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Vickers Viking

VC.1A
 


ZS-DKH
c/n 121
 


 
The Vickers VC.1 Viking was a twin-engined short-range airliner derived from the Vickers Wellington bomber. The initial nineteen production aircraft (Mark 1A) carried between 21 and 24 passengers. The fuselage was metal but the geodetic wings and tail planes were fabric covered.
 
The aircraft has two Bristol Hercules 630 engines. These are 14-cylinder two-row, sleeve valve, air-cooled radial engines developing 1,690 hp each.
 
The VC stands for Vickers Commercial, sometimes also called Vickers Civil.
 

Built at the Vickers-Armstrongs factory in Weybridge, England, c/n 121 first took to the air on 30 August 1946, registered as G-AHOT with British European Airways and was used in the 1948 Berlin Airlift. On 26 September 1954 she was sold to Trek Airways, registered ZS-DKH and operated in Protea Airways colours, a second airline of Trek, and for many years, transported hundreds of passengers on leisurely and scenic flights between South Africa and Europe.

One of the last people to fly on the Viking was the American singer Jim Reeves when he toured South Africa in late 1962.

Jim Reeves starred in the film "Kimberley Jim" (first called "Strike It Rich") filmed in South Africa in 1963. It was Jim's only full-length movie.

After 13.881 flying hours ZS-DKH was flown from Rand Airport to the old Baragwanath Airfield, original home of the Johannesburg Light Plane Club, on the 18th of December 1962 and was disassembled and transported by road to Armadale south of Johannesburg, where, in January 1963 she was placed atop the roof of the Caltex Garage owned by Victor Edward de Villiers and known as “Vic’s Viking Garage" where she became a famous, if forlorn, landmark. The garage was previously known as "Vic's Goggomobile Garage".

 
On 5 March 1987, the Viking was replaced by SAAF Avro Shackleton 1723 and donated to the SAA Museum Society. The Viking’s wings were removed and she was towed to the then Jan Smuts Airport.
 
Unfortunately 27 years plus later, in 2015, the aircraft has not been restored and is a tatty hulk standing not too far from the engine run-up bay at OR Tambo International Airport.
 
 
Technical details Vickers VC1A Viking
 
Wingspan
89’ 3”
Length
62’ 10”
Height
19’ 6”
Weight loaded
34,000 lb
Weight empty
18,360 lb
Max speed
263 mph (cruise) at 10,000’
Cruise speed
210 mph recommended cruise
Ceiling
10000’
Range S.A.
1700 miles for 7180 lb* 1920 miles for 5120 lb*
Engines
Bristol Hercules 630
Crew
4
Passengers
21-24
Wing area (gross)
882 square feet
*Max fuel weight
1700 miles, 750 galls @ 210 mph, 1920 galls @ 171 mph.
 
 
 

ZS DKH in Protea Airways livery in her heyday
ZS-DKH Vickers Viking Vic's Viking Garage Victor Edward de Villiers logbook
Entry in Victor Edward de Villiers's logbook showing the date of ZS-DKH ferry flight from Rand Airport to Baragwanath Airfield, 18 December 1962
ZS-DKH Vickers Viking Vic's Viking Garage-01
Vickers Viking ZS-DKH just after being hoisted onto the support pillars.
January 1963
The garage was known as "Vic's Goggomobile Garage"
Photograph: Vic de Villiers collection

ZS-DKH Vickers Viking Vic's Viking Garage-02

Vickers Viking ZS-DKH just after being hoisted onto the support pillars.
January 1963
The garage was known as "Vic's Goggomobile Garage"
Photograph: Vic de Villiers collection

ZS-DKH Vickers Viking Vic's Viking Garage-03
Vickers Viking ZS-DKH just after being hoisted onto the support pillars.
January 1963
The Caltex garage was known as "Vic's Goggomobile Garage"
Photograph: Vic de Villiers collection

ZS-DKH Vickers Viking Vic's Viking Garage-04
Vickers Viking ZS-DKH
The garage now named "Vic's Viking Garage"
Photograph: Vic de Villiers collection


ZS-DKH Vickers Viking Vic's Viking Garage-05
Vickers Viking ZS-DKH
The garage now named "Vic's Viking Garage"
Photograph: Vic de Villiers collection

ZS-DKH Vickers Viking Vic's Viking Garage-09
Vickers Viking ZS-DKH
The garage now named "Vic's Viking Garage"
Photograph: Vic de Villiers collection

ZS-DKH Vickers Viking Vic's Viking Garage-06
Vickers Viking ZS-DKH
Note "The Magic Wand" roadside cafe
Photograph: Vic de Villiers collection

