This project, for BAE Systems involved the relocation of a 1960’s Blackburn Buccaneer XV168 from its position as Gate Guard on their Brough site to Elvington Airfield.
The Buccaneer was the last true Blackburn aircraft to be designed and constructed at the then British Aerospace site, and became the company’s most successful and longest serving type with 35 years of service.
Undertaking several site visits ahead of the move, the Collett Team took extra care in planning the relocation as not only did the cargo have historical significance, but was also a dedicated memorial to four test pilots who gave their lives in the development and testing of the Buccaneer type.
Having been on site in Brough for 20 years, the first and last Buccaneer to ever land at Brough Airfield, the delicate operation required meticulous planning from beginning to end. Enlisting the assistance of the Buccaneer Aviation Group, an organisation of volunteers who are dedicated to the preservation and maintenance of Royal Air Force Buccaneer aircraft, we devised the ideal solution for lifting, securing and transporting the 14 Tonne load.
The nature of the load provided several hurdles when planning the transportation, the curved underside of the aircraft, the wheels and of course the wingspan of this impressive cargo all had to be taken into consideration. Added to this, the tricky right turn from the BAE site, the immediate route through the residential streets and the Police Escorts required across Humberside and North Yorkshire.
The 19.3m load necessitated a specialist trailer from the fleet and with over 100 trailers at our disposal, one unique trailer identified itself as perfect for the job. A 19m long extendable beam low loader, hydraulically extendable width ways was the perfect solution to assist in the safe load support and lashing.
Securing the aircraft was the first hurdle, the wheels and curved underside of the aircraft proved awkward when planning to secure the load to the trailer, therefore, a solution was proposed in which the wheels would be folded away and bomb doors of the aircraft would be slid open, thus providing the team with a steady base on which to transport the cargo. The 44ft wingspan of the Buccaneer became the next hurdle. Liaising directly with the Yorkshire Air Museum and the Buccaneer Aviation Group, it was proposed that the wings would be folded upwards and secured, reducing the width of the load to 6.05m allowing for safe passage through the streets but also requiring a VR1 Permit for transportation.
On the day of the move, crowds of spectators lined the residential route through Brough, eager to see the Buccaneer en-route to its new home. At 10am the combination began its journey under Police Escort. Unable to make the right turn from the BAE Systems site, the vehicle and trailer combination reversed out of the site and faced a much easier left turn on to Skillings Lane, through Brough and eventually joining the A63 motorway. Travelling the wrong way around a roundabout on the Stockbridge Road, the 3 axle low loader and 4 axle tractor remained under Police Escort throughout its entire trip, firstly by Humberside Police to Selby and then by North Yorkshire Police from Selby onwards to Elvington.
The Buccaneer arrived safely at the Yorkshire Air Museum to be greeted by awaiting Museum staff eager to add this historic piece to their collection. With access no issue at Elvington Airfield, the load was delivered to the Museum, and lifted from the trailer to its new pad location within the Museum’s grounds.
Mindful that the aircraft was also a memorial to those four test pilots, the Museum organised a re-dedication ceremony in honour of the crew.