A VC10 for Cosford

When it became apparent that a VC10 would not be flown into Cosford because of the short runway, some believed that the last chance to get an example of the aircraft for the museum had gone.

XR808 on the dismantling pan at Bruntingthorpe


However, behind the scenes planning continued and arrangements were made for the aircraft to be dismantled at Bruntingthorpe in Leicestershire and moved in pieces by road to the museum site at Cosford.

Some of the thousands of wing bolts that had to be removed



Cradle that was produced specially for the tail




The dismantlers, GJD systems, were no strangers to the task of taking a VC10 apart as they had already performed this task on several of the RAF's retiring VC10 fleet.  Thousands of wing bolts had to be removed from inside the structure. 



Special cradles had to be constructed to hold the separated components.  Reassembly was no small challenge either, but the team rose to it magnificently.




Negotiating a railway bridge en route

Moving an almost 50 metre long aircraft, even in pieces, by road is not a simple matter and the specialist haulier required dispensation from the highways agency as well as the removal of various bits of street furniture and, at certain points, a police escort.  Getting through some of the bridges and towns along the route was also tricky and there were sometimes only inches to spare.

Two cranes unload the fuselage on the airfield


The first part of the reassembly would take place on the airfield at RAF Cosford and a licence was required from the Defence Infrastructure Organisation for this.

Rear fuselage being lifted into position for re-attachment

 Tailplane being lifted into place by a crane Raer view of the VC10 awaiting its engines 

Engines ready to be lifted into place

The move to the museum site for further re-assembly and the move to the final display position required laying track matting and trackway to prevent the aircraft sinking into the grass.

Trackway positioned on the grass

But eventually all was restored and the aircraft is now on view at the museum.

XR808 on its plinths in final position

The VC10 aircraft move to Cosford was made possible through support from BAE Systems and the RAF Charitable Trust.

Al McLean : Curator, Cosford
About the Author

Al McLean : Curator, Cosford

I am a former RAF and British Airways pilot. Within the museum my interests are missiles, nuclear weapons and flying training. The first project I undertook as curator at Cosford in 1997 was the conservation of the V2 missile. The National Cold War Exhibition is the largest project undertaken at Cosford so far while the most satisfying was the reorganisation of the Large Object Store.

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