|Valetta VX577 was an RAF transport and later preserved at the North East Aircraft Museum in Sunderland until it was burnt out by arsonists|
|Vickers's type 491 Viking was one of several British airliners to
emerge from the Brabazon Committee's list of aircraft that would be needed
after World War II.
The VC (Vickers Commercial) 1 was envisaged as an interim type to serve until other types could be devloped and as such was based on the company's Wellington bomber. This comprised the fabric covered outer wing of the war veteran, and its engines nacelles and landing gear, but featured two 1,675hp Bristol Hercules 130 engines and a new stressed-skin fuselage.
The prototype first flew on June 22, 1945, with a crew of three and accommodation for 21 passengers. British European Airways operated its first service, from London to Copenhagen, in September 1946, using the Viking 1A. Nineteen of the initial model were built, all with 1,690hp Hercules 630 radials, followed by 31 Viking 1s with stressed-skin wings and tail unit.
The major production variant as the Viking 1B, of which 113 were built. This had a forward fuselage lengthened by 2ft 4in (0.71m) to accommodate 24 passengers, later a maximum of 36. This variant had Hercules 634 engines. The type flew with numerous airlines around the world, finally being retired in 1974.
One Viking, G-AJPR, was used as a testbed for the Rolls-Royce Nene turbojet and became the world's first transport aircraft to fly solely on jet power.
The RAF bought a military version as the type 607 Valetta, which differed by having a strengthened floor, large loading doors and 1,975hp Hercules 230 engines. More than 250 Valettas were built, including a variant for navigator training as the T3.
The type 648 Varsity T Mk1 introduced a tricycle undercarriage and was built as a crew trainer. A total of 160 were built for the RAF and production ended in 1954. many remained in service until the 1970s. Several were passed on to historical operators but none are still flying today.