seletar from December 1966 to February 1969 by Ian Old

Six Andover C.1 twin-engined transport aircraft served with the Far East Air Force, out of the 31 ordered for service with the RAF. The Andover was a Hawker Siddeley-designed development of the Avro 748 short-haul airliner and the aircraft were built at Woodford, Greater Manchester. It had a ramp at the tail and the ability to “kneel” by virtue of specially modified main undercarriage legs, making loading and unloading easier. It could carry up to 52 passengers, 24 stretcher cases or up to 6.4 tons of freight.

The Andover was the last type to enter service with the FEAF, having entered RAF service in September 1966 with 46 Sqn. Next to receive the type was 52 Sqn., which had been disbanded in April 1966, last operating Valettas from Butterworth, Malaysia. It was reformed on 1 December 1966 at Seletar.

Serial

First flight

FEAF Allocation

Joined 52 Sqn.

XS606

5 October 1966

15 December 1966

23 December 1966

XS607

20 October 1966

15 December 1966

23 December 1966

XS608

4 November 1966

15 December 1966

23 December 1966

XS612

13 January 1967

23 March 1967

29 March 1967

XS613

26 January 1967

29 March 1967

29 March 1967

XS637

14 February 1967

29 March 1967

29 March 1967

All aircraft were in the then standard RAF tactical transport camouflage scheme of two-tone brown on the upper surfaces with black undersurfaces, and national insignia in red and blue only. It is believed that the squadron crest was painted near the cockpit. No codes were borne, although the last three of the serial were repeated on the nosewheel doors.

As a schoolboy at Seletar 1967-70, I remember the Andovers well. I can still recall an Andover flying over the school playground. My father, Warrant Officer D.W.C. Old, the last Air Movements Warrant Officer at Seletar, had several flights in them, including Kathmandu, Nepal and Djakarta, Indonesia. He told me that one flight to Brunei, the aircraft carrying a special cargo for the Sultan, ran into turbulence. By the time the Andover touched down, the load was no longer intact, being all over the cabin and the Sultan had no birthday cake to enjoy!!!

On 17 February 1969, 52 Sqn. moved to Changi due to the impending closure of Seletar as an active RAF airfield. This meant it was the last fixed-wing unit to leave the base. On 31 December 1969, 52 Sqn. was disbanded and all six Andovers were returned to the UK in January 1970. 52 Sqn. has not been reformed since.

Post Singapore fates:

XS606

It was later transferred to MOD(PE) in August 1975, joining the Empire Test Pilots School, Boscombe Down, Wiltshire. It made its last military flight on 31 August 2012 and was then sold, flying out to the Central African Republic in April 2013. It was the last aircraft to have seen service at RAF Seletar to be retired.

XS607

It was later used for British military trials work before being sold. Last reported in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, in October 1996, registered as 9Q-CPW.

XS608

Later sold to the Royal New Zealand Air Force, it arrived in New Zealand on 11 December 1976. Withdrawn from use in 1993, with total flying hours of 8,395.10 hours, it was derelict at Ardmore by May 1995. Later transferred to Whenuapai Fire Section and was still visible there in 2011.

XS612

It was sold to the Royal New Zealand Air Force on 26 January 1977, before being sold off in 1996 to the civilian market, it being last reported in Swaziland, registered as 3D-MKX.

XS613

It was sold to the Royal New Zealand Air Force on 22 April 1977. Withdrawn from use on 30 June 1998 with total flying hours of 13,879.40, it was then sold to a civilian operator. It was last seen at Lanseria, Kenya on 19 April 2002, registered as 9Q-COE.

XS637

It remained in operational RAF service until 1991 at least, meaning it was the last RAF Seletar aircraft to be active with the RAF. It was sold off in 1994 and, after commercial service, was scrapped by July 1998 having reached its maximum airframe hours.

Credits:

“ROUNDEL” Magazine (BAR). MoD AHB. UK Serials website. ADF Serials website.

Air Britain Historians.