ZS-DKH Vickers Viking Vic's Viking Garage-07
"The Magic Wand" roadside cafe at the Vic's Viking Garage
Photograph: Vic de Villiers collection

ZS-DKH Vickers Viking Vic's Viking Garage-08
"The Magic Wand" roadside cafe at the Vic's Viking Garage
Photograph: Vic de Villiers collection


ZS-DKH atop Vic’s Viking garage

ZS-DKH swapped for AVRO Shackleton 1723 on 5 March 1987

SAAF Shackleton 1723 replaces Vickers Viking ZS-DKH
GPS co-ordinates for SAAF Shackleton 1723 at Vic's Viking Garage
-26.277447, 27.944654
-26° 16' 38.81", +27° 56' 40.75"

ZS DKH restoration began in earnest. Photo: Omer Mees

   Restoration of ZS-DKH got no further than depicted in this photograph taken on 8 January 1994. Photo: Omer Mees.
 

In early 2015, 28 years after her arrival at the then Jan Smuts Airport, there was renewed interest in the forlorn and derelict hulk, standing not too far from the engine run-up bay at OR Tambo International Airport, and preparations began in earnest to relocate her to the museum at Rand Airport. Matt Harvey from SAA Technical took on the project and after almost a year of preparation the aircraft was ready to be relocated by December 2015, although she would have to wait until January 2016 to be finally moved.

During January of 2015 John "Jaws" Austin-Williams met up with John Illsley of Pretoria Boys High School. John expressed an interest in our museum and the preservation tasks we tackle and kindly offered the assistance of the boys from the Aeronautical Society of Pretoria Boys High. The first Viking workday was held on Saturday 14 March with Matt plus John and his boys in attendance.

John reports… “I had fifteen boys at ORT on Saturday and we managed to remove the two props. However, I don’t think Matt was given the right info about the wing attachment points as I’m convinced there are two huge pins that we didn’t count on and which could not be extracted. It is a nice project and the boys were very excited and useful up to a point. We will probably help again in mid-April at which point I hope we can pull off the wings and stabilizers.”

The Viking’s outer wings were removed on Saturday 18 April. Matt Harvey along with John Illsley and some lads from the Pretoria Boys High Aeronautical Society got the job done. John Illsley sent in the following report:

"The Aeronautical Society of Pretoria Boys High returned to the SAA Technical Area on Saturday 18th April to resume battle with the wings of the Vickers Viking. The work force was greatly diminished by the onset of the winter sports season at the school, but the small team just worked twice as hard! While waiting for our crane to be returned from working on a current SAA airliner, we unpacked many of the items that have been stored inside the Viking fuselage, including seats that were from a more recent aircraft as well as the engine cowlings.

When our SAA technical man, Matt Harvey, returned with the crane we then set about removing the wing attachment pins that are located within the engine and undercarriage nacelle and which consist of a threaded and tapered pin that has its own cranking handle. These took a bit of persuading thanks to corrosion, but once removed the wings were suspended briefly on the nylon straps before being gently lowered onto old tyres.

By now well practised, the second wing came off even more quickly. Unfortunately the tool we needed for removing the tail planes was not yet available and so we couldn’t remove these components.

The boys were taken for a walk through hangar eight and seeing the SAA maintenance activity was a big treat. We were again kindly hosted in the SAA Technical social area before heading home. The boys are keen to be part of the actual moving of the aircraft to Rand Airport, but we will have to see if we are invited back!"

John and the Boys are most certainly invited back!

On Saturday the 15th of August the vertical stabiliser, rudder, horizontal stabiliser and elevators were removed. Thanks to Leonie van Schalkwyk and Wynand Myburgh who assisted Matt Harvey.

Sadly Victor Edward de Villiers of “Vic’s Viking Garage” fame passed away on Thursday the 8th of October 2015. Vic purchased ZS-DKH from Trek Airways. After 13.881 flying hours ZS-DKH was flown from Rand Airport to the old Baragwanath Airfield, original home of the Johannesburg Light Plane Club on the 18th of December 1962.

She was disassembled and transported by road to Armadale south of Johannesburg, where, in January 1963 she was placed atop the roof of the Caltex Garage owned by Victor Edward de Villiers and known as “Vic’s Viking Garage" where she became a famous, if forlorn, landmark.

The garage was previously known as "Vic's Goggomobile Garage". On the 5th of March 1987, the Viking was replaced by SAAF Avro Shackleton 1723 and donated to the South Africa Airways Museum Society. The Viking’s wings were removed and she was towed to the then Jan Smuts Airport.


 Victor Edward de Villiers Vickers Viking ZS-DKH album
Vic de Villiers with his photo album, 3rd January 2015. Photograph: John Austin-Williams.


