The sole remaining example of one of the Royal Air Force’s most important transport aircraft, the Blackburn Beverley, is at risk of being scrapped. Aviation Heritage UK’s Chairman, Dr Robert Pleming, is calling for urgent action to save this unique aircraft for the Nation.
Blackburn Beverley XB259 is currently located at Fort Paull near Hull, Yorkshire’s only remaining Napoleonic fortress, which has until recently been serving as a military museum. However the closure of the attraction has forced its owner to put the site up for sale.
With no acceptable bids having been received, the site and its contents, including the Beverley, are due to be sold piecemeal by Gilbert Baitson Auctioneers in a timed online auction ending at 10:00am on Saturday 19th September. The purchaser of the Beverley would have nine months to arrange for its collection.
Dr Robert Pleming, Chairman of AHUK, said: “Blackburn Beverley XB259 is one of the largest preserved airframes in the UK, and if scrapped, would be the first post-war British aircraft for which there are no examples left. Beverley XB259 represents an important part of British aviation heritage, and deserves to be preserved in its entirety.”
In RAF service, the Beverley served operationally with several squadrons, including 47, 30, 34 and 53, with home bases at Abingdon and Dishforth, but it also deployed overseas in Aden (now Yemen), where two were lost to land mines during operations, Bahrain, Kenya and in Singapore during the Indonesian Confrontation of the mid- 1960s.The aircraft was also briefly operated in Vietnam to support flood relief work.
AHUK hopes that one of the national aviation museums will step in at the last minute to save the aircraft.
The Blackburn Beverly made a significant contribution to the post-war operations of RAF Transport Command. With its large cargo volume, the Beverley was designed for carrying bulk loads and operating from rough runways or dirt strips. The main cargo area could carry 94 troops, with an additional 36 in the tail boom. When it entered service in 1955, it was the largest aircraft in the RAF.
The prototype flew in June 1950. It was the surprise of SBAC Farnborough Air Show that year, when its vast bulk left the ground with ease and then performed a slow flypast and very short landing, reversing back down the runway to the amazement of spectators.
Beverley XB259 was the first production aircraft, and went on to perform trials work at the Royal Aircraft Establishment into the early 1970s. XB259 was also the last Beverley to fly – its final landing was on the grass strip at Hull Aero Club near Paull on 30th March 1974.
In total 49 Beverleys were produced at the Blackburn factory at Brough. The type entered RAF service on 29th January 1955, with the first operational aircraft arriving at RAF Abingdon in March 1956. After serving all around the world, the Beverley was retired from RAF service in December 1967, replaced by the Lockheed C-130 Hercules.
Featured image photo credit kitmasterbloke on Flickr via Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)