The only remaining former Royal Air Force Handley Page Victor aircraft has been reassembled and displayed at the Imperial War Museum Duxford, following its five-year restoration.
The Handley Page Victor B.1A XH648 is the only one of its kind in the world. This historic jet-powered strategic bomber has undergone a meticulous five-year restoration project, which is now on display at the Imperial War Museum Duxford’s Conservation Hall in Airspace, for its final six weeks of conversation works.
During this period, the public can see the aircrafts conservation in action, including the reattachment of the wings to return the Victor to its full 110-foot wingspan. Following these works, the Victor will remain on permanent display from the 27th May 2022, in time for May half-term.
Acquired by Imperial War Museum Duxford in June 1976 on its retirement from service, this restoration and conservation project is one of the largest ever undertaken by the museum. Supported by a fundraising campaign that has raised over £25,000 in donations from individuals, the process has seen the bomb bay doors treated for corrosion, paint stripped from the aft fuselage, and some parts removed altogether with new parts fabricated.
XH648’s first flight was on the 27th November 1959 and was then flown as part of the Far East Air Force during the confrontation with Indonesia in 1962-63 with 15 Squadron based at RAF Cottesmore. On return from Indonesia, it was converted by Handley Page in 1965 into a two-point tanker and spent ten years with 55 Squadron at RAF Marham before being retired to Duxford just over ten years later. The Victor is being repainted in its markings from its service with 55 Squadron during these years.
Former Squadron Leader, Garden West, flew over 1,800 hours on the Victor, including many on XH648, and was part of the Victor force involved in the Indonesian confrontation.
Most servicemen believe that the vehicles they operated are extraordinarily special and deserve to be in a museum, but few of us are lucky enough to return to see them on display. It’s an honor to see one of the Victor Mk 1s I served in restored to its finest fettle. Its unique and unmistakable presence immediately brings back vivid memories of operations in bygone days, and I hope lots of people will visit and learn about its place in aviation history,” West said.