Handley Page Victor XH648 in the AirSpace Hanger

Help us to conserve our rare Handley Page Victor for the nation.

The only one of its type in the world, Handley Page Victor XH648 is an important object in IWM’s collection. It is being conserved so that future generations can experience the Victor and the story it tells about Cold War conflict.

Following the movement of the  Victor into the Conservation in Action hangar, detailed conservation work has commenced on the aircraft.

  • The bomb bay doors have been opened, revealing some corrosion around the doors
  • Removal of elevator skins has commenced together with the treatment for corrosion
  • The aft fuselage section has been paint stripped and the drag chute bay has been cleaned, with the drag chute doors removed for cleaning and corrosion treatment
  • The door opening spring actuators have been cleaned, corrosion has been removed and they’ve been repainted
  • The hydraulic actuator for opening the doors has been removed for cleaning and the piping has been removed, cleaned and reinstalled
  • The rudder and horizontal stabiliser have been removed
  •  The outer wing leading edge sections have all been dismantled in order to treat the badly corroded magnesium ribs. These have been treated and reassembled with some fabrication of new parts.
  • Aileron fixed trim tab has been remanufactured due to extensive corrosion of the magnesium skin. New trim tab fittings have been manufactured due to extensive corrosion. 
  • The small access panels from the starboard outer wing have been through the refurbishment process

Conservation work continues on the remaining outer wing leading edge section, the ailerons and the outer wings.

About the Victor 

Victor XH648 was originally built as a B1 model. Its first flight was on 27 November 1959 and it was delivered to No.57 Squadron at Honington on 21 December that year. 

In October 1960, it returned to Handley Page at Radlett, Hertfordshire for conversion to a B1A status. This involved equipping it with new electronic countermeasure equipment, improved radio and radar equipment and changing the engines to Sapphire Mark 20701s.

Following conversion and test flights, XH648 was delivered to RAF Cottesmore on 11 May 1961 to join No.15 Squadron. Flown as part of the Far East Air Force during the confrontation with Indonesia in 1962-63. On return from Indonesia, XH648 remained with 15 Squadron until it was delivered back to RAF Honington to join 55 Squadron on 3 April 1964.

Less than a year later, in 1965, it was converted by Handley Page into a two-point tanker, making it a B (K) IA model. This involved the fitting of Mark 20B refueling pods under each wing. It then returned to 55 Squadron, who shortly afterwards moved to RAF Marham, where XH648 resided for the next ten years.

On 23 June1975, Victor XH648 was transferred to 57 Squadron, also based at RAF Marham, where it supported the Squadron’s final year as a Mark I tanker squadron. It was retired to Duxford on 2 June 1976.

You can help

We need to raise £450,000 to conserve the Victor and protect it so it can be seen and enjoyed by future generations.

Donate now and you can help save this one of a kind aircraft.

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Conserving the Handley Page Victor XH648
Conserving the Handley Page Victor XH648

Conservation Engineering

At IWM Duxford our team of conservation staff and volunteers are working to safeguard the history of our large museum objects. In our Conservation in Action hangar you can chat to the team about the work they are doing and find out how we protect our objects for future generations to experience and enjoy.