The Bristol Britannia was the world’s first long haul prop-jet airliner. It was developed as part of the drive to re-build Britain’s civil aviation industry after the Second World War when the focus had been on fighter and bomber production. In June, 1957 one made a record breaking non-stop flight from London to Vancouver on the western coast of North America in less than fifteen hours. This was only one of several record breaking achievements. On 19th December 1957 it was the first airliner to fly non-stop, scheduled, passenger services between London and New York, the Holy Grail of Post War air travel.
US airliners already flew the route but with a scheduled stop. Nearly a year later the Comet 4 joined the route.
The Bristol Proteus engines which powered the Britannia were the first in the world to have “control-by-wire” using the Ultra Throttle system. This was later used on Concorde. Sadly, the Proteus is mostly remembered for icing problems, which were overcome.
As a long range military transport aircraft it could lift eighteen and a half tons over 4,000+ miles, carrying freight, or up to 53 stretchers with medical personnel and life support equipment or 115 passengers, in any combination. It was the Royal Air Force’s first strategic airlifter and a crucial component in the reshaping of Britain’s armed forces to meet the new threats of the Cold War. Its tasks included the rapid deployment, worldwide, of the then newly formed Army Strategic Reserve, and moving the V- Bomber Force, including the Vulcan, to its dispersal airfields.
Flown by 99 and 511 Squadrons, first at RAF Lyneham and later RAF Brize Norton, when the Britannia was withdrawn from service in 1975 as part of defence cuts, the Squadrons were stood down. In 2000, 99 Squadron was reformed to fly the Boeing C-17 Globemaster. The aircraft is different, the role is the same.
The following links are sources of further information.
(1) Inaugural Transatlantic Flight
(2) British Airways History
The Society is very sad to announce that Eric Healey, our Chairman, passed away on 24th May 2016 after a brief illness. As a tribute to Eric’s exceptional commitment to XM496, and because we think it’s what he would have wanted, we will be open as planned this Bank Holiday Sunday, May 29th.
The XM496 is located in the heart of rural Gloucestershire at Cotswold Airport near Kemble.
The entrance to the airport is off the A433 Cirencester/Tetbury road and is signposted.
There is no access from the A429 Cirencester to Malmsbury Road.
Once at the airport the XM496 is clearly sign posted
We are open to the public on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month
NEXT PUBLIC OPEN DAYS:
Sunday 29th May
Sunday 5th June
Sunday 19th June
Sunday 3rd July
Sunday 17th July
Sunday 31st July
Between 12.00 hours and 16.00 (12 noon to 4pm)
We can open by request at other times and would like at least two weeks notice if possble.
Contact: chair(at) xm496.com