There have been two Vickers Vikings. The first was a sea-going biplane, which achieved infamy in being the airplane in which Sir John Alcock, pioneer aviator in crossing the Atlantic Ocean, died on 18 December 1919. He was flying solo and attempting to land in bad weather while transporting the aircraft to an aeronautical exhibition in Paris.
The second Vickers Viking was a dual-engined monoplane airliner that was conceived and designed in the dying stages of WW2, and used the wings and engines of the RAF's Vickers Wellington bomber married to a new fuselage and tailplane. Flying from 1946, the Viking was used by British European Airways and a number of other airlines flying to Scandinavia, Ireland, and continental Europe from the UK.
The Vickers-Armstrong VC.1. Viking was a British twin-engined passenger/freight transport aircraft developed during the mid-1940's. The Vickers Viking was a low mid-wing cantilever monoplane powered by two Bristol Hercules 130 14-cylinder radial air-cooled sleeve valve engines producing a top speed of 336 kmh and a range of 2400 km with maximum fuel. The Vickers Viking carried a crew of four and either 21 seated (De Luxe arrangement) or 27 seated passengers.
The RAF ran a small number of Vickers Vikings operating from RAF Benson for the King's Flight, and four of these (serial numbers VL245-VL248) were used to transport King George VI on his royal tour of South Africa in 1947. The Viking was also used by the new Queen Elizabeth for royal tours and duties unto well into the mid 1950s. The RAF militarised the Viking for communications duties, and this became known as the Vickers Valetta.
The Vickers Valetta was a British short-range light/medium transport aircraft in service with the RAF from 1946 to 1969. The Vickers Valetta was a modification of the Vickers Viking transport and general purpose aircraft and was powered by two Bristol Hercules Mk 230 radial piston engines providing a top speed of 415 kmh and a range of 850 km depending upon load. The Vickers Valetta was manned by a flight crew of four and carried up to 34 troops, 20 paratroops or freight in the hold.
The Viking does not seem to have been tremendously popular aircraft, and, like its earlier namesake, seems to have been the subject of a number of crashes and mishaps. One incident relates to a sabotage attempt on one of the early post-war cross-Channel fights from London to Paris, where a bomb exploded on a Viking in mid-air in 1950, blowing a huge chunk out of the back of the aircraft and badly injuring a stewardess. It is testament to the structural stability of the aircraft and the skill of the aircrew that the Viking was turned around and landed safely in London with no loss of life.
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