Kit #AA2096. 1/72 scale. This is a highly-detailed
resin kit of the RAF Vickers VC10 K2-series
tanker, complete with decals.
In 1960, the RAF announced its need for a
strategic transport, a role that Vickers believed could be met by modifying their
new VC10 airliner. It was a narrow-body aircraft with four jet engines mounted
in two twin-engine pods at the aircraft’s tail. The Vickers
VC10 had been designed as a high performance long-range airliner able to
use shorter civil runways. In 1965, in
response to serious cut-backs in orders from BOAC and to prevent Vickers from
ruinous financial losses, the Air Ministry increased its order to fourteen Vickers
VC10 C1s, transport conversions of the basic airliner design. These went operational with 10 Squadron RAF
beginning in December, 1966. A VIP
version of the VC10 C1 was used by members of the Royal Family as well as by
several Prime Ministers. With aerial
refueling and two flight crews, a VC10 C1 circumnavigated the globe in less
than 48 hours.
Just over a decade later in April 1978,with
the VC10 airliners retiring from commercial service, the RAF placing a contract
with British Aerospace (BAe) to convert five former BOAC standard VC10s into
aerial refueling tankers, the VC10 K2, and four Super VC10s as the VC10 K3. Both
variants had wing-mounted refueling pods a single centerline refueling point,
and nose-mounted refueling probes to enable the tankers to be refueled by other
tankers. In addition, 14 former Super
VC10s were bought and stored for spare parts – when the Victor K2 tankers reached the end of their useful lives, five of
the stored aircraft were put into service as VC10 K4s, with the same refueling
points as the other K-series tankers, but with a reduced fuel tankage. At the same time, all 13 surviving VC10 C1
transports were fitted with wing-mounted refueling pods and redesignated as
VC10 C1K two-point refueling tankers.
For converted airliners, the VC10s saw a
great deal of combat-support action. During
the Falklands war, the VC10 C1 fleet formed part of the supporting transport “air
bridge” from the UK to the Falklands. Nine
K2s and K3s supported Desert Storm, with both aerial refueling and logistics
flights. They remained on station in the Middle East throughout the 90s. They K-series flew refueling missions during
NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia, and were on-hand in the Middle East to support
the 2003 Iraqi war, withdrawing in 2009.
The tankers also supported British efforts against the Taliban in
Afghanistan, and flew in support of operations in Libya in 2011. Following North Korean nuclear tests, two
VC10s staged out of Okinawa, sampling fallout in the atmosphere.
The first K2 conversion (ZA141) made its
first flight in June 1982. It was finished in a gray and green camouflage
scheme that was never carried operationally. As other aircraft were delivered, 101
Squadron RAF commenced tanker operations. By the early nineties the K2s that
were still in service were becoming fatigue-life limited, and in 2001 the VC10
K2 made its last flight as a tanker, before being scrapped in 2003. The final
tanker flew in 2013, before being retired.