Sunday 7 February 2021

Alcock & Brown(e) XV 424 and XV 486 IAT 1979 Greenham Common Transatlantic flight June 1979


Sqn Ldr A.J.H. Alcock MBE and Flt Ldr W.N. Browne with Douglas Bader at the June 1979 IAT at Greenham Common. XV424 made the translatlantic flight on 21 June 1979. XV486 was the back-up machine and had the number on the front u/carriage door. Interestingly, XV424 is on display at one of the RAF museums but in standard squadron markings. (Below, signed colour picture in my collection)

Text by Patrick Martin, author of the two volume "British Phantoms" published by Double Ugly

In advance of the 1979 event, the IAT commissioned aviation artist, Wilf Hardy to design a special scheme for the Phantom. As Rolls Royce Eagle engines had powered the original Vimy and Rolls Royce Spey engines powered the Phantom FGR.2, the engine manufacturer agreed to sponsor the special paint scheme. Both XV424 and XV486, from No.56 Squadron were painted at RAF St. Athan in overall Light Aircraft Grey 627, before the Wilf Hardy special markings were applied. While XV424 did not carry its serial on the forward facing nose gear door, XV486 did and while at CFB Goose Bay was zapped by CAF (Canadian Armed Forces) personnel, receiving a small CAF roundel on the forward facing nose gear door in the lower loop of the number eight. Although a photo of both aircraft together at one point was taken without a serial on the nose gear door.

Both aircraft were sent to CFB Goose Bay for the crossing, aided by five in-flight refuellings from Victor K.2 tankers, with XV424 arriving at RAF Greenham Common on June 21, 1979. The crew consisted of Squadron Leader A.J.H. Alcock MBE, a nephew of Captain Alcock (who flew the Vimy in 1919) and Flight Lieutenant WN Browne. The second aircraft XV486 was prepared in case any last minute problems arose with XV424. Following the IAT, both aircraft were to appear at several events during the summer throughout the UK. While Phantom FGR.2 XV424 is displayed in the standard air defence finish and markings at Hendon, the nose of unrelated Phantom FG.1 XV591 was painted to duplicate the XV424/XV486 special scheme for display at the Cosford location of the RAF Museum. For the June 1979 flight, Phantom FGR.2 XV424 carried the toy black cat mascot - ‘Twinkletoes’ - that had been carried on the original 1919 flight. For the Atlantic run, XV424 was flown by S/L A.J.N. (Tony) Alcock MBE (a No.56 Squadron Flight Commander and nephew of Atlantic Pioneer Sir John Alcock) and F/L W.N. (Norman) Browne, the latter a former Phantom Navigator, brought back from his Buccaneer Squadron for the occasion. XV424 is currently at Hendon.

Both aircraft appear side by side in "Phantom Squadrons" by Richard War. The picture was taken at RAF St Athan where the scheme was applied. This photo along with a few others of each aircraft are also on Modeldecal sheet No55 instructions.