The Vickers Valetta was a twin-engine military transport aircraft procured against Specification C.9/46 and was in effect a military transport variant of the Vickers Viking airliner.
Changes to produce the Valetta included the introduction of a strengthened floor, large double loading door on the port side of the rear fuselage, a modified undercarriage, and the use of Bristol Hercules 230 engines.
It was an all-metal, mid-wing monoplane featuring a tail wheel undercarriage and was named after the Maltese capital, albeit spelt with one 'L' rather than two.
The first prototype (VL249) was flown by Mutt Summer for the first time on 30th June 1947 and was followed by the first production Valetta C.1 (VL262) on 28th January 1948. The Valetta C.1 was employed replacing the Douglas Dakota in a number of roles, including troop and freight transport, glider towing, parachute operations and casualty evacuation. It operated with RAF Transport Command in the Middle and Far East with a number of squadrons including Changi-based 48 Sqn, supporting extensive operations during the Malaya campaign and dropping supplied to Special Forces operating in Borneo.
In addition, it served well as a 'leaflet dropper' to garner support of the local population.
The Valetta C.2, of which 10 examples were manufactured, was configured for VIP transport, carrying between 9 and 15 passengers and having increased fuel capacity for longer-range operations.
The C.2 featured a more pointed tail cone than that of the Valetta C.1.
Next into service was the Valetta T.3, a navigation and air crew trainer for the RAF College at RAF Cranwell which was easily distinguished by a line of Perspex astrodomes installed into the cabin roof.
The first Valetta T.3 flew on 31st August 1950 and 40 examples of this variant were built between 1941 and 1942.
The final variant was the Valetta T.4, with a lengthened radar nose. Eighteen Valetta T.4s were built, all being converted from existing Valetta T.3s. These aircraft also served in the navigation trainer role. The first Valetta T.4 conversion was WJ465, which flew for the first time on 15th March 1956.
The Valetta was withdrawn from front-line service in 1966, being replaced in the transport role by the Hawker Siddeley Andover.
The last aircraft to operate in RAF service (VX573) made its last flight in June 1969.
Variants & Numbers
|Valetta C.1||One prototype (VL249) and 212 production transport aircraft, one of which was delivered to the Royal Swedish Air Force|
|Valetta C.2||10 configured for VIP transport|
|Valetta T.3||40 navigation trainers with roof-mounted astrodomes|
|Valetta T.4||18 with lengthened radar nose, converted from T.3|
|Total production||263 aircraft|
|Powerplants||Two 2,000 hp Bristol Hercules 230 engines|
|Span||89 ft 3 in|
|Maximum Weight||36,500 lb|
|Capacity||4 crew and 34 troops, 20 paratroops or freight|
|Maximum Speed||258 mph at 10,000 ft|
|Cruise speed||211 mph|
|Range||1,410 miles (max); 360 miles with 34 troops; 530 miles with 20 paratroops|