Bristol 170 Superfreighter Mk32 – c/n 13256

With Air Charter from Jun 1957 to Feb 1959

Given Name – ‘Versatile’

This particular Bristol Superfreighter was the very last of her type to enter service with Air Charter. She was delivered to Southend on June 6th 1957 and after a few of weeks of preparation work and fitting out, she went into service on July 25th flying the ‘Air Bridge’ route between Southend and Calais. However, Alpha Uniform would not remain as ACL’s shiny new pin for long and on August 13th, she was returning from Calais when she landed long and almost ran of the end of the runway, although the aircraft managed to stop just short of the railway line, albeit not before taking out the perimeter fence and some of the runway lighting in the process. Thankfully, the damage was moderately light and neither the fuselage integrity or the major systems were affected in any way. Sufficed to say, the somewhat superficial damage was quickly repaired and she was returned to service within days. (Also see ‘Prangs’)

With the ACL ‘Air Bridge’ routes now firmly established, the acquisition of Alpha Uniform temporarily brought the Bristol 170 fleet to nine aircraft which for the most, were kept busy on cross-Channel operations, although a good number of ad-hoc charters were flown too. Most of the latter flights involved trips to Germany or Spain, while the odd trip to destinations further afield would also crop up from time to time. Work during the following year continued in much the same vein, although with an outbreak of foot and mouth in June 1958, almost the entire ACL Bristol 170 fleet was chartered to fly 5 ton loads of meat to Southend from Rotterdam. As such, G-APAU and her stable mates were kept extremely busy with ferry flights during the day and meat flights at night, this continuing for roughly one week commencing on June 12th. Otherwise, things were back to normal by the late summer and while general freight, vehicles and their passengers made up much of AU’s loads, she would also transport other kinds of live cargo during October when she flew livestock to the Continent.

For more on this aircraft’s post-1958 history, please see the menu CAB/BUAF/BAF/BWA – Bristol 170s


History of G-APAU

6/57 to 2/59

Air Charter Ltd (Leased)

2/59 to 1/63

TFR to Channel Air Bridge (purchased 7/61)

1/63 to 10/67

TFR to British United Air Ferries

10/67 to 3/71

TFR to British Air Ferries

3/71 to 5/75

Sold to Midland Air Cargo


WFU Lasham during 1973 and B/U 5/75


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