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Aerospace Bristol is a new industrial heritage museum and learning centre being developed at Filton, to the north of Bristol. It will tell the story of the region's world-class aerospace industry - past, present and future. The Aerospace Bristol project is being run by the Bristol Aero Collection Trust.

Old News

Britannia prototype transferred to BACT

Nick Livingstone

Roger Hargreaves of the Britannia Aircraft Preservation Trust (left) and Oliver Dearden of the Bristol Aero Collection Trust (right) during the hand-over at Filton, with Britannia 'RX behind.

Roger Hargreaves of the Britannia Aircraft Preservation Trust (left) and Oliver Dearden of the Bristol Aero Collection Trust (right) during the hand-over at Filton, with Britannia 'RX behind.

On 23rd December 2013, ownership of the surviving forward fuselage section of the second prototype Bristol Britannia was transferred to the Bristol Aero Collection Trust, exactly 60 years after its first flight from Filtons runway. The Britannia has been in the Collection since 1995, and had been on loan from the Britannia Aircraft Preservation Trust. In recent years the forward fuselage has been restored, both internally and externally, in a joint operation between BAPT and BACT. Its future is now secure in the proposed Bristol Aerospace Centre at Filton.

G-ALRX was the second Britannia to fly, and made its first flight from Filton on 23rd December 1953, joining the first prototype in an extensive programme of tests of the new airframe and its powerplant, the  Bristol Proteus turboprop engine. Just over a month later, on 4th February 1954, 'RX took off from Filton for a test flight over Wales, carrying representatives from a potential customer as well as flight engineers,  Bristol's chief airframe designer, Archibald Russell, and their chief engine designer, Stanley Hooker. Disaster struck on its return to Filton when one engine exploded following a failure in the reduction gear. Unable to reach Filton airfield, chief test pilot Bill Pegg skillfully managed to belly-land the airliner on the Severn mudflats, and the mud extinguished the ensuing fire and preserved the engine for later analysis. Of the thirteen people on board, no-one was hurt apart from one minor head injury. The airframe was declared a write off, not because of any damage received during the landing, but because of salt water damage. The forward fuselage lived on as an instructional aid at Filton, Brize Norton and at Boscombe Down.

G-ALRX shortly after its forced landing on the Severn mudflats, showing its track as it slid along the mud before veering right into the Estuary.