 ZS-DKH Viking on top of Vics Viking garage from Hans Pearson-02
Vickers-Armstrongs Limited VC.1A Viking on top of Vic's Garage, October 1970. Photograph: Hans Pearson.


 ZS-DKH Viking 2015 prep 01 Flippie van Emmenis
The forlorn Viking, Saturday 14 March 2015. Photograph: Flippie van Emmenis.

 ZS-DKH Viking 2015 prep 02 Cockpit John James
The cockpit of ZS-DKH. Photograph: John James.

 ZS-DKH Viking 2015 prep 03 Pretoria Boys Aeronautical Society John Illsley
Matt Harvey, centre back, John Illsley, right, and the boys of Pretoria High Aeronautical Society.
Saturday 14 March 2015.

 ZS-DKH Viking 2015 prep 04 Propeller removal John James
Propeller being removed Saturday 14 March 2015. Photograph: John James.

ZS-DKH Viking 2015 prep 05 Propeller removal Flippie van Emmenis
Propeller being removed Saturday 14 March 2015. Photograph: Flippie van Emmenis.
 
 ZS-DKH Viking 2015 prep 06 Propeller removal John Illsley
Pretoria Boys High Aeronautical Society at work removing the propellers. Saturday 14 March 2015.
Photograph: John Illsley.

 ZS-DKH Viking 2015 prep 07 Propeller removal John Illsley
Proud young lads of the Pretoria Boys High Aeronautical Society. Saturday 14 March 2015.

 ZS-DKH Viking 2015 prep 08 Propeller removal John James
Bristol Hercules 14-cylinder two-row air-cooled radial engine. Photograph John James.

 ZS-DKH Viking 2015 prep 09 Wing removal John James
Wing removal Saturday 18 April 2015. Photograph: John James.

 ZS-DKH Viking 2015 prep 10 Wing removal John Illsley
Pretoria Boys High Aeronautical Society at work removing the wings. Saturday 18 April 2015. Photograph: John Illsley.

 ZS-DKH Viking 2015 prep 11 Wing removal John Illsley
Pretoria Boys High Aeronautical Society at work removing the wings. Saturday 18 April 2015. Photograph: John Illsley.

 ZS-DKH Viking 2015 prep 12 Tail removal Flippie van Emmenis
Elevator removal with Matt Harvey and a young aircraft enthusiast from Pretoria Boys High Aeronautical Society. Saturday 15 August 2015. Photograph: Flippie van Emmenis.

 ZS-DKH Viking 2015 prep 13 Tail removal Flippie van Emmenis
Plenty of effort was required to remove the right elevator! Saturday 15 August 2015.

 ZS-DKH Viking 2015 prep 14 Tail removal Matt Harvey
No tail feathers! Saturday 15 August 2015. Photograph: Matt Harvey.

ZS-DKH Viking 2015 prep 15 ready to move Matt Harvey
The Viking ready to be moved to Rand Airport. Saturday 15 August 2015. Photograph: Matt Harvey.


 ZS-DKH Viking 2015 prep 16 inflated tyres Matt Harvey
Surprisingly the tyres remained inflated after being pumped with nitrogen, on 2 Dcember 2015, after many years of standing deflated! Photograph: Matt Harvey.

 ZS-DKH Viking 2016 move to hard stand -01 Matt Harvey
On Saturday, 23 January 2016, the Viking was moved from the grass down to the SAA technical hard stand.
Photograph: Matt Harvey.

ZS-DKH Viking 2016 move to hard stand -02 Matt Harvey
Bad news! Unfortunately the right hand tyre disintegrated. Tyres of the size 45x16.00-18 are unobtainable so... first problem to be solved.
As at March 2016 we were looking for Douglas DC-8 main landing gear tyres, 44.5x16.5-18.
Photograph: Matt Harvey.
ZS-DKH Viking 2016 wings moved to Rand 20160309 Matt Harvey -800 03

On 9 March 2016, a wet and dreary morning, the Viking’s wings were transported to the museum. Thanks to Transcor.

Photograph: Matt Harvey


ZS-DKH Viking 2016 wings moved to Rand 20160309 Matt Harvey -800 02

Offloading the Viking’s wings at the museum, 9 March 2016.

Thanks to Marlboro Crane Hire.

Photograph: Matt Harvey.


 ZS-DKH Viking 2016 wings moved to Rand 20160309 Matt Harvey -800 01
Offloading the Viking’s wings at the museum. 9 March 2016. Photograph: Matt Harvey.

 
 




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 The forlorn Viking, Saturday 14 March 2015. Photograph: Flippie van Emmenis.
 
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