The excitement is mounting as the date of Monday 25th November approaches and the Yorkshire Air Museum prepares to mark the 20th Anniversary of the arrival of Handley Page Victor V-bomber XL231 “Lusty Lindy” with a high speed (120 knot) dash of the aircraft down Elvington airfields long runway! This will be timed to coincide with the exact moment XL231 touched down at 14:20pm on 25th November, 1993. To add to the spectacle, the braking parachute will be deployed at this moment, to slow the aircraft down from its near take-off speed dash, as occurred when the aircraft landed 20 years ago.
“Lusty Lindy” will first be started up on a dispersal point, conduct some high power throttle ups of the four mighty Rolls Royce Rco 11 turbo fans, each capable of developing 17250 lbs of thrust, and then circle the dispersal before making a slow initial taxi down the runway, for the benefit of viewers and photographers, then turning to make the fast run. After the run, there will be opportunities to get a closer look at “Lusty Lindy” when she is safely parked up and shut down.
To add to the party on this special day, the Museum’s similarly ‘live’, ground operational Nimrod MR2 XV250, the ‘Mighty Hunter’, will also make a fast taxi down the runway prior to the Victor’s run, symbolising the service relationship between the aircraft types.
A special voucher will be available on the day to allow visitors to see this awesome spectacle of power at close quarters on the airfield itself, with proceeds contributing to the fuel for these aircraft runs.
The saving of HP Victor XL231 as an icon of British engineering design and technology, is the result of a unique collaboration between the Yorkshire Air Museum, the Handley Page Association and the Tempest family. The ball was started rolling in 1992 by Harry Fraser Mitchell of the Handley Page Association, who lobbied the MoD on behalf of the Yorkshire Air Museum, to secure one of the 55 Squadron Victors, then based at RAF Marham, for Elvington on their imminent retirement from 35 years service.
It was disclosed that some aircraft would be disposed of to suitable aviation museum’s and organisations, through a ‘sealed envelope’ bidding process, and so the Museum duly mounted a fundraising campaign from amongst our members and supporters to raise the funds envisaged. By October 1993, with the retirement of the aircraft looming and the window of opportunity closing, it had become clear that insufficient sums had been raised. At this point, then Knaresborough based businessman Gerry Tempest came in, after being persuaded by his son and YAM member Andre, that it would be a ‘good idea’ to buy an aeroplane, namely the Victor. Gerry reached an agreement with the Museum that he would put up the funds to purchase the aircraft, to be owned by his family, but classed as a Museum exhibit and purchased under the Yorkshire Air Museum name (to meet MoD requirements) in return for free standing for the aircraft at Elvington.
The bid was successful, and Gerry and Andre Tempest went to RAF Marham at the end of October 1993, to select the aircraft, with XL231 being ‘the one’. The Museum made the final arrangements with the MoD, RAF and local residents to facilitate the flying in of “Lusty (perhaps Lucky) Lindy” on 25th November 1993. Andre Tempest and a team of volunteers have maintained XL231 in ground operational condition ever since.
HP Victor B.2 V-bomber / K.2 Tanker XL231
Built in 1961, with maiden flight 28th December, and joined 139 Squadron, RAF Wittering, 1st Feb. 1962. To carry ‘Blue Danube’ Nuclear bomb or 35 x 1000lb iron bombs.
Converted to Mk 2 status in Nov. 1963 and re-joined RAF Wittering Wing in July 1964. To carry the Avro ‘Blue Steel’ nuclear warhead missile.
Converted to K.2 Tanker (air to air refuelling), the FIRST prototype, on 23rd Jan 1972.The aircraft was fully converted to K.2 specification, zero fatigued to as new.
In 1977, XL231 was taken on charge with 57 Squadron, RAF Marham. In the build up to the South Atlantic campaign, XL231 was chosen for trials to convert Nimrod and Hercules aircraft for in flight refuelling.
In this role, the aircraft saw service in support of the Falklands War and also saw action in the Gulf War, in 1990, after being transferred to 55 Squadron (Marham). It was during Operation Granby (Desert Storm) that XL231 was given the “Lusty Lindy” decal, in honour of the Crewchief’s wife! XL231 returned to the UK in September 1993, but 55 Squadron was disbanded in October 1993, with XL231 making her last service flight on 15th October, as part of the disbandment flypast.
The Victor was the longest serving of the V bomber generation, which included the Avro Vulcan and Vickers Valiant.